Feminism: Black, White, and Shades of Gray

I recently read an article on none other than U.S. national treasure, Miley Cyrus.  You see, while I have never exactly been a fan of hers, I can respect some of her ideas – especially her recent ones. Ok, so mostly he recent ones. Ok. Only her recent ones.

Miley has been very outspoken about her criticisms for the way that society pigeonholes women. Most notably she has made statements about the perception of women’s breasts – mainly nipples – and how the censorship and ick factor of women’s nipples is kind of, well, bullshit. And it totally is. In fact, I was watching a clip of Miley on Jimmy Kimmel making this exact point, and I couldn’t help but smile at the points that she was making. The over-sexualization of women’s bodies is something that really needs to be thrown away in the garbage. Like now. Let’s kick it to the curb. When’s trash day?

But – and it’s a big but – as I watched this video I saw some related links/comments referencing the recent statement that Miss Cyrus made about the Nicki Minaj vs. Taylor Swift Twitter-tastrophe. Let me tell you, the respect that had grown for Miley quickly plumetted. One-hundred to zero, real quick.

Miley openly dismissed Nicki’s points because Nicki had come across as “angry” and “mean.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Why? Because I am over this pseudo-feminism. Miley has no problem advocating for the FREE THE TITTY!!! campaign yet she openly admitted that she can overlook Nicki’s comment on the industry’s dismissal of women of color simply because Nicki wasn’t polite about it. This is a prime example of what is commonly referred to as white feminism.

“White feminists” are women who advocate to be equal to that of men (they dress up as Rosie the Riveter and talk about how amazing the suffragettes were) but who fail to support, and even worse, to acknowledge, that women of color have struggled in a way that white women will never understand.

Do they know what it feels like to grow up in a world where every leading lady has porcelain skin? Do they feel adolescent shame when they look in the mirror and don’t see themselves as beautiful because the “ideal” woman is shoved in their face everyday – whether it’s a pop star, book character,or Disney princess? The answer is no. White women simply do not have this experience.

And that’s not a crime. Ignorance is not a crime, but you know what is? Parading around as a feminist who is liberated and socially-aware, only to knock down another woman because her struggle is not relevant to you.

Taylor Swift made an ignorant comment, and the moment I saw her reaction to Nicki’s tweet I cringed in embarrassment. I am a fan of Taylor Swift’s music, much more so than Nicki Minaj’s, and as a fan, I felt shame for Taylor. What Taylor saw as a personal attack and “pitting women against women” (irony considering Taylor’s nominated music video was essentially a drawn out and over-done fuck you to Katy Perry) was really just Nicki pointing out how flawed our society is and how women of color are not represented nor given the recognition that they rightfully deserve.

Bottome line for those who consider themselves feminists: Feminism is not just about over-sexualization. It is not just about getting the same income as a man. It is first and foremost about supporting your fellow woman, and acknowledging that every woman experiences different prejudices and dismissals. See things from their perspective. Acknowledge their pain and their struggle, and fight for it as if it’s your own.

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North Korea satire goes south

It’s a sad thing to say that I wasn’t terribly surprised that Sony pictures received such awful backlash from North Korea about satirical film, The Interview. American comedians and media have been in hot water before with other extremist r another regarding censorship. From the first teaser trailer I felt a strange uneasiness about the safety of Seth Rogen and James Franco. After all, North Korea are an extremist communist nation and it’s not like this is the first time we’ve received threats if we don’t censor ourselves.

What I did not expect was for Sony Pictures to comply and completely put the motion picture on the shelf. It took mere moments for Twitter, Facebook, and various other Social Media sites to go nuts. Everyone from your opinionated Facebook friend who Tweets too much, to Hollywood professionals, to President Obama himself reprimanded Sony for giving in to the cyber-terrorism from North Korea.

Obama has publicly announced that Sony made a mistake and that they should have consulted him before taking such an action, because he would have strongly advised not to let North Korea get away with their threats. Others are obviously being less politically correct than Obama and calling Sony cowards for caving in.

However, I think that people are too caught up in the hype of this ordeal and the American Way! to realize that this is an issue that is unprecedented. Yes, America has been threatened before for releasing controversial content but never has a cyber attack on a major corporation of this magnitude taken place. Those who hacked Sony threatened to blow up movie theaters. Sony’s lawyers told them that it would be completely on them if they went through and released it.

No, Sony shouldn’t have shelved the movie. Yes, they did let the cyber-terrorists get what they want. However, it’s only because movie theater chains were saying they wouldn’t screen it. It was the movie theater industry that refused to support Sony. George Clooney came out and said that he passed a petition around for Hollywood professionals to sign in support of Sony releasing the film and not giving in to North Korea, but not a single person was willing to put their name on that list. Without the rest of Hollywood’s support, they were cornered.

This is such an important event because it deals majorly with what America as a nation stands for: freedom. Specifically, freedom from censorship. A few years backh Park was heavily criticized and even threatened by Muslim extremists for the fact that they were going to depict the Prophet Muhammad. Ultimately, Comedy Central ended up censoring out the image all together without the creator’s permission and even took out some dialogue. Fear is in our nature, and sometimes we need to look past the eagles and stars and stripes for one second to realize that at the moment when these big decisions were made, they were made with the intent of saving lives.

