Tag Archives: misogyny

Twerking at Afropunk?

by Guest Contributor Edna Nelson

afropunk-2013-festival-update-lead

On the first night of the Afropunk 2013 festival, there was an onstage twerk contest.

It was not on the program and happened right before Saul Williams was supposed to go on stage. It was an impromptu event that was designed to buy time and presumably build excitement. Big Freedia was playing the next day, so it is impossible for one to say that twerking was something that didn’t belong at Afropunk. Twerking, like any other dance can be a way for a person to claim power in her own body, enjoy her physical possibilities, challenge herself, expand her range of movement and feed her mind with physical knowledge. But in that moment? In that way?

Since twerking has gone viral, commentaries on the trend have focused on the roots of the dance and what it possibly means for various groups to preform it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough discussion about twerking in a performative context – i.e. what kinds of spaces twerking might be preformed within and for what reason. It feels like the discussion has been more about validating or condemning twerking in a vacuum rather than giving it space to exist within the realm of dance.

Dance movement depends on a dancer or choreographers intention, and awareness combined with the effect of the movement itself. A seemingly “vulgar” posture can convey profound messages. Unfortunately black women’s bodies, and dance expression have been viewed through a white supremacist lens of projected profanity, which is something some supporters of the twerk movement may be seeking to actively oppose. How do we strive to define spaces in which we can use dance and physical expression, including twerking, in a way that promotes a world in which women are free? What does it mean when this effort is confronted with a patriarchy that is vying for the same spaces? Continue reading

Wrap Up: The Five Things I Learned At SDCC 2013

By Kendra James

 San Diego Comic Con was overwhelming and not for the faint hearted, but also one of the most unique experiences of geekdom I’ve ever had. After taking a week to recover I wanted share a few highs and lows, insights and lessons learned from a first time SDCC attendee. 

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Troubled Waters

by Guest Contributor Cheryl Lynn, originally published at Digital Femme

Frank Ocean publicly addressed his sexuality recently, with the same deftness, eloquence, and gentleness that is evident in the manner he approaches his music. I was elated at his announcement and at the warm reception he received. I was glad to see that another young man had the strength of character and the purity of spirit to share his true self with the world and to show that queer men of color have been a part of our community and have contributed immensely to our culture. However, I was also pleased for more selfish reasons. I had hoped that if the straight and straight-identified men of hip-hop could openly love and embrace the black men who resided in their hearts and their minds and their beds, that perhaps they could embrace the black women who inhabited those same regions as well. My hopes have been dashed, for I realize that the hatred of black women is so profitable and pervasive and has such a tenacious hold on mainstream hip hop that the men of power and/or influence in hip hop would likely extinguish the culture entirely before relinquishing it.

And yet, strangely, due it its current ubiquitousness, hatred of black women is not a tenet of hip-hop, is not necessary for hip-hop to thrive, nor was it present at its birth. Though the arena was dominated by men, women were given a clear voice in the genre via ladies such as Roxanne Shanté. Hip hop in its earliest days was an even field where men and women of color could have an open dialogue—one that was teasing and playful. The words of black women were considered and sought for inclusion. Black women were not depicted as a monolith and had multiple roles available to them—sister, wife, and lover; trophy, thief, and soldier; adversary and confidant. No, not all of these roles were beneficial. However, there was diversity and choice. That choice is long gone, quietly usurped during the late nineties and aughts with the onset of the commercialization of gangsta rap and its permeation of hip-hop. Continue reading

The Friday Mixtape – 6.15.12 Edition

Our first track this morning goes out to the sad, sad person behind this hoax:

Screencaps via Racialicious reader Lauren.

