Tag Archives: gender

Chris Brown, Male Violence, And Racist Rants

by Guest Contributor Costa Avgoustinos (Pop Culture and the Third World)

There are two interesting links floating around in regard to Chris Brown’s Grammy win and return to the spotlight/ people’s hearts. One is a great article by Sasha Pesulka entitled I’m Not OK With Chris Brown Performing At The Grammys And I Don’t Know Why You Are Either. The other is 25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys, a series of screenshots of tweets from women professing  that because Chris Brown is attractive, they would be happy for him to beat them.

It’s interesting to compare society’s reaction to celebrity attacks on women to celebrity attacks on racial minorities. As Pesulka maps out in her article above, when Chris Brown assaulted girlfriend Rihanna society’s reaction was mixed–a lot of people came to Brown’s defence, a lot of people demonised Rihanna, a lot of people thought it was a private matter so blame shouldn’t be placed publicly and, after all that, a lot of people welcomed Brown’s return to the spotlight. In contrast, when Michael Richards went on a racist rant using the N-word, or Mel Gibson went on a racist rant (or, I guess, several rants) against Jews, society’s reaction was a lot more uniform: ‘You’re a jerk, we’re putting your career in the toilet, and that’s where it will stay forever.’  Why is Chris Brown allowed a come back, but Michael Richards and Mel Gibson are not?

I don’t make the comparison to try and rank racism against sexism or to argue gender-based violence is in some way more or less acceptable that race-based violence. That would be useless and stupid. Nor do I think the issue is one of ‘Sticks and Stones’ versus ‘Names That Hurt Me’–that is, that Richards and Gibson deserve less grief simply because, unlike Brown, they themselves didn’t cause physical harm. Again, stupid. But I think something can be learned from comparing our reactions.

Several commentators have pointed out a divide between how White mainstream media and Black media have approached the Chris Brown incident. White, mainstream media, from Jezebel to Good Morning America, has been pretty much anti-Brown since all of this happened. Black media, from NewsOne to Bossip, has been more reserved and seems more willing to forgive and move on. I would wager that this is in part due to Black media being uncomfortable participating in the perpetuation of the ‘violent Black man’ cliché, and the witchhunt that often ensues by the mainstream media with a bit too much eagerness. Or perhaps, as Dr Oliver Williams, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, has stated, perhaps it is because ‘communities find it easier to focus on oppression that comes from outside than on what (they) do to (them)selves.’ Continue reading

Because Amber Cole is Just a Kid and Boys Learn to Be Boys

It ain’t no fun/if the homies can’t have none. – Snoop Dogg

You know, there are a lot of people weighing in on this Amber Cole thing. But most of the conversation is about her, as is par for the course in our culture. The boys involved are still anonymous in the eyes of the world. For me, I always wonder why there aren’t open letters to these kids? There are tons to Amber Cole – people saying they could be her father, people saying STFU with all that victim-blaming and feminist-scapegoating madness – but no one seems interested in writing letters to the boys involved.

But hey, maybe it’s just me. I guess when one of your friends – along with a person who sexually assaulted you – ends up in jail for gang rape, you start thinking about things a bit differently.

After I wrote the Not Rape Epidemic, right after I submitted the essay, but before it was actually published, I ran into an old friend at my local library. I hadn’t seen this friend in a decade – indeed, I didn’t remember her name until I left the library. Yet somehow, we both happened to be in the same library, at the same time, on the same day, after not seeing each other for ten years. We say hey, make small talk.

And then she asks me: “Did you know T got out?”

We both were silent for a second. We hadn’t talked since before the incident. She didn’t know that I had been to that trial. She didn’t know I had seen the girl. And I had forgotten she was far closer to him than I was. When T and the other kids were sentenced, we calculated they would get out when we were in our 30s or 40s. We didn’t realize how the system works, and how a lot of people end up released early. T had been incarcerated from age 14 to about age 24.

“His sister called me,” my friend continued. “She asked me if I wanted to come to his his welcome home party.” She looked at me, stared hard so I could feel the weight of her pain.

