Tag Archives: sexual stereotypes

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

Victoria’s Secret Does It Again: When Racism Meets Fashion

By Guest Contributor Nina Jacinto

In case you missed it, Victoria’s Secret recently launched a new lingerie collection. Entitled “Go East,” it’s the kind of overt racism masked behind claims of inspired fashion and exploring sexual fantasy that makes my skin crawl.

From the website: “Your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there’s one for every sexy you.” The collection varies in its level of exoticism. The “Sexy Little Geisha” is a perversion of its reference, featuring a sultry white model donned in lingerie, chopsticks in her hair, fan in her hand. Other items in the collection include red sleepwear and nightgowns with cherry blossoms. I might have glossed over some of these pieces entirely–except the catalog descriptions had me reeling. “Indulge in touches of Eastern delight.” Translation: “Buying these clothes can help you experience the Exotic East and all the sexual fantasies that come along with it, without all the messy racial politics!”

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Awkward: When Your Friends Make Racist Assumptions About Your Dating/Sex Life

So, as I am wont to do, I found myself doing chores and catching up on reality TV.

I had heard about Nicole Murphy/Andrea Kelly’s new show, but I also set myself up for disappointment by reading the title as “Hollywood Execs” not “Hollywood Exes.” Here I was excited to hear all about these new women fronted development projects, and the show is actually about moving on from your famous spouse. Oh well. I decided to give it another chance. During a routine conversation about vaginal lasering and rejuvenation, this exchange happens:

Sheree Fletcher: Wait a minute, let me ask you this. It’s my understanding that men really don’t care what it looks like -

Jessica Canseco: Well, that’s ’cause you datin’ a black guy, honey!

*record scratch*

Sheree Fletcher: Now wait a minute…

Other women: What do you mean, what do you mean?

Jessica Canseco: From what I hear, black guys don’t go [down.]

*gasps*

Nicole Murphy: (in confessional mode) That’s garbage. That’s not true. At all.

Jessica Canseco: Black guys are like “eep eep eep” (makes chicken fingers). They do, I swear to God. They talk about black girl’s vaginas. It’s true.

Sheree Fletcher: (swoons) Our vaginas?

Jessica Canseco: You want me to get into all of this?

Sheree Fletcher: They complain about our vaginas to white girls? Continue reading

Asians Are Stealing Our Boyfriends On This American Life

By Guest Contributor Elisha Lim



(Please note, the above image has been Photoshopped from its original text.)

I am a reluctant fan of This American Life. The NPR storytellers can be such refreshing and endearing alternatives to mainstream radio. But you have to tolerate a strictly white, middle class point of view, a flaw that has been pointed out and ridiculed before. A case in point is a recent January episode–the first segment was in solidarity with “illegal” immigrant Latin@s of Alabama, but it was ironically followed by a white stand up comedian mocking the Spanish language.

The Valentine’s Day show, however, pushed me to new levels of downright rage. It’s a series of stories all about the mishaps of love, and in the last, 12-minute segment, writer Jeanne Darst describes her outrage when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

She reserves a special anger for the fact that he’s cheating on her exclusively with Asian women. That makes her furious. Not, as we might hope, because she is disturbed and angry to discover that not only is her boyfriend unfaithful, he also has a grotesque racial fetish–but because it offends her own whiteness. She reads his journal in slow dramatic tones:

And then I read that he did not have an attraction to… white women. White women like me. I knew he dated some Asian women and his ex-wife was Asian, he had Asian assistants, but I didn’t think too much about it… Maybe it was my fault. I should have said, right at the start of the relationship I’m. Not. Asian. Before anyone got hurt. Me. Before I got hurt.

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MoSex for the R!

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Yep, I–along with sexpert and Racialicious booster Twanna Hines–will talk about sexing it up and street harrassment at the Museum of Sex in NYC tomorrow .  (Yes, we have a museum devoted to sex in NYC. Pick up your jaw. ;-))  If you’re in the city, please come…no pun intended!

The Right to be Sexy in the Bedroom and on the Street!
The Museum of Sex
233 5th Avenue, 27th Street
New York, NY
7:30-9:30pm
(Suggested Donation $10)

We have a right to look as sexy as we want, with no repercussions! When our bodies and sexuality meet activism, we can take back control and turn victimization on its head.

Join us on April 21st for a screening of The Line at the Museum of Sex’s subterranean locale. Sip elderflower cocktails at the sleek Laboratory/Bar space and join a post-film discussion with sultry panelists discussing sexuality rights and activism. Panelists include Emily May of Hollaback! Twanna Hines of Funky Brown Chick, Andrea Plaid of Racialicious, Tara Ellison of Third Wave Foundation and NOLOSE, and Nancy Schwartzman, director of The Line.

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Your Panelists

Nancy Schwartzman is the director and producer of documentary films The Line (2009) and xoxosms (April 2011 release), as well as the director of The Line Campaign, a multimedia campaign to promote sex-positive dialogue about relationships, sex, and consent.

Emily May is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hollaback!, a movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology, fighting against the notion that street harassment is culturally acceptable.

