Category Archives: sexuality

Et tu, Amy Poehler? What’s so funny about desiring a big, black woman?

By Guest Contributor Tami, originally posted at What Tami Said

Fat, black woman. Big, black chick. Those descriptors are lazy comedy shorthand in a racist, sexist and sizist society. Want to bring on the cheap laughs? Then trot out an over-sized, brown-skinned lady. Even better, despite her fatness and blackness, give her a more than healthy opnion of herself. See, that makes it doubly funny, see, cause even though everyone knows neither black women or fat women are hot, this character doesn’t seem to know this and actually behaves as if she is attractive and worthy of amorous attention.

See how it works? I’ve come to expect black women, especially plus-sized ones, to be the butt of the joke in low-brow comedy films–the sort of flicks commonly associated with Eddie Murphy, Rob Scheider or Tyler Perry. But usually your benign, weekday sitcoms eschew hateful comedy. I’ve been watching NBC’s Amy Poehler vehicle “Parks & Recreation” off and on this season. I want to like it. I’m a fan of “The Office” and generally find Poehler charming. Each time I tune in to the show I hope it will be better. But last night, “Parks & Recreation” lost me for good. Because I can’t relax and laugh in the face of the dehumanization of women.

Continue reading

Vogue Evolution Forever Part 2: The Racialicious Roundtable on America’s Best Dance Crew

Compiled by Special Correspondent Thea Lim, with Guest Contributors Robin Akimbo, Alaska B, Michelle Cho and Elisha Lim

…continued from Part 1!

Vogue Evolution is all about getting folks to recognise that queer culture is responsible for sooo much of contemporary dance.  So it’s a radical history lesson – what’s VE’s relationship to Paris is Burning?

Michelle: I love what Pony from VE said in an interview.

Elisha: This is Pony’s quote:

The difference between us and all the other crews is that you can tell a crew by their team, not the individual. The left girl looks like the right girl. You don’t know the difference. Cindy looks just like Cassie. With us and our community, we’re all leaders. It’s like an All-Star cast, a league of extraordinary gentlemen, as we like to say.

My clips have a hundred thousand views, Leyomi’s clips have a hundred thousand views, our MySpace is packed. We’re already legends in our community. That’s why this is big for us. Our community is like, “Wow. The big ones are getting bigger.” It’s not like, “Oh, we’re survivors.”

The problem with voguing is that it’s always been portrayed as coming from a sad place, and that’s not really what it is. We’re here to show the beauty of the scene, and the art, and the happiness and the joy. We’re the good news. It’s not like Paris is Burning where at the end of it you go, “Aww…that’s sad.” This is like, “Work! It’s over!” That’s where we’re at with it.

Thea:  What does that mean, “vogueing comes from a sad place?”

Robin: A.I.D.S., racism, rejection from families, hate-crimes, poverty… so many of the issues that that community was dealing with in the early “80′s in NYC.  They created voguing to express themselves and to celebrate fabulousness, creativity, and survival.

Michelle:  The latter part of the quote references Paris is Burning and the sadness that is felt throughout the film.  A big criticism of Paris is Burning has been that it was sensationalized by a white director who did little to financially reimburse the people interviewed.

Thea: ugh

Michelle:  They all stayed poor while the director got the accolades.

Thea: ugh ugh

Michelle: Many of the Mothers in the film have since died of AIDS.

Alaska: Nevermind a transwoman being murdered during shooting with no analysis.

Michelle: Most definitely.

Elisha: That’s true.

Alaska: A central character at that.

Robin: Really really really really really sad.

It’s depressing how much cultural appropriation – from queer culture, from cultures of colour… – is a part of dance. How does America’s Best Dance Crew fare on the cultural appropriation scale?

Continue reading

Vogue Evolution Forever Part 1: The Racialicious Roundtable on America’s Best Dance Crew

Compiled by Special Correspondent Thea Lim, with Guest Contributors Robin Akimbo, Alaska B, Michelle Cho and Elisha Lim

VogueEvolution

For a show that’s had us raising our eyebrows over their representations of race, gender and sexuality for over a year, Season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) kicked things up a notch by showcasing Vogue Evolution, an openly gay crew featuring a trans woman – on mainstream TV nonetheless. Yet representations on ABDC are often fraught with racism, homophobia and transphobia.  And then Vogue Evolution (VE) got kicked off ABDC  on Week 5, after judge Lil’ Mama attacked VE’s anchor (vogueing god and trans woman Leoimy Maldonado) for not being enough of a “lady” on Week 4 saying:

Leiomy, come on. Your behavior… it’s unacceptable…I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.

