It would have been really nice if all politicians and pundits in the US had agreed to honor Nelson Mandela’s death with a moment of silence. By “moment,” I mean it should last a week or more. That way we’d get a chance to catch our breath before we get Rick Santorum saying this shit:
“Well, Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice,” Santorum replied. “And he was willing to pay a huge price for that. And it’s for that reason he — he — he is mourned today, because of that struggle he performed. But what he was advocated for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice.”
“I would make the argument,” Santorum continued, “that we have a great injustice going on too, in this country, with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front-and-center in that.”
Just in case we had any doubts, Frothy-Mix is here to remind us that he is Wrong About Everything.
No, Santorum, you are not in any way comparable to Nelson Mandela. No, you are not fighting against apartheid. No, the Affordable Care Act is not like a system of legally codified racial discrimination and economic oppression. If you’d been part of the government of South Africa at the time, you would have been on the side of keeping Mr. Mandela in prison.
It bears repeating, to conservatives in general: you’re not fooling anyone with this bellowing about the government being too powerful and controlling everything. When you’re pro-military-occupation, pro-drug-war, and determined to use the power of government to make it as difficult as possible for women to control their fertility, you have no opinion on Government Intrusion Into Our Lives.
I’d tell you, “Go home, Santorum, you’re drunk,” except drunkenness doesn’t explain this kind of stupid.
There’s this idiot, a former Navy chaplain, letting words come out of his mouth regarding the supposed dangers of trans* women having the right to use women’s restrooms.
“He’s being abused by his parents,” Klingenschmitt asserted. “These abusive parents now have used this little boy to try and claim that he’s a girl to try and tell the world that they ought to let transgender adults into your little girl’s public bathrooms!”
“There is a demon of rape inside of this movement,” he added, “to violate your daughters”
Right. Use parents’ fear for their daughters’ safety to stoke violent bigotry against trans* women, because they don’t deal with enough violence already. So very original.
Klingenschmitt’s language of “demon of rape” is rather colorful and hyperbolic, but the idea is not that far off from the mainstream. There are plenty of people who want to make a problem out of trans* women using public restrooms marked for women.
(I’ll just take a moment to point out that a trans* woman’s options for using public restrooms are basically thus: Use the ladies’ room, get yelled at. Use the men’s room, get beaten up and possibly killed. Meanwhile, she needs to pee. There are no good options here.)
Just think about what it’s like to live a life in which you have to make a serious decision every time you use the toilet in a public venue.
It might surprise Mr. Klingenschmitt to learn that his position on transgender women is no ideologically different from the position of TERFs (Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists, for the layperson). They, too, see trans* women as men who pretend to be women so they can violate women’s spaces. It hasn’t occurred to them that there are simpler, less persecuted ways for men to stalk and harass women.
I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance service in DC last week. I should also note that it was held in a church, with mostly Christian religious leaders running the program and heavily Christian themes involved in the musical selections, in case anyone’s wondering. No one seemed to see any inherent contradiction of Christianity with a full-throated defense of transgender people’s rights to be true to themselves and live without violence. When the service was finished, I even used the bathroom. I got in line for the ladies’ room along with several other women, most of whom were trans*, and nothing bad happened. I complimented one woman on her sparkly, festive shirt. Not for a moment did I feel unsafe.
I wrote a short essay on street violence against women and (trans) women that I initially did for a panel for the U of M but because of the DOC drama, I never got a chance to finish it... until now. I hope you all enjoy it. I love you all! TTYL!
A major problem in the entire world is violence against all women, which also includes trans women.
Fellow white female creatives? Step up your game. Time to start actually making stuff that isn’t stolen from people of color, built on their backs or ripped from their psychological hides. This shit, for example? Not cool.
Peggy Noland, a white designer from Kansas City who’s worked with stars like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, has a deeply problematic new project out: a ridiculous line of t-shirts and dresses featuring Oprah’s head photoshopped onto nude bodies.
The dress is anything but “lighthearted.” She chose to use Oprah’s image — as the most powerful black woman in entertainment who’s waged a very public battle over her weight throughout her career— instead of, say, an actual designer, because it’s something that will create a spectacle.
Yeah, that designer called her Naked Oprah line “light-hearted.”
