Tag: sexual stereotypes

June 12, 2009 / / black

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

Do black women regard interracial relationships as a personal affront?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this issue raised. On June 2, it surfaced once more when blogger the Black Snob posted a thought-provoking piece on those who oppose interracial relationships called “Sometimes the White Girl (Or Guy) Isn’t about You (Unconventional Wisdom).”

The post begins with the Snob recalling her days in school when two black girls unsuccessfully try to jump a white classmate who’s dating a black guy. Throughout the piece, the Snob not only questions the rationale the two girls used to justify beating up their white peer but the rationale that black women in general draw upon to oppose interracial relationships. Are black women being fair when they assume that a black guy dating a white chick is a sell-out? And how do the insecurities of black women in Western society factor into their objection of interracial relationships?

She writes, “Some black guys are going to date white girls. Attempting to beat up the white girls will not turn that tide. …You’d be better off learning to love yourself than becoming mired in bitterness and hate over that thing that’s not really about you.”

The Snob’s points are valid. However, after reading her piece and others like it, I find myself wondering why black women are constantly portrayed as if they are only ones who react negatively to interracial relationships. As a black woman who has been involved with a white guy for more than a year, I’ve faced my fair share of hostility from white women, and some Asian ones, who seem resentful of my partnership. None of these women have disapproved of my relationship aloud, but they don’t really have to. Their body language says enough.

Read the Post Interracial Dating: Black Women Aren’t the Only Foes of Interracial Romance

by Guest Contributor (and regular commenter) Atlasien

Geisha cultists seriously disturb me.

Surprisingly enough, many of them are women. They love the geisha mystique, the tinge of nostalgia for a bygone era, the careful artifice, the idea of humans as living artwork.

I’ve enraged a few of them simply by dropping the “geishas are prostitutes” bomb. They tell me they know about Japan more than I do. I’m a lowly mixed-race Japanese-American. I don’t even speak Japanese. I’m pluralizing “geisha” wrong. I obviously have no respect for the traditions of my ancestors. Geisha = serious business. Ha!

Geisha are not very relevant in modern-day Japan. They’re a fossilized archetype, almost like ninja. If you asked a group of Japanese people the burning question, “are geisha prostitutes?” depending on region and generation, you would probably get a variety of answers: “that’s an insult, of course not!” “Well, it depends on your definition.” “Yes, they’re high-end prostitutes.” “I don’t really know.”

But a lot of people, especially white people, are invested in defending geisha, in putting them on a pedestal. And when they do that, it does harm to Japanese-American women and to all Asian-American women. Appropriation is almost too mild of a word. It’s not just theft, it’s domination. Imagine a young girl, on the verge of understanding herself as a sexual being, looking deeply in the mirror… and seeing her mirror image controlled by puppet masters. Read the Post Geishas and Whores

March 31, 2009 / / black

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Crash Happy tipped me to this provocative article published on SoulBounce, asking “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women and Get Away with It?

Contributing editor Ro writes:

Someone please explain why Justin Timberlake continually gets a pass to fetishize and exploit the image of Black women. Right now. Because after watching him aggressively pulling on a chain wrapped around Ciara’s neck only to later use her bending body as a leaning post in her new video for “Love Sex Magic,” it’s getting ludicrously difficult to understand.

It been years since “Nipplegate” after which he distanced himself from Janet Jackson, cowardly allowing her to endure the overly harsh criticism alone. The outcry against his actions from those of us in the indignant minority was quickly overshadowed by an increase in album sales, multiple music awards and an increase in his Pop stardom miming Black music and culture. Instead of subjecting his next project with trepidation–let alone dismissal–nearly every “urban” club, radio station and music channel on the planet had the masses bumping to a song with a hook that’s about shackles, whipping and slavery.

From behind a wry smile and with his hair faded he actually tarnished a reigning, Black Pop star’s image arguably beyond repair by exposing her breast on national television and then built his street cred further by bringing sexy back, Middle Passage style. He’s transitioned from the post-racialist’s pop culture dream of somewhat harmlessly lusting after beautiful Black love interest in the video for “Like I Love You” into something more sinister. He uses the scapegoat of S&M edginess in which he is the aggressor, the dominant force, to subordinate his object of desire when she is Black.

