“Feminism is supposed to be about equality and women being able to make their own choices. Yet, when famous Black women make choices that are best for their lives, there’s never any shortage of concern-trolling from people who don’t have to live with those choices. We talk a lot about patriarchy and paternalism, but we rarely speak of the way many feminists feel entitled to tell Black women what they should be doing. The maternalistic tone taken by many white feminists and even other feminists of color toward Black women is rarely seen as problematic. When we talk about solidarity inside the feminist movement, we have to talk about differences not just in oppression, but also in goals. For Black women, our struggle is not necessarily about access to the workplace; Black women have always had to work in America. Our struggle is to be recognized as human beings. To have our choices be treated with the same respect offered to anyone else. Whether we’re talking about Michelle Obama, Beyonce, or just the average woman on the street, the reality is that some feminists have children, and their decisions aren’t any less feminist because they are done in the best interests of those children. In fact, as feminism has never mastered being all things to all people, the reality is that no one is in a position to decide for another woman what kind of work she should do, how she should engage with her family, or even which of her choices represent the ‘right’ kind of feminism.”—
A quote from her incredible article on RH Reality Check, For Black Women, Everything Is a Feminist Issue. Part of it is a response to the Politico article that called Michelle Obama a “feminist nightmare.” Yeesh. The racism in feminism remains and she deconstructed it well in this article. Motherhood for Black women MATTERS and if Black women are going to be praised when raising White children (you know, what happened for centuries and still does; many White feminists have women of colour as their nannies as they admonish Michelle Obama for mothering her own children) and shamed when raising their own, then we’re talking about White supremacy, not any movement that can empower Black women. Read this whole article!
For most of America, Psy is a funny name, a funny face, and a funny personality. He doesn’t sing in English and most people just don’t get it leaving most of them to not take him seriously. It’s easy to strip the significance behind “Gangnam Style” down if you don’t know what it means and solely find entertainment in the Asian guy shaking his hips. But what most people don’t realize is that Psy doesn’t take himself seriously. He’s a satirist and political dissident. “Gangnam Style” was a commentary, not just a fun pop tune with a silly dance.
Gangnam is Seoul’s wealthiest and flashiest neighborhood. For South Koreans, Gangnam represents the ideal life of excess and consumerism. Psy’s character in the video is a wannabe Gangnamite. He dreams he’s living the flashy, excessive lifestyle while he’s really just like everyone else, swimming in a public pool and riding the subway. But never in the video does it seem that Psy’s character is unhappy. He’s content to play in a children’s playground and meet the girl of his dreams in the subway. “Gangnam Style” is much more that we have made it, but that’s not surprising considering Psy’s background and how little we know about it.
In America, it seems like “Gangnam Style” was Psy’s big break when in fact the song had been released on his sixth studio album and his music career hadn’t been about making flashy and catchy songs. He believes music is the key to overcoming the intolerance embedded in his country’s political systems. Throughout his career, his songs have been banned for inappropriate content and have been surrounded by controversy, not to mention the fact that he fought his mandatory military draft.
Psy is a voice for his people. He’s fighting the oppression and intolerance he sees in his culture through his music. And by ignoring his worth and his value, we’re reducing the culture of South Korea into a short man with funny pants doing a ridiculous dance.
i’m also real tired of every pedantic motherfucker pointing out that comedians and artists have the freedom to say all sorts of shitty things. i know it, you know it, everyone fucking knows it. everyone’s free to say all sorts of fucked up shitty goddamn things and in return i am equally free to tell them that their mouth is full of fucking shit. nobody needs an artist’s freedom to their expression explained to them, but it’s obviously always done in a way as to suggest that because of their freedom of expression, they should be free from people calling them massive pieces of shit too, because they’re comedians. they’re artists. they’re whatever and that makes it different, somehow
fuck the use of comedy and art as some kind of shield. fuck it. it’s lazy and despicable.
Seriously tho. Why *should* she be asked to smile?
Asking a woman to smile is to make her more approachable. It’s to make you feel more comfortable - not her. I, personally, have zero fucks to give about being approachable to strange men on the street. Women are not here to entertain and please random folks.
