Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Musings from a Black Woman: April Showers

This is some nonsense. This isn't "artistic" or "beautiful." This is not about whether teenagers are having sex, Defamer. This is a situation made of fail. Miley's parents failed her. Vanity Fair failed her. Annie Leibovitz failed her. Disney failed her.

Miley is 15. When I was 15, there is no way my Mummy and Grammy would have let someone take a picture of me wearing a bedsheet. That is nasty. All the perverts involved in creating this debacle deserve a visit from Dateline's Chris Hansen, complete with a pitcher of sweet tea.

Trai_Dep sums up my final thoughts on the matter:

When I see a picture of The Jonas Brothers tarted up, wearing smeared lipstick and posed so they look like they've just had the holy crap raped out of them, then I'll know that America has finally reached sexual equality.

Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, free at last!

Also, where were Taylor Momsen's parents during this photo shoot?



This appropriation situation got me thinking about Jessica Valenti's appearance on The Colbert Report last year. When it aired, I was proud that Stephen had a young feminist on his program. However I was also annoyed for reasons I couldn't identify. Now I know why.

In a May 20, 2007, post on Feministing, editor Samhita asked "why is Jessica the face of Feministing?"

Because she got to promote her first of three books on The Colbert Report, a program that prefers its guests to be older, white and/or male. The Report occasionally books female guests, but rarely are they of a nonwhite persuasion. (Yes, I do know Michelle Obama was on the show two weeks ago.)

Additionally, Jessica is listed as the "Executive Editor" of Feministing.

It's that simple. I haven't seen "Vanessa, Ann, Celina, Jen" or Samhita on any Comedy Central program. I haven't read any controversy stirred up about any of their books like the controversy fostered by the cover of Jessica's book. In fact, I haven't heard of any of their books. Do they have a three-book deal? And if so, why have I not heard about it?

Back to me. I was annoyed because I shared the feelings that MirandaJay expressed in the comment section of Jessica's latest mea culpa:

I'm glad you finally said outloud you realize part of the reason why the mainstream media picks up on your work is because you are cute, white and well dressed and not because you have anything edgy or new to add to feminism. I think you are right to be proud of being able to make a living off of writing, but it's good you understand why you REALLY got on to the colbert show.

And yes, Jessica finally acknowledged this sentiment in the post by stating

I have no illusions as to why my work has gotten the press that it has. The media likes nothing more than a young sassy white feminist who is mainstream-friendly. I know that there is work out there being done that is more nuanced and cutting edge - because I see it all around me. That’s not to say I’m not incredibly proud of the work I’ve done. I am proud. I know that Feministing and [her book Full Frontal Feminism] have made changes in people’s lives, and that warms my heart every day. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the work that we are doing and the women who I’m fortunate enough to blog with. But I also believe in our ability - and my own - to do better."

I agree with all of that. I just wish that more people, like Amanda and, er, other people, could understand that when colorful people like myself point out the racial disparities in our media.

It is indeed a huge personal accomplishment to write a book. It is quite another thing to get it 1) published, 2) well-marketed, and 3) supported by a late-night talk show targeted at an 18-34 white male demographic. Those latter three qualities are much easier to attain if the people in charge of the publishing house, the public relations department, and the television network all think the author is "marketable", i.e. young, pretty and white. And if you have a thin, naked white woman on the cover of your debut book, all the better.

These are the feelings that have fueled the anger behind Amandagate. This isn't about trying to "tear up someone’s career" or "setting out to destroy someone’s reputation as sport". It Was Never About One Thing. This is about acknowledging that (perceived) talent and hard work aren't the only things that make people successful, especially in the arena of mainstream media, and that with great privilege comes great responsibility.

For more on appropriation, inaccurate media representation, taking a stand, and misguided ally chutzpah, respectively, I direct you here:

About Erasing …, by Thomas at Feministe.

Trans-Racialization in "21″, by Jenn at reappropriate.

To BFP: Chickens, Princesses, Gypsies, and Slaves. by Rainbow Girl at Team Rainbow.

Intellectual Appropriation, Attribution Of Credit & Privilege (UPDATED), at PhysioProf.