Ro goes on to argue that while both Ciara and Janet Jackson chose to collaborate with Timberlake, “that just makes his ability to exploit their collaborations to the point that they are subjugated to his dominance, wittingly or not, more protestable.”

The comments over at SoulBounce were as provocative and engaging as the post. Here are a few of the choice ones:

You talk about JT “miming Black music and culture,” but until we get away from this insular view of racial ownership of culture (and a type of music) we will never be an integrated society. By making him out to be an imposter because he borrows from hip-hop and collaborates with black women (although his last popular single was with Madonna), aren’t you singling him out soley for the color of his skin and not the content of his musical product? That seems like precisely the kind of thing we are trying to get away from as a country.
Luce | March 25, 2009 5:02 PM | Permalink

Read the Post Soulbounce Asks “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women And Get Away With It?”

November 4, 2008 / / black

by Racialicious Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

As some of you Racialicious readers know, quite a few of us love some fine men around here, regardless of our genders and orientations. And what I mean by “fine” is how Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair, means it: “cute with a story.” So, I’m getting this out of the way right now.

I think Senator Barack Obama is a fine-looking man.

But what’s been said recently about this sexy man and his self-identified Black phallus is causing some consternation and situating his sexuality in a strange dichotomous discourse.

Former Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell wrote a feature in last week’s NY Press about how obsessed some people are about Obama’s looks, by how sexy he is, and how their ideas about his sexiness falls into racialized sexual fantasies, namely that his Black maleness makes him good in bed and how that stereotype may anchor some of the buzziness in folks’ erotic fantasies about him and may be the reasoning behind their voting for him. However, that stereotyped-based buzziness, Caldwell contends, may be the very thing could ruin his chance to become president.

This being a sex-centered issue of the NYP, Caldwell tried hard—maybe a little too hard—to bring the bawdy talk about Bama. In her lede she interviewed a 52-year-old white moderate Republican man who had sex with a white twenty-something Obama supporter. During the sexual encounter, the Democrat moaned a name: Obama’s name. In the piece itself, she describes how women have written to her about how Playgirl perpetuates racist stereotypes about Black men by featuring brothas with long penises, the post-Kennedy/Nixon debate mindset of the physical and the visual mean the political, and the US celebrity culture and race operating in our collective erotic imagination. Then she calls in the cultural and political analysts, including our own Carmen Van Kerckhove.

(Note: Caldwell called Racialicious “salacious.” Like I said, we can get down like that over here—and, yes, Carmen starts a lot of it with her Keanu Reeves posts–but La Playgirl EIC is seriously reaching, like all we do is write about the folks we want to sex up and how, served anti-racism style.)

“I’ve always been a little perplexed around the media’s obsession with Barack’s looks,” says Carmen Van Kerckhove, co-founder and president of racial consulting firm New Demographic and head of the popular and salacious blog, Racialicious. “He’s good looking for a politician, but he doesn’t have movie-star good looks.” Van Kerckhove calls this overemphasis on the candidate’s looks trite. “People think, ‘I can’t be racist, I think Obama is good looking.’ I’ve always interpreted people tripping over themselves to say how good-looking he is as revealing a level of [embedded] racism.” Read the Post Go Ahead, Vote for Obama’s Body (Slightly NSFW)

August 5, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Latoya Peterson

This is my second contribution to the interracial dating series. I originally wasn’t going to contribute after the intro post as my experience in this area is extremely limited. But, since we aren’t having the conversations I want to have, I’ll take a crack at it. I’m going to come off as a jerk, and I’m okay with this. Feel free to pose any questions you like in the comments, but I am going to ask that you refrain from making assumptions about my friends. If you want to know something, ask. – LDP


My best friend dates white girls.

It’s still painful for me to type that. Just the words, staring me in the face on the screen is like me pouring salt on a five year old wound. How the hell did that even happen?