Visit that link, look at the pictures of some of the dresses, and ask yourself: What is really being held up for ridicule, here? How does using Oprah’s face on nude bodies nod to the ridiculousness of the fashion industry? How is Oprah even a part of the fashion industry, beyond the ways that all celebrities help designers sell overpriced clothes?
I don’t even give Peggy Noland the benefit of assuming she actually believes she’s doing anything edgy and subversive at the fashion industry. She’s appropriating the image of an extremely (possibly uniquely) successful black woman for a ridiculous thing we can wear on t-shirts and turtleneck dresses. There’s plenty to criticize about Oprah, but this is freaking juvenile.
Now I will show you a little something Trudy of Gradient Lair said the other day, referring to Lily Allen and other white chicks who use black women as furniture to climb on:
Fuck Lily Allen and fuck White feminists who have zero compassion and sense of intersectionality let alone have no concept of who they are without misogynoir towards Black women. Who is a White woman? Who is she when not standing on, exploiting, or attacking a Black woman? What is her identity without our exploitation?
The way to answer her question is to work on our creativity. We need to push ourselves, find our voices, take risks, and generally build our own shit. Do not use exploitation as a substitute for edginess, do not use “ally” as a shield, and do not rely on prepackaged coolness as a crutch against the hard work of artistic integrity. Never assume you should be exempt from criticism because you’ve done enough. If you want to be subversive, be strong enough to punch up. It doesn’t need to be brilliant right away, but fucking make it yours.
If you haven’t seen Lily Allen’s new video, “Hard Out Here,” go look it up on YouTube. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find. Your friends are probably linking it on Facebook already.
So, you’ve seen the video, so compare that with some of the criticism it’s received:
The video is meant to be a critique and satire of popular culture and manages some deserved jabs at Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” videos among others, but in the end it just reduces itself down to elevating Lily Allen’s white female body and objectifying and utterly denigrating those of the black female dancers she deliberately surrounds herself with from start to finish.
Right? Okay. Maybe the criticism seems unfair. Maybe we think the critics just didn’t get her joke, and she wasn’t objectifying her dancers; she was satirizing the way the music industry objectifies them? With that in mind, compare the actual content of the video, including the song lyrics, to Ms. Allen’s response:
Privilege,Superiority and Misconceptions
1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they’re wrong.
3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.
4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.
5. I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.
“It has nothing to do with race, at all”? She must think we have shit for brains.
Oh, and this happened, too:
Which Suzanne Moore is that? Oh, yes, it’s that one.
I don’t expect Ms. Allen to see this, and if she does, I don’t expect her to get anything from it except yet that yet another humorless driver of the White Guilt Bandwagon doesn’t get her use of sarcasm. So I’ll just use her as yet another bad example of responding to accusations of racism. Fellow well-meaning white people, particularly those in creative and performing professions, what can we learn from Ms. Allen’s experiences here?
Sometimes, satire fails. The message you’re trying to get across doesn’t come through. The message that’s “clear” from the Hard Out Here video is not the one that Lily Allen wanted us to get. The video doesn’t suddenly become non-racist, non-objectifying, or non-exploitative simply because she says she didn’t mean it that way.
Punching up is more impressive and effective than punching down. If she’d done more skewering the men who scold her for not staying thin after having two kids, and less slo-mo of her dancers jiggling their asses and pouring champagne on themselves, it would’ve been a better satire.
Asking the backup dancers themselves for “proof” that your video design isn’t problematic doesn’t prove the criticism wrong. It simply means those dancers are trying to make a living and are not inclined to alienate a famous artist who might give them more employment or references in the future.
There is no room to say something like, “if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.” There’s no IF here. People are telling you how they feel about your video. The harm has already happened. It’s worse than people taking offense.
If you’re going to do effective satire, you need to be ready to offend people. “Light-hearted” is no excuse for crappy content.
If you’re in a creative line of work, you need to be able to handle criticism. If people think your music sucks, they’ll tell you. If part of your expression is analysis of sociopolitical issues, you will receive criticism for that, too. If you aim to push back against one type of oppression and your execution contributes to another type of oppression, you will be criticized for that and you will do well to take that feedback seriously rather than throw a tantrum on social media.
Finally: just because you didn’t WANT to be oppressive, doesn’t magically make everything okay. White folks are in no position to determine what is or is not racist. That way lies madness.
