Wednesday, 30 October 2013

#AHSCoven: Gabourey Sidibe's Queenie As An Embodiment Of The "Strong Black Woman" Stereotype

Last week, I read a great article by Nichole Perkins on Buzzfeed that talked about the way the character development of the leading ladies of both Scandal and Sleepy Hollow were working towards dismantling the harmful depictions of "strong black women" in media. It was a great read, and I loved that someone else shared my conclusions about Olivia Pope's characterization. 

What stuck out to me however, was Perkins' characterization of Gabourey Sidibe's character Queenie on American Horror Story Coven as a negative embodiment of the "strong black woman" stereotype. She says:
"Then there is Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie on American Horror Story: Coven, a “human voodoo doll” whose supernatural power is the inability to feel pain, even as she inflicts said pain onto someone else. [...] These Strong Black Women feel no emotional pain, tolerate severe physical trauma with no reaction, and menace others with stone faces."
I love American Horror Story Coven. But even though I had immediately made the connection to the racialized violence against black bodies this season, I hadn't picked up on Perkins' perspective of Queenie as a SBW. After seeing last week's episode "The Replacements", I not only vehemently agree with her, I want to expand on her observations.

Bits & Bobs On Feminist Theory #10: On White Privilege and PoC As Teachers

I'm super tired of having to say this shit, so I'm compiling it here for future reference. For the last time, the google-fu is strong. Harness it. Use it to educate yourself. I am not here to educate you. I found a way to learn without teachers and so can you.

Criticism: In Response To Thought Catalog's Insipid Article About Blackface

I really, REALLY didn't want to post about Blackface Christmas this year, but after this, I couldn't help myself. This morning, Thought Catalog posted a completely tone deaf piece on Julianne Hough's blackface misstep, written by one Kelly Rheel. (I'm not linking to it because fuck TC) In the piece, Kelly argued that Julianne's blackface "isn't really blackface" because blackface only looks like this apparently, and anything less is just "trying to have some fun." She also argued that though she is white, and doesn't understand the black experience, she didn't think this was an appropriate time for racial outrage. She posits that the Trayvon Martin blackface costume was problematic and racist (it most definitely was), but not Julianne's costume. She was dressing as a character you see.

Yes. That happened.

There's so much privilege to unpack when it comes to a white woman deciding that she has the ability to decided what should or shouldn't be offensive to people who have been and continue to be systematically oppressed. It almost pained to even think about how anyone is that wilfully obtuse and thinks nothing of sharing such an asinine perspective online with her name attached.

Monday, 28 October 2013

[Movie Review] Gravity: A World Filled With Awe

These days, I approach all media critically as a matter of course. It comes naturally to me to look for the symbolism and coded messages present in any body of work. When people create, it's with an eye for transmitting a message; a way to convey their interpretation of the world, and the exciting thing about television and films is delving into those varied perspectives.

But I've just come from seeing the film Gravity for the first time and all I can say is, "WOW." I'm not entirely sure I'm able to form a cohesive thought about this movie because I'm so in awe.

The entire movie is like a slow motion ballet; elegant and graceful. The film's stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, float through the air like lithe nymphs acting out a play. And yet there are moments of such emotional intensity that it's almost unbearable. Gravity is beautifully shot. It is absolutely wonderful to look at, and it really gives weight to the majesty and vast intensity of space. So much of the movie is simply a stark contemplation on our individual insignificance amidst the expansiveness of the universe.

Alfonso Cuarón has created here a world that is familiar and yet completely foreign. He will not allow you to escape the profoundness of the world as seen from above, and he will force you to observe in awe, the spectacle that is our lowly place in the universe.

What struck me too, was the overwhelming silence of the film that spoke to the loneliness of Sandra Bullock's character, "Ryan Stone." There are several moments where her panicked breathing is the only thing between the audience and an utterly complete lack of sound. Her sheer terror echoes all around you, and you can't escape it. The audience's first person perspective of her experience at several points heightened the suspense, and forced you to engage the film with all your senses. I paid rapt attention throughout, which is rare for me as I'm usually analyzing things internally as they unfold onscreen. This time, it was all I could do to take it in.

Plot-wise, this entire movie could probably be summed up on one sentence, but critically, there is so much here about the human condition that I genuinely don't feel qualified to talk about it. There is a reverence here; a respectful understanding that there is so much more than ourselves in play. This is a movie about disaster yes, but not the one you think. Gravity deals with not just the disaster, but the aftermath; how do you continue to survive when you think all hope is lost? How do you push forward when you've exhausted your options? How do you fight when you have nothing left to live for?

