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“it could be that this is some degree of sexism . m.i.a. had to deal with this with the respected website pitchfork.com where they assumed that diplo had produced all of her kala album without reading any credit list or nothing , it just had to be , it couldn´t have been m.i.a. herself ! it feel like still today after all these years people cannot imagine that woman can write , arrange or produce electronic music . i have had this experience many many times that the work i do on the computer gets credited to whatever male was in 10 meter radius during the job . people seem to accept that women can sing and play whatever instrument they are seen playing .but they cannot program , arrange , produce , edit or write electronic music . ”—Björk, on sexism in the electronic music genre
Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?
You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.
But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.
I tell him how much I enjoy his company, how much I value his friendship. I tell him that I really want to be his friend and to continue hanging out with him and talking about our favorite books or exploring new restaurants or making fun of avant-garde theatre productions. But he rejects me. He doesn’t answer my calls or e-mails; if we’d been making plans to do something before this fateful incident, these plans mysteriously fail to materialize. (This is why I never did get around to seeing the Hunger Games movie. Not to name any names, but thanks a lot, Tom.) Later, when I run into him at social events, our conversations are awkward and lukewarm. This is because the moment we met, he put me in the girlfriend-zone, and now he can’t see me as friend material.
I must say that I find this really unfair. I mean, I’m a nice girl. I have a lot to offer as a friend, like not being a douchebag and stuff. But males just don’t want to be friends with nice girls like me. They can’t help it, I guess; it’s just how they’re wired, biologically. Evolution conditioned our male hominid ancestors to seek nice girls as mates and form friendship bonds only with the other dudes that they hunted mammoths with. It’s true—I know this because I studied hominids in my fifth-grade science class.
So what’s the answer? Should I take up mammoth-hunting in an attempt to appeal to the friendship centers of men’s primal lizardbrains? Should I keep making guy “friends” and then prevent them from making a move on me by subtly undermining their self-confidence? Should I just give up on those manipulative, game-playing, two-faced bastards once and for all? I don’t know. I mean, I’d really like to have a true friendship with a guy someday, but it’s so hard to trust and respect them when they never say what they mean—and you never know when you might be relegated to the girlfriend-zone.
Guest Submission: Clara in "The Name of the Doctor"
I had some thoughts on tonight’s episode, prompted by a post on my dashboard referring to the Doctor as Clara’s “best friend”:
“can we just appreciate for a second how people were saying Clara was “too special” and they were sick of “special” companions when really she was just an ordinary girl who was brave and decided to save her best friend”
Reading that made me realize how hugely I disagreed. This is my main problem with Clara’s character arc. (Well, it would have been nice if she got some character, other than being generically “cute” and “feisty” when the plot demands it, but that’s a different issue.)
My problem with Clara was never that she was “special”. I like ordinary (hello, shop girl Rose!) but I like special too (hello, space and time bleeding into Amy’s head!). They offer different options when telling the story of a companion, and I like that. I don’t believe one is inherently worse than the other. But what you need, in order to make both work, is a sense of emotional attachment. You need Rose ; angry to the point of tears in a chip shop because “the Doctor showed me a better way of living my life” and she can’t - she won’t - leave him to a lonely death. You need the Doctor ; returning to Amelia as the cracks in the universe start to close, choked with emotion as he rewrites their future, erasing the time they spent together in order to save her. If Amy, or Rose, or Donna, or River, sacrificed themselves for the Doctor the way Clara just did, I’d buy it. Because I’ve seen that connection. I know how deep it runs. I know they’d do anything for the Doctor, and the Doctor would do anything for them.