Asking me to smile is akin to asking me to jump. Um. For what?
There’s this weird responsibility placed on women to be happy and lady-like and pleasant all of the time. It rids us of being able to express our own range of human emotions.
No one is asking for men and women to not interact with each other. That’s silly. This project is asking for women to be interacted with as if they have agency over their own bodies.
Creator of the Stop Telling Women To Smile project
1. Why are you running a free tumblr blog when this information is obviously extremely valuable?
Because in many situations, accepting funds more or less negates my control over the content. In other words, all those messages you’ve seen from people that are basically, “You SAY you’re [trying to eliminate all existing inequality/educating people/trying to promote diversity] but you NEED to be [nicer to racists/catering to white historical vanity/acknowledge my sense of entitlement to your time and effort]!!!” would actually be the ones deciding what the content would be.
which leads to…
2. When is MedievalPOC going to be a book?
When I started this blog, I assumed there would be like 900 other people who had the same idea, but apparently that was not even remotely the case. Included on the list of things I was not expecting: That there would be a roiling volcano of untapped and underutilized information, just how few people have bothered to make anything cohesive out of it, and the massive amount of people who gave a crap.
This project has become much more than I ever expected, and it does need to be a book. It would have to be crowd-funded and independently published in order to maintain its thesis and integrity, however. I’ve been looking into the logistics of what it would take for that to happen, and when I have that hammered out, I’ll definitely announce it.
3. What do you think is the most controversial topic you’ve covered?
Hands-down, without a doubt, the number one topic that people get the angriest about, spew the most hate and vitriol over, and that reveals the most blatant, ingrained and deep-rooted racism is the lack of representation of people of color in American animated children’s films. While media for adults often brings out the “everyone in this movie with dragons and elves HAS to be white because it’s historically accurate!" crowd, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what I have seen when it comes to defending whiteness in Disney cartoons.
The closest runner-up is probably anything to do with Lord of the Rings.
4. Do you think the critics of this blog have a point?
Yes, I do.
The thing is, a lot of the criticism centers on an American running a blog about European art. Which pretty much amount to people screaming at me every five minutes, “you’re an American!!!” and then the subsequent bafflement when I don’t spontaneously burst into flames and then implode from this basic statement of fact. (Although as a Native American I have to admit I derive a great deal of oily mirth from being accused of cultural imperialism by white Europeans.)
My sense of geography is abysmal. My awareness of lineages and whether someone was someone else’s brother’s son’s wife is similarly so. When people correct me on those two counts, which happens literally all the time, I publish the corrections. I don’t speak every language, I haven’t seen every piece of art, and there’s a ton of stuff I’ve never heard of. There have been times when I’ve gotten defensive, kept talking when I should have listened, or was dismissive when I should have been learning. I’ve said things that made people who should have felt welcome feel hurt and excluded instead.
I get the sense that both my critics and my fans would be a lot more comfortable if I would just pretend to be right all the time and act “objective”, instead of continuing to live with embarrassingly public mistakes and being so messily human. But I implore you to look inside yourself and ask whether or not this discomfort comes from the same place in your heart that wants to believe your history textbook was born like Venus from the foam rather than being written on purpose by a human being with thoughts and feelings and a race and a gender and all the other assorted accoutrements of actual human existence.
5. Why aren’t you more professional/respectable?
Because no one is. Because presenting yourself that way is a tool used for social control. Because it’s that very illusion that is used to keep people from participating in their own education. Because academic language all too often operates as a form of gatekeeping, and because the first half of this sentence does the thing it describes.
Because that kind of “respectability” requires exclusion aligning with existing power structures, and I’m not into that.
