Tag Archives: sexism

Chanel Surfing: Quick Takes on TV

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Cashmere Mafia (ABC)

Some quick thoughts:

*Caitlin’s African-American assistant is sporting a clean new shape up in episode three. What happened to the dreds?

*Alicia has been described as the “hot cocoa love interest,” oy! Still waiting to see if Alicia makes it through the season.

*Still no Jack Yang. What are they waiting for? Oh, whew – just checked the “fan” site – looks like he’ll make an appearance on Wednesday.

*Can I just say boo to Mia’s “let’s talk about this” editor’s letter? Your ex went for blood by scheduling the evil man-eating woman cover – why the hell didn’t you bring it in the note from the publisher?

*Lipstick Jungle advertisements! Competition is coming!

*Oh no, spoiler “fan” site also says that Caitlin finds herself attracted to a man she meets at the lesbian baby shower. Is this the end for Alicia?

How to Look Good Naked (Lifetime)

I. Don’t. Do. Lifetime.

I can’t stand that channel.

But somehow, someway, I managed to watch one episode of Carson Kressley’s How to Look Good Naked and became instantly hooked. The show is just excellent. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Queer Eye, Carson manages to sculpt and shape a show that encourages women to see their bodies for what they are – not what society says they should be.

Continue reading

Interracial Porn: Holding Us Back While Getting Us Off? (Pt 1)

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: Continue reading

Gloria Steinem: Pitting race against gender

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”. Continue reading

is there such a thing as a responsible rape scene?

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. Continue reading

War of the Roses: Amnesty International’s Newest Campaign against Female Genital Mutilation

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

Amnesty International has run a new campaign to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. These images of flowers sewn up are visually striking because of the implied violence against a delicate object. The ads are effective because they give the viewer a graphic idea of what exactly is implied by female genital mutilation (though the campaign leaves out “lesser” forms of FGM, such as clitoridectomy). While the idea of using a flower as a metaphor for a woman’s genitals doesn’t sit well with me (it really just makes me think of comparing women to flowers and pearls, i.e., things that need protection), this is a really good way to get this message across.

I was especially thrilled to read the copy at the bottom of the page (click on the images to see them up close): “Every year, two million girls suffer the pain of genital mutilation – a clear violation of their human rights. No government should continue to ignore this crime. Help us to stop violence against women. Give your support at…”

No mention of Islam. No mention of Muslims. No mention of geographical locations associated with Muslims. No pictures of veiled women. Just a statement that condemns an action without entangling politics or religion. Often, FGM is used synonymously with Islamic practice, though this is incorrect. Muslims who practice FGM do it in certain parts of the world because of cultural traditions, not because of Islamic ones.

This campaign is a perfect example of how to condemn an act without extending the condemnation to everyone that happens to be in the same religious/ethnic category of those who happen to practice said act.

Junk Prints: Anti-Racism You Can Wear

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of enjoying the indie design fabulosity that is the Craftacular, an annual market sponsored by Bust Magazine. For those of you who may not know about Bust, here’s the mag in a nutshell: feminism meets DIY meets up-and-coming musicians, writers, artists, and actors. Thanks to Bust, I can now brew my own beer at home, knit an extra boob for bra-stuffing, and find local designers that understand my desire to buck the system by rocking a piece of unique jewelry to contrast with my boring corporate attire. I found quite a bit of that at the Craftacular on Saturday, but I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of really innovative designers. One designer that stood out in my mind, however, was Chanel Kennebrew of Junk Prints.

I would have passed up the quiet booth in the corner if it weren’t for the beautiful, multicolored, metallic vintage purse I glimpsed. It was a tiny north star in a room full of distractions—jewelry here, shoes there, and an overabundance of human bodies cum consumers all searching for the perfect holiday gift. I made my way through the crowd over to Chanel’s booth, and was immediately thankful when I saw that a) the purse was still there, and b) that the clothing she displayed was the long-lost fashion twin of Racialicious! Of course, she had lighthearted items such as her vintage meets modern mashup outfits and her decoupage covered journals, but what caught my really caught my eye was her t-shirt on celebrity transracial adoption: She describes her “Colorblind Glasses” shirt on her website:

Color Blind seem to be all the rage in Hollywood these days. I mean, international babies are sooo ‘the new dog’ (which was ‘the new purse’ in a not so distant past). Are Madonna and Jolie ready for the commitment? Ah who knows. Love is love right? You,my friend don’t have to find a foreign baby to show your color blind spirit, nope, you show your spirit with this fancy pants shirt.

Chanel also designs digital prints that cover issues that would be quite familiar to Racialicious readers, for example, her “Silence” collection. The print entitled “Good Housekeeping” (pictured below) is described as follows:

Good Housekeeping critiques the magazine identity and questions the values that it imposes on racialized women in North America. The magazine identity is a contradicting ideology that promotes idealism through exploitation. The things that we (as the North American consumer) want are essentialized and viewed as ingrained desires. In actuality they are usually sold to us at the expense of ourselves. This can be seen throughout history as cultural appropriation, tokenism etc. The concepts of the magazine identity and media morals pose many problems for society in general. The affects are devastating for those that cannot be the ‘better self’ because society doesn’t recognize the existing racialized ‘self’. This group of images focuses an a group that will never achieve the magazine identity due to the fact that it has been excluded from it’s canon of idealistic values. They confront topics of identity, media values and the exploitation of women foreign to the mass consumer audience.

Lastly, check out her one-of-a-kind commentary a la t-shirt on the Don Imus debacle:

You know about Don Imus Right? He’s the was the sports announcer that got fired for calling a Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” He recently received a multi-million dollar contract and prime morning-drive-time slot on a radio station. Wow, well I’ve been working on a graphic for this for a while but the most complicated part of doing that is, how do I make the connection with wigs and historic cosmetic homogenizing techniques without glorifying that crazy dude. Not sure if I’ve figured that out so I’m trying out a few ideas on some gently worn thrift.

Chanel’s work is fun, but has a message as she fuses statements on our society with some pretty fun wares. I highly recommend taking a look at her website as well as her Etsy store. You can also friend her on facebook.com and myspace. So if you’re still looking for stocking stuffers for your friends who are a little on the intense side or who just happen to have everything, it’s definitely worth giving Junk Prints a looksie.

The Veil Does Not a Prison Make

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! Continue reading

MadTV turns Obama into a mandingo

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As early as April, we began seeing emails floating around linking Barack Obama with a sexual desire for white women. Now the “he’s coming for our white women” sentiment has gone mainstream, thanks to this dumb-as-shit MadTV skit. (Thanks Wendi.)

Maybe I’m missing something, but to me this presidential race is about as sexual as Tay Zonday’s last visit to the optometrist.

Only a society that has internalized stereotypes about black men as sexual predators and women as sex objects could come up with as crude a sexual narrative as we see here.

MadTV has done some good commentaries on race in the past (especially Aren’t Asians Great? and Nice White Lady). But this piece of racist and sexist drivel is just a fucking embarrassment.