Tag Archives: feminism

I’m A Bad Feminist, But Not Because I Don’t Like Iggy Azalea

iggy azalea bad feminist

Roxane Gay, who is much wiser (and certainly a better writer) than I am, said the following in Bad Feminist:

“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”

I think of this quote often when being trolled by people (both men and women, both in real life and on the Internet) who latch on to any given aspect of my humanity and poke the various bears of my beliefs with “Oh you like ____? But you’re a feminist. How can you like _____ and be a feminist?” Things I don’t like are also subject to this kind of asinine dissection, and a common example is Iggy Azalea. “Oh you don’t like Iggy Azalea? How can you not like Iggy Azalea and be a feminist? She’s a woman in a male-dominated industry! You have to root for that!”

Well, no. I don’t. And here’s why.

As I have written in the past, Iggy Azalea’s rise to fame in the male-dominated rap industry isn’t due to her undeniable talent: it’s due to the whiteness and verbal blackface that has made her a novelty, white privilege serving as a jetpack that skyrocketed her to the top, surpassing black women who have toiled in the trenches of hip hop for decades. Yet Iggy Azalea denies this at every turn, despite her inability to perform some of the most fundamental aspects of rap music (freestyling, for example), blaming sexism for her criticism and nothing more.

And granted, Iggy has faced sexism. I was one of the first to defend her when Eminem made a reference to raping her in one of his songs. I criticized the hacker group Anonymous when they threatened to leak a sex tape they claimed depicted Iggy if she didn’t apologize for her racism. This kind of violence is faced almost exclusively by women, and the way Iggy Azalea handled both of these attacks was admirable in both maturity and seriousness.

But being a feminist does not provide a “get out of racism free” card, and that is the card Iggy has been playing over and over since her rise to fame, which a lot of folks seem to have a whole deck of, from dismissive reactions to Susan B. Anthony’s racism to flippancy regarding Madonna’s use of the N-word. (“But she’s Madonna! She, like, birthed the feminist movement in music!”) When Mikki Kendall launched #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen on Twitter, this is exactly what she was referring to: the idea that the pain of women of color should take a backseat to so-called “overall feminism,” as if the concerns of women of color are not included in the “all” of that “overall.”

Certainly this isn’t an argument of “I’m a bad feminist, but Iggy Azalea is a worst feminist!” Not at all. But I do challenge the belief that because I find flaws with Iggy Azalea, my feminism is further flawed. My praying that Iggy wouldn’t win a single Grammy—thank you, Lord—doesn’t mean I was praying for the downfall of women in hip-hop. My laughing at her two days of Twitter beef with Papa John’s pizza doesn’t mean I don’t think the leaking of her private information is a serious matter. That’s the thing about being a thinking, multi-dimensional human being: I can, in fact, consider two topics simultaneously. I can laugh at the absurdity of a famous “rapper” using her stage name to order subpar chain pizza (and calling it her favorite! God, that’s hilarious) while still agreeing that her private information shouldn’t be leaked by a thirsty teenage delivery guy who was careless and idiotic.

Feminism does not exist to serve as a magical shield to protect women from criticism. I cringe as I write this, knowing that too many (sexist) men have said something very similar, usually while criticizing a woman on sexist grounds. But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that we can’t, under the guise of feminist solidarity, allow abusive or abhorrent behavior to go unchecked and uncriticized. And abusive and abhorrent Iggy has been, from now-deleted tweets with racist jokes and denigration of the bodies of women of color to the disturbingly exploitive and pedophilic music video for her song “PU$$Y,” in which Iggy raps about her sexual prowess while sitting between the legs of a black boy who can’t be more than seven years old. Yet on these matters Iggy’s defenders (mostly men and white feminists) have remained silent, insisting instead that she is a feminist icon and blameless of the appropriation for which she is often charged. Between sexist men and white feminist women, then, a disturbing alliance emerges: it seems abhorrent behavior can be ignored, forgiven, overlooked, when the victims are women of color. It seems the preferred brand of feminism is that which is focused on the comfort and terms of white women.