We get to the heart of these questions primarily through Bullock's character, and boy does her performance deliver. We learn that Ryan Stone had a daughter who died in an accident, and that her death has weighed heavily on her heart, keeping her from moving forward and from pushing through; from doing any more than is required. But by the end of the film, Stone has reached deep into the depths of her pain to find the will to live. To fight against all odds to survive and to come out on the other side of her pain. Her final triumph makes the previous tribulations seem worth it; she found the strength to survive. Her struggles meant something.

All in all, I'm glad that I gave the film a shot. It has sent me into a contemplative tailspin for which I'm grateful. Gravity is an exquisitely beautiful and haunting translation of the trials of the human spirit. It will stay with you in a way that no other film ever has.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Glambition [Episode #5]: The Finale

It's the finale! Here's the rundown:

Sarah Jane (wisely) decides to sign on as the face of Fantasy. I'm glad (though, not surprised) that she took it, because it's a great move for her. It's something she might actually be able to build a career on, as opposed to trying to wing it with her "Visa face". Working with Fantasy lets her do what she's always been doing (party, look cute) and make some money. It also lets her dip into planning events, which she's expressed a mild interest in. To me, it's a no-brainer. Have fun, get paid, add a few lines to your resume. Win-win! It was a very smart decision and I hope she finds success. I was amused though by the completely transparent way that she name dropped Anya. It's superficial on its face, and won't endear her to people outside her immediate social circle, but honestly, that's all tied up in the social politics of self in relation to race and class, but I won't say anything more on that other than to point your eyes to this little rant.

I'm going to give Bianca the benefit of the doubt that she told Leah what Isoke said out of concern for her friend. They are old friends, and seem to have a pretty close relationship. If I were Leah, I'd want her to tell me, so I can't really fault Bianca. I do think that it there was a layer of producer intervention involved in having Bianca confront Isoke in front of Leah; it felt so contrived and staged, but I suppose in reality it is a conversation that would have happened eventually. I also think that Bianca made some great points in her defense of Leah. Trinidad is a VERY small place, and a damaged reputation can and does impact how likely you are to work in future. Isoke was out of line, and it was cool that Bianca recognized that and stood up for her friend.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Glambition [Episode #4]: Stay In Your Lane

Alas, I'm late again! No shade, but I simply had better things to do than slave over a Glambition blog post... Whoops! In any case, I've watched the rest of the season, and I do some thoughts. Thoughts everywhere!

Most of the drama this episode centered on a tiff between Isoke and Leah. Firstly, we see Leah house-hunting for a place closer to the heart of Port-of-Spain (the capital of Trinidad and Tobago) so that she can be closer to her business ventures. Predictably, she's caught between a place she loves and can't afford, and a places she can afford, but doesn't love. But, either way, she gave us the line of the night: "Champagne tastes with mauby pockets." Love it! I might have to take that as my personal motto, because lord knows it describes my life!

Later, Leah meets up with Bianca, and talks a little bit about being Ms. World, and her perception of Sarah Jane's distress that she can't "do anything" because people expect her to be a pageant queen. (insert eyeroll...) Leah does make some salient point however, and I really appreciated her self awareness about knowing that the expectations of a beauty queen will often be at odds with the reality, forcing them to deal with an undue amount of scrutiny and criticism. My real problem with Sarah Jane is that she seems to want to co-opt that experience for herself, when in reality, the 4th place queen probably doesn't have it that hard...

Things I Love: Disney Princess Superheroes

More Disney Remix! Artist Isaiah Stephens re-imagined some of our favourite Disney princesses as ass kicking female superheroes. There's nothing I love more than Disney fan-art so this completely made my day. Above is Mulan as Xena, Warrior Princess (grew up on that show!) and after the jump, you can check out what he did with Princesses Aurora, Snow White, Ariel and Rapunzel. (Hint, Game of Thrones is involved!) 

I absolutely adore Disney and I grew up with these princess, but obviously, as a feminist, I recognize how problematic so many of their stories are. I always love seeing them re-imagined as strong, willful women with more autonomy and drive. It's refreshing to be reminded that being a princess doesn't have to mean that you're helpless. Let me know which one is your favourite in the comments below!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

On Why I Hate Taking Public Transportation In Trinidad

People think that I'm a princess because I don't like to use public transportation. I get teased about it all the time, and it doesn't help that my sense of navigation is abysmal. People think that I'm well-off and don't travel because I don't want to "slum it." Well, they're wrong on all counts.

