Tag Archives: sexual stereotypes

Body Language: How Nicknames Objectify Minority Women And Why I Don’t Care “How You Meant It”

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally posted on Guanabee

Associate Editor Alex Alvarez takes a look at how nicknames among minorities work to keep a good gordita down and why you, shorty, shouldn’t take it anymore.

Words, in and of themselves, are without power. Their potency comes from the relationship between the speaker and the listener. As any woman who has walked by a construction site will tell you, “Hello beautiful” is different coming from a strange man whispering in your ear than from your mother. It’s through these relationships that words can becomes tools, bridges, weapons or any other sort of melodramatic metaphor you want to use. If relationships are defined by power —who has it, who doesn’t, who wants it and who is in the position to bestow it—language, then, is a means of both establishing power in relationships and also of demolishing and subverting it. A “thanks, beautiful” aimed right back at a strange man is surprisingly effective.

While writing my response a few weeks ago to an article in “San Francisco Weekly” that “roughly” and incorrectly translates the Spanish word “negro” to the English word “nigger,” I realized most of the Guanabee readership already understands the nuances that appear in, yes derogatory, but complicated Spanish-language labels. And the same could be said for other ethnic minorities, (or at least the pockets of them that are represented in popular culture and media), who use certain pet names and phrases wrought with prejudice, but excuse them with a flippant, “This is how we are. And, besides, we don’t mean any harm by it.”

But “this is how we are” is not an excuse. Why? Well. It’s not how I am. So it’s not how we are. Adaptation is possible. It just takes effort and exposure to different ways of thinking, even if I have to drill it into you during family holiday get-togethers. It is not enough for us to merely explain — and thus, on some level, excuse — the differences between Anglo and Latino, or Black and White, or any other minority versus majority as they relate to potentially hateful speech. Instead, let’s take a look at why these differences exist and what, exactly, they result in accomplishing, based on history and cultural context. What does a language say about the people who speak it? And vice-versa? Let’s find out! Hokay? Hokay.

But, um, first: A preface of sorts. It’s important I make it known that I don’t feel I’m qualified to write about slang and language as it pertains to anyone who is not Latino or Anglo. As I alluded to above, anything I would have to say about the experience of any other group would be merely observational and the result of a sort of clinical detachment. It’s not my experience. I can’t offer anything except, “Well, from what I observe… this seems to mean this. And isn’t that interesting?” But it is interesting. And it is important to discuss these observations. So, that said, do let’s continue:

Such A Colorful People, No?: Nicknames Based On Appearance

Many terms of endearment in Spanish are based on appearance. “Cute” little nicknames like morenita, negrita and güerita abound. The diminutive “ita,” as it’s used here, translates to “little,” therefore effectively rendering it’s object to be both small and, presumbably, a possession belonging to the speaker. Continue reading

No Más, Por Favor: Stereotypes of Latina Muslims

by Guest Contributor Melinda, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

There’s a trend in the Americas. Latina* women are getting tired of Catholicism. They’re sick of being called “mamacita” in the streets. They don’t want to deal anymore with the chauvinistic pigs otherwise known as Latino men. So they’re throwing away their tank tops and their statues of the Virgin Mary and pulling on the hijab and ‘abaya instead.

Or so the media would have you believe. I’ve seen a stream of articles about Latina women converting to Islam, and they overwhelmingly rely on stereotyped images of Latino cultures as well as Muslims. The topic has been covered by MSNBC, NPR, the Christian Science Monitor, the Houston Chronicle, and more.

Here’s the standard lead:

Latina woman is walking down the street. It’s a hot day, and she’s dressed in a full-length skirt (dress, coat, etc.) and a hijab. She passes some Latino men. They look towards her and don’t scream at her. She sighs thankfully and reflects on the days of the past, of catcalls and shouts of “Hey, mami” as she walked by in her skimpy outfit.

The article then explains that in Latino culture, men are macho jerks and women are sex objects. In Islam, they are covered up and immediately respected. The author retells the woman’s decision to leave Catholicism for Islam, her experience putting on hijab, and the sad reactions of her family. If the journalist tries to dig a little deeper, there may be some theological reasons for choosing Islam, but they’re usually an afterthought. Some articles will note that Latina women like the strict gender roles of Islam because that’s what they’re used to.

Of course, not every article follows this mold precisely, but none stray from it completely. They paint monolithic pictures of both Latinos/Latinas and Muslims. It’s especially unfortunate in a time when both groups are often vilified and misunderstood in the United States. Continue reading

Not woman enough

by guest contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?
–Sojourner Truth

Today I was reminded of my place in the female hierarchy.

I was in an impromptu meeting with a 50-something white man and a white woman who is my age, when this exchange occurred:

White male: The only people who liked that design were under 28.

White female: Under 37…I loved it.

Me: Yeah. Me too.

White male: (to white female, pointedly) Well, YOU don’t look older than 28.

White female: (to me–maybe attempting to soften white male’s comment) You don’t either.

White male: (eyeing me) Mmmm…I don’t know about that.