So I decided to get some of my queer community of colour together to figure out why ABDC works — and why it fails.

So why do you think Vogue Evolution decided to go on ABDC – considering how queer and trans folks are treated on TV?

Elisha: Leiomy from Vogue Evolution said three times that for her it wasn’t about winning, but about breaking barriers. So I went to check out their bio on MTV and here’s what they said:

This year, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a new wave of revolutionaries is born. The historic House/ Ballroom scene, which dates back to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, has been on the cutting edge of pop culture since its commencement. Its ever present influence has been observed in American fashion, culture, and entertainment, yet mainstream audiences have yet to accredit the origins of this influence.

Continue reading

Diversity Is the Spice of Life…Unless You’re the Spice

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

When my wife and I started LoveVoodoo 6 years ago, we wanted the site to bring people together.  Many of the other adult dating or ‘Swingers’ sites are very segregated. There are “Black” swinger sites, “Hispanic” swinger sites and very little diversity on the larger sites. This never made any sense to us. Why not have a site where everyone is welcome and could feel comfortable?  I think we have achieved this goal on LoveVoodoo.com; however, we wanted to take it to the next level. It is funny that we are calling this event “Colorful Fantasies”, but I think the exciting part of the trip is not, that you meet someone different than yourself. The exciting part is to learn how similar we actually are.  LoveVoodoo.com and Colorful Fantasies are businesses that reflect our personal beliefs.

~~Todd Crawford, co-founder, LoveVoodoo.com

So said the press release for a race-inclusive swinging website.

I didn’t have enough hands to facepalm, to brow massage, to clasp in prayer.

I went to the site.  This is what I found:

I need more hands. Continue reading

Introducing The Racialicious Read Along! Kenji Yoshino’s Covering

by Latoya Peterson

I’m starting to love air travel. It is really the only time where I actually have to disengage from the internet, which becomes time to read actual books.

On this trip, I packed Kenji Yoshino’s Covering, a book I had been intending to read for quite some time. In Yoshino’s gut-wrenching combination of memoir and legal study, he brings a lost concept back into the lexicon to allow us to use new language when discussing issues of race and assimilation. The term he uses is called covering.

“Covering” is sociologist Erving Goffman’s term for how we try to “tone down” stigmatized identities, even when those identities are known to the world. In my work, I describe four axes along which individuals can cover: appearance, affiliation, activism, and association. Continue reading

Interview with The Perverted Negress

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

A while ago, Latoya Peterson, and I offered a two-fer about the Ciara/Justin Timberlake video, “Love Sex Magic.” The image of Timberlake pulling Ciara’s dog leash brought up the idea of “race play” and racism. Sexologist Bianca Laureano suggested that I talk to MollenaMollena, a expert on race play, about it. (This interview’s entirety is posted at Mollena’s blog, The Perverted Negress.)

Andrea:   What is race play?

Mo:  I define “Race Play,” In broad terms, as any type of play that openly embraces and explores the (either “real” or assumed) racial identity of the players within the context of a BDSM scene. The prime motive in a “Race Play” scene is to underscore and investigate the challenges of racial or cultural differences.

Andrea:  Would you mind giving an example of race play?

Mo:  There are the obvious ones. We in the US like to think we have cornered the market on racial politics. So, obviously, people go for Antebellum South slavery stuff. But even there, there are many variations: you can have the White master/Black slave thing. You can have a “tables-turned” scenario, with a slave seducing the master, blackmailing them. The “Mandingo” black stud thing. And let us not forget we [Black folks] owned one another. And let us not forget the skin color caste system! “High yellow” versus dark skinned….

This expands to a lot of sins in this country: Whites [and] Native Americans; the internment camps where we packed up Japanese Americans.

But it isn’t just us….how about a captured Iraqi prisoner tortured by Marines? Or a Sinn Féin extremist being interrogated by a rogue SIS agent? Or a dark skinned Indian person avenging themselves on a lighter-skinned higher-caste individual? North [and] South Koreans. Hutu [and] Tutsi…

The only limit is your imagination.