I do not like to use public transportation because doing so makes me feel unsafe. I hate travelling, and I only do it when absolutely necessary. I will make plans around whether or not I will be required to travel. I will sometimes abandon plans altogether if it means travelling through a certain place or past a certain hour. And honestly? I'm just lucky. I have sometime-y access to a personal vehicle, and a flexible enough schedule that I can make arrangements arounds it's availability to me. Lots of women don't have that privilege or that choice, but it's what I do to ensure my own sense of personal security and control.

When I was younger, I thought maxi taxis (the vehicles in the picture above, and one of the main modes of transportation in Trinidad) were AMAZING. At eight years old, there was nothing I wanted more than to ride in one. They were alluring and strange and I thought they were cool. But I'm an only girl. My parents refused to allow me to travel because it "wasn't safe." A small female child travelling alone in a school uniform would make me a target for harassment or buggery. And I believed them. Because when you're eight, your parents are superhuman and they know everything.

As a result, I didn't really start using public transportation with any regularity until I was around 16 and I was sneaking off to my boyfriend's house. (Yes, that happened. I was a harlot. Deal with it.) And it only was then that I realized that even though my parents' fears for me were largely exaggerated, they weren't entirely unfounded.

Friday, 18 October 2013

#Scandal: Hell Hath No Fury Like Mellie Grant Scorned

Last night's episode of Scandal was too much to handle on a number of levels. There was a ton going on, and if you blinked too often you probably missed half of it. But what stood out the most to me this week, was the incremental development of the souring relationship between FLOTUS Mellie Grant, and her husband, POTUS Fitzgerald Grant. 

At the beginning of the season, I made a case for why Mellie doesn't deserve the bad reputation she's gotten, and this week, I think we got a little more information to back up my case. Bellamy Young's fantastic performance gave Mellie an emotional depth that I'm so glad we're finally getting to explore. 

Firstly, Mellie still loves Fitz. There is no question about that. It is fact, and it becomes even more obvious as the weeks roll by. For whatever reason, Mellie loves her abusive asshole of a husband, and she wants things to work out between them. To me this episode, specifically her drunk speech in the dining room, shows that Mellie is finally beginning to realize that there is nothing left for her to do. There is nothing she can do that will ever make Fitz love her the way that he loves Olivia, and it's making her bitter and hard. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Misc. Music: Pour It Up by Rihanna

There are a lot of things I want to say about this video, so I plan to get back to it eventually, but for now, just know that I love it and Rihanna unconditionally. I will hear no blasphemy against her! :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bits & Bobs On Feminist Theory #9: Feminism vs. Womanism

I used to think of womanism as an off-shoot of feminism. It was a separatist movement that split from the whole as a way to create a space that better catered to the needs of non-white women; specifically black women.

Now I think it makes more sense to view feminism as a subset of womanism. "Mainstream" feminism largely deals with the particular issues that cis/het, able-bodies white women face, and nothing more. That is not an inclusive movement.

I used to think that something couldn't BE feminist unless it was intersectional. Now I realize that feminism largely isn't intersectional on purpose, which is why womanism was born. If you create a feminist space and fail to include women of colour, trans* women, genderqueer women, immigrant women, disabled women or low income women etc, and continue to exclusively pander to cis/het able-bodied white women, you are making a very deliberate statement about who your feminism is for. I do not want feminism that is not intersectional.

Womanism is to me, the preferable movement, because it acknowledges that different women have different issues depending on their circumstances. It acknowledges that oppression is not a single issue struggle, but a complex intersection of varying degrees of disprivilege. Basically, it recognizes the individuality of your struggle, and finds a place for you anyway. It does not try to limit your issues or your life into a neat narrative of oppression.

So do I want a movement that loves me in name only? Or a movement that actively tries to combat the oppressions I face?

Monday, 14 October 2013

Glambition [Episode #3]: The Business of Fashion

I'm two weeks late on this review so I'll try to make it short and sweet. It helps that most of the focus this week on was the professional pursuits of the women, rather than on interpersonal drama. Thank God for small mercies. Let's get down to business.

Isoke is still trying to position herself as a worthy successor to her father's business, and it seems as though she's getting considerable pushback from father's girlfriend. I appreciate that she's trying to step up. I don't know the history of her familial relations or the business' history, so I can't comment on whether or not she makes a good fit as a business leader, but she seems very determined to elevate the company from local parlour to international brand. That's exactly the kind of vision and forethought that you need in business, and it certainly tilts the scales in her favour. Isoke seems determined and driven, and that alone bodes well for her.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Work B*tch: Compliment Or Command?

