Friday, October 27, 2006

Musings from a Black Woman: Full Frontal Feminism

The picture above is the cover of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Women's Guide to Why Feminism Matters, available in April 2007. It was written by Jessica Valenti, Executive Editor of

I, as a black female human being with well-developed and defined pop-culture sensibilities, have multiple concerns about the cover art, including the messages it presents to potential buyers. As the book doesn't come out until the Spring of next year, I cannot comment either favorably or negatively on its content. But I could rant extensively about why the naked body of a skinny white hairless, headless woman (it's a woman; Ms. Valenti confirmed that) is being used to market a book about feminism to young women.

I'm a fairly young woman, even though I will be exiting the 18-24 demographic by the end of this year. I get the idea of using of the sexualized image to simultaneously subvert the patriarchy by claiming your body as your own, and attracting an audience that may not otherwise be interested in "feminism," but already believe in feminist issues. Even though I don't agree with the effectiveness of this method, I do get it. But by using this image, the book alienates potential readers who are neither skinny, nor white, nor hairless. Nor naked.

My first problem is, why does the woman on the cover have to be white? My second problem is, why does she have to be skinny? My third problem is, why does she have to be naked, and hairless, blemishless, unfreckled, whatever?

My biggest problem with this entire situation is, why must the discussion turn hateful when individuals bring up these obvious (obvious to me and others, anyway) questions about this controversial cover art on a book which clearly has something important to say inside? To understand what I'm writing about, take a gander at the posts And the winner is.... on, and i'm not a hater, but.... on blac (k), along with the litany of comments that follow each of them.

I understand the deep emotions and insecurities that come from writing and publishing a book. I also personally understand the anger that stems from being dismissed first as a woman, then additionally as a person of color, size, and intelligence, and then from being yelled at by people who do not understand your complaints, and therefore refuse to acknowledge the justification for and existence of your frustration. If you are not a woman, or if you are not a colorful person, and especially if you are neither, then you probably have never thought of the multifaceted issues that women of color (and basically anyone who is neither white nor male nor straight in America) have to deal with on a daily basis. Just because you don't have or know about our problems does not mean our problems don't exist.

Above all else, I wish people on all sides of the arguments could calm down and realize that although their complaints may be valid, they are also not personal. I also wish I had a pony that lived on rainbows and dreams.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mixed people are cool, too.

Please note the addition of Racialicious to the list of Sites I Like. From "About this Blog":

"Racialicious (formerly known as Mixed Media Watch) is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves newsflashes. It is written by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove and is a production of New Demographic, an anti-racism training company."

I've been sampling new blogs all day, and so far, this has been my favorite one. Thank you, Feministing, for introducing me to Jen and Carmen.

Enjoy, peeps!

“Those shoes are definitely bi-curious.”

I loved last night's episode of 30 Rock. For a queer analysis on "Blind Date," please check out Sarah Warn's article Tina Fey, Stephanie March Get Lesbians right on 30 Rock on

My straight girl analysis? I am so going to be Liz Lemon when I am 36 years old, working in tv, worrying about dying in my apartment alone, having coworkers set me up with their lesbian friends for whatever bizarre reason, as if my shoes scream "Gay!" Thank you, Tina Fey, for explaining to the NBC audience that just because you're a smart, funny woman who hasn't found a decent guy yet, that doesn't mean you're a lesbian. It means you're unlucky. :(

Or it means you're a woman with exquisitely refined tastes. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pajiba Love: Man of the Year

I saw Man of the Year this weekend with one of my friends. It was...not good. My friend was great. The movie was not. To understand its badness, please visit Pajiba, and read the Man of the Year review by Dustin Rowles.

Also, save your money, and do not see this movie in the theater. If you want to see a better film in the same satirical Presidential campaign genre, rent Primary Colors, Wag the Dog or The Contender (starring Joan Allen) instead. You can thank me later.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Worthy of my time?

