Coffee Rhetoric: MyBody
Showing posts with label MyBody. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MyBody. Show all posts

April 29, 2011

Guest Post: Watch My Vagina Dentata-- (WARNING: Adult content NSFW)

Recently, while catching up on some interesting flicks, one film of note I'd seen several times before, was the comedic-horror flick, Teeth. A seemingly feminist manifesto of sorts (written and directed by a man, no less) about a young virgin named Dawn with a mean case of Vagina dentata, whose delicates snap, bite, and dismember any man trying to violate its orifice without her consent, including a male gynecologist who tries to molest her upon learning it's Dawn's first experience being examined. I started imagining the power every woman would have if her vagina were able to reject unwanted penis forced upon her during an attack or wayward penis that played games and whispered sweet nothings and lies ... Interesting concept when told from the perspective of the movie.
I did a little research on  Vagina Dentata and found its folkloric origins intriguing. It's apparently every man's fear of sex... that a woman's toothed parts will castrate and eat his throbbing member during intercourse. I'd be willing to wager the fear is derived from the age-old masculine dread  (and misunderstanding) of the vagina. The many myths that involve women always seem to revolve around the mysteries (and in many cases, evil) of her vagina. Psychologist and Carl Jung alum, Erich Nuemann relays one myth in which a fish (major side-eye over it being a fish) inhabits the vagina of the Terrible Mother archetype (a Jungian theory)- who is saved by a male hero who eventually overcomes her... breaking the teeth out of her punany, causing her to become a "real" woman. Chinese myths also dictate that a woman's vagina is not only the passageway to immortality... but "executioners of men." Another Muslim adage says: "Three things are insatiable: The desert, the grave, and a woman's vulva."
In any event, female genitalia is the most intriguing, hated, loved, studied, desired, feared trope and idiom of any part of a woman's anatomy next to her breasts and perhaps large posterior. It's the one part of a woman's body a man can't even begin to truly understand or inhabit, despite grunting and panting over top or underneath her with every painstaking thrust or exploration of the tongue. Therein lies the speculation that breeds suck folklore, perhaps? In the same breath, many women don't even completely understand the intricacies and power of her womanhood either, most of us don’t even like touch ourselves let alone utter the word VAGINA in and of itself and so have resorted to calling it a vajayjay or some other equivalent name. Interesting and compelling thought...

January 11, 2011


Urged on by friends who seemed overly excited by Nicki Minaj's fervid verse, I listened to Kanye West's all-star collaboration on the track, "Monster." Notoriously particular about the music and artists I listen and pay attention to,  I found myself nodding along in spite of my reluctance.  I'm not a hardcore Kanye West fan (I'll never forgive him for bestowing fame and fortune on the mute femme-bot known as Amber Rose)- or detractor (I think he's talented, enjoy some of his work, and even defended him during Taylor Swift-gate, when he Mic-snatched the annoying and saccharine country singer and did the infamous shrug seen 'round the world, elevating his douchery to epic proportions)- but in keeping with his current Avant-garde projects, controversial album art for his latest (and awesome) offering, My Dark Twisted Fantasy, and modernistic fashion choices, I found the dark, macabre lyrical quips right on track in keeping with this re-branded,  douchier more artistic than usual version of Kanye. I also found myself more impressed by Nicki Minaj's contribution to the song as well. She proved to be more than a one-trick pony with a dubiously luscious ass. She held her own, and then some, on an all-male track, and seemed to deviate from her whole "Harajuku Barbie" schtick, showing the breadth of her lyrical skills. Plus Jay-Z helped bring up the rear with his talk of vanquishing bitter vampires, ungrateful interlopers and such. In fact, Monster is heavy with horror movie tropes. I was in. I couldn't wait see the video... 
Um, so then I saw the video... *insert blank stare here* ... While I'm not sure what the inspiration was, I was a bit taken aback by the visuals. The video begins with a dead-eyed, limp model hanging by her neck, from a chain... Then the subsequent wide shot shows several other dead models hanging from chains in little else but their underwear, flanking rapper Rick Ross as he casually sits amongst their dead carcasses, puffing on a cigar... Next up? Kanye West... lying in bed... next to two dead models with broken necks, their eyes open but vacantly staring off... The video just goes downhill for me from that point on... 