My favorite part was this:

OK. One final point about male privilege and the role of men vis a vis feminism. This partial excerpt of a comment to Holly’s post was written by a dude named Hugo:

I write all this not to distract from the conversation at hand. The point is, the meta-conversation between white feminists and RWOC bloggers (acknowledging that those categories create a bit of a false dichotomy) has produced a lot of pain — and a lot of growth — for a lot of us this past year. That conversation works best, however, when we move away from the personal attacks of the sort that have been thrown, primarily in one direction, this week.

I am not a woman, so there is, of course, no way for me to know how women would react to this kind of comment by a dude. But this made my jaw almost hit the floor. I sort of imagine that if I were a woman, my reaction would be “Us!? What the fuck are you talking about, dude!?” And it kind of surprises me that in the comments to Holly’s post, no one said, “Yo, dude. This particular argument is about and between women; mind your own fucking business.”

I have always assumed that women would find it really fucking annoying if I were to ever tell them what is feminist or not, or to use the pronouns “us” and “we” in reference to feminists. And I certainly never refer to myself as a feminist, as I don’t think it is for me to say if I am a feminist or not; it is for women to judge.

What I do is try to treat women like human beings, and tell other men what I think they can do to try to treat women like human beings. You gotta be fucking nuts to wade the fuck in there as a man and start taking sides in an argument between a white female blogger and WOC bloggers over how to further their respective common and distinct goals. Seriously.

I get that I am viewing Hugo’s remark as a privileged male, so I could be missing something important. Am I getting this wrong?'

Nope, you're not getting it wrong at all. Also, all you anti-choice men in the House and the Senate and in state legislatures trying to restrict my reproductive rights, please take note: you don't have a uterus, so get your laws off my body.

Seacrest out!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

That's what I'm talking about.

Fox News, Soulja Boy and the Mailroom, by Jay Smooth at Ill Doctrine:


Men Who Take Their Partners’ Names, by Thomas at Feministe.


Some feminist self-reflection
, by Jessica at Feministing, which was long overdue, considering.


Lock Him Down Now, Before You Intimidate Him Even More, by Miss Curly Bee at Bee to B-School, including my witty comment.




Saturday, April 26, 2008

A reason to vote for Ralph Nader

But for reals, y'all. Don't vote for Ralph Nader. No one needs John McCain in the White House. Eight years of this crazy is bad enough.

To all the guys (and the ladies) in blue shirts reading this, welcome! Feel free to leave a comment. I'm sorry I couldn't be there today. I'm sick. :( My nose is stuffed uppa to here. Fight on!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Someone's cruising for a bruising.

I started reading here: Allies Talking. Then I read this: An Open Letter to Jezebel, which included this--The True Story Of One Epic Day Nerds Groped Free--which was in response to this--The Open-Source Boob Project.

So I wondered what Feministing had to say, and I found this: Women's bodies: Just like open-source software!. I found a Nipsey Russell of responses here: Dear sir: I believe your patriarchy is showing.

In conclusion, my favorite reaction was this: A Modest Proposal, by misia.

As we all know, many women long to give a swift kick in the balls to some male person or other. Yet all too often women are prohibited from doing so.

Sometimes this is due to our culture's repressive attitudes toward female violence or because of societal pressure for women to behave in "ladylike" and feminine ways. At times women must censor themselves from administering a good solid boot to the greater masculine crotch due to historically justified fear of reprisal. At yet other times it is nothing more or less than men's self-serving, self-glorifying attitudes toward their precious little patriarchal testicles that lead them to cravenly avoid supporting women's emotional and political expression.

All in all, we live in a culture that routinely prohibits women this useful and healthy outlet for the outrage that almost every women eventually feels as a result of living in a sexist patriarchal society. Indeed, we live in a culture which punishes women for even thinking or talking about expressing their rage in this way.

This must change, and men, who after all have an obligation to help redress thousands of years of unearned patriarchal privilege, also have a moral obligation to help solve this problem.

To this end, we propose a community-based Open Source Swift Kick to the Balls Project.

Like other Open Source projects, the Open Source Swift Kick to the Balls Project (OSSKBP) relies on a wide pool of volunteers working together for the common good.

The Project has very simple parameters and it basically works like this:

Men who are open to being given a swift kick in the balls need do nothing. Women will simply assume that any man not clearly indicating his position vis-a-vis being kicked in the balls with an approved OSSKBP badge or pin is open to being kicked in the balls, as any progressive, free-thinking, feminist man ought to be, by any woman who wishes to do so . . .


