Tag Archives: racism

#solidarityisforwhiteartists: the oppressive nature of a white artist’s message

Lily Allen’s music video for her single, “Hard Out Here”, is yet another installment of how white artists implicitly add a racial dialogue to deliver and solidify their messages. What is oppression? Oppression is when your culture and bodies become tools to promote white artist’s careers and criticisms of society. It is how musicians’s “anti-consumerist” messages have been embedded in consumerism closely associated with hip-hop and thusly African American culture. In “Hard Out Here”, Allen asserts that you would never hear her talk about her chains.  In becoming “anti-consumerist”, Allen only targets one type of consumer: African Americans. Oppression is also having your body become hypersexualized and on display in an effort to critique sexism while reinforcing negative stereotypical representations of your identity. Allen, while fully clothed, is surrounded by mostly women of color who are: twerking in bikini coverage style outfits, provocatively touching themselves, and dowsing themselves in champagne. Although this video is meant to be a parody, Allen’s representation of African American women just reinforces racist tropes about them in music videos. Oppression of this nature between women is nothing new, as bell hooks pointed out that “sexism is perpetuated by institutional and social structures” (127). The institution of racism still permeates our society and divides our women’s movement, as seen in the popular twitter movement over the summer started by Mikki Kendal #solidarityisforwhitewomen. There’s much to do for gender equality, but if we’re getting there through putting other women and cultures down, can we really call it progress?

Works Cited:

Hooks, Bell. “SISTERHOOD: Political Solidarity Between Women.” Feminist Review 23 (1986): 125-138. Print.

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Ad Critique: NuvaRing

This video is of the updated NuvaRing advertisement. If you look closely, one of the older ads is playing in the background. This relates closely to the Angela Davis reading “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights.” The NuvaRing is a form of birth control that is advertised as being more convenient than the pill. However, it is quite expensive. While in the long term, as compared to the pill, it might save money, the thing about being poor is that you may have some money at a given time but maybe not enough to actually afford the one-time NuvaRing. This already puts up a class barrier as to who can actually get this form of birth control. Next, there is the definite race component. These ads, both the current and old ones have all white women except for the “token black woman.” There is little diversity, which also ties back in to the Davis reading. Their target audience is primarily white middle to upper class people. That is where they perceive the money to be. This ad is also noticeably full of cis women. As brought up in both of the Spade readings, bodies are not inherently gendered. There are people who are not cis women who also could benefit from this product (but are most likely going to be denied it or misgendered in order to get it). The gendering of certain bodies definitely influences the availability of medical care available and presented to them.

What are the effects of privilege?

Providing accessible birth control to all U.S. women is inhibited by class and race privilege.  In this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K_mu8CS0aWA

Republican Tom Price showed total ignorance that under-privileged women even exist. He opposes the Obama administration’s rule that insurance must cover birth control because he does not relate to the lower class (not that he can relate directly to the need for birth control, considering he is a man). Class privilege is a barrier that keeps lower-class women from getting birth control, since upper-class men are usually the ones making decisions regarding it.

In Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis points out that white women experience white privilege when it comes to birth control. Women of color might not participate as much in the movement for accessible birth control because in the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that native-born whites were not reproducing enough, so birth control and abortion should be used “as means of preventing the proliferation of the ‘lower classes’” and races (Davis 210). Historically, birth control has been negative for women of color or low class.

The privilege of white, upper-class people inhibits the accessibility of birth control.

Work Cited

Davis, Angela. “Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights.” Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedom: Transforming a Movement. Ed. Marlene Fried. Boston: South End, 1990. 203-21. Print.

Too Close (to Racism) for Comfort?

LeBron James Vogue

The other day, I ran across an image of basketball player LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue… except in various articles (including a Huffington Post article linked below), their picture was placed side-by-side with a vintage advertisement of the film King Kong. It was striking and disappointing to see how similar James looked to King Kong, and how much Bundchen mirrored the damsel-in-distress in the film advertisement.

This cover photo seems to perpetuate the narrow perception of black masculinity which, according to Hill Collins in her piece “Booty Call: Sex, Violence and Images of Black Masculinity,” consists of, “…aggression and claiming the prizes of urban warfare… Being tough and having street smarts is an important component of Black masculinity. When joined to understandings of booty as sexuality, especially raw, uncivilized sexuality, women’s sexuality becomes the actual spoils of war” (151).

Is this just a harmless cover with James showing his “game face”, or is there a more racist undertone (Huffington Post, 2008)?

Works Cited:
Hill-Collins, Patricia. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Zaleski, Katharine. “LeBron James Vogue Cover Criticized For “Perpetuating Racial Stereotypes”.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2013. .

DIS(CRIME)INATION

Discrimination, is the widely used term that recognizes the prejudicial and differentiating treatment of an individual based on socially perceived classes.  These categories can range anywhere from; age, race, gender, sexual orientation and even religion.  This reaction is so embedded in the way society thinks, that even people who are considered minorities discriminate against others within the same minority group.  Bell Hooks, author of SISTERHOOD: Political Solidarity Between Women, points out several times that there is still not a firm solidarity amongst women.  One of her arguments deals with the issues of racism.  “Racism is another barrier to solidarity between women.  The ideology of Sisterhood as expressed by contemporary feminist activists indicated no acknowledgement that racist discrimination, exploitation, and oppression of multi-ethnic women by white women had made it impossible for the two groups to feel they shared common interests or political concerns.”

As a woman of mixed race, I have personally dealt with the harsh realities of discrimination and racism, in its truest form.  It has even gone as far as, a young white male jumping out of his truck, with a noose, screaming he was going to “hang all the niggers.”  While discrimination can be extremely damaging to one’s psyche, I cannot dispel the fact that those occurrences helped to shape my beliefs, and what I stand for today.

Hooks, Bell. “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women.” JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2010.

What is inequity? Can social policy eradicate it?

What would a fair world look like? Would it be blind to gender, race, and class? Would there be legal provisions ensuring a workplace has a fair amount of women and racial diversity, or would these markers be so unimportant that laws would not be needed to achieve equal gender representation at work. 

What do minority movements want when they fight for equality? Do feminists want to have women raised up to be equal to men, or do they want to ignore the differences of gender altogether? Do gay people want sexual orientation, a strong marker of identity, to be totally ignored?

“Equality” is so abstract to be the lone goal for a movement. When groups have specific agendas, like fighting for the legalization of same-sex marriage or the extension of federal benefits to same-sex couples, then it feels like victory when these goals are met. However, looking past the successes on paper, there is still inequality in society in terms of race and gender.

Women will fight for equal pay, for equal workplace representation, for the right to choose, etc. and they will likely succeed on paper. But until the thoughts of people have changed, it seems unlikely that we can achieve equality. Until women are not viewed as the “other” or “the second sex,” there will always be a hierarchy because society is built on laws, yes, but also on attitudes. And the gender hierarchy, a false yet perpetuating binary, stems from a constructed attitude. Inequality goes beyond policy, and it cannot be resolved solely in the realm of politics. I think the acknowledgment of differences within the feminist movement Bell Hooks describes can be applied to both genders: differences cannot be ignored, but maybe they can be reconciled. 

Hooks, Bell.  (1986). “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women.” Feminist Review. Vol. 23. Pages 125-138.