And here, unfortunately, is where reality sneaks into the middle of an enjoyable dramatic moment and kicks me in the teeth, because, uh … the Doctor is not Clara’s best friend. He’s a funny, strange alien guy who dropped into her world one day and saved her life. Sometimes he flat-out intimidates her. They travel together and she thinks he’s cute (a feeling he apparently reciprocates) but they haven’t really bonded. Let’s be honest, they haven’t. Most of season seven consists of Clara running and screaming (and swooning) while the Doctor saves her. It would take me more than two hands to count the occasions on which Clara has been reduced to this role in the plot. When she’s not doing this, she exists just as a “thing” in the abstract, a mystery the Doctor must solve. “What are you?” he demands repeatedly, and it’s a telling choice of words. In storytelling terms, who Clara is matters much less than what she is. Well, fine. If you want Clara to be a blank cipher around which the plot is built, I can deal with that. But you can’t then turn around and ask me to feel for her. You can’t then hinge the denouement of this huge, epic mystery around her emotional connection to the Doctor. Not if you haven’t bothered to build one.
I like Jenna-Louise Coleman and I want to like Clara, but I can’t. Her character has not been afforded the respect it deserves, and if anything, this revelation of Clara as the brave, self-sacrificing best friend only serves to highlight that. If Clara was always going to give up her life, then we deserved to know more about it before she did so. We deserved to know what she was giving up. On the show, it amounts to little more than babysitting two kids and failing at making soufflés. She offers no last words for the Maitland kids, who she supposedly built her life around. She doesn’t even seem to think of them in her final moments. She sacrificed her dreams of travel for these kids, she’s been a mother to them, and yet we’re supposed to believe that what matters more to her is the Doctor. A guy she knew for a few weeks (a few months at best), and has a vague romantic interest in. A guy who she was horrified to learn - just minutes earlier - had been lying to her all that time. Even earlier than that, her illusions about being the only one in the universe the Doctor trusts were debunked when Vastra asked her what his name was. When she discovered he had a wife he’d never cared to mention. And for this man she gave up her whole life. Would you? Probably not. So why should she? The only real reason is that the plot demands it, and there’s a word for that. Poor writing. (Okay, two words. One idea though.)
I know - Matt and Jenna-Louise are great actors, and have an undeniable chemistry. They’re cute together, and it makes the idea a much easier sell. But you don’t kill yourself for someone you’re “cute with”. You need a much deeper emotional connection for that, and the show just hasn’t given us one. They haven’t shared anything with each other. Actually, a major component of their relationship is the Doctor’s decision to withhold information about Clara from Clara herself. Which is somehow okay because, well, he’s the Doctor. He’s never held accountable for that kind of head-fuckery because everyone knows “The Doctor lies”, and it’s not like a 900 year old Time Lord has any capacity for change. Even though he’s the Doctor, and his constant capacity for change is sort of the point. (It’s probably best if we don’t examine that one too closely.)
The Doctor and Clara aren’t best friends. Their connection is about as deep as the Doctor’s connection with Vastra or Strax. Actually, those two have a far deeper connection with him, as he saved them both from angry, destructive life paths. (Vastra was fixated on revenge, Strax on mindless warfare. Both are shown to be much happier in their current lives.) The Doctor doesn’t have that connection with Clara. He hasn’t touched her life in that way. He just picks her up every Wednesday for a fun day out with a side of flirting. Which is fine. What’s not fine is the message that if you’re a pretty young woman and encounter a man like this, you should be willing to die for him. Because he’s a really special man, and your life is only special if you give it up for him. That’s the only thing that matters about you. In fact, it’s not enough to say your only legacy after you’re gone will be saving this man. Why not make it the entire point of your life? You were born to save the Doctor. Like a robot programmed with only one function. Whatever else you wanted, whoever else you cared about … they don’t matter. That’s what Steven Moffat is saying with this storyline. That was the point of Clara’s character.
And I’m sorry, but that’s not a message I can get on board with. It’s actually a message that makes me deeply uncomfortable, because it’s really, really wrong. Clara the character deserved better. Jenna-Louise the actress deserved better. Doctor Who, the show I love, deserved better. And I deserved better. I’m a viewer and a fan and a woman, and I deserved better than such a poorly written, toxic plot.
Naomi was actually a heroine who died for her home albeit in vain. She risked her life but actually lost it. She sacrificed herself. She had the welfare of her kin in mind all this time. She just wanted to protect her family.
She’s a warrior.
She’s a strong woman.