Musings from a black woman: Cheese and Crackers, I'm tired.

I was reading Hear me Roar by Tobes yesterday, when I got sucked into this drama: This has not been a good week for woman of color blogging, by Holly at Feministe. I didn't leave any comments. I didn't even have an opportunity to read all of them.

That eventually led me to On having a black name, by Daisy at Daisy's Dead Air (where I did leave a comment), and Denial: It’s a White thing, by Ampersand at Alas, a blog, which led me to this comment by Leora:

My sister and I are both white females, both came from working class parents with a strong work ethic, and are both first-generation college educated with advanced degrees. Inasmuch as we can be similar, we are as sisters. The main difference in our lives is that she is able-bodied and I am disabled. (I am very obviously vision and hearing impaired.)

My sister is a very hard worker and has a successful career. I would not say that she hasn’t “earned” her successes because she put her nose to the grindstone, made the right decisions to get to her goals, and met her goals by working hard.

The difference between her and I is that she has always had the OPPORTUNITY to work hard. For her, say the goal is “D”. If she worked hard at A, it would get her to B. If she worked hard at B, it would get her to C. If she worked hard at C, it would get her to D. She pretty much has always had the benefit of the assumption that A B C=D. There was an obvious return to her investment.

For me, A may or may not = B, which may or may not get me to C, etc. And the time I will have to spend at any one of these steps (working just as hard or harder than my sister, is usually longer and may offer me less return on my investment.)

To use real life examples: My sister could earn money in high school by babysitting or doing high school fast food jobs. It was relatively easy for her to get the opportunities to work hard. I sat around a lot in high school earning way less money because people were less inclined to hire a deafblind babysitter or fast food worker. She had the opportunity to work hard.

She was in honors programs and I was in special ed, which didn’t even allow me to take the qualifying tests for honors programs. She worked hard in her honors programs because she had the opportunity to work hard.

She got through college more quickly than I did because she was able to work to pay for college at a much increased rate than I did. I did work, in high school and college, but I spent much more time job hunting and doing volunteer work to get my foot in the door or begging for more hours than she did. She did work hard to put herself through college, as did I, but the benefits allowing her to work hard gave her more opportunities.

Most notably, she got many jobs and internships, etc. by word of mouth. Someone would recommend her and she would get hired. I had people who were also willing to vouch for me, and they would come back to me apologetically saying that they put in a good word for me but that the other person said that they just didn’t know if they could see themselves hiring a disabled person.

In her case, with all of these opportunities to work hard, she was able to build on her success over time. In my case, any accomplishment I earned in the past by hard work was not likely to count for anything past my disability. Her past accomplishments led to more opportunities to work hard and earn more successes. I have to start over proving myself at every opportunity as if I have no past. I have to defend myself for things that may or may not happen in the future. I have no past and no future in regards to earning things, her past accomplishments are step ladders for her and no one expects her to prove that she will never make a mistake in the future she cannot foresee.

So, I have never understood this argument that sailorman gives. No one is saying that white people didn’t work hard to earn their successes. But don’t they understand how fortunate they are to have those opportunities to work hard? And how frustrating it is when you want to work hard, you have the skills, you have played by the rules, yet there is no return? Working hard and earning success is a privilege that is not afforded equally to everyone in society. Why is that so hard to understand?

As an interesting epilogue here, my sister has now reached the proverbial glass ceiling in her career. She is finding that she has reached a point that she cannot move out of. A B C is no longer easily equal to D. She is seeing younger, less qualified men jump past her in promotions and opportunities. And I’m sure they worked hard, too.

Notice how I linked to all those posts and acknowledged the authors, even though I was pressed for time.

Oooh! Also this: Taking credit for other womens' work isn't feminist. It's just tacky., by belledame222 at Fetch me my axe, and her comment about the origins of Rent. I knew Joey Fatone and Chris Columbus weren't the worst things to happen to that musical. Well, maybe Chris was. You can read more about the appropriation and whitewashing of the story here and here.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Princes, princesses, witches, serpents and Tom Sawyer = what?

Over the past year, I have tried to explain to my friends my love of the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My favorite scene involves Dick Van Dyke dancing at a carnival with a stick of bamboo in hopes to win enough money to purchase the eponymous jalopy for his children and for his father who lives in an outhouse. And that's not the most bizarre part. The second half of the movie revolves around the pseudo-European country of Vulgaria, where the Baron Bomburst and his much younger wife have outlawed children, forcing their citizens to send their (strangely all male) offspring to live in the sewers.