That’s not the kind of feminism I’m interested in aligning myself with. Feminists generally scoff at the idea that shaving our legs, wearing pink, or changing our last name is “bad feminism.” It’s an outdated way of viewing the F-word: only the fools who still use “feminist” as an insult still believe feminists are hairy, man-hating whores. But just as antiquated is the idea that feminism is for white women, and that the Iggy Azaleas of the world can trample women of color—appropriating their bodies, their language, and their culture—and still be flawless feminists worthy of praise and nothing else.

In another world, I might have liked Iggy Azalea. I admire how she has criticized publications for Photoshopping her moles. She can also take a joke; dressing up as a character from White Chicks after being memed online following a beef with Snoop Dogg. But as of now, this is not that world. I may be a bad feminist—messy, human—but as Roxane says, I’m also “trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world.” And if calling out Iggy Azalea makes me a bad feminist (or a worse feminist) then that is just what I’ll have to be.

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The Feminist Death Match Between Emma Watson And Beyoncé Is Some Anti-Feminist Sh@t

beyonce emma watson

Below is an excerpt from my most recent piece (‘The Feminist Death Match Between Emma Watson And Beyoncé Is Some Anti-Feminist Sh@t”) which has been published over at xoJane. I encourage you to go read it.

Hopefully you all remember the numerous times Beyoncé’s feminism has come under attack in the past? No? I’ll refresh your memory. When Beyoncé dropped Beyoncé last year, accompanied by a corresponding collection of music videos, the think pieces flew fast and thick. “Is Beyoncé a feminist?” “OK, but is Beyoncé actually a feminist?” The speculation was endless, despite the fact that Beyoncé was self-identifying, answering the question before it was even asked. But somehow many mainstream publications still thought that their opinion on Beyoncé’s feminism overrode her own identification.

When Emma Watson gave her speech on Saturday, I didn’t see a single tweet (other than from Men’s Rights Activists) criticizing her. No one dissected the roles she’s taken in Hollywood, the times she posed in sexy clothes, no one has questioned her relationship status.

Yet when I tweeted the above tweet, those kinds of dissections were exactly what filled my mentions—dissections voiced by white feminists. No angle was left uncovered. The responses ranged from “Maybe because Emma actually dresses like a lady!” to “Maybe because Emma has a college degree!” “Maybe because Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband and take his last name!” “Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage!” “Maybe because Emma included men in her argument!” Don’t believe me? Look on Twitter. These tweets aren’t hard to find.

Guys…as a white feminist whose feminism is by no means perfect and has committed her share of missteps in the past, let me say this as gently as I can: This…shit…has…to…stop.

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5 Bloggers Who Are Blogging Better Than You (And Me)

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This morning I’m getting on a plane for New York, where tonight I will join Beverly Bond, Jamilah Lemieux, and other incredibly talented and powerful women for a panel hosted by Black Girls Rock!, The Black Girls Rock! Think Tank: Checkin’ Our Fresh. I’m excited to sit amongst such inspiring company, where we will discuss media representations of black women, why some white people feel fear and discomfort about programs like BGR, and other topics. In honor of tonight—and in honor of every day—I wanted to hip you to five amazing women whose blogs you should be reading right now.

Michonne Micheaux: Anti-Oppression. Pro-Storytelling

@LexiScorsese

I knew Michonne as @LexiScorsese before anything else—one of the most hilarious and on-point Twitter accounts I follow to this day—but when I discovered her blog I was in love. Her tagline—Anti-Oppression. Pro-Storytelling.—says it all. She describes herself as “a film nerd who talks too much for microblogging & who loves humanity more than hegemony.” Can we say love at first read?