This post is painfully overdue! It's been about a week and a half now since Britney's video for her new single "Work Bitch" dropped, and I have some thoughts! Many thoughts. Critical commentary thoughts! Let's get cracking.

This song is terrible. There's no getting around that. But I actually really like the video; it's fun and energetic, and it at least makes a show of trying to return Britney to her former glory, but it never quite manages to get to "peak Britney."

Firstly, the dancing. Oh good lord the dancing.... Britney's always been a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to choreography. She's lots of arms, torso and face. That's fine, but she's been doing that since 1999, and her repertoire needs a little updating. But all of that could be overlooked if she still had the same intensity of Toxic era Britney. I know that she has a knee injury a few years back and hasn't really been as physically capable since, but there's a fire in her eyes that's been missing since her breakdown. 

Don't get me wrong, Britney looks better here than she has in a really long time. Physically she's back in fighting shape, but she looks like she'd rather be anywhere but where she is. She's no longer the Britney who enjoyed entertaining us. Which brings me to the main point of this post:                                   
Although Britney has co-opted drag culture slang for her new single, she's completely flipped the context of the epithet. In drag, "work bitch!" is a compliment akin to "You know you look good! Get on with your bad self!" It's encouragement; it's praise.

With Britney's new single, she presents "Work Bitch!" as a command, especially in the context of the lyrics of the song. Here, "Work bitch" serves as a command; a warning. You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You better work bitch. In a way it speaks to her work ethic. She knows that if you want the finer things, you have to be prepared to work for them. On the same token however, it reads like a reprimand and a reminder. Britney is her family's cash cow. This club anthem is actually a call to arms for herself; a blaring reminder that she has no choice but to keep the monkey dancing if want to maintain her lifestyle. Britney has publicly expressed that she's no longer comfortable with her sexy image and that she'd rather just be at home with her boys, but for whatever reason, she's unable to do that.

So is this song an empowering anthem, or a metaphorical cattle prod reminding her to keep going? What do you think?

Friday, 11 October 2013

#Scandal: I Know That Olivia Pope Isn't Perfect; It's Part Of The Reason I Love Her

It irks me that people (usually black men) keep saying that black women shouldn't love Olivia Pope because she is flawed. "Flawed" in this case usually equals "having an affair with a white guy". They don't realize it, but the concentrated hate that they hold for her is steeped in a very specific kind of racialized misogyny. Walter White was no hero, but somehow we managed to love him. Dexter was a serial killer and yet, we lauded him too. What do they have in common? You guessed it. Men. White men. Who also happened to be anti-hero characters whose virtues were valued alongside their flaws. But I'm going to set that aside for now.

I'm a black woman and I LOVE Scandal. I am not blind to Olivia's flaws. I love her because she has flaws. 

Black women are so severely underrepresented in media that Kerry Washington's role has garnered a considerable amount of attention simply because she is a black woman in a lead role of a network television show. And because she remains the only black female lead on primetime (Megan Good's Deception unfortunately didn't get picked up for a second season) she is expected to be everything for everybody. But Aunty Shonda rebukes your bullshit notions of black respectability, and instead, has created Olivia Pope as a fully fleshed out person. She is neither completely good nor completely evil; neither stark black nor brilliant white. Olivia Pope is a beautiful mix of all the eternal shades of grey. She is composed of both light and dark. She is often morally ambiguous. Like a real person.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

I Am A Person With Feelings [Not A Fountain Of Infinite Knowledge]: More On Quitting Jezebel

I had originally planned to do a full and proper follow-up piece, but in doing my research (yes, I do my research so I can back my shit up) I ended up down a rabbit hole that basically demonstrated why wasting my time rebutting would be pointless. This thing with Jezebel.... it's happened before, and it'll happen again. Nothing that I could ever do on that site will change the fact that they Jezebel is not intersectional because it does not want to be intersectional. It's not hard to instigate a paradigm shift, not really. Not when you have so many WoC speaking up, reading and willing to tell their stories. 

Jezebel is not intersectional because intersectionality is not cool. It's not profitable. It's too gauche to give a voice to all the dirty brown poors. It took all of this to make me finally see that, but now that I have, I know that I'm right. 

I decided I wouldn't rebut, but I ended up vomiting my displeasure all out on twitter anyway, so I'm posting the Storify after the jump. The most important point I wanted to get across was that I'm not doing this because I think I know everything. I will freely admit to be being blind to most of this until SIFWW blew up. But in that time, I've done the work and the learning and I continue to do it everyday, by surrounding myself digitally with women who know more than I do. It's not impossible for white feminism to do the work too. It's not my job to educate well meaning white folk. You have the same google I do. 