Listen, I'm no prude. I'm known for seeking out obscure, off the cuff Art House/Experimental films that would cause the vast majority of the population to doubt my mental stability. I'm a fan of Richard Kern and Catherine Breillat. I've watched and grimaced my way through several films from the Torture Porn genre, so this is not a holier-than-thou rant arguing about the perverse nature of pop-art and rap videos. I'm all for seeing a little cutting edge perversion in art, and any rumblings disclaiming that admission would be b.s. because I suspect we all harbor curiosities when it comes to exploring perverse behaviors that're within some semblance of reason. However, there's imagery and ideas that are even twisted enough to make me squirm... which is a difficult feat...
During many aspects of the video, there seemed to be no discernible message connecting the dead, decapitated women with the crux of the song other than for shock value... and therein lies my issue. While I still enjoy listening to Monster, watching Kanye West lying in bed with two dead, broken necked models, as he re-positions them to touch one another reeks of necrophilia and it just makes it difficult for me to remember that I enjoy the song. There is a LOT going on in this video and none of it is particularly enjoyable to watch... including Jay-Z rapping his verse as yet another dead model lays splayed on a leather couch behind him. The visions of decapitated model heads and entrails offered no further hope or high expectations for the duration of the music video. I was over it by the time the Nicki Minaj, Dominatrix vs Nicki Minaj, Barbie (tied up in a chair) scene came up. 
Duncan Quinn ad
This video expounds on this disturbing trend of women featured in compromising situations... namely dead and dismembered ... or as zombies. It sort of reminded me of this movie I wrote about a while ago, that shook my core and prompted me to make haste and return it to Netflix. And in likening Monster's video to Dead Girl, perhaps the most chilling aspect or the one thing that bothers me about it rather, is the apathetic way in which Kanye, Jay-Z, & Rick Ross drift amongst the carnage of limp and dismembered female parts. While I understand the nature of the song itself and perhaps the video is a metaphor for... for... something... It always unnerves me when the female aesthetic goes beyond the usual titillating pictorial of T & A (which can also become problematic when done horribly wrong) - and manifests into something way more sinister and malevolent. And so enter the birth of films like this, this, and videos like this to counteract that victimization, much to the chagrin of many men, who are quick to deem it man-hating propaganda ... I'm just speculating.  Seeing women as tortured, mutilated corpses within the context of a music video is unusual and dare I say trumps the disturbing nature of Eminem's Stan video, where its antagonist places his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk of his car. Are women, hanging by their broken necks from a ceiling not hateful, misogynistic visuals? I suppose dousing some video vixen with a bottle of high-end champagne or swiping a credit card down the crack of her gyrating ass isn't humiliating enough.  Please weigh in.