This is part of the reason I boggle at the knee-jerk reaction people have. The fact that something is scary, dangerous, real: why does this mean you should not explore it? For fuck’s sake, driving a car is dangerous. Falling in love is dangerous. Understanding that part of the draw, to me, of BDSM is that it tests my fortitude in this body and in this mind and with this heat is what keeps me doing it. How the fuck am I going to let something stop me because it is scary?

Andrea:  But we both know folks aren’t going to see it that way. They want to use that very real painful history to not think of it as fantasy fodder.

Mo:  Sure. And more power to them. Not everyone volunteers to be hit with a whip traveling at the speed of sound either. But I do it because it fascinates me.

Andrea:  But, I suspect, is some folks give it *too* much power. They use it as a way to police the desires of others. As you saw on the threads for my and Latoya’s posts.

Mo:  And I understand that. But the root of all of that is fear. Straight up. Fear that you will be judged by the acts of others. Fear that there is something out there you cannot understand. Also, fear that it fascinates you, and that perhaps you are “one of those perverts.” That is often a deep rooted factor, too. Continue reading

Black Booty Body Politics

by Latoya Peterson


Whose Pussy Is This?
Now I have to ask this question
Cuz you mothafuckas keep disrespectin’ my shit
In every line that your lame asses spit
I’m forced to hear about my pussy
That is always on sale
A hot retail item
wrapped in plastic
for $12.99
And this shit is drastic
Bcuz everyone thinks they too have ownership of something that belongs to me
And I do not agree with this [...]

—”Whose Pussy Is This?” by Chyann L. Oliver, published in Home Girls Make Some Noise

It all started with a note, surreptitiously passed to me in health class in 9th grade. My friend poked me across the aisle, and handed me a bit of notebook paper. In pencil, the note read, “Toya got a big ole butt, oh yeah!”

Sigh.

I first became aware of the male gaze when I was twelve years old. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realized that a guy pulled up behind me on a busy highway, inquiring if I needed a ride somewhere and telling me how pretty I was. Until that point, I thought men only catcalled girls who wanted attention. I had friends who wore tight skirts and low cut tops and makeup, all things that were generally forbidden in my mother’s household. My outfit that day had passed muster with her – a blue baby tee, wide leg jeans (as went the suburban style in the 90s), white reebok classics. I looked my age. And yet, for some reason, men reacted to me differently.

The note slipped to me in 9th grade was the beginning of the realization that despite my best efforts, the most remarked upon part of my body would be my ass. More polite people would talk about my figure and point out all the benefits of being a classic hourglass. Less polite people would quote song lyrics at me (Whoop, whoop, pull over, that ass is too fat!) or make rude remarks about what they would like to do with my ass. It never seemed to matter if I was a size 10 or a size 18 – my body shape would not be denied, no matter how many pounds I packed on.

Over time, I learned different strategies to cope with the attention I received. A large part of coping was reclaiming my body and learning to embrace my curves as a part of my own sexuality. In order to do that, I had to learn to separate the ideas projected on to me by others and understand how I felt about my own body. I discovered the affirming power of hip-hop – as well as its destructive objectification of the black female form. Just as Mark Anthony Neal informs his feminism with the acknowledgment it can be difficult to reconcile feminist principles with heterosexual male desire, it can be difficult to fuse cultural beauty standards, popular perceptions of the female form, and still come out with something resembling a healthy sense of the sexual self. Continue reading

I Like the Erotic and the Porn: Looking Back at Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic”

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

I feel like I can’t call myself a “good” Black feminist if I’m not down with Audre Lorde. I feel fake if I don’t raise my fist or give an “Amen!” when another Black feminist or a feminist of color says/writes/puts on a t-shirt, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Then I add “sex-positive” to the “Black feminist” descriptor–I try to be of “do-you-with-lots-of-latex-lube-and-consent” crew–and then I feel like Audre and I don’t see sexing it up the same way, especially around ideas of what’s erotic and what’s pornography.

So, I sat down and reconsidered her essay, “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.”

But first, some background about me: I came to feminist theory, as bell hooks says, to explain the pain of my surviving rape at the age of five. I needed an answer to the pain of someone feeling entitled to override my bodily integrity, my being able to sexually consent. I also looked at my late father’s porn at a very early age, too. My mom said a “good Black woman” didn’t have sex before she was engaged and the “facts of life” were explained via her old nursing books or when a biological event (like my first period), a TV show, or a book mentioning sex precipitated the discussion by her.

Something had to give—or synthesize.

Continue reading