And I want people to understand that I talk about this stuff because it affects my LIFE. It affects the way people view me. It affects the way I'm permitted to move through this world. This shit is important to me, and it bums me out that all that white feminism does is pay lip service to WoC, while expecting full support for their issues. I have been in tears over this stuff more than once. I'm very sensitive and it affects me significantly. I don't want to subject myself to something that is making me physically unwell, so I'm not going to. 

So yes, I'm done with white feminism. For those of you white feminists who understand the importance of intersectionality, keep pushing back. Keep holding each other accountable. Keep supporting the work of WoC, and stop expecting them to be a fountain of knowledge for your benefit.

Professor Google's office is open 24/7. Consult him.

The Hardest Word To Say Is Goodbye: Why I'm Quitting Jezebel

Last night I quit Jezebel. It sounds like a dumb thing to be writing about, but for me, it's really, really significant.

I'm 23. I'm black. I'm West Indian. I didn't have a lot of exposure to feminism growing up. I cringe when I recall the things that I said about other women when I was a freshman in college, and the attitudes that I had towards sexuality and womanhood. I went to a Catholic school in a country that is still largely misogynistic. It was pretty much a given that I'd grown up to be an anti-woman little shit.

But then I found Jezebel. I found Jezebel and I started reading. I'm the kind of person who just likes to know things, so perusing the site pre-Kinja was like a revelation to me. All of a sudden I had this entire vocabulary to explain the little microagressions that I'd faced all my life, and a community of women who were engaged in parsing those issues. I could finally vocalize why I felt an inconsolable rage when I was tone policed. I knew how to defend myself against slut shaming. I could explain in detail why rape culture was so insidious and why restrictions on reproductive freedom were a devastating step backwards for women.

Jezebel taught me how to be a woman.
And then it taught me that it didn't care about the kind of woman that I am.

In a weird way, it feels like being betrayed by a trusted friend. I've been a regular on Jezebel since my junior year of college in 2010, and a fervent feminist ever since. But little by little I could see that there wasn't much consideration for a feminism that included the diversity of women. There was a blatant disregard for the difference in perspective that WoC have in relation to various issues by virtue of their different experiences of the world.

And then Kinja happened, and I was locked out of Groupthink during the switchover. I finally got posting privileges in July 2013. And then Solidarity Is For White Women happened and I talked about it. And Jezebel ignored it. So I talked about it some more.

In the three months since I've had posting privileges, all of the following have happened:

  1. Solidarity Is For White Women called out Jezebel's complicity in allowing H. Schwyzer to become a prolific voice in online feminism, despite his continued abuse of WoC.
  2. Instead of apologizing for their mistake or even acknowledging the situation in any way, Jessica Coen wrote a satirical post about the stages of grief, effectively trying to absolve herself of any responsibility.
  3. When Jezebel did finally acknowledge SIFWW, rather than take the opportunity to address their role in the situation, they simply aggregated tweets without context, and then forgot to mention the WoC who started the hashtag.
  4. Then Miley at the VMA's happened. And instead of talking about both the way that Miley was needlessly slut shamed and the way in which Miley's performance perpetuated racist narratives, they ignored the racist aspects of her performance altogether.
  5. Pissed, I tackled it myself, and then Miley-Gate happened, and they ignored that too, instead choosing to recycle and old piece of one of the few WoC on staff, and tacking on the name of the white EIC.
  6. And yesterday, a month later, they published a piece that made light of and mocked Chris Brown's admission that he had lost his virginity to a much older girl when he was eight. That's right. They diminished the fact that Chris Brown was RAPED AS A CHILD, because flagellating the misbehaving black man is more important than sympathy and support for a rape victim.

Three months. Three MONTHS! That's how many times Jezebel has majorly fucked up in three months. And it started to feel like I was just banging my head against a brick wall. It was getting pretty clear that Jessica Coen & Co. didn't care about the commentariat said and why should they? Jezebel isn't about feminism, or change, or making a difference. It's about page views and clicks. It's about money. "Corporate Feminism" at its finest. If it helps them hit their numbers, they're going to continue to troll the very readers that make their success possible. I refuse to be part of it anymore. Jezebel has become like that toxic friend you keep around out of nostalgia for the days when things were better. Fuck that. Time to cut the fat.

