Tag: sexism

January 22, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

I am by no means an expert on porn, nor do I pretend to be. Yet considering the volume of hits on xtube.com or youporn.com that could be traced back to my IP address, one would assume so. If not that, one would at least be able to mentally file away my name with all the other people in the “creepy” category. Some of you may be wondering about this new obsession of mine that has developed during my period of hiatus, but I can fortunately hold someone else partially responsible.

In November of 2007, Courtney, a contributing blogger for Feministing, reviewed a book aptly titled Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity by Robert Jensen. Much like fellow feminist theorist, the late Andrea Dworkin, Jensen considers pornography a visual manifestation of misogyny—hatred of women captured on film. With sexual arousal distracting the viewer, acts of violence and subjugation of women are interpreted through a different lens than, say, if they were portrayed minus the element of sex. Yet also like Dworkin, Jensen’s work borders on misandrist, stating as his major thesis that “If men are going to be full human beings, we first have to stop being men.” Using pornography as a microcosmic representation of the world as a whole, at least insofar as relationships between men and women are concerned, Jensen proposes that masculinity must be abandoned altogether as, in his opinion, it is inextricably linked to a world in which women are viewed as stupid, submissive, and deserving of abuse.

I agree with Courtney in her mention of the many loopholes within the book, in particular her comments regarding women who enjoy submission or even pain during sex. I also concur with regard to her discussion of images and scenarios within pornography playing out in real life. Many once-taboo subjects and sex acts, including, but not limited to, threesomes or multi-partner sex, anal sex, BDSM, and even the use and purchase of sex toys, have become mainstream. Porn is not entirely the culprit, but its proliferation has certainly aided Americans in their burgeoning sexual open-mindedness. With an orgasm only a click away, pornography has experienced a similar transformation to that of the music industry, with the creation of mp3s and pirate sites, and the film and tv industry, with the onslaught of youtube and bootleg dvds of sidewalk entrepreneurs.

After reading Courtney’s review of Getting Off (which you can read, in full, here) I wanted to take Jensen’s argument a bit further. Despite my disagreeing with him on some points, I felt that Jensen’s thoughts on gender roles in porn could be easily applied to the use of race in porn, particularly interracial porn. Following his thesis, in short, that masculinity by definition supports a system of misogyny, a characteristic clearly demonstrated in (straight) pornography, and the only way to progress beyond this conveyance of hatred toward women is to eradicate masculinity in its entirety, I came up with the following: Read the Post Interracial Porn: Holding Us Back While Getting Us Off? (Pt 1)

January 9, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious guest contributor Jennifer Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

Since 2004, when rumours abounded over an Obama candidacy, pundits have cast this year’s Democratic election as a battle of identity politics: will Americans choose a Black man or a White woman to be their nominee for president? And by extension, will this finally settle the debate over which is the more subjugated identity: race or gender?

Yesterday morning, Gloria Steinem, influential second-wave feminist, weighed in at the New York Times with an opinion piece titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners”. I guess we can tell where she stands in this debate.

(Incidentally, if women are never front-runners, than how did Clinton get as far as she did on the “inevitable pseudo-incumbent” campaign she’s been running that made her the front-runner for most of last year? I find the headline of this piece to be a wee bit of hyperbole.)

We’ve heard many argue that it’s time for an African American president, and many more argue it’s time for a female president. But, nowhere in the race vs. gender frenzy that has swept the nation has anyone challenged the very validity of the question. How can one compare racism to sexism – and if one tries, where do those of us who are disadvantaged both by our race and by our gender fit in?

In truth, the juxtaposition is disingenuous, divisive, overly simplistic, and ultimately harmful, because it redirects our attention away from efforts to break the White male patriarchy that excludes all the Others, but towards in-fighting where we all compete to see both who’s more oppressed, and who will make it out of that “Oppression Box” first.

Scholars like Steinem have only fueled these divisive attitudes. Though she writes, “I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest”, Steinem opens her article with the observation that “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life”. She continues by implying that the race barrier has largely been resolved, because “Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women”. Read the Post Gloria Steinem: Pitting race against gender

December 21, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by guest contributor Thea, originally published at Shameless Blog

Research. It always gets you into trouble. This review was supposed to say “Empowering! Feminist! Realism! Actually Tough Women of Colour!”. But then I did a little googling, (damn you google!) and now I’m confused.