One of my favorite posts by Michonne Micheaux: The Myth of  “Fast Black Girls”

Trudy of Gradient Lair

@thetrudz

I first came upon Trudy on Twitter. She is brilliant, bold, and no-nonsense, writing about art, media, society, politics, and more. Trudy will blow your mind, every time. Womanism, black feminism, intersectional feminism…she covers it all.

One of my favorite posts by Trudy: General Misogyny vs. Anti-Black Misogyny (Misogynoir), Specifically

Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous

@BlackGirlDanger

Mia appeared on my radar via Facebook. Everyone was sharing her posts left and right, and I soon learned why. She is an incredibly insightful writer, leading Black Girl Dangerous with posts about race, racism, and the experiences of queer and trans people of color, while also amplifying the voices of other amazingly talented writers.

One of my favorite posts by Mia McKenzie: Easy Out There For A (White) Bitch: A Few Words On Lily Allen and the Continued Use of Black Women’s Bodies As Props

Asha French of MODERN MOM

@AFrenchWriter

Asha was actually a mentor of mine (and still is) when I was a young, dumb writer of 15. She’s a columnist at Ebony now for a column called MODERN MOM, where she writes about the wide world of parenting and family while also discussing race, queerness, and more. She’s also writing a book that I can’t wait to read, so stay tuned for that.

One of my favorite posts by Asha French: Dear Beautiful Daughters Who Happen to Be Light

Feminista Jones at FeministaJones.com

@FeministaJones

Here’s another woman that I regularly thank the Twitter gods for. Feminista is fearless, fun, and fierce. She writes about everything from racism to fitness, sex to domestic violence. She’s also HA-LARIOUS. She’s serious about research—trust me, this woman knows her stuff. In my head I call her the Queen of Stats, but really she is the queen of many things.

One of my favorite posts by Feminista Jones: Rape Culture 2.0

If you want to improve the contents of your brain, read these women. If you want to improve the brains of the people around you, share their blogs. And don’t stop there. If you read my blog and you like it…just wait until you read these bloggers who rock. They make me look like an amateur.

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Sluts, Whores, Skanks, and Tramps

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The word slut has many synonyms: hoe, whore, skank, tramp, promiscuous.

By age thirteen, I’d been called all of them.

By age thirteen, most girls I knew had been called all of them, by other girls, especially by boys, and even by authority figures. The words came down on us for many reasons:

  • We had breasts.
  • We wore a shirt that didn’t hide our breasts.
  • We wore shorts that showed our legs. (That’s what shorts do.)
  • We liked a boy, and another boy didn’t like that we liked that boy.
  • We liked a boy, and another girl didn’t like that we liked that boy.
  • We liked a girl, and no one liked that.
  • We were raped, touched, sexually assaulted.
  • We told someone no.
  • We told someone yes.

The list goes on.

When I was a teenager, I faced my abuser in court. The defense called me promiscuous. It was because of my supposed, thirteen-year old promiscuity that my abuser walked. Now, at age twenty-five, I am still called these words. Every woman I know has been called these words. People I know use these words. People I don’t know use these words. But other than our femaleness, the women who are called these words have nothing in common:

  • We are black and white and brown.
  • We are virgins and not.
  • We are fat and thin and muscular.
  • We have big breasts and small breasts.
  • We are adults. We are children.
  • We wear all different kinds of clothes. Some of us wear burqas.
  • We say yes and no.

The list goes on.

If every woman has been called these words–regardless of her sexual activity; regardless of her clothes–what does that tell you?

It tells me that something is wrong with the words–with the world. Not with the women.

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The Battery: Even Zombies Can Be Sluts

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I watched a zombie movie with my coworkers yesterday: The Battery, an independent, low budget film that’s being applauded for its realism and blah blah blah. I watched it. It was pretty alright. I’ll tell you about something that bothered me, which is obviously why we’re here.

