These posters are misogynist, racist, and downright disrespectful. That photo of Rihanna was never supposed to be public. Do you think she likes seeing it plastered all over the world? You want to protest against Chris Brown, fine, but don’t do it by exploiting Rihanna’s pain. You should also consider that Rihanna has publicly forgiven him, so why bring it up when she clearly wants both of them to move on? Also ask yourself why you’re targeting Chris Brown and not, say, Polanski, Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, or any other white celebrity who’s committed similar crimes and yet still get to have a career? Yeah, I thought so.
My short piece about the latest misogynist mess in The Netherlands, in view of our very own election campaign currently under way.
by on SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 (Young men getting more sexist?)
I really love society’s obsession with preventing women from saying “I hate men,” and all the stupid bbs tripping over themselves to call out “reverse sexism” if a woman ever does utter such a phrase.
Here’s the thing though: I hate men. Because of things they have done to me, my friends, and the women in my family, and because unlike with individual women that I hate, the things men have done form a pattern of entitlement and domination over women. I don’t need to be told that some men are decent; I know that! I’m friends with quite a few very decent men. Their existence doesn’t mean that overall, men don’t drag behind them a history of rape, violence, and death when it comes to women. I’m reminded of this through every news article, every dumbass comedian making a “joke,” every time I’m hurt again or one of my woman friends is. This is your legacy as an oppressor, and I hate you for it.
And you know what? My hatred does not touch you in any way. I could stand in the middle of the street with a bullhorn shouting for all and sundry to hear that I hate men, and there are only a few possibilities of what would happen: a) people would laugh at me, b) I would be heckled as a crazy ~feminazi~, c) men would make threats of rape and violence against me to shut me up. Hey, all I did one time was say on my Tumblr that “misandry” is not a real thing (it’s not) and I got an inbox full of the followers of a Tumblr-famous blogger telling me I need a dick in my mouth. It’s not exactly like I’m pulling these scenarios out of thin air.
What would never happen as a result of my hatred of men: men would become targets of increased sexual violence, men would be blamed for their own assaults, men overall would begin to be paid less than women regardless of qualifications, men would lose their foothold on world power, etc.
So next time you want to tell me it’s wrong to hate men or that it makes me “just as bad” as misogynists, sell your Daniel Tosh tickets and buy yourself a fucking clue with the money.
You won’t find Tumblr’s SJ community calling this scum out for the hateful rhetoric. (Taken with Instagram)
Apparently some white blogger tells me that Paki isn’t a racial slur, honey, it’s a shortened version of Pakistani and of course the pure racial hatred and marginalization against Asian immigrants in the UK during the 60’s never happened or that after 9/11 Paki was used a slur for all sorts of brown people including Arabs, Persians, etc. But let’s all just agree that Sir White Blogger asserts that Paki is abbreviated and harmless. Our friend lives in another galaxy, it seems.
Fuck off, son.
Why don’t I see people getting upset about this? Why?
LOL not a slur? Not a slur?
I can’t decide if it makes it easier or harder when it becomes evident that people straight up Do Not Understand History (But Think They Do). Like, on the one hand I feel like it’s easier because what the fuck else can you do to argue with them since evidently they’ve got the whole damn narrative worked the fuck out so goodbye I hope the door closes on your finger on your way out, but then maybe it’s harder because how did you even get there and how would you even fix your complete wrongness?
I don’t know if I’m part of the “Tumblr SJ community” (I haven’t gotten a welcome basket?), and I don’t know who this dude is, but this is pretty disgusting and racist as fuck. Feel free to let this shitstain know what you think about his exercise in freedom of speech.
“Be Honest”: Feminism, Race and Hip-Hop Criticism
I was once accused, in an online comments section, of course, of supporting homophobia and misogyny because I wrote an article about rap music. The logic of the comment was specious and the tone snarky and it was an utterly silly and ridiculous accusation — the piece was this one, on Moroccan dissident rapper El Haqed, who raps about things like monarchy, corruption and oppressive police brutality, but not at all about getting laid or hitting prostitutes or calling the people he’s angry at homosexual. This kind of hip-hop, in the context of protest music, is what I write about. So really, I mostly just paused at the comment, felt briefly sorry at the strain that logic had endured that day, and laughed about it.