January 04, 2011

Hair Raising Tale: The Beauty Supply Store

Warning: Gratuitous use of personal pics showing the versatility of my natural hair. Deal.
Anyone who reads Coffee Rhetoric or who knows me personally, understands that I am vigorously passionate about issues having to do with women of the African diaspora; Especially how we're portrayed, exploited, "fetishized", oppressed, suppressed, trivialized, marginalized, and perceived. Image, body types, and of course hair. The struggle will never get old with me. I won't ever stop negating the stereotypes and foolery continuously projected onto Black women. Whether media pundits sans a clue (with Steve Harvey's help) continuously resurrect a dead corpse, struggling to analyze the reasons why they think we're ALL hopelessly single to being told our brand of beauty doesn't suffice unless a bunch of prerequisites come before it, or it be someone staring at us with their mouth agape when they realize our features are in fact diverse and not as homogeneous as they think... And so this story goes... 
About a month 1/2 ago, my best friend The Notorious C.A.T. came for a long overdue visit. Of course lots of fun and foolishness ensued. Anything less wouldn't make sense. I introduced her to haunts new to her since her last foray into Hartford... we visited some old, familiar ones. Per usual, Cat insisted on making her annual pilgrimage to a certain beauty supply store downtown to stock up on the must-haves lacking in her adopted northern New York town of Plattsburgh. 
As the Korean woman behind the counter rang her purchases, I noticed her animatedly speaking in Korean to her daughter, who was also behind the counter reading. The conversation seemed to be directed toward Cat, whose unrelaxed, curly hair was pulled back at the nape of her neck, in a puffy ponytail. We both looked at the woman and her daughter quizzically. 
"Oh, we were just talking about your hair." The daughter said to Cat. "It looks really nice. Is is real?" She asked. 
While I struggled to not express a serious case of WTF-face, Cat, in an amused voice, answered, "Oh! Yes. It's real!" 
"Oh wow! Okay." The girl answered incredulously as she and her mother nodded their shocked approval. 
Cat and I exchanged looks, smirked, and thanked the inquisitive Korean woman for ringing our purchases and went back out into the cold... laughing that all-knowing laugh. We reflected for a brief moment outside the store... 
I told Cat what'd just transpired reminded me of the scene from Chris Rock's eponymous documentary 'Good Hair,' where he visits several Korean-owned beauty supply stores, afro-textured wigs in-tow in a humorous attempt to sell it to them and measure its worth against the more popular and preferred 100% Indian Remy brand, beloved by Black women who get their hair weaved. "They don't wanna look... Africa... like this! They wanna look the style!" one heavily accented Korean store owner exclaimed, stretching his hands out on each side of his head for emphasis. "Nobody walks around with nappy hair nomore!" his Black employee sneered. Other beauty supply stores had similar reactions. Alas, Chris Rock concluded that our afro-textured hair wasn't worth a damn, apparently. 
I presume to think that Korean-owned beauty supply owners are probably so accustomed to seeing Black women walk in, with their need-to-be-done hair wrapped up in scarves, to purchase Indian Remy- (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that)- that the mere idea that one or two would walk in with derring-do, their natural, neatly styled kinky/curly hair on display on a mission to buy Cholesterol conditioner to lovingly maintain and care for it, came as a complete shock to them. 
Perhaps the store owner (and many other shocked and awed of the like) couldn't ever fathom soft, healthy, thick hair sprouting from the scalp of a Black woman scalp or grasp the fact that many of us would rather wear it instead of what's sprung from an Indian woman's... or that, quite possibly, a head of healthy hair lay protected underneath the weaved heads of many Black women, who're merely giving their own hair a breather from styling and maintenance. 
On a few occasions, I've been asked if my own pulled back, 70's inspired natural hair was a textured ponytail piece or bun pinned atop my head. 
While I maintain that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Black woman experimenting with her hair and wearing it however she sees fit, our hair and bodies along with our dating and sex lives seem to pique the curiosity of many and becomes a topic of debate amongst those not in the know or who think they do. However, I'm left to wonder if the minority of us who aren't merely just trying a different look and who do truly despise our features and resent the texture and depth of our hair, don't shoulder some of the responsibility for the reactions of those outside our community.
The hair issue is a perpetually complicated one.. and there are a number of beleaguered Black women who are downright indignant about the texture of their hair, as illustrated by the beauty supply clerk in the 'Good Hair' clip, who co-signed her employer's disdain for "Africa hair."  I'd be remiss if I also didn't call out so-called natural hair wearers who follow rigid, multi-layered hair regimens and live by that blasted hair typing chart popularized by Oprah Winfrey's long-time hairdresser, Andre Walker, in an attempt to monitor and alter the texture of their natural hair... perhaps to mimic a Bi/Multi-racial woman's hair type
Black women undoubtedly seem to be under a constant microscope. Other people outside our community pick up on the conflict that rages within the minority of my sistren who dislike themselves, and they run long-distance marathons with it... formulating these grandiose ideas about our appearance, particularly that somehow we all want to mimic a uniform look based on a euro centric aesthetic
I'm often quite dumbfounded and somewhat disgusted when other Black women, who aren't attuned to the actual texture of their own hair, express the same type of surprise at the versatility of my natural hair. As if they, themselves came out of the womb relaxed or be-weaved. It's akin to a clear case of mental conditioning (read: brainwashing).  
Listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting with hair as a personal form of expression, but once Black women become that far removed from themselves that it extends beyond a personal aesthetic and simple vanity in a way that causes them to disconnect from what and who they really are, then it's damaging and it perpetuates the growing list of ignorant rhetoric about us. 
Be mindful. Why on earth would you co-sign someone else's virtual (read: distorted) sketch of your image and allow them to wage a totalitarian ideology of how they think you should look? 
That is all. 

