Friday, 21 February 2014

Crissle X Nicki Minaj: Say No To F*ckboys

If you listen to the The Read, you're probably familiar with Crissle's "Say No to Fuckboys" rant from one of the early episodes. It's her feminist, anti-misogynoir mantra, and it's awesome. When I heard Nicki's new song, I IMMEDIATELY thought of Crissle, because (unlike Jezebel apparently) I recognized that it expresses the exact same sentiment. They actually talked about the song on this week's episode which was awesome. They both love it and recognize the (pretty blatant) feminist message in the lyrics, and they also both agree that the rape line was not okay. (It's really not, and Crissle does a great job explaining why.)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

#HouseOfCards: Is Claire Underwood A Caricature Of Feminism?

I just came across this piece in the The Atlantic entitled "Feminism, Depravity and Power in House of Cards" that I think gives a very nuanced view of the reasons why labeling Claire Underwood a feminist after the season two release of House of Cards might be a contentious pronouncement. I have to say, I really like it. It manages to articulate the nuances of the conflicting things I feel about Claire's character in a very good way, and it makes some great points that hadn't even occurred to me as I was parsing the issue on my own. One of the quotes that really stuck out to me was this one:
Several observers go even farther, arguing that Claire isn't a feminist so much as a right-wing caricature of a feminist: a ruthless, calculating, power-hungry career woman who stabs other women in the back and uses abortion as birth control. Cognizant of the way that she uses the sexual-assault bill to raise her political profile, only to abandon it when doing so is useful political leverage, Mollie Hemingway writes that "it’s sort of like House of Cards is running the Democratic playbook’s ‘War on Women’ as a major storyline," except without the mainstream-media filter, "we get to see how calculated and manipulative it really is.”
Emphasis mine. Now this hadn't really occurred to be in the course of thinking through this, but I actually think this might be a pretty accurate assessment. The basic tenets of feminism are there; she's pro-choice, against sexual assault, a rape survivor who is able to get respite from her rapist, she champions a bill to combat sexual assault in the military. And yet, the way she treats the other women in the show, as the piece notes, is also quite illuminating. As the author notes:
"Women need Claire as a feminist ally like a fish needs a wood-chopper."
I laughed, but he has a point. Female solidarity is largely non-existent to Claire. Her loyalties are to her husband. She may help you, if your agenda aligns with hers, but as we see with the young private who risks her reputation and her mental health to come forward to corroborate Claire's story that her rapist is, in fact a rapist, she will abandon you the second your motives diverge from hers. And heaven help you if manage to find yourself in her crosshairs like poor Gillian did.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Beyoncé Conversation: Feminism, Black Women and The Presumption Of Sexual Agency

It's been a while since I've posted a substantial essay, but I wanted to stop in and talk about an issue that's very important to me as a black, sex-positive feminist. That is, sex, obviously; specifically the sex that black women are or are not having, and how the conversation about their sexual agency keeps getting derailed.

As I've written about several times now, (herehere and relatedly here) conversations about sex and sexuality become very different when you are talking about a black body. This is because of the historical context of the negative sexual stereotypes that were applied to those bodies in order to dehumanize, subjugate and ridicule them, and elevate white (female) sexuality in the process. Black men were uncontrollable, brute savages who would rape a white woman as soon as look at her, and black women were lascivious whores, always searching for a dick, unrapeable by their very existence.

The loaded racist history of these still prevalent tropes leaves black women especially, in a misogynoirist double bind. Either we deny our sexuality entirely in order to be considered respectable and worthy (not so coincidentally placing ourselves firmly into Mammy territory), or embrace our sexuality, as all women should have the right to do, and be seen as a confirmation of negative black sexual stereotypes.

In effect, our choices as sexual beings are wrapped up in a lose-lose catch-22 that denies our agency from the outset, and punishes us for trying to exercise it. All the while, black women's bodies continue to be used to ridicule our very existence and deify white female sexuality.

So what does this have to do with Beyoncé? Everything.

Friday, 14 February 2014

#HouseOfCards: Let The Butchery Begin

Happy House of Cards Day! This post is really just to let everyone know that I will be spending Valentine's Day bingeing on Season Two of House of Cards, and tweeting my way through the season. I will try to be mostly sensitive to spoilers, but if you really hate spoilers, UNFOLLOW ME ON TWITTER IMMEDIATELY!

I'm so excited for the premiere. Diehard fans have been waiting months for this! I was completely engrossed with the series when I first watched season one back in April and I rewatched it last week in preparation for today. (Commitment!) I can't wait to delve back into Frank Underwood's devious world of bitter politics and schemes. With Frank being sworn in as the new VP and Zoe hot on his tail about the treachery he undertook to get there, season two is bound to be even better than the first, if that's even possible!

I'll be live-tweeting from  approximately 9AM EST to around 10PM EST, (in about an hour and a half local time) presuming I don't take too many breaks in between. To be safe, don't refollow until around 11PM. If you're also watching, feel free to chat with me on twitter! I love discussing television shows in real time with other discerning viewers.

Most people have regular day jobs (I'm jealous) and won't be able to vegetate in from of their laptop/television screens until this weekend, but in the mean time you can watch the Season 2 trailer spoiler free, and feel the visceral anticipation build inside you!

Will you be watching House of Cards this weekend?