But in the time since I’ve been thinking, spurred on by writing I’ve read, about the kind of misogyny and homophobia associated with hip-hop. I think a lot of the accusations leveled at hip-hop about misogyny and homophobia miss the necessary nuance to address the problem. The problem isn’t hip-hop, the problem is much, much bigger and stems from someplace else. Hip-hop has a misogyny problem and a homophobia problem, and so does a great deal of the rest of pop music and popular country music and popular rock, etc. So does Congress. So do a lot of radio and television hosts. So do… you get my drift. The difference in how we talk about what’s going on is that hip-hop’s misogyny is seen as the misogyny of African-American men, an endemic misogyny seen as somehow far more problematic than white misogyny or white homophobia. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift both accuse subjects in their songs of being gay (see “Ur So Gay” and “Picture to Burn”) as a way of mocking and humiliating them, but we don’t broadly talk about the culture of twenty-something straight, white pop stars as having a big and insurmountable homophobia problem, nor do we charge their listeners with that. We may charge them with an individual act of homophobia or sexism, but we rarely consider that problem to be connected to deep thematic elements of the teen pop scene. Perhaps we consider them less problematic because, while Taylor Swift heavy-handedly layers on the madonna-whore complex motif in her song and music video for “You Belong With Me,” she avoids ever directly calling the rival female character in her narrative a whore and mixes her message with sounds that are the country-pop equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup. The supposed cultural digestibility of the sexist and homophobic elements included in a range of music from classic rock to country-pop crossover owes a great deal to the whiteness of its singers and to the general crowd-pleasing appeal that a good bout of slut-shaming or indulgence in gender essentialism.
What we aren’t talking about is our race problem when we discuss hip-hop. We generalize hip-hop by the selection of commercialized music we often hear on the radio and from that deduce that Black or African-American sexism comes from somewhere else, somewhere worse than the white sexism that we’re so much more willing to let slide and much less willing to see as an endemic problem to be addressed rather than as trivial or isolated incidents accepted as within bounds.
This kind of commentary also handily lets us ignore what hip-hop has to offer as a platform for cultural growth. Hip-hop has the options of providing us with talented female MCs (and breakdancers, DJs and graf artists), who, while they don’t get nearly the attention they deserve, are vibrant presences within hip-hop culture (Azealia Banks? Rye Rye? M.I.A.?) and have been so since the start. Hip-hop has its own moments and opportunities for genuine growth, in a broadly impactful way, on the subjects of gender and sexuality. One of the most notable has happened in the time since I started composing this essay. Frank Ocean’s Tumblr confessional about his first love, another boy at age 19, presented a complex and frank look at bisexuality and homosexuality in a number of contexts, including the hip-hop music scene. The genuine outpouring of public support from many corners of the hip-hop universe (not to say that there weren’t plenty of nasty tweets from homophobic former fans and one lackluster one at best from Tyler, The Creator), from Theophilus London to a simple but laudatory and to-the-point support poem from Beyoncé (pictured above), showed some encouraging support and even a rejection of rigid gender/sexuality constructs. (I of course don’t want to make it out to seem like what Frank Ocean did is A) what I think everyone in the closet about their sexuality or gender identity ought to do (everyone gets to make that choice for themselves) or B) the end of homophobia in the hip-hop culture/business.)
If we want to actually attack rap’s misogyny and homophobia, we have to attack the fact that those are features of huge swaths of popular culture, of high culture and of low culture (actually, I actually kind of hate those terms) and that such elements become selling points for music and entertainment. At this juncture, lots of Top 40 rap is for white audiences, white audiences who deeply appreciate cheering on references to gratuitous violence and poor attitudes towards women and femininity and things that bend gender ideals. We need to take to task rap personas like Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino and the perpetually slur-slinging Odd Future group in ways that effectively address the source of the problem and the factors that perpetuate it. We don’t challenge enough the fact that these personas or these motifs are made popular by mass culture’s demand for and acceptance of this kind of lyric or imagery.