When I try to explain this to my friends who haven't seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or who don't remember the movie, they look at me like I'm nuts . . . which isn't a rare occurrence for me. It is in this spirit that I direct you to the 1bruce1 recap of Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #1: The Class Trip. This was recently brought to my attention via The Dairi Burger in the allure of the super special:

This one was so craptastic it was like Hemingway. The kids go on a school trip to a fantasy amusement park and Liz hits her head (or falls off a motorcycle or something) and imagines a scenario where she is fighting witches, goblins, and wizards. Wtf.

It is that good. It's not even like the people at Team Pascal had run out of ideas after decades of Jessica and Elizabeth stories, and decided to throw together whatever they hadn't used yet. It's THE FIRST ONE. It was printed after #19 in the Sweet Valley Twins series. They still had plenty of ghost and real doll tales to get through.

I can't stop laughing at this psychedelic piecemeal book full of ripped-off references, including Enchanted Forest theme park, the above-mentioned Tom, Prince Valiant, a princess named Rainbow Bright and a talking mouse. Wow.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Rewriting History

Newly Non-Sexist Judd Apatow Reaps Benefits of Wikipedia Whitewash, from Defamer.

If you observe Judd Apatow's pervy rom-com assembly line with even casual frequency, you probably don't need a Wikipedia entry to remind you how accusations of sexism and misogyny have plagued the writer-producer-director over the years. At least we hope you don't, because an eagle-eyed Defamer reader points out this morning how a loyal defender / relative / Universal publicist has spent the better part of the last week expunging the dirty little non-secret from the Wiki record. From Katherine Heigl to Mike White, follow the jump for a few of the latest line edits.

Booo, Wikipedia. Mr. Apatow, if your movies repeatedly showcase your fear of women, their vaginas, and what comes out of them, then it is fair to call them misogynistic. In fact, I would call them steaming piles of po--[This post has been edited by Team Apatow. We will now return to your regularly scheduled programming. Thank you.]

Also, Whither Our Superheroines? An Outraged Culture Demands To Know, from Defamer.

In all the drama surrounding Edward Norton's Hulk trouble and Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr.'s gloriously checkered past, we've overlooked one of the more conspicuous problems afflicting this summer's superhero glut. To wit: Where are all the women? Are there any comics featuring female heroes whom some studio will take a chance shepherding to the screen? At least one commentator shares our concern at Vulture, and the prognosis isn't looking good . . .

. . . Film Experience proprietor Nathaniel Rogers spent the weekend at New York's Comic-Con, recoiling from the near-second-class citizenry afforded icons like Supergirl and Batgirl while a new Jenna Jameson comic book sold like mad elsewhere in the building. Yes, we know that Elektra and Catwoman tanked, but Halle Berry's folly is no good reason for the long-awaited Wonder Woman movie to eternally inhabit Development Hell — at least not when Marvel will spend $300 million making The Incredible Hulk twice before throwing a quarter of that into spinning off Ellen Page's Kitty Pryde character from X-Men. We're just saying, boys.

That's what I'm saying, yo.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

I approve this message.

This one, too!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Todd Punch

This is where I've been:


The Dairi Burger

Apartment Therapy

The Internet counts as a place, right, Randy Marsh?


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Start at Home

For the past week, my television set has been tuned to HGTV. It's amazing! I have now decided that I want a finished basement in my home. Not that I have a basement, much less a home, to finish at the moment.

Right now I'm watching My House is Worth What?, hosted by Kendra Todd, previously of Apprentice fame. But so far my favorite show on the network is Myles of Style, hosted by the second winner of Design Star, Kim Myles.

Strangely enough, I got into HGTV last weekend by clicking on Clean House with Reno 911's Niecy Nash . . . on the Style Network. I didn't realize I was initially watching the Style Network. So I spent the past week wondering why Clean House wasn't on anymore. Silly me. :)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The CW doesn't care about black people.

I first heard about this today on "Big Boy's Neighborhood's Liz Hernandez".

Sitcom Saga: No Finale For 'Girlfriends' and Litigation Looms, by Jawn Murray,

. . . The CW had opted to cancel [Girlfriends] without fulfilling its remaining nine episodes.