She died a heroic death.
“How Do Women Get Dressed in the Morning? In a world of prudes, sluts and rapists An outfit is no longer a fashion statement But an excuse And a reason To be harmed Even knee length skirts Are a reason But if you add knee socks to hide your legs Then it becomes too sexual You’re a whore A tank top that shows shoulders is asking for it It makes your breasts whisper “touch me” Or So I’m told I’ve listened closely And mine do not speak If I dress conservative Then I’m a prude A stuck up bitch(girl) Who needs it bad But is too high and mighty to ask If I wear a T-shirt and jeans Then it must only be because I know it shows my hourglass Because I want to feel sexy Not because I find Levi’s comfortable A mini skirt and low cut blouse Would make me a slut With a bad reputation Something easy to touch at a party After I have a beer or two Not a victim of PTSD Who was just able to look in the mirror this year They don’t see self confidence They see Slut, whore, loose woman Printed on the fabric of everything in my closet Nun outfit Nurse Maid School Girl Don’t bother picking a costume at Halloween If your clothes aren’t good enough During the rest of the year Then Halloween must be a conspiracy Don’t wear your hair in pigtails It’s too sexual They’ll call them ‘handle bars’ Don’t wear a ponytail They’ll just use it to grab you Don’t leave your hair down It means you’re flirty And gives them something to run their fingers through It doesn’t matter what you wear anymore But they like to tell you it does It makes them feel better to have an excuse To say you picked the outfit Wear a business suit Or go naked It’s your fault either way They have to say something To get off the hook, To let them sleep tonight 3/24/13 Bree Felling www.breefelling.com”—
By poet, spoken word artist, author and activist, Bree Felling
What's Really Going On With White Feminists' Critiques of Beyoncé?
Yesterday I posted a photograph of Beyoncé on Ms. Magazine with some probing questions that I have for the article, which included this text:
I will be interested in seeing if the article reveals the nuances of her perspectives (such as ones revealed in her documentary), whether they challenge or affirm patriarchy at times (as she, like many women do both) or will the article solely hold her to an unreachable standard where she has to be bell hooks to be feminist while Lena Dunham, not Gloria Steinem appears to be the bar of White feminism. Again, nonfamous womanists and feminists should not be overly THIRSTY for celebrities to validate feminism. At the same time, I am interested in reading more of Bey’s perspectives on self-esteem, empowerment, confidence, inclusion, sexuality, LGBTQ, friendships and romance/marriage, for example. (I am DEFINITELY not interested her (or anyone) being labeled “unfeminist,” as I wrote about before. That word, specifically, is problematic.)
Silly me; I originally thought the article was an interview. Apparently, it is not. Since yesterday, I learned that: 1) The article is behind a paywall and not accessible to poor women or anyone without a subscription. 2) The Facebook thread for the article is disgusting, as expected. Many of the comments have the typical misogynoir and respectability politics that people seem to have confused for feminism. 3) The thread itself ends with a question, which part of it reads “Has Beyoncé ‘earned’ her feminist credentials?” Credentials and feminism should NEVER be used in the same sentence. This reeks of the merge of White supremacy, “legitimacy” and education.
In my post on Storify today, Is Beyoncé Going To Be Critiqued By White Feminists Ad Perpetuum?, I shared some Twitter conversation on the topic and raised six points as to why this critique, in general, seems never-ending and is non-productive, three of which include:
1) White women want to control and police feminism, which is actually quite White supremacist and patriarchal. It seems that theist, cisgender, heterosexual, thin, middle class, White women in the West think that feminism is their plaything and country club. It isn’t. Even White women without some of these privileges still stand firm against Beyoncé in a way that they would not do to any White woman, feminist or not, celebrity or not. They still view Black women as “allies” to their feminism, not actual women or feminists.