The sexist tropes in hip-hop music have their roots in the same kind of in-high-demand sexism that pumps up listeners by playing into the gender norms instilled in us since we were wobbly toddlers. This is actually a kind of sexism not all that far from the kind that drives the popularity of advice pieces that are “He’s From Mars And Just Not That Into You But Maybe If You Were Less of A Slut But Also Put Out Some More” mash-ups and the cascading Internet troll attacks on female voices and the “Ugh, aren’t men and women just so different” punchlines of how many different stand-up comedians. It’s certainly not far from the sexism that spurred some video game aficionados to launch a vitriolic and stomach-turning campaign against feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian for speaking out against misogyny in the gaming world. The homophobia doesn’t arise in hip-hop because hip-hop came from South Bronx anger and Brooklyn rage, but rather because it exists inside a cultural that has a trained rejection of things that fall outside some rigidly constructed boxes of masculinity. Rappers have as complex and problematic a relationship with sexual norms and gender hierarchies as most segments of popular culture, yet we treat them as if they are somehow separate from white sexism (seen as individualized and not indicative of problems within white culture).
There is a certain amount of glee to the death knell being rung repeatedly for hip-hop culture: they are hopefully typing out eulogies for what white America has long seen as threatening - powerful, popular, sometimes-radical-sometimes-marketable Black voices. It’s a way to finally write hip-hop off like people have wanted to for decade and especially a continuation of the ever-popular narrative that defines Black masculinity as aggressive and dangerous and Black femininity as a victimized caricature. If all we want to see of hip-hop culture, or of Black or urban communities, is the sex and violence genre of chart-topping gangsta rap, then I’m sure that’s all we’ll see. It won’t get us particularly far, though.
I’m not denying the the ubiquity of reductionist and degrading (and much worse) imagery of femininity and homosexuality in so much of mainstream rap/hip-hop, nor should anyone. But for the sake of actually effectively addressing it, it has to be treated as a function of a broad cultural acceptance, no, not acceptance… desire for that exact kind imagery and objectification. There’s a sort of audience revelry in sexism and homophobia, a revelry in the justification it provides. This kind of phenomenon has to be treated as if it comes from the same places that the popular games and movies glorifying violent treatment of women or ugly rejection of homosexuality.
Feminism needs to call out the places where themes of egregious sexism and homophobia are pervasive and influential, which includes but are hardly limited to the lyrical stylings of Tyler, The Creator and Fifty Cent. (And why don’t we also throw problematic thematic elements of classism and exploitative capitalism in there as well, for good measure. Lots of music relies on heavily materialistic tropes and validation of success on highly financial terms.) But, as a feminist, I’m also not doing my job if I don’t point out the serious race problems underscoring a great deal of the criticism aimed at hip-hop culture and rap music from the outside or if I don’t point out this as one of the many shields behind which endemic cultural sexism and homophobia try to hide.
A reading suggestion: Tricia Rose’s Hip Hop Wars has a whole chapter dedicated to this subject and the place of African-American and Black feminism in criticism of both hip-hop and its white conservative detractors.
In this New Statesman article, Helen Lewis discusses some of the hate & harassment I have faced since launching my Tropes vs Women in Video Games Kickstarter including a flash game where players are invited to “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian”.
Excellent article. I always end up thinking this when I see reblogs like that. Female competition is a horrible, poisonous thing (that I’ve only recently gotten over engaging in, and I am much happier for it).
As the victims of crime, Indian women also experience “more extreme violence” than other women, Deer says. “One of the reasons is the idea that Native women are less valuable. You see that play out in places like Anchorage, the rape capital of the United States, where Native women are targeted in bars. A crime mapping of sexual assaults reported in Anchorage showed a clear pattern of predatory behavior that was targeted against Native women.”
Interviews in the new study showed that Indian women often encounter racism among sex buyers. “When a man looks at a prostitute and a Native woman, he looks at them the same: ‘Dirty,’” one woman said.