Now, instead of crucifying Sony for making a human error, we should be using our social media presence and voice to encourage them to release the movie via another platform. This is something the CEO has already has already said is underway. They’re saying that they do believe anyone who wants to see this movie should be able to.

I’m not trying to defend Sony, merely shed light on the situation for those who are uninformed. There’s a lot more factors as play than you think. That said, we shouldn’t let some Dictator in North Korea believe that they have power just because they threatened us with violence, or else it will set a precedent.

If Matt Stone and Trey Park could blow up Kim Jung Uns’ father’s head in a feature film, then let James Franco have his interview.

Click below to watch an animated 10-year-old sarcastically tackle censorship and violent threats that lead to it.

Represent.

What could be more racially ignorant than the song “What makes the red man red?”  in Disney’s 1953 version of Peter Pan?

Well, erasing the Native American part all together.

In the upcoming feature film, Pan, directed by Joe Wright, the character “Tiger Lily” is being played by Rooney Mara, best known for her role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She played, well, the girl with the dragon tattoo.

The character of Tiger Lily was in the original Peter Pan novel written by J. M. Barrie and was most definitely Native American. There’s supposed to be a whole section of Neverland that is home to a Native American tribe, and Tiger Lily is the chief’s daughter. Sounds like a great opportunity for Mara to expose herself as an actress…but a missed opportunity for the filmmakers to portray accurate representation of a Native American character. The moment I saw the movie poster I was appalled. There are Native American women actresses out there who could have played the part, but instead they gave it to a porcelain skinned woman.

Here is the problem: there is not enough representation in the media and pop culture of POC. This is so dangerous because it affects the way others perceive POC, and it affects the way POC see themselves.

As a young girl I was very insecure with the way I looked and did not feel comfortable in my own skin because there was no one who looked liked me on the TV. For a long time I resented my dark skin and my brown eyes because I did not look like the girls in the media who were portrayed as “beautiful”. All those women had fair skin and light eyes. I remember being a 13 year old wishing I looked like Emma Watson from the Harry Potter series, because that’s what was portrayed as desirable and relevant. I truly believe that if there had been more representation of POC then I wouldn’t have wanted to desperately to have fair skin and light hair.

Beauty aspect aside, I think that’s it’s most damaging to the way we perceive race in general. The term “white-washed” is throw around a lot, and I think for good reason. Pop-culture’s lack of diversity is not representative of the world that we live in. The fact that this was an intentionally Native American character in the original book is reason enough to cast a Native American actress. To erase her Native American identity entirely is offensive.

Another example of the new movie Exodus coming out, where Egyptians are portrayed by spray-tanned white people (this tradition dates back to Elizabeth Taylor and even further) is simply historically inaccurate. Egypt is on the continent of Africa, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t look anything like Christian Bale….

christain bale

In Defense of Kim Kardashian

So let’s talk about the portrayal of women in the media. Okay, so that’s a very broad spectrum, let’s narrow it down: the portrayal of women in ads and magazines. Photographs that are photoshopped, portraits that have been distorted.

paper-kim-kardashian-hed-2014

I hesitated to write about this because it is such a widely discussed topic, like, I figured it’s just like beating a dead horse. However that notion quickly went away because I realized why the photoshopping of women’s bodies in the media is so widely-discussed: because it’s still happening everyday. Things aren’t changing. It’s just a widely renowned fact that the images of women are distorted into cartoony versions of themselves.

The most recent and talked about example of this is the fully nude spread that reality star, Kim Kardashian, recently did for Paper Magazine. Everyone and their mother seem to be so concerned about how Kim hasn’t grasped “motherhood” because she’s released these nude photos, but why aren’t more people criticizing the use of photoshop in those photos?

Some parts of Kim’s body were vastly altered to be much smaller than they actually are: waist, arms, even nipples for crying out loud. The magazine’s distortion of Kim’s body is ultimately them rejecting her actual body as a woman and a mother. Yet people are saying that Kim is at fault for not grasping the meaning of “motherhood.” Women need to stop attacking each other for being comfortable enough to expose their bodies, first of all, and realize that their opinions are based on old-fashioned standards set by a patriarchal society.

Instead of shaming her, why aren’t we shaming the magazine industry for contributing to the culture of distorting perceptions of women’s bodies? By making her waist thinner (thus accentuating other parts of her body) they are objectifying her. Her body is no longer her own but a tool used to peak the interest of men.

Sure, perhaps Kim intended for that. I’m sure she is very aware of her status as a sex symbol, but I applaud her for making a decision regarding her own body nonetheless, and I doubt it was her idea to do all the “touch ups” that are obvious in the photo.

Women’s bodies aren’t something that they should be shamed for. It’s our culture that needs to stop twisting things around and hiding the truth about women’s bodies: like men, we too come in all different shapes and sizes