Known for creating the termMisogynoir, Bailey defines it as the intersection of racism, anti-Blackness, and misogyny that Black women experience. The term is specific to Black womanhood, as Misogynoir cannot be experienced by women of any other race, but can be perpetuated by people of any gender or race.
Girls Rock Camp New Orleans (GRCNO) is a volunteer-run summer music camp for ‘individuals who self-identify as female and/or non-binary’ between the ages of 9 to 16. Each member learns to play an instrument, write a song and will star in a live musical performance at the culmination of the camp! This summer, GRCNO will take place at the Wardolf School of New Orleans from June 30 – July 4, with the musical showcase taking place on July 5.
It’s been an eye-opening week in social media. A while ago I heard about the Russell Simmons and Jason Horton project titled ‘Harriet Tubman Sex Tape.’ By the time I went to find the video, it had been taken down. So feel free to hold the fact that I haven’t seen the video against me, but I don’t think it was necessary, and could have quite possibly been triggering.
I, nor anyone else, should not have to explain why there is a problem with a parody sex video of Harriet Tubman. It’s 2013. Are we really doing this? We are going to take a Black woman hero, one of the most revered figures in abolitionist history, hypersexualize her, and then put it on the internet?
I shouldn’t be surprised. And yet…
“Araminta Ross became a “slave for hire” at the age of 5. She did domestic work, field work, cared for children. She once said that one of her mistresses would savagely whip her almost every day, first thing in the AM. As a result, she would put on “all the thick clothes she could” to protect her body from the blows. When she was teenager, she stood before an overseer who was in pursuit of another slave. He took a lead weight & crashed it on her head. She was deeply wounded. She said that the blow “broke her skull.” She was carried back bleeding. She had no bed. They lay her on the floor. She was sent back to her parents who thought she would die. She survived. She went on to become Harriet Tubman. She freed slaves daringly & without fear. This is the person who [Russell Simmons] laughed at.”
A couple of thoughts I have about the video:
I honestly don’t think what kind of sex Tubman was or was not having was relevant. The video is historically inaccurate, insensitive and in poor taste. The video both hypersexualizes Tubman and desexualizes her at the same time. And keep the context in mind, of course. Harriet Tubman was a slave. Which means that in addition to being beaten, she was also repeatedly raped and abused in other forms.
I did see a clip of the video here, and I don’t encourage you to watch it because A) I think it is a waste of time, and B) I don’t want to give the people involved with this video any views. But I will say that in the skit, the filming of the movie was done in secret. The cameraman was hidden in a closet. So we have a historical figure who dealt with numerous accounts of abuse, dealing with… surprise! More abuse. Rape isn’t funny. Neither is racism. Black women’s lives and sexuality, past and present, still manage to be the butts of our jokes…
The worst part about this Harriet Tubman video is your talents were essentially exploited @shannamalcolm
— Kimberly N. Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) August 15, 2013
Our pain, suffering, and cotinuous struggles are not real to them, @shannamalcolm. They don’t care. They used you to silence our history.
— Kimberly N. Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) August 15, 2013
EDIT: It was pointed out to me by a reader that Jason Horton did not write, create or produce the video. I wasn’t saying that he did, but I can see how it would be construed that way based on what I wrote. So to be clear, Jason Horton acted in the video, and that was the extent of his involvement. I apologize for any misunderstanding.
Right now on Twitter a well-known Black woman blogger @Karnythia has started a trend online with the hashtag #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen. I have seen related tweets coming from publications such as Al Jazeera and Colorlines.
Of course, there are the people who automatically jump to the conclusion that #Solidarity is about hating on White women who want equality for ~*everybody*~, and that people of color participating in the tag are just race-baiting. That’s a given. And I’m sure most of said people are not actually reading the hashtag, they are just responding to the name. For those who aren’t aware, it should feel like a punch to the gut. I promise you that being excluded from the mainstream feminist movement feels much worse.
To be clear though, this hashtag is about holding “allies” accountable. It should be self-explanatory! For too long, White, straight, cis, able-bodied women have been the face of feminism.
Read #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen to understand what marginalised people are trying to say. Feminism is supposed to be for people marginalized by patriarchy, but so far it only uplifts the women pictured above.
Here are some gems from #Solidarity
#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen = fighting against fetal personhood bills and not saying one word about voter ID laws.
— Steph Herold (@StephHerold) August 12, 2013
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) August 12, 2013
— Chill Scott (@SpikeVee88) August 12, 2013
#solidarityisforwhitewomen means WOC pain and anger is described as “women screaming at each other” (how’s that for “unfeminist” behavior?).
