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

April 05, 2013

My Petition: My Black Feminism is Here to Stay

My womanhood and rights are not up for debate

I've been reading some highly-charged,  racio-misogyny and anti-Black woman rants about how feminism (or Womanism) is supposedly ruining society and the black community, and is to blame for the contentious relationship between black men and women. Some folks seem to think that if (black) women would just shut up and stop speaking out against issues like reproductive rights, sexism, sexual harassment, street harassment, abuse and sexual assault we would all get along swimmingly, because women are meant to be seen and not heard, am I right? 

Contrary to popular (and misinformed) belief, feminists don’t operate as a monolith. The majority of us don't live to emasculate or browbeat men, nor are we opposed to feminine sensibilities, sex, marriage, family, or whatever we supposedly abhor in the linear and limited thinking and misunderstanding about gender equality.

Some people seem to harbor the convoluted, and cartoonish, idea that feminists are fervent misandrists who hate everything and everybody… perhaps because they themselves are averse to evolving beyond the status quo of patriarchy. Believing the “Feminazis are evil, man-hating feminazis!” narrative makes it easy for anti-feminists to continue espousing patriarchal propaganda, and to believe they shouldn’t be held accountable for how they (mis)treat and marginalize women and young girls; so they can have reasons to keep their foot firmly rooted on my neck, enact epistemic violence, and rationalize dangerous arguments in support of “legitimate rape”; so they can continue to uphold gender inequities and maintain a stronghold on women’s vaginas. And while some women are well within their right to not be labeled as a feminist (or Womanist), and will gladly uphold patriarchy as a way to score brownie points, ‘other’ themselves, or seek favor with  misogynists, they conveniently forget that they reap the benefits that feminists fight to secure. Good luck with pandering though, ladies.


March 11, 2013

The Intersection of Madness & Reality Cross-post: Lil Wayne, Emmett Till, & Rap's Misogyny



This post (written by Intersection of Madness & Reality contributor, Livication) was originally published February 22, 2013.



Why Lil Wayne’s Emmett Till Lyric was Also a Women’s Issue

by 


I love hip hop. Loving something doesn’t make it free from legitimate criticism; there is a history of certain rap/hip-hop artists maintaining a certain attitude toward women and in discussing this in my personal conversations, I’m often brought back to a chicken-egg conversation. Do artists have a responsibility to restrict their message because some of the people who receive their work may not be capable of examining and properly critiquing it? Do audience members (and whoever may be responsible for them) have a responsibility to withdraw from supporting the artists that they like when they are offensive, outrageous, and disgusting? I’d argue yes, to both.

So, yeah. Lil Wayne is featured on the remix of Future’s song “Karate Chop” — which appears to be about selling cocaine, riding in fancy cars, and generally blowing money — and yet again, he’s offended the masses. As an artist, I often wonder if certain things are untouchable; as an activist (and supposed decent human being), I know that many people abide by our social mores and the cultural understanding that we have of the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and behavior that is simply in poor taste.

And along comes Lil Wayne. Not-in-his-defense, I have found that our objections of the really awful things that he says aren’t particularly for all the right reasons. For example, the latest hubbub is based on Tunechi saying: Beat that p*ssy up, like Emmett Till.

As with anything, we should look at the lyric in it’s full context. So, Weezy’s full verse, if it provides any source of context for you, says:

November 04, 2012

These and Those: M.A.D.V.O.W. - Men Against Domestic Violence On Women


Last night, I had the opportunity to attend an event coordinated by an up-and-coming movement called M.A.D.V.OW. - Men Against Domestic Violence On Women - for its third annual social hosted in a lounge space donated by Barça restaurant and tapas bar in Hartford. There was spoken-word, music, food, and most compelling, stories of survival relayed by women and men- (including a personal testimonial by musical guest, Heshima Moja ) - who’ve been profoundly affected by domestic abuse.

One survivor relayed how she spent years shuttling back-and-forth between her relationship with a physically and emotionally abusive man and her family, who she stayed with whenever she’d leave him, before finally seeking refuge at a shelter for abused women. During her time there, she gleaned insight and encouragement from advocates and other survivors, who helped her feel empowered and strong enough to rebuild her life and move on and away from her abuser for good. Another survivor stressed the importance of patience from friends and family and pointed out how many survivors don’t willfully fall in love with men who’re abusive; but with men who’re initially charming and loving before setting out to isolate their victims and gradually subject them to abuse.