There is a part in the movie where one of the lead characters (a white, male, former baseball player) is asleep in a car when a female zombie makes her way across the field and starts trying to “get him” through the car window. She is wearing short-shorts, a t-shirt with no bra, and knee-high baseball socks. She’s dead and gray and…well, a zombie. The male character awakes with a start, freaks out, and then—to the audience’s dismay—pulls down his pants and underwear and starts masturbating furiously to the sight of the zombie’s clothed breasts pressed up against the car window as she tries to reach him.

It was actually pretty funny. It’s the zombie apocalypse and he hasn’t seen or touched a woman in months. He was desperate, lonely. It was absurd and silly and when his companion in the movie kills the female zombie and catches him jacking off, he laughs hysterically. Funny scene.

That’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was the cast list.

At the end of the movie, the zombie girl in the short-shorts was billed as “Fresh Zombie Slut.”

Oh?

It’s just like we see in real life, folks. We have a woman without a bra or wearing short-shorts, or just a woman in general, and we have the male gaze seeing her and sexualizing her—EVEN IN HER STATE OF DECAY—and yet she is the slut. She, in her natural state, who just happened to die while bra-less, is the slut. Not the ridiculously disgusting dude in the station wagon who sees decomposing boobs and feels obliged to masturbate to them. Her. The woman who, so sorry, didn’t stop and say “Oh, before I turn into a zombie I better put on some longer shorts and a bra,” is the slut.

This is misogyny. Even in death, women are subject to the whims of patriarchy and rape culture. I wish she had eaten him.

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For men who don’t understand how street harassment is a problem

ImageThis started as a series of tweets. I think it deserves a blog. For men who don’t understand how street harassment is a problem, let me explain.

You know those Greenpeace workers who block your way on the sidewalk and demand your time and money? Who stare at you as you approach? The ones who you can see in your peripheral and you try not to make eye contact with? The ones you really don’t want to give any time or money and you know that they’re going to say something no matter how much you pretend to be on the phone and you just wish you could be invisible for the ten seconds it takes to pass?

It’s like that. But imagine they want your dignity instead of your money.

Then take it a step further. Imagine them blocking your way on every sidewalk. Imagine they follow you onto the train. Imagine you want to take a cab to get away from the Greenpeace workers, but it turns out a Greenpeace worker is driving the taxi and is staring at you in the rearview mirror. Imagine those Greenpeace workers staring at your ass and telling you what it looks like, imagine them cussing you out and threatening you with violence for not caring about the environment. Imagine you want to tell the cop on the corner to tell the Greenpeace workers to stop harassing you, but then he tries to start telling you about whales too. It’s midnight, and you just want to get home. But it’s whales, whales, whales.

You would hate them, wouldn’t you? Those Greenpeace workers. Every time you saw one you’d be pissed, afraid, suspicious, cold. You’d do anything to avoid them. People would say “They’re not all like that” and you’d say, “Prove it.”

Image courtesy of http://stopstreetharassment.com/

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National Poetry Writing Month: 3/30

feminism

It’s National Poetry Writing Month. Like thousands of poets, I will be writing a poem a day, as I have every April for seven years. I won’t share them all–how tiresome would that be!–but I will share some. Here is day 3.

After meeting a feminist man on the city bus

It’s the joy of wandering through space,

Second rock to third to fourth

all manner of Martians hostile

and staring—and then

from under a stone

crawls a creature with eyes

like Earth but the color of Venus

who says

Greetings. We are the same.

and after so many months

of deciphered struggle,

of being thirsty to hear

a word that is true to your ear

that comes from the mouth

like a meteor of Light…

you are satisfied.

This is a planet full of fools

but at least there is one

with a soul.

 

 

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Wednesday: A Poem

This is a rant. A soft rant, but a rant.

I made this video in 2010 with a dear friend while in college. I have never made it available for public consumption, but now seems as good a time as any. Only three years ago, but I was such a kid when we collaborated on this. Still….I feel much the same now as I did then when I wrote this poem. Some things never change.

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