It is peculiar–in my experience, some white men don’t relate to black women as women. On more than one occaision, at more than one job, a white male co-worker has made comments to me that violate society’s codes of chivalry. What gentleman comments on how old a woman looks? This is not the first time the man in question has made a subtly derogatory comment about my appearance. I have also noticed how his eyes slide distastefully over my natural hair.

When I began typing this post, I worried that I was overreacting. In the re-telling, the offense seems so petty and maybe subject to interpretation. Maybe it wasn’t about race at all, maybe my co-worker simply finds me haggard looking and is surprisingly untactful. So, I called up a good friend–another black woman–that I can always count on for wise counsel. She understood exactly what I meant about the peculiar state of non-femaleness black women sometimes occupy in the mainstream. It is the weird flip side to the stereotype of the wanton black sexual temptress.

As I vented to my friend, I remembered a white male colleague from another job that seemed eager for me to join him in fawning over the beauty and style of our white female teammates. I still remember vividly the day he leaned over to me, while glancing admiringly at a female co-worker. He said something like: “Mary always looks great! She is tall and blonde and always has on the latest style or whatever. You and I just look like schlubbs.” 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

Two books I won’t be reading, thanks

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

A couple of books have come to my attention lately that are truly cringe-worthy. The first is self-published (thanks Wendi):

Check out the official description:

If you’re a White man interested in dating Black women, this book shows you how to make it happen. Learn how Black women think, what they like and don’t like to see in White men, and where and how to go about meeting them. Find out how to cope with public reaction to interracial couples, learn how to counteract the psychological inhibitions that can hold you back from getting involved and understand why those who oppose interracial relationships feel compelled to think and act the way they do. Find out what works and get involved.

It’s amazing how popular this genre is: self-help for the racial fetishists. See here and here and here and here for more examples.

The other one has to be the most Orientalist personal finance book every written (thanks Francesca):

As you read the official description, can’t you just smell the sweet opium hear the goooooooooonnnnnnnngggg?

Millions of readers have thrilled to the astonishing true adventures of the tiny peasant who achieved ultimate prosperity during history’s most turbulent epoch. Now, The Prosperous Peasant reveals the Secrets that guided him–and successful people the world over–since time began.

A colorful cast of teachers–the peasant-turned-samurai Hideyoshi, Kembo the Vengeful Priest, Fernao the Portuguese trader, the brilliant strategist Nobunaga, Daizen the ronin, and many others–bring to life five ageless Secrets of Fortune and Fulfillment in parables whose beauty and truthfulness haunts and inspires.

The key to Prosperity, readers learn, lies not in “techniques” or “strategies” but in ancient knowledge drawn from the great philosophies of China and Japan–wisdom more fundamental than any “how-to” advice.

Forged in an extraordinary collaboration between an acclaimed novelist and a Japan specialist who made his own fortune, The Prosperous Peasant will teach, charm, and motivate–but above all, its powerful message may change your life.

Begin your journey to prosperity and fulfillment today. Heed the ageless wisdom of The Prosperous Peasant!

This edition includes an all-new abridgment of Bushido, Nitobe’s classic on the Eight Virtues of the chivalrous code of the samurai.

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.

Mandingo party on Nip/Tuck

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Did anyone catch Nip/Tuck this week?

I was amused to find that the episode included a faithful reproduction of the “Mandingo party” that was the topic of a much-discussed Details magazine article in April 2007. I swear, they even recreated this exact photo, with two actors who looked exactly like this black man and white woman, and made it a point to show one scene where some revelers get it on in a kid’s room.

The episode even included a cameo by the ultimate Mandingo, Mr. Lexington Steele himself!

Was the episode racially problematic? Well yeah. But for some reason I just can’t take it that seriously – especially since that original article was such a joke. And the show totally played it for laughs.

Also, I was too busy cracking up at the fact that the head Mandingo was played by Boris Kodjoe, who just happens to be the celebrity crush of a certain former New Demographic co-director! *cough*jenchau*cough*

Jezebel: Asian women are hot, smart, thin and tell you your skin is bad

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Today’s WTF moment.

Moe from Jezebel — who calls herself “practically Asian,” whatever that means — helpfully breaks down why men are so attracted to Asian women:

there are a few reasons some dudes prefer Asian women, and it starts with the fact that they are very rarely unattractive, and they are even more rarely stupid, and they are even more rarely than that fat. They have really nice skin and they’re not afraid to tell you yours looks bad.

No, no essentialist bullshit going on there.

Update: Wow the comments are really worth a read. Check out this one from JNOV:

I was out drinking with several guys, and here’s how they explained the attraction to me: Asian women have no body odor whatsoever, and cunnilingus is esp nice because they have no body odor. And I was like, “You think pussy smells bad? Good luck finding some.”

I have no idea if their claim is true or not. They may have been messing with me; I have a rep for being gullible.

Yes sweetie, it’s true. Asian pussies don’t smell. They also have a horizontal slit instead of vertical. If there are any other asinine racial myths you need me to confirm, just email me.