The movie Bandit Queen is based on the story of the real life Phoolan Devi. In the 80’s in India, Devi led groups of bandits to pillage high caste villages for money. She was notorious and fearsome, and this was a big, shocking, deal – not only was she a woman, she was a low caste woman.

A kind of Robin Hood with a gender twist: at 11 Devi was married to a 30-something man who raped and mistreated her. As an adult she found him and stabbed him in front of his village, as a warning for old men who marry young girls.

Devi was always described to me as a hero for poor people and women. Separate from who she actually was, Devi became a legend and a symbol of the one woman who just wasn’t going to take it anymore. She was tough shit! She was brutalised, pushed around and dehumanised by patriarchal culture (more on that later) – but she actually pushed back!

So a movie about the life of this feminist hero – ok, the violence she committed makes her a problematic feminist hero – would definitely be a feminist movie wouldn’t you say? Well, this is where the confusion kicks in.

What I liked most about this movie was how it is such an unflinching, unsentimental portrayal of life for women in a patriarchal culture. The violence against women in Bandit Queen is essentially constant and blatant (I didn’t say it was a fun movie to watch), but that amazed me. Because the movie seems to be saying, look, it’s not just that some men are bad apples, and it’s not just that women will experience gender violence once in their lives. It’s that under a patriarchal system the threat of violence and the incidence of violence against women is constant and total.

For example, often “rapists” and “wife beaters” in North American cinema are portrayed as dirty, creepy, foul-smelling and poor. The men who assualt Devi in Bandit Queen however, are just regular, average men. This seemed to say to me that, it’s not just lower income men who don’t wash their shirts who are capable of violence, it’s all men who’ve been socialised by rampant sexism.

BUT, that’s exactly the problem with Bandit Queen: the constant gender violence. Arundhati Roy argues here and here that Bandit Queen reduces Devi to a rape victim, and is just two hours of rape, rape and more rape. Read the Post is there such a thing as a responsible rape scene?

December 18, 2007 / / Uncategorized
December 14, 2007 / / Uncategorized
December 11, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Who’s Danielle Crittenden? She writes a blog for The Huffington Post and recently, she decided to “take on the veil” as a social experiment for one week of her life in Washington, D.C. She went straight for the gold and decided to wear the starkest, blackest niqab out there, ignoring the fact that the hejab is far more prevalent among Muslim women than the niqab. She blogs about her experience in four separate posts under the title, “Islamic Like Me.”

Readers, you know my issue with people who use “Muslim” and “Islamic” synonymously. For god’s sake, would somebody check the Associated Press guidelines?! “Islamic” describes architecture and history…things. A “Muslim” is an adherent of Islam; Muslims are people, not things.

So Ms. Crittenden decides to put on a niqab…for what? For giggles? She never really explains her reasons for doing so, but makes it very apparent that wearing a niqab is a bad idea because it’s “oppressive”. Does she want to see what it’s like to be a Muslim woman who wears niqab? Does she want to understand the prejudice that these women face?

No. After reading her posts, it’s obvious she just wants to play dress-up. She doesn’t attempt to adhere to any principles of Islam while wearing the niqab, nor does she take it off in her home like most niqabis would, nor does she even attempt to start a dialogue with any Muslim women—niqabis or not.

This experiment reminds me of one of Tyra Banks’ experiments: you remember when she put on a fat suit? Yeah. That one. She put on a fat suit under the guise of “seeing how the other half lives” but really just used it as a self-indulgent exercise in vanity (kind of like everything else Tyra does, bless her heart). This one seems really no different.

So, we read the first paragraph of Ms. Crittenden’s post “Islamic Like Me: Taking On The Veil”, and already, I want to throw my computer out the window.

“‘I wonder what it’s like to wear Arabic dress?’ I said one day to my husband. His eyes sparked with interest. ‘You mean as in I Dream of Jeannie?’ ‘No. I mean those black cover-ups they wear in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.’”

(Long sigh). So, we begin with the blatantly incorrect idea that all women in the Middle East wear “Arabic” clothing, even if they are not Arab or Muslim. We see later in her posts that her idea of “Arabic clothing” is a niqab and abaya—ignoring several other traditional dress styles that Arab women wear. And, of course, her husband throws in the sexualized Orientalist fantasy of I Dream of Jeannie. Fantastic! Read the Post The Veil Does Not a Prison Make

December 10, 2007 / / Uncategorized
November 30, 2007 / / Uncategorized