— Grace (@graceishuman) August 12, 2013
Click the link above for more!
Beyoncé has something to say to the people out there waxing poetic on Black celebrity-hood and respectability politics.
Rebecca A. Gowns: Most of all, I love the small “But of course!” line thrown in there, delivered by a bitchy passive-aggressive white girl. “I’m a grown woman! I can do whatever I want!” Beyonce belts, and in the background, there’s that tiny valley girl voice: “But of course!” That’s gotta be intentional; this song is just as much a response to her (white feminist) critics as “Bow Down” was. What makes it extra delicious is that this is the only spiteful part of the song — “But of course!” — and it’s coming from some weird non-Beyonce character (a single character, with not a single echo, chorus effect, or call and response acknowledging her). Beyonce made the hater a part of her song. This is a trophy song, a song to celebrate her and all her achievements, and it’s topped with the head of her enemy.
Gowns pretty much summarizes how I feel in this quote above about the song. Read the lyrics here.
Is anyone else really sick of people ragging on Beyonce, or is it just me?
I’m not saying you have to like her music, or like her as a person, but let’s take a look at her accomplishments:
- As a teenager/young woman she was the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, one of the best selling all-female groups of all time.
- Her debut album, Dangerously In Love, earned her five Grammy awards.
- She has been featured in movies such as Dreamgirls, Carmen: A Hip-Hopera, Obsession, The Fighting Temptations, Pink Panther, and more.
- In 2001 she was the first African-American female to win the Pop Songwriter of the Year Award (and the second female writer overall).
- Her debut single, “Crazy In Love,” made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list and was also named VH1’s Greatest Song of the 2000’s.
- Since 2012, she’s had a horse fly named after her because it has gold hairs on it’s abdomen, and was considered by the research scientist responsible for the discovery the ‘diva’ of horse flies.
- Also in 2012, Rutgers University in New Jersey introduced a class called “Politicizing Beyonce,” in which students study her image, music, and influence, and decide for themselves whether it is empowering or simply complying with Western gender roles.
- She has so many awards I’m going to just give you a link and you can read them yourself.
- She founded a designer clothing line with her mother, House of Dereon, in 2005.
- She’s appeared in commercials and advertisements for products including but not limited to: Pepsi, L’Oreal, Emporio Armani, and, starting next month, H&M.
- After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she and fellow singer-songwriter Kelly Rowland founded the Survivor Foundation to provide temporary housing for victims in her hometown.
- She’s gone on four concert tours, not including this years ‘The Mrs. Carter World Tour.’
There’s plenty more where that came from, but even if there wasn’t I would say that Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter is a very accomplished, multi-talented, influential and admirable person.
This is one of the reasons why I get particularly annoyed when I happen to come across things like this letter that Rakhi Kumar has written to Michelle Obama about Beyonce not being a good role model for her daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama.
Rakhi Kumar’s complaint starts with her objection to one of Beyonce’s outfits at the Mrs. Carter World Tour, which apparently consists of a sheer bodysuit with the nipples showing. Because I haven’t been to the show, and because there are people commenting saying that her nipples were not showing, I won’t comment on that. But I will say that it’s a bit ironic that Kumar was so bothered by the costume and the ‘misogynistic implications’ that it represented, because the fact that Beyonce’s performance was belittled to what she was wearing can be read as misogynistic as well.
Also, a sidenote: Why do people have such a problem with nipples? Last time I checked, all humans, regardless of gender, had nipples? What about them makes them overtly sexual? They are used FOR FEEDING CHILDREN. As soon as nipples are revealed, they are instantly assumed to be there for a man’s gratification, and if they are revealed for breastfeeding, it’s ‘indecent’. Feeding infants naturally is indecent now?
But I digress. My point is, automatically rendering any woman’s body parts overtly sexual… sexualizes women. And apparently, women aren’t supposed to be sexy in order to be good role models. Or at least that is the case according to Rakhi Kumar.
At one point in the letter, Kumar says:
Beyonce, performing in sheer body suits, nipples displayed, mouth open, high heels and sheer tights, shaking her butt on stage, can no longer be held by world leaders as an icon of female success.
Because for as long as she is, we are feeding a demonic myth that women must make themselves sexually available to enjoy ultimate success.
