Category Archives: Racism

The violence beneath 'beauty' [Women and Violence, Part 5]

[This is part of my series on Women and Violence, which I am writing as a project for a Women Studies course I’m taking. For an explanation and information on my intentions with this series, please see the introduction.]

Next week I’m giving a presentation in class on cosmetic surgery in regards to women of color. Now, cosmetic surgery does not readily fall under most common definitions of ‘violence,’ and I find myself hesitant to categorically label it as such.

On the one hand, while cosmetic surgery does involve bloody alterations on a person’s body, so does surgery in general, and we generally don’t label that as violent – especially when voluntarily consented to by the patient. The fact that cosmetic surgery is often (though not always) agreed to by an autonomous individual does mitigate the physical damage it brings.

Of course, we are all aware that ‘consent’ is a sticky issue, and that we can’t ignore the pressures that can constrain a person’s ability to make a choice – particularly in the case of women facing pressures to be ‘beautiful’ in a certain way.

Furthermore, the same level of physical damage can be construed as ‘violent’ or ‘non-violent’ depending on the context. Full-contact sports can be performed just as ferociously as a street brawl, yet not be uncontrolled and violent. What’s more, a session of safe, sane, and consensual BDSM can be non-violent, while the quietest rape perpetrated under clearly communicated threat is clearly not. Continue reading

Posted in Abuse, rape, and domestic violence, Feminism, Racism, The Beauty Myth, Women and Violence | 9 Comments

Tradition and the obscuring of gender violence [Women and Violence, Part 4]

[This is part of my series on Women and Violence, which I am writing as a project for a Women Studies course I’m taking. For an explanation and information on my intentions with this series, please see the introduction.]

One of the most insidious ways of normalizing and justifying gendered violence is by tying it to tradition. By portraying perpetrators as if they were enacting the accepted practices of a culture, those in power position victims of violence not only against their victimizer, but also against the weight of a culture’s history. Additionally, “tradition” is a popular buzzword that protects a practice from interrogation, hiding it behind a shield of maintaining history or honoring ancestors. Continue reading

Posted in Abuse, rape, and domestic violence, Feminism, Racism, Women and Violence | 11 Comments

Campus Violence is Institutionalized

Folks talk about campus violence like it’s perpetuated by a few bad apples, tgise disenfranchised men and boys who play too many violent video games. What the mainstream doesn’t talk about is campus violence like violence against women or police … Continue reading

Posted in Racism, The Evil -ism's, USA | 4 Comments

"Black is an EXTRA feature… Therefore, you hav[e] to PAY for it."

Via kynn who found it via symbioid; some information on Acclaim’s new game, Dance, where the default is white. One of the users took issue with this and began a thread called, I GOTTA PAY TO BE BLACK? This situation … Continue reading

Posted in Privilege in Action, Racism, Video Games | 12 Comments

White "perks" versus white privilege

Kynn has a thought provoking post making the distinction between “perks” and “privilege”: Let’s talk about how I use the term “white privilege.” There are certain things which are gifted to every white person, which aren’t fully afforded to people … Continue reading

Posted in Privilege, Racism | 7 Comments

On being an anti-racist white ally

Two separate instances on live journal have really had me thinking about my commitment to be anti-racist. The first is a series of posts by my LJ friend kynn, which I won’t link to here because there’s, um, quite a … Continue reading

Posted in Personal, Privilege, Racism | 2 Comments

On being an ally

Today, for the last meeting of my class on racism and white privilege, we had a panel of guest speakers who do anti-racist work from within the university. One was a white man, one a white woman, and one an African American man, so the issue was raised about allies. Allies, in the context of anti-oppression work, are members of a privileged group who work against that privilege: white people in anti-racism, men in feminism, etc.

Allies have a very different place in anti-oppression work than members of the non-privileged group. They don’t have the firsthand experience of oppression, and so their knowledge of it is incomplete. They constantly risk perpetuating the oppression themselves – which, of course, all of us do, privileged or not – but with the added risk that, when they slip up, they hurt others rather than hurting themselves. However, allies are also powerful and helpful because of their very privilege, because they can use the social power that they have been arbitrarily and unfairly granted in order to work against the power structure.

Being an ally (and staying one) is also difficult and complicated. The panelists’ discussions on what it means to be allies and to have allies (each of them was in a position to address both questions, due to their respective places in various social hierarchies) brought up several helpful points, which can help us as we think about creating and maintaining alliances in our work. Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Privilege, Racism | 14 Comments

The Penis Monologues

I’m in favor of men speaking out about how patriarchy hurts them; how they’re expected to act as men, how they’re denied validity in their emotions beyond anger—and denied their full humanity as oppressors. But it isn’t the job of … Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Masculinities, Personal, Privilege, Privilege in Action, Racism | 10 Comments

What's wrong with this picture?

Feel the cultural appropriation around us I swear I don’t go looking for these kinds of things, they find me all on their own. I went to VoodooPC’s website to check their tech support hours (in the hopes of me … Continue reading

Posted in Advertising, Companies Behaving Badly, Computers, Multiculturalism, Racism | 9 Comments

My yellow face

Body Outlaws, published by the woman-friendly Seal Press, is a collection of essays by women attempting to rewrite body image outside of conventional beauty standards – and not just white, middle-class, straight women, but women who experience all forms of oppression, including racism.

The first essay is “My Brown Face,” by Mira Jacob, an Indian-American woman who constantly finds herself fetishized by white men. Most women of color are familiar with this experience – the ‘positive’ counterpart of racist degradation – when men tell you how ‘beautiful’ and ‘exotic’ you are. This can be accomplished either through ebullient and chivalrous praise, or through crude and fetishistic verbal harassment; Jacob describes instances of both. These anecdotes are presented as contained sections of the essay, without direct commentary – and yet her indignation and disgust towards her ‘suitors’ is palpable.

I love this essay for the clarity and energy of the writing, the juxtaposition of caustic anger and humor, but also for the personal nuances that Jacobs provides, which are so gratifying to read because they echo my own experience. Very few voices from women of color are heard in the mainstream conversation on body image, and it was comforting to read things that were familiar to me, but so often overlooked by standard (white) analyses. Continue reading

Posted in Multiculturalism, Racism, Sex, sexuality, and sexual politics | 1 Comment