6. Why do you change your avatar?
Fun fact: changing my avatar image back to “male” cut the hatemail I receive by about two-thirds. Also, having a “female” avatar led a lot of people to make some serious assumptions about my gender. Mostly based on the cultural expectation that no man would ever willingly accept being perceived as a woman without having the biggest tantrum ever witnessed by humanity. 90% of the hate is based on who or what they think I am, rather than who I actually am. Some mysteries are better left intact, even when they’re not really mysteries at all.
in awe. 5. and 6. especially… well.. put…. excuse me for a second
have you ever noticed what kind of ‘teenage girl shit’ people make fun of?
it’s all like being passionate and enthusiastic and optimistic. how dare you care about things and like things a lot? how dare you have feelings? how dare you believe that good things can happen and that you deserve to get what you want?
teenage girls are the best. these are the best qualities. these are powerful qualities.
Already the third [white*] teacher to tell me that ‘here, we all learn by co-working’ (do tell?).That they themselves learned soo much by co-working and collaborating with their fellow students when they were still studying… back in the days. Therefore it would be crucial for me to volunteer to co-work in my class of students outside of the hours of lecture, on personal projects.
Yes, I’m the only Black person in the entire building.
And what they don’t get (well, rather, choose to ignore), is that
- the very teachers who claim to have learned so much ‘from their fellow students’ are referring to of their own studying time abroad, where international students of course tought them so much, because they added perspective to a formerly narrower horizon. And they were of approximately the same age then.
- socializing with an undiverse and unreflected group of kids isn’t for everyone
- no fantasy superhero will ever make this encounter an eye level situation, neither in terms of power structures nor in terms of possible damage. I could be 140 years old, this wouldn’t change anything about casual racist remarks and what they’re doing.
- How can they even overlook the difference between white freshmen’s life and work experience and insight, and my Black Handicapped Queer activist 25 years of working experience
- it is asking to exploit my resources, to demand me to be constantly in a situation where I am supposed to be open for (random) exchange, and abuse by casual racism ableism sexism etc
- co-working with randomly anybody does not equal co-working-period. What do they think I have been doing for the last couple o’ generations?
I kind of feel I’m the only one to even consider *my* right to pursue this education in a way that benefits me.
Continental Europe is just so socially challenged…
Get more fucking diversity and some basic manners and social skills installed in your elitist place, then I’ll be happy to co-work with people. People of my choice. I love young people. Except spoiled, privilege-denying, 20-and-already-chauvinist, entitlementflagwaving fuckwits. Find more bearable, more deserving ones. The’re everywhere. I see dozens of them on the subway every day, they’re studying applied sciences because they can’t afford just to research and develop fancy abstract artsy stuff devoid of immediate use. (translate: DREAM. They don’t get to academically or scholarly DREAM) How come. Rhetorical question.
I’ll just continue co-working with people I can actually learn from. Like I always have. Outside of your institutions.
Privilege, Universalism, Denial, Nerve, Condescension. all of it. gtfo.
“I do not know how much my mother spent on her camel colored cape or knee-high boots but I know that whatever she paid it returned in hard-to-measure dividends. How do you put a price on the double-take of a clerk at the welfare office who decides you might not be like those other trifling women in the waiting room and provides an extra bit of information about completing a form that you would not have known to ask about? What is the retail value of a school principal who defers a bit more to your child because your mother’s presentation of self signals that she might unleash the bureaucratic savvy of middle class parents to advocate for her child? I don’t know the price of these critical engagements with organizations and gatekeepers relative to our poverty when I was growing up. But, I am living proof of its investment yield.”—
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
“certain bodies, in certain public framings, in certain public spaces, are always already transgressive - dangerous and in danger”—russo quoted in mason, 90. (from “body maps: envisaging homophobia, violence, and safety.”)
Seriously white people, if a POC really, truly, genuinely thinks “all white people are like that”, so the fuck what? That’s not “intolerance”. That’s on all the white people that supported that conclusion. If someone really does feel that way about white people (and I only phrase it like this because MOST OF THE TIME, that’s not even the case at all; white people are just exaggerating to play victims), they get to. And we don’t get to judge. We don’t get to be upset with them. We don’t get to act like our feelings being hurt matters.
Pictures from a new exhibit by photographer Endia Beal called âCan I Touch It?â showcase several white women, all corporate execs, who agreed to get a âBlack hairstyleâ and then have their portrait…