Things weren’t always this way. Back in high school, I started kicking it with the guy who would eventually become best male friend (hereafter referred to as Bestboy). At the time, we bonded over a mutual love of reading, rock music, and dying our hair ridiculous colors normally only found in packs of Kool-aid. Bestboy was busy exploring his identity as a burgeoning black intellectual with a skateboard and back then his common refrain when it came to relations with the opposite sex was that he “dated the rainbow.” He found my insistence on dating within the race puzzling, I found his dating outside of it equally strange. But, as adolescents are wont to do, these minor disagreements were laid aside in favor of discussing more pressing matters like how many people could fit into a Honda Hatchback on the way home from HFStival.

Time passed, we graduated, and me and Bestboy kept in touch. Our hobbies grew in the same direction and we reunited around mutual adoration of art and anime. There was only one thing that became a quiet little undertone to many of our conversations. Over the last few years, the “rainbow” Bestboy spoke of had faded into one color: white.

Now, at this point, many of you may be wondering why I care about these things at all. Why do I care who my best friend dates? What does it matter the race of his partner as long as he is happy?

In a perfect world, these things wouldn’t matter. Love would just be love.

But the world isn’t perfect and these things do matter.

Love doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Read the Post Interracial Dating: Grudgingly Heading Toward Acceptance

May 26, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Guest Contributor Melinda, originally posted on Muslimah Media Watch

Last month we wrote about the introduction of a Muslim character on the popular American soap opera As the World Turns. Ameera Ali Aziz, arrived freshly from Iraq, faced deportation unless she married Noah, who was already in a relationship with boyfriend Luke. In the episodes since the wedding, the plot has thickened as the difficulty of maintaining a marriage of convenience has set in. Additionally, Ameera’s gone through a few changes.

The most immediately noticeable is her dress. Ameera arrived on the screen dressed in the standard under-chin hijab, no hair showing. Post-marriage she appeared to have started experimenting, trying out the style of hijab that tied in the back, leaving her earlobes bare. From there she went to leaving off the hijab altogether in front of her marriage-of-convenience husband, eliciting a “Your hair is so beautiful” comment. Now she’s settled into covering her in the Southwest Asian style — a scarf tossed loosely over her head, letting the front of her head (and hair!) show.

I’m not sure what the show’s writers or costume directors intended in this change. Perhaps they noticed what Noah did — that actor Tala Ashe does have pretty hair and perhaps they should capitalize on her looks. Quite possibly it’s part of an “Americanization” process the character is undergoing. Since, of course, American women don’t wear hijab. Immigrants might, but after awhile, they’ll see the American light and take it off.* Ameera provides no stated explanation, but the change reflects the idea that a fully covering hijab isn’t really compatible with being an American, as she is becoming.

At the same time, she seems more confident. That doesn’t mean the other characters abandon the patronizing comments and tones of voice, but Ameera has become less likely to put up with it. Trying to engage a discussion, Luke cajoles Ameera, “Come on. Let’s sit. Let’s talk.” She’s having none of it. “Just let me go,” she replies, irritated and uninterested in pleasing him.

Nevertheless, some of her old deference remains. “If you think that’s best, I’ll trust you,” she tells her husband obediently in another moment, her tone of voice clear that she doesn’t agree.

The writers continue to throw in stereotypes about Iraqi culture where they can. They simultaneously paint a picture of the U.S. that is completely blind to the sexism (and subsequent xenophobia) present in modern society and displayed by the show’s characters. One morning Noah wakes up to find Ameera in the kitchen, making a “real American breakfast” of eggs and orange juice — minus the bacon, one of the few (indirect) references to Ameera being Muslim. Noah tells her that being waited on makes him nervous. “But I’m your wife,” she protests. With the air of the all-knowing American, he explains, “That’s not the way it works around here.” I know plenty of American men who expect their wives to cook for them. I don’t know what world of gender equity Noah’s living in, but it’s one that nevertheless lets him get away with making comments like this:

“You’ve got to learn our customs here. Come, sit.” It’s like speaking to a toddler. Read the Post “World” Keeps Turning Over Stereotypes