I've been hearing good things about this Battlestar Galactica. Most recently, Scott at Hollywood Momentum wrote, "What’s most impressive to me about Battlestar Galactica, though, and most likely to keep me coming back, is the way it uses sci-fi tropes to deal with the problems and concerns inherent in both the war in Iraq and the larger War on Terror: occupation, collaboration, asymmetrical warfare, etc. The parallels are unmistakable..."

I'm not usually into sci fi. Although my VHS tapes of The Twilight Zone (1960s and 2002 versions, and the John Lithgow movie), Planet of the Apes (the first series of films, not the atrocity with Marky Mark), and Vh1's short-lived Strange Frequency, along with the Ray Bradbury stories and Orson Scott Card Ender books choking my shelves, would beg to differ. So maybe I dabble in the science fiction realm. ("Dabble," says the one person who actually liked Galaxy Quest, and enjoyed SeaQuest DSV for more than just Jonathan Brandis. And did I mention that watched every episode of the show that followed, Mann & Machine?) I usually avoid Sci Fi (the network) like the plague. Why? Because of their Sci Fi Original Movie titles, including Chupacabra: Dark Seas, Man with the Screaming Brain, and Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys. I did not make up any of those names.

I almost watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica during Emmy screener season. On the covers of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, there were free DVDs cloaked in blackness, with only quotes of critical acclaim as clues for the readers to guess which show was promoting itself on the trades that day. As in, the Battlestar Galactica people wanted to trick you into watching their product by not showing you a picture of what it was. They didn't want your prejudices to stop you from checking out their work. They wanted you to love the series for what it was inside, not for your preconceived notions of what a series on Sci Fi (shudder) was all about.

I tried the same tactic on Meaning, I put up my profile without a picture, hoping people would be attracted to my inside first, and eventually fall in love with my outside after I showed it to them, thereby giving people something they might not have known they wanted.

Yeah, well, it didn't work in either case. Boys are shallow. They got to know me, really liked me, then disappeared after I showed them my picture. And regarding Battlestar Galactica, I opened up the plain back DVD case, discovered what was inside, and promptly threw it away. Once I found out it wasn't one of my favorite shows, or even a show I had ever watched, I didn't want it cluttering up my apartment.

I guess Battlestar Galactica = Me. I'm special inside, but people might not want to get to know me because I look like...a dorky series on a low-rated cable network? Sure, I'll go with that.

Musings from a Black Woman: In the "Ghetto"

Christian Finnegan nailed it on the head with this one. While describing on his blog one of the less than posh establishments on his comedy tour, he wrote the following: "...this time out I wanted a scuzzier experience, and what can I say--the Casino Queen more than delivers! This place is what you might call "extremely ghetto", if you were the kind of douche-y white person who misappropriates terms like "ghetto". The buildings are decrepit, mysterious stains decorate the hideously patterened carpet, and the buffet features a big discount bottle of supermarket-brand salad dressing you just pick up and squeeze yourself..."

I HATE when people, especially those with a light pigmentation, use the term "ghetto" as an adjective to talk about how unsophisticated or slovenly they found a person, place or thing. "Ghetto" is a noun, as defined by

1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.
2. (formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.
3. a section predominantly inhabited by Jews.
4. any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.

I knew it wasn't just me who had a problem with it. Thank you, Christian, my white brother, for pointing that out to the world.

Maybe another of my favorite comedians will take on the inherent racism of the phrase "white trash."

Musings from a Black Woman: Angry Little Feminist

Friends, Romans, Countrypeople.

You may have noticed the two latest additions to the Sites I Like: Angry Little Girls, and Feministing. Please visit them in remembrance of me.

If you need some encouragement, here is my favorite recent posting on Feministing:

Cause calling girls sluts is always funny.

"Keith Olbermann stays classy by reporting that Paris Hilton has "had worse
things happen to her face" than being punched. And you know exactly what he

Mr. Olbermann. How dare you gain my respect for you with the inspired This hole in the ground and Bush owes us an apology, then shatter my trust with this misogynist nonsense. Darn you, Keith Olbermann. Darn you to heck.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

30 Rock-ing My World.

I watched the pilot of 30 Rock on the NBC website last night as was eating my dinner and supposedly doing other productive things. I had read the script a long time ago, and I thought it was good then. Now I'm watching the show...and I am loving it. Everyone is so funny. I'm sad about the demotion of Rachel Dratch, but I guess that Jane lady's okay. As long as Rachel gets to guest star in episodes, I'm cool with that. I'm taping tonight's episode, too, even though I watched the whole thing last night. The online one was all jumpy and grainy. Work on that, NBC Universal IT people. I likes my quality.