Well I've now learned exclusively that The CW made the cast members an offer to return for a "retrospective" episode that would feature recaps of the previous shows and cast members reflecting on those shows.

The CW apparently only offered to pay the actors half of their episodic salary to shoot the makeshift finale, thus the stars collectively opted not to participate.

In addition, several people close to the show tell me that The CW refuses to honor the contracts of the principal cast members and does not intend to pay the actors for the nine episodes that will not be taped.

Now the show stars have hired a litigator who will file a joint lawsuit on behalf of the talent, suing the network for the money they are due.

"The network told them point blank, 'Sue us!' After using this show to help build its name, The CW has turned their back on them and disrespected them in the most horrible way," said someone associated with the show, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

This is some nonsense. I don't even watch Girlfriends on The CW, because the show has gone downhill since Toni left, and Joan and William got together, then broke up. However, the show did bring over a solid audience base from UPN to this redheaded amalgamated stepchild of a network.

First Dawn Ostroff came for Everwood. Then she came for Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars. Now Girlfriends is getting the Ostroff treatment. Shame on you, CW. Shame!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My favorite advertisement of the week

And it's only Tuesday!

Absolut vodka pulls ad showing California in Mexico, Reuters via Yahoo! News.

The distillers of Sweden's Absolut vodka have withdrawn an advertisement run in Mexico that angered many U.S. citizens by idealizing an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as Mexican.

The billboard ad has the slogan "In an Absolut World" slapped over a pre-1848 map showing California, Arizona and other U.S. states as Mexican territory. Those states were carved out of what had been Mexican lands until that year.

Although it was not shown in the United States, U.S. media outlets picked up on the ad, and after a barrage of complaints, Absolut's maker said on Sunday the ad campaign would cease.

Defending the campaign last week, Absolut maker Vin & Spirit said the ad was created "with a Mexican sensibility" and was not meant for the U.S. market.

"In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues," a spokeswoman wrote on Absolut's Web site.

"Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal," she wrote.

Absolut's blog cite has received more than a thousand comments since the ad campaign was launched a few weeks ago, with many calling for boycotts of the Swedish company.

"I have poured the remainder of my Absolut bottles down the sink," one blogger wrote.

Well that blogger was not this blogger. I would have taken the ad even further by simply adding a vodka bottle to this thanksgiving comic.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Never enough

Foreclosures come to McMansion country, by Andy Sullivan, Reuters via Yahoo! News.

Million-dollar fixer-upper for sale: five bedrooms, four baths, three-car garage, cavernous living room. Big holes above fireplace where flat-screen TV used to hang.

The U.S. housing crisis has come to McMansion country.

Just as the foreclosure crisis has hollowed out poorer neighborhoods, "for sale" signs are sprouting in upscale developments so new they don't show up on GPS navigation screens.

Poor people weren't the only ones who took out risky, high-interest loans during the housing boom. The sharp increase in housing costs -- and the desire to live in brand-new, spacious houses with modern features -- led many affluent buyers to take out loans they couldn't afford.

"People had in their head, 'I need a mud room, I need giant columns, I need a media room, and I'm going to do anything to get it,"' said Robert Lang, co-director of Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute, a research organization that focuses on real estate and development . . .

A mud room? I cannot understand the entitlement of these people who could probably afford a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood, but instead go above and beyond their means to either build or buy a monstrosity they can't afford. In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Look, a review!

Novel Review: Steve the Penguin by Mahlena Rae Johnson, by by debrajohnson at She Likes to Read!.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of a funny new novel entitled Steve the Penguin by Mahlena-Rae Johnson. I related to the book so well and found it so interesting that I did something that I haven’t done in quite a while; I finished the 189-page book in less than 24 hours! The heroine of Steve the Penguin is the likable, yet sarcastic 27-year-old single gal Bianca. Johnson manages to balance light-hearted comedy, romance, and social commentary in a refreshingly interesting way. Bianca’s thoughts on ethnicity, love, work, and sex mirror many of the things that people want to say, but, like Bianca, don’t always say aloud. Bianca is socially conscious yet socially insecure, full of ambition but at times full of self-doubt, and just like every other single twenty-something woman waiting for her Steve the Penguin to come along . . .

Thanks, debra!