October 27, 2012

Don't Speak: Women Don't Have to Smile or Say 'Hi' on Command



Pic from: stoptellingwomentosmile.com
Recently on Tumblr, I shared an experience I had while out-and-about, that left me feeling a bit taken aback, because it ceases to amaze me how men go about exerting dominance and upholding patriarchy in shared spaces, towards women they don't know. And in doing so, will say the most crude things and make the most dictatorial demands, as if it’s their due. 

August 01, 2012

Victoria Foyt’s ‘Save the Pearls’, A World Bereft of White Privilege and Beauty Standards

While browsing the internet for current events, I happened upon some buzz of the “WTF?” variety regarding an independently published YA novel written by Victoria Foyt called, “Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden.” A quick Google search led me to an interesting list of results; which included dismay from bloggers, Amazon stats [the book was rated poorly], and its official site. The cover art for the book features a young woman whose skin and hair color are split bilaterally, down the middle [black skin, raven colored hair on one side, flaxen haired and pale skin on the other]. An official synopsis [from the Save the Pearls site] reads…
In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die.

If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.

Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal. 
I haven’t read the entire book, but based on the generous excerpts I’ve been able to without having to pay and Foyt’sown misguided views on what constitutes anti-racism and racism, I’ve gleaned all that I need and then some, so more than enough to offer a critique on Foyt’s work.

April 20, 2012

So I Creep: Men Who Don't Like Being Called Creepy


According to an article at the site Jezebel, men’s rights activists (or MRA); a movement that surfaced in the 1970s to address inequities in reproductive rights, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, sexual harassment laws, education, fathers’ rights, health care, and genital integrity among other issues-including ensuring that their entitlements stay intact by challenging the tenets of feminism – don’t like us women, hurling the word “creepy” at them in response to what is deemed, (more times than not) legitimately shifty behavior while in our presence and/or space. 
Apparently the ability to“creep shame” is a special power men seem to think women have; used to ostracize them in the worst way, because earth, wind, and fire forbid we have the unmitigated gall to exercise the right to say “no”, “I’m not interested”, shut down in response to elevated levels of unwanted attention, or even change our minds about wanting to date somebody for whatever reason.  

Writer Jeremy Paul Gordon wrote of creepiness in a 2010 article for The Hairpin;  
“Without a doubt, creepy is the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy. A guy can publicly scoff at something you say and be a “douchebag;" sleep with your best friend, never call her back and become an “asshole;" cry while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and forever be a “pussy.” But creepy is not that simple. It doesn’t relate to someone’s appearance, actions, or behavior. More accurately, creepy is a vibe. You can’t define it — you just know it. It’s when a guy looks at a girl for a little too long, when he friends her on Facebook a little too quickly, when he doesn’t understand that no actually means no, not “Try harder.” It’s a tag that isn’t easily dispelled.” 
In any event, the Anti-Creep Shaming Brigade’s shoddy attempts at advocating against women who use their instincts to protect themselves against douche-like behavior, is an exercise in futility. And it's an unfair demand, to expect women to pacify the male id, particularly if she's protecting herself. But at least allows me the opportunity to share this excerpt from novelist, Phaedra Starling’s 2009 guest blog post, originally featured on the (now defunct) site"Shapely Prose", Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced. (Which I was fortunate enough to come across via writer and cultural critic, Son of Baldwin's  Facebook page).
You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.

If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”

On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.


September 21, 2005

Quadri-Boobs

I have a staring problem of epic proportions. This is one of the primary reasons why I wear over-sized, dark shades. I feel they give me license to stare until my heart's content. Generally speaking, I guess it would be referred to as 'people watching'… whatever. 

