“Us ladies” are NOT a team… consider women in music who align themselves with charities and causes that don’t reflect their lived experience in order to seem like they’re doing great things for poor, suffering women—the Other. Look at female artists who use background dancers of other races as props… Look at women in music who publicly shame other women for exercising bodily autonomy, like Warpaint making offensive comments about Beyoncé and Rihanna’s wardrobe choices.
And look at the way articles published in the name of feminism and community end up reading like a list of ways to avoid confronting the complicated way that being surrounded by cis dudes has made you feel. We have a responsibility to support and empower each other in our fight against these damaging systems, not teach each other how to avoid punishment by mimicking the behavior of our oppressors, or staying small and quiet.”
Meredith Graves, in NOT ALL WOMEN: A REFLECTION ON BEING A MUSICIAN AND FEMALE by Allison Crutchfield (May 27, 2014)
Major props to Meredith for being the only person in these interviews to call attention to the major fuck ups when talking about the challenge of being the “only girl” in an all-dude band. The original article was gross (and feeds into my general opinion of VICE) but SO FEW PEOPLE challenged the author not only its failings re: sexism, but also how it is absolutely essential to talk about how that culture of misogyny and “just suck it up” intersects with racist, heteronormative and gender essentialist bullshit.
Failing on the part of this article was only interviewing young white women on this issue (I’m making that assumption based on the photos and passing knowledge I have of these artists) but still worth a read.
“Innocence is not doing. Not running off to New York. Not drinking whiskey till 4 AM. Not fucking that boy or girl because they make your heart scream electric, then waking up unpunished the next day. Not hacking a system rigged against you. Innocence is a relic of a time when women had the same legal status as children. Innocence is beneficial to your owner. It benefits you not at all.”
– On Turning 30 by Molly Crabapple (January 27, 2014) via Kate Beaton
The problem with problematic extends beyond the people who use it, though. More often than not, the word obscures the horrible, unethical content of whatever it sticks to.
Problematic finds its way to white people who slur the n-word towards black people just as quickly as it describes someone who attempts to police someone else’s body. Neither of these people is problematic. One of them is a racist, the other a shames bodies. The culture of “Your Fave Is Problematic” tends to erase these specificities.
Moreover, where’s the seriousness in claiming that everyone is problematic? The blanketing claim it makes allows us to throw our hands up in resignation. “Problematic” facilitates laziness.”
– Erich Kessel, “’Problematic’ Has Become Problematic”, The Stylecon, May 16 2014. (via irisreadsthings)
“For sex workers, public inability to separate what a sex worker does (perform sexual acts for money) from what he or she is (a person with rights, needs, and the power of rational thought) makes sharing stories about workplace conditions unnecessarily difficult. Melissa Gira Grant and other activists who continue to work in the sex trade are caught in the most overt version of a contradiction many women experience: it’s not wrong or hurtful to be thought of as a sexual being, but it shouldn’t colour everything you say or do in the public sphere. In the current debate, getting hung up on the “sex” rather than the “work” of sex work may result in legislators missing the point.”
“Like art, glamour begins as pretending. It’s lips painted red, waist corseted thin. Historically, glamour was as distrusted as witchcraft. It could deceive a man into thinking the woman he chose was beautiful, fertile, and young. Beauty is born. Glamour is made. For a woman to remake herself was to sneak above her place.”
Photo Real: On Photoshop, feminism, and truth by Molly Crabapple (May 5, 2014)
This reminds me of some of the ideas Ilya Parkins puts forward in Elsa Schiaparelli and the Epistemology of Glamourous Silence, which you should read.
Photo Real – Molly Crabapple on Photoshop, Feminism, and Truth
Two weeks ago, Jezebel published un-retouched outtakes of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign.
Without Photoshop, Gaga’s wig was more wig-like, her makeup flat beige, but she was the same skinny, strong-nosed chameleon that Stephani Germanotta has always been. The outtakes were not interesting but showing celebrities without Photoshop is Jezebel’s brand.
Jezebel exploded in popularity in 2007 by offering a $10,000 bounty for originals of Faith Hill’s Redbook cover. The raw photos proved the magazine had liquefied the star’s waist, softened her nasiolabial folds, and brutalized her elbow into a bendy tube. This January, with more controversy, Jezebel paid another $10,000 for the originals of Lena Dunham’sVogue cover shoot. Those revealed only a tidied dress.
Jezebel’s is a feminism that seeks its scapegoat in altered images. To refrain from Photoshop is girl-positive marketing gold. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty delights itself by putting out fake filters that chide retouchers. Magazines sign “No Photoshop” pledges. Clothing companies crow that they’ve never taken a clone-stamp to their models’ thighs.
To these feminists, Photoshop is to blame to unrealistic body standards, poor self-esteem, and anorexia in teenage girls. The campaign against Photoshop is the perfect cause for white, middle-class women whose primary problem is feeling their bodies do not match an increasingly surreal media ideal.
Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.
But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.
You know I have big qualms with VICE but I do enjoy Molly Crabapple, discussing photography, and taking White Liberal Feminism (in this case, specifically Jezebel) to task.
“Externalizing the impulse to prey on young women cleverly depicts it as both inevitable and beyond the control of men. Marcus’s essay is a brilliant meditation on how the Dead Girl Show reflects and appeals to the American psyche, which is imprinted with the memory of two inherited atrocities, African slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans. He discusses the familiarity in old murder ballads that tell us that, “America is a country where anyone can be killed at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all.” Murder is something on the air, like a demon — and make no mistake, this is a kind of victim blaming.”
The Oldest Story: Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show by Alice Bolin (April 28th, 2014)
Phenomenal piece that articulates a lot of my own discomfort as a fan/viewer of Twin Peaks. This particular quote reminds me of one of my favourite songs.
“By keeping us focused on ourselves and our individual happiness, “Do what you love” distracts us from the working conditions of others while validating our own choices and relieving us from obligations to all who labor, whether or not they love it. It is the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.”
In the name of love by Miya Tokumitsu (at Jacobin Magazine)
This article speaks some hard truths.
“With another episode concluded in the queasy oscillation between political insult and repair, the task remains to circulate, conceptualize, and perhaps learn from symbols and markers of disenfranchised cultures without dictating the terms of engagement. As the institutional backing responsible for Inukt’s newfound visibility, the MBA carried a distinct obligation to obviate profitable abuses of power, even in a venture as admittedly minor as a clothing line at their museum store. Yet the “minor” spaces are all the more crucial here, where longstanding erasures move within the cultural imaginary as naturalized practice. If anything, the need for constant vigilance, the need for the often exhausting labor of critiquing grotesque displays of power, becomes all the more apparent.”
The Musée des Beaux-Arts Shows its Colonial Hand in Inukt Affair by Joseph Henry (October 31st, 2013)
An Analysis of the Inukt Boutique by Chelsea Vowel (October 30th, 2013)
Yesterday I just felt nauseated by this story. But after reading Henry and Vowel’s insightful critiques, it feels like a step in the right direction. School these assholes.
“Dear Big White Upper-Middle Class Cis Heterosexual Media: Let’s get this out of the way straight out of the gate: No one is buying that you’re shocked by the latest revelations about the sordid life of Hugo Schwzyer.”
An Open Letter to Big Feminist Media Regarding Hugo Schwyzer* | GlobalComment
You should probably read this.