Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘racism

this ain’t livin’: Before You Criticize the Food Choices of Others

Food policing is an area in which all sorts of assumptions are made about class and ability status. It goes hand in hand with the idea that people have an obligation to be healthy, that all bodies are the same so there’s only one way to be healthy, and that there is virtue in eating “right” as dictated by current authorities in the food world. Like, say, Michael Pollan, who is editorialized fawningly in numerous publications all over the planet for his “simple” and “helpful” food rules.

Here are a bunch of great posts about International Women’s Day:

Womanist Musings: In the Shadow of Hattie McDaniel Stands Monique

Ms. McDaniel won her award for best supporting actress in the movie “Gone With the Wind” in 1939. At the Atlanta premiere, not only was she banned from attending, her name was stricken from the souvenir program along with all of the other Black actors. Segregation meant that no matter her achievements, she was not worthy to be counted alongside the White actors. She was the first African American to be invited to the Oscars as a guest rather than a servant. What an accomplishment for the daughter of a slave.

feministhemes.com: The Blame and Shame Game

I don’t doubt that the motives here were well-intentioned, but I think that the posters that the students developed are a prime example of how we talk about sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence in our culture.

Criss writes: International ALL Women’s Day: “Feminista”

I was excited to read Erica Kennedy’s FEMINISTA mainly because of the title. I happily bought the book, not just because I could put it on my shiny new eReader but because buying it I was supporting a fellow Latina writer.

The story and characters have turned out to be not be my particular cup of tea, but I wanted to read it anyway. Until the word “tranny” appeared — and didn’t go away.

Also make sure to read Criss’ follow up post: ” ‘Feministas’ and the T-Word: The Aftermath”

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Guess what!  I have a tumblr now! You should read it.  It’s for a combination of shorter posts, personal stuff, and things that don’t quite fit into the themes of this blog.

this ain’t livin’: Female Celebrities Behaving Oddly?  It Must Be Mental Illness!

You are, literally, not in control of your own body when you are a female celebrity. Hollywood is sometimes called a fishbowl, especially for women, and it’s a very apt comparison. No place is safe. There is no escape. Private phone calls, emails, conversations, all can potentially be used against you and all of them are.

Equality 101: As a survivor of sexual assault…

Then let’s factor in the amount of people who have close friends, partners, or family members who have been sexually assaulted– now you’re talking a good portion of the classroom. Then there are the rest of the students, with various levels of exposure to discussions of sexual assault, and multiple opinions thereof. As the teacher, the compelling question becomes: how can we 1)have a discussion about this without serving as a trigger for those who have been assaulted, 2) respect the personal relationships many students may have with survivors of SA and 3) talk about it in a way that is relevant to the subject of the class?

Womanist Musings: Monstrous Musings: Patriarchal Baddies and Smokey Goodness? Musings on the Monsters of Lost

While Lost is certainly an improvement on most television shows in terms of diversity (and certainly 200x better than Disney), it seems white male privilege still rules the island. The show gives the most narrative attention to LWMs – or lost white males – and people of color are often presented stereotypically (Republican Guard/torturer Sayid, over-controlling and “English-challenged” Jin, simpleton Latino dude Hurley, folksy wisdom Ruth, oppressed Sun, etc).

Bitch Blogs: Need another reason to love Johnny Weir?

In response to two Quebecois commentators who spoke derogatorily of Weir and said he should take a gender test, Weir responded by issuing an awesome statement that touched on identity, free speech, life in the public eye, and the changing acceptance of gender, saying “I think masculinity and femininity is something that’s very old fashioned.”

A couple weeks ago I received a great email from a reader that posed many thoughtful questions.  I want to start by addressing one of them here.

This reader brought up the fact that in one of my posts about Glee I stated tht I wasn’t sure if I would continue to watch the show if it weren’t for the musical numbers because of the amount of sexism, ableism, racism, etc. apparent in the show.  So, when does the sexism of the show outweigh the positive or entertaining aspects of the show?  How much sexism is too much?

Because of the society that we live in, there is at least some sexism (and other -isms) in all tv shows.  And I watch a lot of television, so I “put up with” a lot of sexism.  So why do I continue to watch all these shows even though there is apparent sexism in them?

First of all, I am interested in how pop culture reflects the values of society.  So even though I enjoy these shows, I am always critiquing them — analyzing what they are saying about society.

But we still have to come to terms with the fact that I enjoy these shows — they are entertaining to me — despite the fact that they promote values that I disagree with.  Of course there are some aspects of certain shows that promote feminism, but they are certainly in the minority and still have sexist aspects to them as well.

For example, Secret Life of the American Teenager goes back and forth between healthy and unhealthy attitudes towards teen (and adult, sometimes) sexuality.  There is the teen who in one episode thinks that the fact that she had sex with her boyfriend whom she loves killed her father, then has a conversation about masterbation with her mother in another episode.  And Bones can have a great portrayal of bisexuality in Angela and then can portray stereotypes in heterosexual male-female reationships (Bones and Booth).  And there are some many other examples that I could go into.