Twanna Hines is is a Manhattan-based writer and sexual & reproductive health / rights advocate, hailed as one of “the internet’s sultriest sharers” by the Village Voice, details about her rendezvous have been printed in Glamour magazine and she has made media appearances including on CNN, NPR and Gawker.com

Andrea (AJ) Plaid has the distinction of being the first Sexual Correspondent for Racialicious, the award-winning blog on race and pop culture. Her work on race, gender, sex, and sexualities has appeared at Change.org, Bitch, and Library Journal and her posts have been republished at Penthouse.com, Colorlines, BlogHer, and New American Media. Andrea’s writing also appears in the just-published anthology Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, edited by Jessica Yee. She has been quoted in Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. She has lectured at John Jay College of Criminology as well as participated in Harvard’s Feminist Coming Out Day 2011 as a guest panelist. She also owns an eco-friendly safer-sex kit company, Freak Kits. Andrea lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Tara Ellison is the Deputy Director of the Third Wave Foundation and a board member of NOLOSE, a fat queer and trans organization. Among other types of activism and advocacy, Tara has also been blogging about things like race, class, gender, activism, sex, and sexuality for a decade.

Photo Credit: High Street Heels

Quoted: Ashley Judd’s Feminism and Hip-Hop

Aside from the fact that Ashley Judd has no clue about Hip-Hop as an art form and a culture, her comment shows an underlying prejudice towards black men. She says that Snoop and Diddy’s participation in YouthAIDS raised a red flag for her. If she knew anything about Hip-Hop or maybe even had a conversation with either one of these men, she’d know that neither condone rape or create violent music (at least not in the last decade), both are intelligent and savvy media moguls, and both are fathers (each has a least one daughter). So why wouldn’t they use their star power and influence to spread the message to young people, and especially the Hip-Hop community, about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention? Shouldn’t they be lauded? If their music is so sexually irresponsible, isn’t it a good thing that they are talking about safe sex considering that HIV/AIDS transmission rates are so much higher among African-Americans?
What’s particularly dangerous is the use of the phrase “rape culture” in this context. In the wake of the Cleveland, Texas rape case, we have seen how stereotypes of sexually aggressive black men spin out of control and dredge up historical beliefs of black men being rapists. This is the latest incarnation with Ashley Judd, a well-respected advocate for maternal health and women and girls, attacking Hip-Hop. Commercial Hip-Hop is misogynous. So is underground shit. Rock, metal, house, R&B, techno, etc. all have misogynous and violent content. But none is as popular, commercially viable, or controversial. There’s a difference between talking about the music as being misogynous and honestly deconstructing what’s behind that, and saying Hip-Hop as a whole promotes “rape culture.” It shows a lack of understanding of the diversity of Hip-Hop and the commercial decisions that shape how it is sold and capitalized upon (and who makes those decisions).
I know that she is promoting a book and people think it’s a publicity stunt. I don’t know…maybe it is, generally speaking we as listeners and consumers of Hip-Hop (at least her definition of it) aren’t her main audience. As a publicist and communications strategist, I think that’s idiotic and shortsighted but I’m also not a big supporter of the idea that all publicity, even bad, is good publicity. If that’s the case then mission accomplished…now people who didn’t know or care about her memoir think she is a racist dumbass. Or some people think she is speaking out about negative imagery of women in Hip-Hop and pop culture. That depends on your point of view. What I do believe is that Ms. Judd wants to advance the discussion of attitudes that lead to sexual assault and rape since she experienced sexual abuse. Yet this is hardly a constructive way to do it.
I have looked closely at the feedback I have received about those two paragraphs, and absolutely see your points, and I fully capitulate to your rightness, and again humbly offer my heartfelt amends for not having been able to see the fault in my writing, and not having anticipated it would be painful for so many. Crucial words are missing that could have made a giant difference. It should have read: “Some hip-hop, and some rap, is abusive. Some of it is part of the contemporary soundtrack misogyny (which, of course, is multi-sonic). Some of it promotes the rape culture so pervasive in our world…..” Also, I, ideally, would have anticipated that some folks would see only representations of those two paragraphs, and not be familiar with the whole book, my work, and my message. I should have been clear in them that I include hip-hop and rap as part of a much larger problem. It is beyond unfortunate that I am talking about some, for example, of Snoop Dogs’ lyrics, an assumption has been spread I was talking about every single artist in both genres. That is false and distorted. Here, I am again aware that it would be impossible for me to get this “exactly right.” Some will find fault, no matter how careful I am, no matter what my intentions.

Easily the most ludicrous thing about the Twitter wars has been the perpetuation of the ridiculous accusation I am blaming two musical genres for poverty, AIDS, and the whole of rape culture. Please, people. Seriously? It’s beneath all of us that this even merits a comment. Gender inequality and rape culture were here a long before the birth of the genres and rage everywhere. Someone pointed out American history includes extensive white patriarchal rape. I’d add genocide, too, but that is another essay.

Regarding what is happening on Twitter:

Thumbs Up: In those 2 paragraphs, I was addressing gender and gender only. However, the outcry focused so much on race (and at times class) that it was naive of me to assume that everyone knew I was discussing only gender. My favorite feminist teachers, such as bell hooks and Gloria Steinem, would probably have admonished me, as they write that gender, class, and race are inextricably bound in the conversation about gender equality. My amends for thinking you could read my mind and know I was only talking about gender. I understand why you were offended.

“Why don’t we [help] end rape culture instead of getting mad that we’re getting called out on it?”
Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com

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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