I know that Jessica Coen will likely never see this, and if she does she won't give a shit, but I sincerely hope she gets her shit together. I know that Jezebel likes to pass the buck and claim that they aren't technically a feminist site, but it is staffed by women who identify as feminist. And if they're as feminist as they claim to be, none of this stuff would be acceptable. So this is me calling you out Jessica. Get your shit the fuck together. Make some changes. Expand your perspective. Improve. Do better. Either do that, or never tackle another feminist issue on Jezebel ever again. Feminism isn't situational. Either you're feminist or you're not. Right now, you're not, but you keep pretending to be. Stop it.

It'll be hard to just drop Jezebel cold turkey, especially since it's my main source for feminist news (maybe that was the problem!) but I'll survive. As I said last night:
"I'm not letting them make any more money off my page views. I'm not enabling them to keep demonstrating that people who look like me are worthless to them. [...] It genuinely hurts me to feel like a space that is supposed to be feminist and inclusive, continuously rejects intersectionality and routinely reasserts the hierarchy of privilege. I'm not game for that."
So instead of spending all my time trying to strike back at Jezebel's bullshit, I'm going to get my own shit together. I'm gonna get back to my photography and I'm going to start spending more time on feminist websites that actually understand what feminism should be. Because they exist. There are spaces on the internet that allow diverse voices to be heard. Here's to signal boosting:

In addition to supporting the work of WoC, I'll continue to follow them on twitter. I have learned so much from so many incredible women just by sitting back an listening; just by watching the conversations unfold organically and genuinely considering perspective I'd never come across before. 

So I'm gone. I will dearly miss the lovely ladies of Groupthink, but they know they're all welcome here should they wish to come. I won't miss Jezebel. 

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Fuck You Gawker Media For Victim-Blaming Chris Brown

Because it was apparently so much fucking fun when Jezebel did itGawker just doubled down on their "Chris Brown is an asshole for getting raped at 8 years old" narrative.
I.... See, this is one of those things that makes PoC go on protracted rants about white people. And I know it's not all white people, so please don't start. But the the way that CB has been treated in the media since he beat Rihanna has been tinged with racism from the very start (didn't Charlie Sheen SHOOT a woman?!?!?) and this just confirms that the reason white liberals love to shit on Chris Brown is not because he's an abuser, but because he's a BLACK abuser. 
In the Guardian article that both pieces reference, CB admits to having been RAPED. He says he lost his virginity at 8. THAT IS RAPE IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. But it's okay to doubt his story or minimize his abuse because he's black. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he gets a pass for his violent behavior in the time since because of his abuse. He most definitely doesn't. But one can have sympathy for CB the rape victim as well as  condemn CB the domestic abuser. They are not mutually exclusive.
I was so pissed yesterday at Jezebel's piece that I ranted all over the comments section, but to see Gawker not only NOT apologize but continue the narrative? That's it. I think I'm done. I don't know that I can go back to that site anymore. If this were a female starlet that angle would NEVER have been taken, but apparently it's okay to blame a black man for the abuse he suffered AS A MOTHERFUCKING CHILD. What's his face (Dawkins?) made some off-colour comment about pedophilia being fine the other day, and everyone was tripping over themselves to excuse or clarify his words. Black man says something that strongly indicates his internalization of gendered myths of sex in order to cope with abuse and he's an asshole.
Fuck that. Fuck Jezebel. Fuck Gawker. 
Fuck all of you racist assholes who are gonna try to justify why treating CB like shit about his sexual abuse is fine, and genuinely believe it has nothing to do with your racist ideologies.
I'm done.

#Womanifesto: Embracing Womanism; Rejecting The Status Quo

I am black and I am a woman.

I reject the notion that I can or should, ever separate the two, because my experiences as a woman are modified and amplified by my blackness, and vice versa.

I reject the notion that my sexuality does not exist on my own terms. My pleasure exists for me and I use it and claim it however and how often I see fit. I will not be judged for excercising the sexual freedom that follows inherently from bodily autonomy.

I reject the notion that I am inherently sexual or sexually available because of my black womanhood. I take it upon myself to be sexual when and with whom I wish, and reserve the right to refuse to be sexual or sexualized against my will.

I reject the notion that my sexuality is a commodity to be fetishized or demonized by virtue of my blackness. My sex is not deviant because it is not white.

I reject the notion that my body is not my own. I will refuse to be subjected to physical contact that is unwanted or unsolicited, whether it be the petting of my dreadlocks or the squeezing of my ass. I am not an exoticism that exists for the entertainment of others.

I reject the notion that there is a "right way" to be a black woman and I will not tolerate the projection of other people's ideas of black womanhood being used to police the display of my body, or my expression of myself.