This is a debate that comes up a lot in discussions about rape culture. There is an idea that women who wear revealing clothing are ‘asking to be raped’ or ‘asking for sex.’ Because apparently women don’t dress for themselves- they dress to attract or repulse men. So by wearing clothing that is revealing, Beyonce is making herself ‘sexually available.’ I wish it was obvious to people why that is an extremely flawed philosophy, but apparently not. So just to make it clear: women are people. People should have the right to wear what they want and not be judged for it. As far as I’m concerned, a woman should be able to walk down the street naked and not have someone touch her without her permission. If a man can walk down the street shirtless and we can just assume he’s hot, and a woman can’t because that’s indecent exposure and she’s inviting rape, that says more about our assumptions and who we are than it does about the man and woman in question.
Kumar also says later on in the letter:
And it’s time that young girls were sent a different message. A more refined, intelligent message. A message that engaged them at the level of their intellect and potential because implicit in our message to them should be the acknowledgement that they are naturally brilliant and that we believe that they are capable of everything -without ever having to undress to achieve their success.
I’m sorry, since when is someone’s intellect based on their appearance? Because Beyonce isn’t wearing enough clothing for your standards, she isn’t smart or strong or capable? Beyonce won every single award she has because you could see her nipples through her bodysuit?
Kumar even points out that Beyonce is the one who chooses to do it! You don’t have to agree with Beyonce’s choice, you don’t have to like it. But to tell the First Lady of the United States that she is not choosing the right role models for her children because you don’t like Beyonce’s clothing is absurd. The fact that Kumar refuses to acknowledge Beyonce’s talent as an artist and musician because of a sheer bodysuit is playing right into the idea that a woman can be defined by what she wears. And the fact that Kumar feels the need to criticize an aspect of Michelle Obama’s child-rearing reminds me of Jaclyn Friedman’s piece last year on GOOD, telling Beyonce and Jay-Z how to raise Blue Ivy Carter.
In a broader scope, I tend to feel icky when people feel the need to tell influential, successful Black people how to raise their children. I also don’t like the idea of Beyonce being judged by her outfits, because I feel like Black women are simultaneously oversexualized and desexualized, and that there is another anti-Black political message in judging what Black women wear and what effect that has on their body and their sexuality. But that’s another post for another day.
I conclude this by saying: Leave Beyonce alone! Let her live her life and celebrate her accomplishments the way she wants to, please stop overcriticizing every little thing she does. No one is a perfect human being- that includes celebrities, and that includes her. Before Kumar judges someone else for not being a good role model, she should make sure she is one too- and so far, I’m not feeling the messages she has for young women.
WHO: There’s a new female rapper/singer in the game and she’s spitting her way into the hearts of today’s hip-hop fiends. Azealia Banks, a newbie from Harlem, is the new up-and-comer in the music industry. With the exception of her Youtube tracks “Seventeen” and “Gimme A Chance” under the moniker Miss Bank$, she dropped her first official single, “212” last year featuring a beat from Lazy Jay. After that came “Liquorice,” a catchy tune with a spanking-fresh music video where Banks boasts about attracting White boys despite having dark skin. Banks sings on the hook:” Can I catch your eye sir / Can I be what you like? Yeah… / I can be the right girl / Tell me if you like your / lady in my, my color / can I be your type? Yeah…”
Banks’ debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, is due in September on Interscope/Polydor Records. Although many people refer to her as a rapper, she prefers the term “lyricist.” She wrote on her blog:
“I never was…. and as soon as I started paying attention to b******t urban media, I started getting myself in trouble. From now on I’m a vocalist, and will not be associating myself with the “rap game”… or whatever the f**k that means…”
WHY: The quote above may be referring to her highly-publicized confrontations with White female rapper Iggy Azalea. XXL reports that in April, Banks tweeted, “How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’? Sorry guys. But I’m pro black girl. I’m not anti white girl, but I’m also not here for any1 outside of my culture trying to trivialize very serious aspects of it.”
Unfortunately for Banks, race is always going to play a part in her career. A Google search of Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea will bring up plenty of interviews with Iggy about her beef with Banks, and her word is backed up even more by her rap mentor T.I., who signed her to Grand Hustle Records in early March of this year. But Banks doesn’t shy away from the controversy. Racialicious’ write up of Azealia Banks as the Crush of the Week points out, “Sexual braggadicio? Check? And hold on…did she just check Diplo and his I’m-not-an-cultural-appropriator-because-I-date-the-women-of-color-I-take-credit-for a** (and any other white person who thinks they get a Racism Pass because they sex it up with folks outside their race)? Totes check.”
WHEN: Banks’ album is due in September, but if you can’t wait that long, stay tuned for her mixtape Fantasea, to be released on July 4, and check out her 1991 EP, released May 29.