In my head, I critique people's fashion do's and don’ts or I try to read their faces to determine what type of day they've had. I'll use what I see in my literary art if it's interesting enough. No man, woman, or child is exempt from my vigilant (yet shrouded) gaze. On occasion I may rubber neck (within reason) at attractive men, in appreciation of a woman's well put-together ensemble, or at a horrible fashion doozy. Needless to say, this past Tuesday late- afternoon while I was en-route to my mother's house after work, I was waiting at one of the designated stops, to transfer to another bus.
While waiting, I indulged my staring problem for the 10 or 15 minutes it took for my connecting bus to arrive. I watched people stomping up and down the street, looking relieved that their workday was finally over and done with. I spied various types of women (and men) taking long awaited drags off of their cigs. I saw women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages... some chic in their workday threads... some looking like they got dressed in the dark confines of their closets. I spied muffin-tops bubbling over the waists of ill-fitting trousers, protruding through equally ill-fitted knit tops. I also saw men wearing too large shirts, crammed into wrinkled khakis creating an unflattering blouson… like deflated parachutes. Regardless of fashion sense, lack thereof, size, race, etc. I noted one problem in particular… 

Too many women wearing horribly fitted bras. I'm about to share a nasty, nasty figure... 80% of women wear the wrong bra (and panty) size. This petite young woman of ample chest (very ample) who trounced by me illustrated this alarming fact. She had on a stretchy white cotton cap-sleeved fitted tee and I could clearly see through the fabric of her shirt. She had a bad, bad case of what I call the four-boob syndrome. Her cup size, seemingly, began just below the nipplage mark. The whole top half of her rack spilled over the cups of the bra. (Unless you're wearing the proper-size balconet or a demi bra, this should not be the case)- She was pushing Double-D turf. Her DD puppies looked like they were crammed into a C-cup... she was killing me... and not softly. I shook my head, irritated... wishing I'd had a tape measure and the moxie to intercept her path, measure her rack, and to tell her to immediately go and buy whatever cup size she actually was

Teenaged girls and women within my age bracket tend to be the primary offenders of this horrible trend. They see a cute bra and they buy it anyway, notwithstanding the fact that it doesn't fit. Some women have gouges in their skin, because their bras are just way too tight... prompting their back-bacon (regardless of body type) to spill out from the sides. Undergarments are supposed to feel comfortable. If fitted properly, they make or break an entire outfit or the appearance of one's rack. During my college years, I was walking around wearing the wrong bra size, and hadn't even realized it, until someone waged an intervention. I was walking around wearing a DD (which was actually too large). Ofttimes, I found myself tugging the back of my bra relentlessly and my tops just didn't seem to fit properly... but still, I was ignorant to the fact that my bra wasn't the proper size. One summer, several years ago, while shopping in a popular store at the mall, my intervention played out. This store had bras on sale. I decided to buy a couple. Upon walking up to the feisty, petite, Latina cashier to pay for my wares, I got schooled in Brassiere 101. Feisty happened to note the bra size I was about to purchase right before she rang it up. She took one look at my bust (which is ample and full, but not huge) and turned up the corners of her mouth in disapproval; as one would do to an insolent child.
"Honey, this is not the right size." she said. "But I've been wearing this size for a long time" I argued, so sure I was correct. She looked at my rack, one more time, before driving her point home... "Trust me, you are not a DD. I know what I'm talking about. I am used to women coming in here buying the wrong bra size." I started to protest once more, but Feisty shushed me, draped a tape measure around her neck, and stepped from behind the counter. "Come here" she ordered. I obliged, lifting up my arms, to let her wrap the tape around my back and just under my bust. "40D" she said with an 'I told you so' smirk on her face. 

Silent, I returned the bras I was about to purchase back to sale rack, and got their replicas in a 40D. That was about 4 or 5 years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. My tops fit a lot better, my boobs aren't squished uncomfortably in their cups, and the bra tugging is at a minimum. Wearing the proper-size in bra compliment my rack if I do say so myself. Most department and fine lingerie stores offer bra fittings for free, yet women don't take advantage, because they don't feel comfortable getting their sweater puppets sized up. I advise all women, young, middle-aged, and old, to suck it up and do it! It makes a huge difference as to how you fit into your clothes. Knowing your proper undergarment size also makes it easier to shop for bras sans the guessing games.... and failing miserably. Bra fittings should take place at least once a year, as a gynecological or dental exam does; and if you’re still not comfortable asking a salesgirl to measure your tats, then I implore you to give your best friend (paramour or husband) a tape measure and ask her (or him) to do it. Your breasts will be so grateful, that they'll breathe a sigh of relief.