But there are still many shows that I enjoy that have very few positive feminist aspects (How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, etc.).  When does the sexist factor outweigh the entertainment factor?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure.  I think it depends on each person and each show.  There are certainly a lot of shows that I don’t watch.  And that might be becuase their sexism and oppressive norms outweight the entertainment…or that the premise of the show just doesn’t interest me.  But I don’t really think there is a set line that can be used as a template for all shows.

I know this isn’t really an answer to the question.  But I can speak to my personal preference in continuing ot watch shows.

First of all, I have a tendancy to get invested in characters and storylines.  Shows that are good at storytelling tend to keep my interest.  Also, characters that I can either identify with in some way or see as an escape from my life can keep me interested in the show.  For example, I use Gossip Girl as an escape from my life because the lives of the characters are so different from mine…but I can still see some of my personality traits in some of the characters.  If the show can’t keep me interested in the storyline and invested in the characters, then the sexism will start to outweigh the entertainment factor for me.

So…how much sexism is too much in television?  I don’t know.  It has to be considered with the storyline and characters of the show…at least for me.  I might have a higher tolerance for shows that have apparent sexism than other people.  But, like I said, even if the storyline and characters are enough to keep me interested in the show, I am still always critiquing and analyzing what the show is saying about society and the sexism, racism, ableism, etc. that is in the show.

Bitch Blogs: The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Pride & Prejudice & Ableism

Which makes it all the more unfortunate that clear notes of ableism were introduced into both of the monster mashups released in 2009. Ableism is not really necessary to the plot (original or new), and it certainly doesn’t add anything to the books. It pushes both books from being playful romps into being something different entirely as they subtly reinforce ableist social and cultural values.

FWD/Forward: Depictions of Disability That Make Us Happy

And I think it might be interesting to have a larger discussion about what makes a depiction of disability “good” by our standards, though I assume that people may have some differing views on this subject. Personally, I think of a well-rounded depiction of a character who happens to be disabled, with a characterization which is not necessarily centered around disability. Where the disability is integrated well into the identity of the character, and acknowledged, but the character is not the embodiment of the disability. I think of characters who avoid common disability tropes, such as the Angry Bitter Cripple or the Telegenic Sick Kid. I think of characters who are rich and complex and who are allowed to have emotions (which can even vary from day to day!). I think, also, of plots which manage to avoid disability-as-tragedy, miracle cures, Empowering Experience for Able People, and other dehumanizing tropes.

Womanist Musings: 7 Year Old Gets Hair Cut By Teacher As a Punishment

Even with all of these concerns, what is not being discussed is Cammon’s race. Black women exist with very little social power and as a result it is extremely easy to devalue a little Black girl. It is already a known fact that in the states in which spanking is legal, Black girls are subject to the most corporal discipline. This is not because Black girls are any more unruly than any other child but that they exist as a group with no social power. Race and gender combine to make them valueless socially from birth.

Feministing: New Moon and domestic violence

However, I was not prepared for the way the movie portrays physical relationship violence, particularly in Native communities. For all the talk of Edward’s abusiveness throughout feminist blogworld, I’ve seen much less written about domestic violence as it relates to the film’s competing love interest, Jacob Black — a 16-year-old Quileute boy who can turn into a werewolf.

fbomb: A Feminist Analysis of “Fifteen”

I love country music. I love it with a burning passion. And inside of my love for country music also comes a love for Taylor Swift. I like her because she is my age, her songs are extremely easy to play on the guitar so I feel like I have some musical talent, and I can relate to most of her songs. Her song Fifteen is now climbing the charts. This is a fine song, and some of the things in it were true in some degree to my life. When I was a sophomore at a new school, I just wanted to be wanted (“when all you wanted was to be wanted”) instead of feeling isolated and friend-less. However there are a few lines of this song I disagree with.

As much as I enjoy my Taylor Swift songs, this one really bothers me.  I’m contemplating a post of my own.

00029162It’s sectionals time in the Glee world.  As already discussed, they are up against the reform school for girls and the deaf school (I’ve already talked about this pretty in depth, so I’m not going to go into it again).  But, as we already knew, Sue had leaked the set lists to the competing schools, so they performed the numbers that our glee club was supposed to, leaving them with nothing to perform and an hour to come up with something (these numbers included that reform school girls performing “Proud Mary” in wheelchairs).  Of course they pulled it off and won.  I mean, were we really expecting them to lose?

In the side stories, Emma takes the kids to sectionals, moving her wedding to Ken back a couple hours.  But that’s the last straw for Ken, and he leaves her at the alter.  Emma then quits her job at the school because she couldn’t stand to see Will or Ken around the school.  Rachel tells Finn about her suspisions about Quinn and Puck (all the secrects seem to be coming out).  Terry’s trying to work on her issues and take responsibility for lying about the baby by going to a therapist, but Will doesn’t want to hear any of it.  While the kids sing “My Life Would Suck Without You” (I hate that song) to him because he had to miss sectionals, he realizes that he’s in love with Emma and runs after her, where they share a kiss.  And the principal finds out that Sue leaked the set lists so fires her from the Cheerios and suspends her from school (does she have a job other than Cheerios coach?).