Last week, after Manny Pacquiao’s highly-suspect loss to Timothy Bradley, some goon pretended to tweet as Roger Mayweather, uncle and trainer for Pacquiao’s biggest rival (before Bradley, anyway) Floyd Mayweather, and trolled after seemingly anybody in sight, including New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin:

As it turns out, there’s either one really sad person or a number of them with the same stupid idea floating around. In short, whoever this is is a Hater. So, for whoever it is who somehow derives enjoyment from spewing digital diarrhea, Isabel Fay’s (NSFW) “Thank You Hater” is just for you:

We’re going back to the old-school for the next track, since you might not be able to hear it on the silver screen any time soon; according to Shadow & Act, while Outkast’s Andre 3000 may be working on a Jimi Hendrix biopic, the Hendrix estate is saying he’s doing so without its permission, meaning Hendrix’s music wouldn’t be cleared for use – which, given the subject, is a rather big obstacle.

Speaking of movies, the arrival of Ice-T’s documentary Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap couldn’t come at a more interesting time, for reasons I’ll get into after watching it this weekend. As a primer for anybody going to see the film, how about a little Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force?

Next up, a meditative tune from the great Los Lobos: “Mariachi Suite,” one of their contributions to Robert Rodríguez’s Desperado from awhile back. Not that one ever needs a reason to listen to this group, but in this case, consider it a hint as to our Crush of the Week. Enjoy!

Let’s kick the tempo up again with this track from L.A.-based electro-pop group IAMMEDIC, which has a new album, Monster Monster, due out soon. Here’s one from their previous effort, Perfect, and though it gets a little NSFW-ish lyrically in the middle, “Spaceship” is pretty fun otherwise:

Wrapping us up this week is a pick inspired in part by the #vaginamovielines hashtag, which surged after Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the state House floor Thursday. Her crime? Telling state speaker James Bolger, “Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’” According to Politico, she didn’t back down from her comments after Bolger’s overreaction:

“Maybe they are banning me because I dared say ‘vagina,’ the correct, medical name of a part of a woman’s anatomy these lawmakers are trying to regulate,” she said. “I’m outraged. I’m outraged that this legislative body not only wants to dictate what women can do, but what we can say.”

This kind of silencing was on Salt and Pepa’s mind just over two decades ago. Sad to see that time hasn’t helped Bolger get the message.

Salsa and Sexism: Are You Mouthing Misogyny?

By Guest Contributor Rachael Kay Albers, cross-posted from Latina Fatale

It is after midnight and I’m in a taxi on the way back to my barrio, mouthing the lyrics to a song on the radio that I’m proud to know the lyrics of when, suddenly, I stop (fake) singing. Spanish is my second language and memorizing song lyrics doesn’t come as easily to me as it does in English—if I can successfully sing along to a song in a café or on the radio, I wave the useless ability like a flag. But, as I silently croon in my cab tonight, I realize that, in my quest to hone my dual language lip syncing abilities, I have paid absolutely zero attention to the content of the lyrics I’m not singing.

The song on my cabbie’s radio is “Lamento Boliviano,” (Bolivian Lament). You may know it for its famous chorus:

Y yo estoy aquí
borracho y loco
y mi corazón idiota
siempre brillará
y yo te amaré
te amaré por siempre

(And I am here
drunk and crazy
and my stupid heart
will always shine
and I will love you
I will love you forever)

As I listen carefully to the lyrics, I imagine the scene being described: a drunk, desperate man declaring his undying love to his wronged mujer after saying, in earlier lyrics, that he feels there is a volcano of rage inside of him. I have lived this scene. The drunk, desperate man “in love” is not nearly as romantic as the Enanitos Verdes — the Argentinean rock band that croons “Lamento Boliviano” — make him seem. He can be, in fact, quite dangerous, especially when he says he has an, um, “volcano” inside of him.

Ugh — sexist lyrics glamorizing alcoholism and violence in Spanish, too? I think, dumbly. How has the thought never occurred to me before? I mean, what did I expect from the music that just happened to be playing the many times I have been fondled or — I’ll just say it — humped on various dance floors across Mexico? Hip hop gets the rap in the United States for violent, misogynistic lyrics with country music coming in at second place—both deservingly. But, what about the music I’m listening to in Latin America?
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‘He had the courage to day unpopular things’: No praise for courting controversy

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

This post is not about Christopher Hitchens. It is just that eulogizing of the writer has me pondering the adulation we give people and ideas believed to be outside the bounds of “political correctness.”