I reject the notion that my chosen expression of self is a comment on my self worth. I reserve the right to be whomever I decide is my best self, without having my self esteem devalued because of its proximity to my tattoos, piercings or ample behind.

I reject the notion that my body's natural state is unfit for public consumption because it does not conform to Eurocentric ideals of beauty. I will not be forced to straighten my hair in order to be considered worthy of respect, or diminish the visible curves of my body in order to be deemed virtuous.

I reject the notion that my intellectual perspective is less valid because of my black womanhood. I will stand up for myself and voice my concerns whenever it is apparent that my mind is being devalued by virtue of being housed in a black female body.

I reject the notion that I must comply with or be deferent to, white womanhood. I will not measure myself against ideals that I have been genetically excluded from and therefore cannot ever fully achieve.

I reject the notion that I am worthless by virtue of my refusal to comply with the patriarchal ideals of white womanhood. I deserve the same protection, respect and reverence that is automatically conferred unto white female bodies.

I reject the notion that I must comply with or be deferent to black manhood. I will not ignore or accept the sexism or misogynoir I am subjected to by black men simply because they are also black.

I reject the notion that I am not allowed access to the full spectrum of human emotion. I will not deny my rightful anger or occasional weaknesses, nor allow them to be dismissed or invalidated because of racist ideas of black female strength and stoicism.

I reject the notion that I am responsible for my own victimization. I will not be told that I could have avoided the pain that was inflicted upon me by another person if I had been better at expressing the right kind of femininity.

I reject the notion that I have a responsibility to be a representative example of black womanhood. I am an individual with unique thoughts and feelings, and I am allowed to dissent from the mainstream perspective.

I reject the notion that I must be silent in the face of my oppression, or that my concerns are less valid because they are specific to black womanhood. I refuse to accept violence in the form of sexism or racism.

I reject the notion that I should wait my turn to have my intersections of oppression addressed. I will continue to fight to be included in spaces that expect support from me, but do not expect to support me in turn.

I reject the notion that I should stop being vocal about the issues that affect me, or that I am "speaking too much" about the oppression that I face. I will not be silenced by the systems of white patriarchal power that seek to make me fall in line.

"If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you liked it." -Zora Neale Hurston

I am a black woman.
I will not be silent.
I exist for me.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Dear Scorch Magazine: I Do Not Need Your Male Opinions About My Female Body. (In Which I Fail To Not Swear)

Anyone who knows me or has paid a lick of attention to this blog in the last month or so knows that I am no friend of Miley Cyrus. The woman is obliviously racist, willfully obtuse and completely ignorant. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that she spent yesterday shaming two women for their mental health issues. So no, Miley and I are not bosom buddies.

But you see this shit?


And I'm no stranger to calling out misogynistic Trinidadian men on their shitty interpretations of gender relations. I've already cussed out a radio DJ and a friend of a friend. There's nothing new about this asinine explanation of events. But it's still insidious, so I guess I'll go lace up my patriarchy smashing boots.

This "article" is full of slut-shaming, body-shaming, concern trolling, gender essentialist, patriarchal bullshit. I do not need to read that. I have spend the last few years actively rejecting that kind of limited thinking. So since this appears to be "think of the children" week, I'll think of the children, and demonstrate, graf by graf, why all of this is nonsense.

*Laces boots*

Thursday, 3 October 2013

#Scandal: In Defense of FLOTUS Mellie Grant (And 4 Reasons You Should Give Her A Chance)

Like most true Scandal fans, I've re-watched both seasons of the show (twice!) in preparation for the glorious even that occurs tonight: the Scandal Season 3 premiere.

Scandal is a show with many, many villains and very few true heroes, and that complexity has appealed to millions of people. The one thing that many people seem to agree on however, is the general terribleness of Mellie Grant, First Lady and wife to President Fitzgerald Grant; the man who is also Olivia Pope's lover.

Audiences see Mellie as the obstacle keeping Olivia from her true love, and a bitch in her own right for her many behind the scenes machinations; both personal and political. But I have sympathy for her. I actually really like Mellie, and I think she's get an unfair level of hate.

Hear me out: Mellie is definitely a problematic, sometimes amoral person. Remember Nobody Likes Babies? But she's not the denizen of evil that people make her out to be. She's a complex character just as much as Olivia is, and she is the best character on the show to me after Olivia. Shonda made sure that even though Mellie is "the villain", she has depth to her and complexity, and it really shows through. So here are four reason why I think You should Mellie Grant a chance this season. (Or at least give her the benefit of the doubt!)