“How am I supposed to look at him after he did something like that?” Continue reading

Domestic Violence Isn’t Just About What Men Do to Women

*Trigger Warning – Frank Stats About Domestic Violence*

hole in wall

A couple months ago, I read an article in Elle that impacted me so deeply, it took this long to be able to write about it.

Nina Collins, former book agent and literary scout, writes a horrifying, gut wrenching story about being a domestic abuser – and the process involved in understanding she had a problem:

In my thirty-seventh year, I divorced the father of my four kids after 16 years together, and I was arrested three times: once for assaulting him, once for assaulting his new girlfriend, and the last time for violating the order of protection he’d taken out after the first incident, when I upended a coffee table in his direction on Christmas Eve, two months after we’d separated. Aside from traffic violations, I’d never before been in legal trouble, never been in handcuffs, never seen the inside of a police station. […]

The police promised me that this was a bullshit charge—“What kind of pussy husband has his wife arrested for cursing at him?”—even though I’d indeed broken the protection order’s stipulation against verbal harassment. The police spent hours working with the DA to follow Q.’s request: Despite having me arrested, he didn’t want the judge to go beyond the “limited” order the court previously had granted; he still wanted us to communicate with each other about the children only. This negotiation lasted for what seemed like forever; at around 8 p.m. I was taken handcuffed in a squad car to Brooklyn’s Central Booking, where I’d be in a holding cell until I could get in front of a judge. My lawyer was pulling every string possible so I wouldn’t have to spend the night in jail.

Orange cinder-block walls, sticky brown floor, fluorescent lights; the cell stank, partly because of the toilet and partly because of the bits of old food lying around—stale cartons of milk, remnants of bologna sandwiches. Continue reading

Quoted: Beyonce’s Observations on Women and Liberty


During our November 9th, 2009 show at Port Ghalib in Egypt, something happened that inspired some of my writing for my album 4 (arriving in a few weeks). I was in the middle of performing “Irreplaceable,” and as the audience started singing “to the left, to the left” there was a woman sitting on top of a man’s shoulders in her full, traditional burka. Only her eyes and hands were visible.

She was waving her hands to the left, to the left, and singing every word – which I could see because the veil around her mouth was moving. Although the venue was at capacity, I could see her clearly in the audience. I was shocked she was even there, that she’d even been allowed to go to a concert, because after it gets dark, you don’t see any women in burkas on the street. So her presence alone was so moving. Witnessing the power, beauty, and strength of women – especially those living in places where their liberty is limited – is what moved me the most. I felt she had her beliefs, and they were important to her, but music also had a place in her life and she made a choice to be there.

—Beyonce, “Eat, Play Love,” published in Essence, July 2011

The greener the berry…

by Guest Contributor Cheryl Lynn, originally published at Digital Femme

Back when I used to read Uncanny X-Men, I would always wonder why writers had mutants face events that actual minority groups dealt with decades ago. Slavery. Segregation. Attempted genocide. After all, why not tap into some of the very real plights that minority groups currently have to deal with? Demonization in the media. Housing discrimination.

Sexual exploitation.


I wonder if the creative teams working on Marvel’s X-books are taking a step in that direction or if the preceding mock Utopia ad is one hell of a coincidence. Because the first thing I thought of when I saw the advertisement was how the green skin of the women had been held up as some kind of novelty or amusement for “normal” men to enjoy. And I can’t help but think of Black and Latina women in the Dominican Republic and Asian women in the Philippines who are considered that same kind of novelty act.

It’s not funny. It’s creepy. It’s disgusting. And it’s infuriating.

So seeing that ad got my hopes up. It made me wonder if Marvel was going to use the X-books to shine light on a problem that many either know nothing about or refuse to acknowledge. Marvel certainly isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive subjects. But that’s usually reserved for mature books such as those in the MAX line. To see something like this alluded to in an ad for a regular Marvel book is surprising. And impressive.

Unless the advertisement was intended to be humorous.

Which will pretty much cause me to wild the hell out.