“A john said to me, ‘I thought we killed all of you,’” reported another prostitute.
if you want an example of institutional and systematic racism and misogyny against aboriginal women and sex workers, check out the sham of the missing women “inquiry” in vancouver (scare quotes intended)
” Sometimes they send poison, sometimes knives
sometimes fire, sometimes hell.
to the daughters of my country
They send a spring composed of ashes”
Marwa Sobhan on the Afghan girls in Takhar who have been poisoned for going to school.
Documentary “People and Power” follows young Afghan women taking the battle for #gender #equality onto the streets of #Kabul
This short documentary profiles Afghan Noorjahan Akbar a 19-year-old powerhouse who founded Young Women for Change in Kabul. She is taking the battle for gender equality out onto the streets of the capital - eager to understand why Afghan men are still so uneasy with the notion of women’s rights but determined to change those attitudes by persuasion, debate and example.
Last weekend, Melissa examined the case against Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville mother of three who fired a single bullet into her kitchen ceiling two years ago to warn her husband, Rico Gray, against continuing his physical attack on her. Gray, who reacted in violent anger after discovering that Alexander texted pictures of their newborn child to her ex-husband,spoke out earlier this week in an interview with TheLoop21:
“Personally, I wish she would have taken the three years,” Gray said. “I don’t wish 20 years on no one.”
He’s referring to the plea deal that Alexander reportedly turned down, a deal that took into account Gray’s history of violence. Alexander presumably cast that deal aside because she genuinely believed that she was standing her ground — both figuratively, and legally. But Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” castle-doctrine law somehow didn’t apply to her, despite the fact that her case appears to fit the statute to a T.
She was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault in a matter of minutes — and today, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison, a sentence she will appeal…
Mona Eltahawy and Nesrine Malik on Al Jazeera’s The Stream.
The episode discusses Eltahawy’s Foreign Policy article. I’ve been posting the responses, including my own, ever since the piece was published. Check out the episode above.
1. If you want to see real oppression, go to the Middle East.
The problems here are threefold. First, it implies women in the west should be grateful for the benevolence of their natural overlords. Who cares if 1 in 3 of you will experience sexual assault in your lifetime, while also enjoying the privilege of lower pay than your male counterparts and the symbolic annihilation of yourselves in literature and film? In case you didn’t know, women in Afghanistan are being stoned to death. So why don’t you just go ahead and submit your complaint to the STFU file known as my PENIS?
Second is the accusatory tone. Now, I’m no statistician, but I’d estimate that 98.76% of people outraged over feminism’s ‘failure’ to ‘protect’ their brown sisters from the oppression of their Muslim Male Masters (because let’s not forget, this is about racism too) are doing exactly zero to agitate for women’s liberation anywhere, let alone in the Middle East. But even though they hate feminism and all who dwell therein, they still think they know how to do it better than you do. This is because misogynists see themselves as Upper Management – which is precisely why we need to get more women into executive roles.
Finally, liberation and change aren’t beholden to hierarchies of need. It’s possible to seek the liberation of oppressed groups everywhere, at the same time! Asking comparativelyprivileged women (many of whom also live in the Middle East – it is not a vacuum) to be satisfied with ‘good enough’ just reinforces the patriarchal hierarchy of power that needs to be dismantled.
Besides, I don’t hear anyone accusing working families of selfishness for complaining about their rising electricity bills just because some slum dwellers in India don’t even HAVE working Playstations.
I wrote the above as part of an article for Fairfax’s Daily Life. I should clarify that I don’t think only men can be misogynists, and women are just as guilty of using these arguments. These are the kinds of arguments people use when they also use the argument, ‘Everyone’s equal now, so shut up’. It’s important to remember that misogyny isn’t JUST about virulent woman-hating. Sometimes, it’s also just about subtly thinking women are different and weird and not as good - but because you don’t want to address the privilege that thinking this gives you, you try and pretend that it’s normal and there are other problems in the world that are more important, and besides, women bring it on themselves.
So follow the link to read the top five arguments I encounter repetitively from people who find the idea of women’s liberation too hard, too threatening and too challenging to their own power, but who don’t want to say that, because it makes them sound like dicks.