Onto the obvious comparisons between this thoroughly entertaining sitcom and the tired, misogynist, too smug for its own britches pile of gar-bage that is Studio 60. When Matt went to the Bombshell Babies performance at the Roxy to get a black boot signed in black Sharpie (good call there, continuity people) to make Harriet jealous, I was disturbed by the inherent sexism in the scene. And in the following scenes, as well. This isn't Las Vegas. This is Studio 60. I don't need practically underage (compared to Matthew Perry), barely dressed, overly made up burlesque dancers, i.e. high class strippers, spreading their legs for male tv writers and waving their tassles in my face. What was that about?

Now when Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan were drinking it down in the Bronx strip club, I didn't have a problem with any of those scenes. Even when Tracy was literally tossing bills at two girls dancing around a pole, and then Tina went up and joined them, shaking her money maker while wearing a club t-shirt and Laura Bush's wool skirt, I thought it was funny.

I'm still trying to figure out why I approved of the 30 Rock scenario, while I loathed the Studio 60 one. Maybe because the 30 Rock one starred and was written by Tina Fey, who can write funny material, and the Studio 60 one was written by Aaron Sorkin, whose female characters always happen to be leered at, demeaned, mocked or sexually harassed by the men they are conversing with, and then stupidly tell those men, "Please, sir, I want some more?"

Musings from a Black Woman: The first CW edition

I have lots to say about the CW. But today my issue is their view on women's sexuality.

Apparently the CW thinks it's fine to repeatedly portray their female characters as rape victims on Veronica Mars. But God forbid illogically-pregnant Lane on Gilmore Girls actually consider her reproductive rights not to have the baby that she and her husband obviously are not ready for. Lane has spent the last two episodes of Gilmore Girls freaking out about having a baby. She and Zack don't even have real jobs to support this child, much less the maturity or desire to have one at this point in their lives. If the writers have the temerity to get Lane pregnant after one terrible sexual enconter, they should have the guts to also let her explore her options.

Raping whory sorority girls on Veronica Mars? Super! Allowing women on Gilmore Girls who aren't ready to raise children make the informed choice not to have them? No way. If ladies are shown as having healthy sexual experience and allowed to make educated decisions about their own bodies, who knows what could happen?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I am still figuring out which gym to join.

I had quite the humorous experience at a Bally's today with one of my friends. Apparently, the sales managers there thought I should be at a comedy show since I was in a happy mood. Whatever. Maybe they should have their prices posted so we wouldn't have to go on a "tour" of the facilities while the managers questioned whether I was "serious about working out." Hello? I am standing in your gym asking how much a membership costs. Why don't you just give me that information, instead of asking if I want to join to "tone, firm up or lose weight?" And when I respond to your question by saying, "I want to go to the classes," don't keep asking me if I'm there to lose weight. Tell me about the classes! The friend that I went there with said we should open our gym. I told her, "but then we would have to run a gym." What's the point in that?

It didn't help the situation when my allergies started to act up, and there were no tissues in sight. All that money sucked from preying on people's vain desires to perfect their bodies, and they can't afford a strategically placed box of Kleenex. Argh!

Reza Aslan: So Cute.

When he makes appearances on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to continually promote his book No God But God, I literally squeal at the tv. I could overlook the whole age differential between us: he's at least nine years older than I am, and 5-6 years is usually my limit. But our belief systems would probably keep us apart. He follows the teachings of Islam, and I'm not into organized religion. I believe in the People Upstairs who take care of me.

Like Reza Aslan would ever be into me. I guarantee he has eager Persian women throwing themselves at him left and right. Not to mention all the non-Persian ladies, like me, who want him, too.