June 24, 2010

V is for Victory

 I recently engaged in a discussion about the trials and tribulations of dating and sex with a male acquaintance and I used the word "vagina" to describe a ... vagina. Alarmed, he asked, "Why do you have to call it that??"  
 "Because that's its government name. It's a VAGINA! VAAAGIINAAAA! Say it with me... say vagina!" I prodded and teased. 
"Noo, I can't!" He insisted. 
People's aversion to sounding out the vowels and consonants that make up the word VAGINA has always amused me. Without hesitation; Cookie, vajayjay, vaj, poon, poontang, punany, kitty, kitty cat, carpet, bush, and the 'P' word will spill from the mouths of women and men without incident... without so much as a chuckle. The moment I say vagina aloud however,  hands cup over mouths muffling sheepish chuckles; which incites me to find any excuse to use the word "vagina" in a sentence, because I've often wondered what's at the root of people's discomfort with using the clinical term for a woman's genitalia, during a friendly discussion.
Quick research (read: Google search) showed that the term "vagina" isn't favored by major broadcasting companies, as evidenced by news that three networks rejected a funny Kotex tampon ad - (which actually mocks the sterility of said ads, selling menstrual products) - for using the term. Kotex later re-shot the commercial substituting "vagina" for "down there." Which still didn't placate two out of the three networks. This is interesting, especially when you consider that major TV stations have no compunctions of conscience when the term "Erectile Dysfunction" is used to sell Cialis and Viagra. 
Owning and appreciating the word VAGINA and all it entails discourages the indifference many women (and some men) feel toward what's best for the sensuousness between their legs, because how one feels about her vagina dictates the impact of her sex life, how it's treated, and how she feels about her body overall. 
A recent study of more than 2,000 women found that those who had the most positive image about their vagina (its natural, healthy smell included) had better orgasms and reported stronger sexual energy. Women, (unlike men, who see and touch their penises everyday, several times a day, to relieve themselves in many instances), don't see or even bother to look at the intricate detailing that goes into making the vaginal area function. I'm reminded of the Ace Ventura type reactions I got when during another discussion (amongst other women) about the vagina, I opined how worthwhile and important it is for a woman to hold a mirror and strong light underneath or before her vagina and vulva (the other 'V' word) - to self-examine and make sure nothing's amiss or funky looking; i.e. sores, unsightly warts, discharge, etc. I stood alone that day, as no amount of explaining my petition made the suggestion anymore palatable... so I changed to another course for fodder. 
In answer to the Yahoo! Question: "Why are we so afraid and uncomfortable with saying the V word?" there were a myriad of responses to why "vagina" just wasn't a desirable word to say versus the slang terms for it. One man suggested: "I think it's because vagina has 3 syllables so it sounds like a long word and it's as if you are trying to make it sound wrong even though it isn't. I have no problem saying penis." 
While not particularly sexy sounding in the throes of passion (I get that), generally saying VAGINA several times won't cause one to be sucked into an abyss like the Bermuda Triangle, never to be heard from again or an even worse fate as illustrated in the black-horror flick, Teeth
The latest craze (endorsed by Jennifer Love Hewitt)- in female vanity known as Vajazzling, which is the strategic bedazzling of little Swarovsky-like sparkles on the lower hypogastric region, makes appreciating one's vagina a lot more fun and brings women that much closer to looking at the actual thing while mouthing the word VAGINA out loud. I liken Vajazzling to playing the choo-choo train game with wee ones while feeding them, in order to get them to eat their food. Whatever works. 

May 02, 2009

Casual Encounter

I love these random, casual encounters I come up against. Now, my friend says that I'm a"maneater" and a "temptress," who has left a trail of broken men leading from my door, but her opinion is born out of bitterness because she can no longer eat delicious cupcakes and cream sauces and I can. So her opinion is pretty much moot at this point and time and nothing can be further from the truth, but I digress.
I always find myself in the midst of foolishness. Whether it be a strange man wanting to take photos of my shoes to another insisting on removing his prosthetic foot at a trendy wine bar... I am a magnet when it comes to the bizarre.
This Friday was no exception. While leaving a diner, clutching a tasty pepperoni grinder, with peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, cheese, and mustard (former vegetarianism be damned)- a Mailman stepped back out of the way to let me pass (the aisle is narrow and my hips span across many nations and universes) however, I didn't think I needed that much space... but I thanked him anyway for letting me through.
"That's okay. I wanted to see how you looked anyway."
he said smugly. Both amused and annoyed, I hurried past and across the street back to work. Amazing. I am back on meat (for the past 3 years now) and am also a PIECE of meat to be appraised, judged, poked, and prodded. What clownery! Here's a thought... Instead of sidewalks and aisles, why not just make the landscape one, long catwalk for women to walk down... just to make things more convenient for you all? What a novel idea! (insert side-eye here). Men-beasts... you never cease to amaze this simple woman. The grinder was tasty by the way.

March 27, 2009

I Wish EVERYDAY Was a Spa Day!