1. She Loves Fitz.
Mellie loves Fitz, to her detriment. God alone knows how or why this man has TWO intelligent, capable and ambitious women completely dickmotized, but he does. Despite Fitz's tantrums, despite his disrespect, despite his affairs, she loves him and stands by him, even though she knows that exposing his adultery would garner her cultural capital she could use to launch her own career. Even after she does give an interview, effectively getting the public on her side, she refuses to leak Olivia's name, because she knows that it will mean Fitz could never forgive her, and in the end, she wants their marriage to be whole again. Mellie does everything in her power to keep Fitz happy, to help him to guide him, and he appreciates none of it. Lord knows I could go on about what's wrong with Fitz, but the real issue is that her love for Fitz, frankly, holds her back. She is devious up until the point where it impacts Fitz, and it continues to be the reason she gets the shit end of the stick.

2. She's Intelligent And Ambitious
Mellie gave up her own career aspirations to be with Fitz, and be his First Lady. There is a delightful scene towards the end of the season where Molivia Nope reads Mellie and makes mention of the "law degree she always mentions but never uses."Mellie didn't need to hitch her wagon to Fitz. She's whip smart and devious, and likely could have made it to the white house on her own. But she chose to set aside her ambitions for his, because she loved and believed in him. She chose to raise their profile together, rather than set out on her own (without Fitz's manchild baggage) because I think, she truly believed in his ability to do good work as a politician. Many of Mellie's little schemes are in direct response to the fact that she can tell Fitz's resolve is waning. He no longer wants the power he spent so long chasing, and Mellie is desperate to get him back to the man she fell in love with.

3. She Doesn't Go Down Without A Fight
The scenes that made me really root for Mellie for the ones in the last two episodes where she refused to buckle to Cyrus' demands. If you think about it, those scenes were all about a scorned wife trying to exact revenge as penance for her broken heart. And honestly? I'm not mad at her. Fitz disrespected her, cheated on her, belittled her, and made a mockery of their marriage. (Remember, "You are ornamental, not functional!"? And let's not forget that Fitz didn't even have the decency to tell her in person that he was choosing Olivia) In those moments, Mellie did what many women wish they had the strength to do; she stuck to her guns. She refused to be bullied, and she recognized that she was the one with the upper hand. I'll admit, I did a little fist bump for her, and those final scenes where Ftiz comes crawling back on his knees? SO satisfying!

4. She Doesn't Delude Herself About Who She Is Or What Her Motivations Are
Finally, Mellie Grant is very simply the most honest person on a show full of people who bend and twist the truth as it suits them. Mellie is political and ambitious and has machinations beyond what any of us can imagine, and she's never been shy about making that clear. With Mellie, what you see is what you get. She doesn't try to make light of her actions or justify her decisions. She is very transparently a "means justify the ends" kind of person, and that's refreshing in a scenario where the goal seems to be to screw over as many people as possible. When it comes to Fitz, Mellie isn't the one who changed in their relationship; he is. He is the one who no longer has the stomach for the work they do, and lashes out at Mellie for being exactly the person she was when they married. Mellie knows where she planned to let their star fall, and it wasn't going to be as a one term President. She's gunning for political longevity, and she's not shy about it.


At the end of the day, Mellie Grant is a spectacular political animal who doesn't need Ftiz. If you ask me, she and Olivia should team up and dump the sucker altogether. What do you think? Are you gonna give Mellie a chance? And will you be watching Scandal tonight? Follow the #Scandal hastag on twitter for live tweets of the premiere.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Glambition [Episode #2]: Girl, Bye. Go Find Some Real Problems

The theme of this week's episode is Girl, Bye. And yes, I'm talking to you Sarah Jane.

I mean, I wasn't impressed with her last week, but this week she displayed a whole other level of.... self absorption that I just don't know what to do with her. It's weird for me to say that because Sarah Jane is my age. She's in a whole other bracket than I am financially, but I definitely understand that 20-something struggle of identity, direction and carving out a place for yourself in this world. I get the desperation to be successful and independent and financially stable. What I don't get is someone seeking validation for something that didn't actually happen to you.

SJ's claim to fame locally is that she went up for Ms. T&T Universe. I suppose that means she considers herself a beauty queen as well as a socialite. In this episode, she asks Leah to meet up with her to "discuss her concerns" and commiserate I suppose with a fellow beauty queen about life after the pageant. Her issue seems to be that she's trying to "move past it" (it being the pageant), but couched in terms that imply that getting national recognition and access to opportunities is somehow a burden for her. Her gripe is that she can't go out with her friends to the club without being approached by "fans" who want to take her picture.

Which is just.... GURL....