2) Feminism tends to have an element of inaccessibility by class and education, which definitely connects to race. By class, of course, Beyoncé doesn’t have this issue. She can access whatever she wants in any space. She has a platform. However, many of those with literacy/formal education privilege do not want Beyoncé to be considered feminist because she is not an academic. Black women have to be bell hooks to be considered feminist, but the bar (which should not even exist for any women) for White feminists is Lena Dunham? Beyoncé has no college education and she was home-schooled for a lot of her education as well. She is not the picture of a “scholar.” But neither was Sojourner Truth. Neither were Black blues singers or Black women who worked as domestics. Many still were the faces of resistance for Black women.
3) Some women, both White and Black, view Black women’s sexuality as automatically deviant, even if that woman is heterosexual, with heterosexual privilege. White heterosexuality is deemed the “norm” of heterosexuality. Heterosexual Black women are still deemed sexually deviant, even if they have the privilege that lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans* Black women do not. Thus, Beyoncé being sexual with her art, despite being in a highly heteronormative, presumably monogamous, heterosexual marriage and being a mother is not “enough” to deem her “respectable.” The problem is respectability politics are constructs of patriarchy, NOT feminism. Then there is the concept of sexuality within art itself. When is it “too sexual?” The fact that Miley Cyrus in a White body is not deemed “dirty” for twerking, yet Black women and our bodies automatically make the dance “dirty” reveals this race-specific misogyny, or misogynoir.
The fact that Jenna Jameson (a White woman deemed “mainstream” now) is a porn star in a patriarchal society and receives less criticism for her sexuality than Beyoncé speaks to the racism involved in the perception of sexuality. Beyoncé has been blamed for everything from teen sexuality and poor health to sex trafficking, and people think this criticism is normal and logical. This reveals how deep racism and sexism runs in our society, as it pertains to Black women, specifically.
A Black woman does not have to pass a certain “bar” of entry that White women hold before she is “acceptable” to feminism and this suggestion is most certainly racist, especially since White women are automatically assumed to be feminist. Even White women who openly hated feminism, such as Margaret Thatcher, has had the label “feminist” placed upon her post-mortem. White women can be considered feminist even when clearly operating in ways that reinforce imperialist White supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy, like Thatcher did (examine her damn record, one that is as patriarchal and imperialist as any White male leader), yet Beyoncé is consistently attacked for not meeting some arbitrary standard as White women stand GUARD over feminism?
I’ve also noticed that some Black women and other women of colour do not want Beyoncé associated with feminism in any way, and unfortunately, their reasoning seems to be tied into respectability politics. They think choosing the “positive” side of patriarchal binaries is what feminism is about, such as being a “good” role model and exemplifying “perfect” womanhood, as dictated by theism and patriarchy. This is also a mistake. Even so, it seems that the largest voices against Beyoncé amidst feminist spaces are White women’s voices—probably because there are so many of them and because their voices are amplified due to White privilege. When most of them dissent, it hits a major blog or newspaper. When most Black women dissent it’s via tweets or personal blogs. The access points differ in scope. Even when a Black woman or another woman of colour writes about Beyoncé for a major publication, ironically (or not so) her views seem to match White feminists’ views against Beyoncé. Perhaps this is what it takes to be published.
Critique is important. No one is above it. But this perpetual critique of Beyoncé is no longer productive critique. (I am not sure that it ever was.) This critique is creating arbitrary standards that Black feminists have to meet that White feminists do not. This is racist antagonism towards Black women if they are loved, are considered beautiful and are successful. This is respectability politics and misogynoir masquerading as feminism. This is intellectual elitism. This is double standards—ones where Beyoncé’s experience with capitalism is evil but Sheryl Sandberg’s is good, where Beyoncé’s sexuality is deviant and Lena Dunham’s is empowering, where Beyoncé being married and a mother is just her succumbing to patriarchy but for White women, it’s deemed a powerful choice, especially if coupled with a career.
If White women view Black women as inferior and White feminists view Black feminists as inferior at worst or as “allies,” “sidekicks” or just Black women to “save” not actual feminists, at best, the problem is theirs, not Beyoncé’s or Black women’s at all.
White women need to stop guarding the invisible gate to feminism. It’s not a country club. That was never the point. Leave the gates and hierarchies for patriarchy.