Hitch was a polarizing figure: He could be a louche wit and raconteur, an exceptional writer, a tireless advocate for the Godless, a moving chronicler of the end of life and also a pompous sexist, racist warmonger and Islamophobe, drunk on privilege (and whatever else). I’ll remind that Hitchens was the guy who argued that women are inherently not funny, who attempted to paint Michelle Obama as a black militant on the strength of a college thesis about the alienation black students often feel on majority white campuses, and who said of the war in Iraq: “The death toll is not nearly high enough… too many [jihadists] have escaped.”

Now, despite all that, many folks were fond of Hitchens–at least that is the impression I get from comments on Gawker, Salon, Slate and the like. How does one square abhorrent pronouncements by a man whose work can also be admirably challenging and engrossing? Apparently, it is by evoking the rather vague and puzzling commendation: Well, even if I didn’t agree with him, he had the courage to say unpopular things. I keep hearing this in relation to Christopher Hitchens and I wonder: Is the will to say detested things praise-worthy, in and of itself?

At the root of the discussion is the myth of “political correctness,” which I wrote about a few years ago in this space:

Disdain for “political correctness” is often positioned as a concern that some important truth is not being spoken for fear of offending someone. But that concern is nothing but smoke and mirrors. To invoke “political correctness” is really to be concerned about loss of power and privilege. It is about disappointment that some “ism” that was ingrained in our society, so much that citizens of privilege could express the bias through word and deed without fear of reprisal, has been shaken loose. Charging “political correctness” generally means this: “I am comfortable with my privilege. I don’t want to have to question it. I don’t want to have to think before I speak or act. I certainly don’t wish to inconvenience myself for the comfort of lesser people (whoever those people may be–women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.)” Read more…

Since the (conservative-driven) idea that some “Stalinist orthodoxy” prevents good Americans from speaking freely has taken hold, I notice more amorphous applause for people who say controversial things no matter what those controversial things are. Content matters. It is indeed commendable to speak truth to power, or to stand up for right in the face of wrong. But just to say unpopular shit? Why should anyone get cookies for that? Most people would not charge half the human race with a chronic lack of funny, because the statement lacks nuance (As Echidne capably points out here.) and because they have heard of Lucille Ball and Fanny Brice and Moms Mabley and Tina Fey, not because they are cowards in fear of the PC police.

It is not a virtue simply to say controversial things. You know who else says controversial things? Michelle Bachmann. Are we to laud the good Senator for her courage to speak against death panels, despite the fact that, you know, none exist, have existed or were planned to exist? The very idea is silly.

Every unaccepted pronouncement isn’t hidden wisdom. And every speaker of provocative things isn’t a genius. Saying someone has the courage to say the unsayable is meaningless without analysis of what exactly is said.

Image courtesy of Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Go After the Privilege, Not the Tits: Afterthoughts on Alexandra Wallace and White Female Privilege

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

As soon-to-be-former UCLA student Alexandra Wallace packs her stuff and leaves the university due to fear for her life, I’ve watched how some people and the press reacted to her.  As Colorlines and other blogs noted, combating her anti-Asian racism with life-threatening misogyny really wasn’t the best social-justice idea:

Nor combatting racial stereotypes with…racialized sexual stereotypes:

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Or even having a “yeah, you’re racist, but I’d still fuck ya” vibe, a la the guitar-strumming crooner, in an otherwise witty comeback song:

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The Ghost of Bigger Thomas Surfaces in Kayne West’s Monster

Kanye has officially overdosed on artistic symbolism.

After his 35 minute debut of “Runaway” in back in October 2010, it difficult to figure out how Kanye would top a video that incorporated references to modern performance art, ballet, couture, mythology, and Fellini.

And yet, I don’t think anyone counted on Kanye deciding to deck the halls with dead white women in “Monster”. Continue reading