... Rhassoul. I love this stuff. Washing my hair is a 10-step process, always and forever because I want to make sure it's baby soft. I was exhausted, but didn't fall asleep with conditioner and a towel resting on my head. I mixed Rhassoul clay with cholesterol conditioner and applied. I left it on for 30 minutes so it'd harden a little... loves it. I followed up (as always) by saturating my natural hair with melted coconut oil. Then rinsed again. Love how soft it makes my hair feel. The fatigue was worth it!

I use Rhassoul on my face and body to suck out the toxins as well.

Detoxifying and exfoliating always makes me feel so much better! A mud that cleanses... imagine that. Something about bathing... scrubbing away layers of dead skin, and oiling up after the fact soothes my soul. It's almost like I'm sloughing away layers of stress and baggage, and reveling in brand new skin. It's akin to how a snake must feel after shedding its skin. I've always been intrigued by primitive, or exotic rather, beauty rituals... whether they be hammams, hair removal, moisturizing with scented oils, etc. Pampering the skin excites me. Yes... this is how I spend much of my free time... reveling in self-absorbency. Bathing, exfoliating, oiling, mosturzing, plucking, shaving, tweezing... etc. etc. etc. ...

June 08, 2008

Maybe a Dingo Ate My Baby

Dear People Who Don't Get it When I Say I'm NOT INTERESTED in Having Children,

Perhaps you aren't aware of it, but we live in an era where, what a woman decides to do with her body is no longer an undebatable issue as dictated by the patriarchal majority and stiff, uptight, puritanical other women with antiquated beliefs, who still think their SOLE purpose is to procreate. Spare me your, "Oh, you're going to be a miserable, lonely old lady"

and "Who will take care of you in your old age" arguments, because my ovaries and future as a senior citizen are my business. Vain attempts at browbeating me into pregnancy wont work. They only serve as comic relief and makes it oh so easy for me to become antagonistic and come back with a sharp yet witty retort. Your ignorance and narrow mindedness also prompts me to research the many ways in which I CAN'T reproduce. Hysterectomy anybody? Who knows someone? Hit me up.

I respect the fact that you've made the decision (purposely or otherwise- SUPRIIISE, guess he didn't pull out in time!) to have a child or children. I think many madres are great and do a WONDERFUL job. I commend you, because childrearing is one of the most difficult and underrated jobs. Hey, I'm the product of a woman who decided to be a mother. My sisters are mothers. Jesus has a mama, and finally I've met the acquaintance of many mother F'ers, and neither of those realizations or chance encounters have prompted me to wanna run out and find a sperm donor. To the contrary, in fact. Dispute me if you must and not that it's any of your damn concern, but at 30 years old, if I was ever meant to be someone's mom, I think I would have made it happen at this juncture in my life.
I can barely tolerate menstrual cramps, charley horses, and pre-menstrual bloat, so why would I put myself through the discomfort of pregnancy? I'm also a mercurial woman, whose temperament is ofttimes unpredicatable, depending on how each month plays itself out (some weeks are more tolerable than others). So the last thing I need to grapple with is Post-Partum Depression.
"Oh, but you'll make a GREAT mother!" some of you argue. As YouTube celebrity Chris Crocker says and for your own good, BITCH, PUHLEEZE!"
Just because I utilize the common sense my mother instilled in me and make rational decisions, doesn't necessarily mean I'm maternal and should run out and have a whole cadre of children. Pregnancy and motherhood serve as an inconvenience to the many things I enjoy or want to accomplish. Caffeine, wine, debaucherous behavior, spirits, galavanting and wanting to do whatever the hell else I want to do, at a moment's notice.
Selfish? Probably. But you know what else is selfish? Women who are uncertain about motherhood and will ignorantly squire children all over the place, with irresponsible men, knowing they don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. And who forfeit their maternal rights, leaving the foster care system responsible for their babies, which results in many neglected and homeless children. It's also selfish and backward of women to verbally flog other women for not wanting chilluns. So the eff what if I have "child-birthing hips!" How DARE you?!?....
Look, essentially me being without child is my prerogative. I don't owe an explanation to anybody. And you needn't explain the ways in which I'm selfish or foolish for being unapologetic about being not wanting children. I'm sick of defending myself against ignorant rants about me needing to prepare myself for a life loneliness. Loneliness is, as pathetic does. And I'm neither. I don't want a small human pushing its way out of my vagina. It's just that simple. Deal with it.
Regards, Coffey