ETA: David Brothers apparently has no regard for the safety of those at Wizard, because he’s telling me that this is a mock ad from Wizard that is intended to be funny.

I’m not laughing.

Action Alert: Nazia Quazi

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

We are late on picking up the story of Nazia Quazi, a Canadian woman being held against her will in Saudi Arabia.

The Coast recently ran an interview with Quazi, explaining her situation:

A Canadian woman being held against her will in Saudi Arabia says the Canadian government is not taking her plight seriously.

Nazia Quazi was taken to Saudi Arabia by her father in November 2007. Because of that country’s archaic gender laws, women of any age are subject to male “guardianship.” In the 24-year-old Quazi’s case, her father has taken her passport, and refuses to sign an exit visa allowing her to leave the country…

Her family moved to Canada in 2001, although Quazi says her father has maintained a residence in Saudi Arabia, where he works for a bank, for 25 years. Quazi went to high school in Canada and became a citizen in 2005.

In 2007 she traveled on holiday to Dubai to visit her boyfriend. But when her parents learned of the trip, they flew to Dubai to intervene. Her father took her to India, and then to Saudi Arabia on a three-month visa. But, without her knowledge or consent, Quazi’s father changed the visa to a permanent visa.

Ever since, she says, she has been pleading with the Canadian embassy to intervene, but has gotten next to no response.

“When I try to contact them, I don’t get a positive response of any kind. They always say, ‘we’re still trying, we haven’t heard anything yet, but when we do we will let you know.’ There’s never a real straight-up answer to me, to my face. I’m just waiting for them to do something, waiting for something to happen.

Continue reading

Idealize This | Feminism

by Guest Contributor Catherine Traywick, originally published at Hyphen and Femmalia

For most of my life, I’ve acted the part of the fiery feminist activist. At age 10 (before I even knew “feminist” as a word) my surprisingly cogent defense of biblical Eve moved my evangelical father into surrendering his argument that women are the root of all evil. At age 16 (when I only knew “feminist” as a term of derision) I scandalized my Filipino teachers by conducting an (albeit amateurish) study charting gender discrimination within Republic Central high schools. And by age 19 (when I proudly donned my first signature “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt) my transformation seemed complete. In those enlightened times, I was fond of telling people, “You’re probably a feminist — you just don’t know it yet.”

So thrilled was I to have found a word — an ideology, a movement! — which embodied my long-standing belief system that I didn’t realize until much later the foolishness of such a proclamation; feminism isn’t, after all, defined by one’s inherent, unarticulated views on gender (however progressive those may be), but is rather a conscious, political choice one makes after considering and asserting those views.

These days, a much more educated, experienced, and cynical Me teeters on the fence. Some days, I hear feminism derided by an ignoramus with a beer and the beast inside rears its rosy head in indignation. Other days, my oft-broken heart smarts at the memory of old friends and activists whose feminist ideals didn’t stand in the way of their marginalizing a person of color, or objectifying another woman, or even downplaying the sexual assault of a friend. Most of the time, my commitment to social justice advocacy doesn’t feel as though it requires a label so I have the room to vacillate.

However, my indecision piques about every six months. Continue reading

What Sarah Palin Taught Me About Beyonce

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published at Model Minority

I am working on a paper titled, “How Beyonce and Capitalism Undermined R&B’s Ability to Normalize Black Love.”

The title may change to Beyonce Incorporated, as that is more focused and more appropriate for academia.

My professor wants me to l shift my focus to the media’s investment in what I have called the Beyonce Beauty Aesthetic – light skinned, size 4/6, curvy, blond hair.

But I am not interested in just talking about the media, I am interested in how Beyonce is a tool for maintaining US hegemony and the ways in which she normalizes really fucked up, patriarchal, Black heterosexual relationships.

I am fascinated by a light skinned, middle class Black woman from the Houston suburbs who sings about needing a soldier, who she could upgrade, so that he can put a ring on it, and if he likes her he can put her in his video phone.

Conversely, why is a woman worth tens of millions of dollars singing about needing a baller? Continue reading