I don’t even know where to start.
You may have heard a lot of us lefty smartasses talking about Richard Cohen today. Is it as bad as we make it sound?
It’s worse. Trust me, it’s plenty worse.
This happened in the Washington Post yesterday. I’ve read the whole column, so I see the guilty passage in context. It’s still bad:
Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the States’ Rights Democratic Party, they were breakaway Democrats whose primary issue was racial segregation. In its cause, they ran their own presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond, and almost cost Harry Truman the 1948 election. They didn’t care. Their objective was not to win — although that would have been nice — but to retain institutional, legal racism. They saw a way of life under attack and they feared its loss.
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
This is part of a column that’s all about explaining why Gov. Chris Christie isn’t a strong GOP candidate for the next President. Mr. Cohen wants to tell us what kind of shape the current GOP is in, and what kind of candidates it wants.
It could have been a straightforward, unproblematic piece of writing, except for the part where he says something about people gagging at the sight of a white man married to a black woman and having two biracial kids. This is tied to a “not racist, BUT…” description of the Tea Party.
So, shit rained down on Cohen’s head, and he went running to the Huffington Post to insist that we’re being unfair to him.
“The word racist is truly hurtful,” he told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”
And those views are not held by the entire Tea Party. “I don’t think everybody in the Tea Party is like that, because I know there are blacks in the Tea Party,” he said. “So they’re not all racist, unless I’m going to start doing mind reading about why those black people are there.”
Dude, please stop hitting yourself.
He added, “Look, maybe the word was inappropriate or maybe I could have used a different word. But you’re talking to somebody who has written, I don’t know, 100 columns in favor of homosexual rights, many columns in favor of same sex marriage.”
That…doesn’t answer the question here.
Cohen has been criticized for his comments on race in the past. When asked why he thought it was that he keeps getting caught up in racially charged arguments, he said that it’s because people view him as a liberal and find some of his positions unconventional. “Every once in a while I take an unconventional stance as a liberal — as someone who has always been called a liberal,” he said. “If someone on the right wrote this, no one would care. No one would make a big deal about it but because I veer every once in awhile from orthodoxy, or maybe more than once in awhile, I get plastered this way.”
Maybe you keep getting plastered because you keep saying callous, hurtful shit?
Is it the case that many Americans still think white folks and black folks shouldn’t get married and have families together? Sure, of course it’s still the case. Are people who think that way racist? Why, yes, indeed they are. There’s a lot more to undoing racism than acceptance of interracial marriage, BUT, a society that doesn’t accept biracial families is a society that is full of racism. There’s no way around it.
And…Cohen’s original column didn’t acknowledge that. It was a really stupid move to include a “not racist, BUT” clause in the same paragraph as a statement that people with “conventional” views find Bill de Blasio’s family gag-worthy. Also, nota bene: if someone is “deeply troubled” about immigration in America, they’re almost certainly full of racism. They’re frothing over people from Australia or Sweden taking our jobs, is all I’m saying. It was a stupid move to use a “not racist, BUT” clause anywhere, to tell the truth. If you find yourself writing those words, that’s when you need to start the sentence over from scratch.
Where he gets really…special, is where after he writes something hurtful, his reaction to the pushback is all about his feelings, his intentions, his reputation. Why not take a moment to think about how Bill de Blasio’s kids feel about knowing that some people think their very existence is gag-worthy? Why not think about how interracial married couples, and biracial people, might feel about seeing such language casually tossed around in a column that simultaneously seeks to minimize that bigotry as people being “deeply troubled” about the acceptance of what was once “avant-garde”? I don’t see anything in his HuffPo interview that shows any concern for the experiences of the people who were insulted by his writing. It’s so very “hurtful” for people to call Richard Cohen racist, but people in mixed-race families apparently have no hurt feelings at all.
Jezebel is still useful. They give me the latest rubbernecking opportunity so I don’t have to Google the self-proclaimed Austin Royalty. (TW for link: rape apologism, racism, misogyny)
This little nugget turned up in the comment section. I present the screencap without comment:
The Erasure of Renisha McBride
This 19-year-old black woman had a dead cell phone after a car accident in Dearborn Heights, MI. She knocked on a nearby door to ask for help. The homeowner shot her in the back of the head.
Read next page
Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to
like or comment.