This episode was filled with all the inspirational crap that the series started off with.  I’m sorry, but maybe I’m just too cynical to take that kind of stuff seriously.  It was all, “we’re facing difficult odds, but we can pull through” and “we can do this because we have each other” stuff.  And there was a line that where they said they could win because “we believe in ourselves and what we’re singing.”  I’m sorry, I just can’t handle that kind of mushy stuff, but that’s just me.

And I probably was not as happy as the audience was supposed to be to see Will and Emma get together in the end.  We all knew that they were building up to this.  And we were supposed to be happy when this happened because they were building Terry up as this evil wife whom Will should have left a long time ago, so it’s ok that he’s in love with another woman.  And I don’t really feel their chemistry all the time, so the ending of the show felt a little forced to me.  And just so we’re all clear, they are also doing the same thing with Finn and Rachel.  They built Quinn up to be a lying girlfriend, so it was ok that Finn was in love with Rachel and now that Finn and Quinn are done, he is free to be with the person he really loves.

And speaking of Emma, I was quite proud of her during this episode (except at the end when she and Will kissed).  At sectionals, she stood up to the other glee club’s supervisors.  She told them off about the lessons that they were teaching their kids — that the only way they could win was by cheating.  And told them that maybe if they would have believed in their kids more, they would have been amazing without cheating.  Then later in the episode, she (briefly) didn’t let the men in her life control it anymore.  After Ken left her, she realized that she couldn’t put herself through the pain of working at that school anymore, so she quit.  And when Will realized that he didn’t want her to leave, she told him that she couldn’t be with him because he just left his wife.  But apparently all that changed when he kissed her.

And did they seriously have to have the reform school girls do “Proud Mary” in wheelchairs?  It would have been just as an effective of a steal if they had done it without the wheelchairs.  I think they were trying to go for funny…that the reform school girls didn’t have anyone in a wheelchair so it was funny that they would do a number in wheelchairs.  But it was bad enough when our glee club did it originally, but to have that school steal it and perform the number when there was no one disabled in their choir, I think that was worse.

I was happy for a while when Mercedes stood up for herself because she wanted to perform the ballad instead of Rachel.  She did a great performance which even Rachel recognized as good and won that honor.  But then the other school performed it, so she gave the ballad back to Rachel, even though Rachel just wanted to find another song for Mercedes to sing.  I was happy for a while because it was a minority character who wasn’t just going to blend into the background.  But then she gave it up to the white girl again, who already gets all the attention from the show.

Well, Glee is done for the fall.  So I guess we’ll have to wait til January (or whenever it comes back on, I’m not really sure) to see how they are going to prepare for regionals.  I wonder what kind of drama they are going to create now that Will knows Terry’s not pregnant and Finn knows Puck is the father.  Maybe they’ll create drama away from pregnancy and making all women look decietful and petty.  I can hope, can’t I?

I can’t quite place it, but I have hated the Kleenex “Get Mommed” commercials ever since they started.  They bother me.  And then I went to the “Get Mommed” website just to see what it was all about.  It’s kind of worse.

But let’s start with the commercials.  There’s obviously a lot of emphasis placed on motherhood.  The voice-overs and slogans play off of the attention that a lot of mothers give to their children when they are sick.  I mean, when I’m sick –really sick, not just the sniffles — I want my mom there to take care of me.  When I’m not at home when that happens, I usually call home multiple times a day.  But not all mother-child relationships are like that.  And it plays off the idea that only women can be nurturing.  Why can’t dads take care of their kids when they are sick?

But the commercials themselves show mothers cooking, playing with, and taking care of random people who “choose” them to be their mother.  That’s not really taking care of them when they are sick.  That’s just choosing random women to be their mothers.  For some reason, I’m offended by this.  I can’t quite place my finger on it directly, but I know that it bothers me.

And then there’s the website.  The website relies heavily on racial stereotypes.  There’s the large black woman with a big personality, the latina with a big family, the rich white woman who wants everything perfect.  The website not only has all of the things that are wrong with the commercials, but also adds in racial stereotypes to make it “funny.”

Just in case you haven’t seen the commercials, I have added one of them here:

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I have recently made the committment to apply to grad schools, so that is just one more thing as of late that is going to keep me away from blogging, so just an fyi.  Here are some of my favorite posts of the past couple days.  Don’t forget to leave links to what you have been writing and reading in the comments!

How Do I Say “My Brain is Not Like Yours” [FWD/Forward] – on the explanation of how to discuss the different ways that brains process information — as in when your brain is not “normal.”

The Vamps, They Are A-Changin’ [this ain’t livin’] – I knew there was a reason that I keep watching this show.

“Bad” black notes, “sophisticated” white notes [Deeply Problematic] – a look at racial stereotyping in advertisements.

I Hate Prescriptive Feminism [this ain’t livin’] – I do too.

When Do You Speak Up? [Womanist Musings] – that’s an important question to answer for yourself.

This is What a Beautiful Bride Looks Like [Small Strokes] – with all the pressure for the bride and the wedding to be perfect, we should also keep in mind what’s really important.