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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Define “racism”

With the verdict of the the Ferguson trial having been announced, and riots occurring

all over the nation, the concept of racism has been a heavily discussed topic. Race has always been an issue that is regularly debated and discussed, but the events that have been taking place in Ferguson have become a catalyst for national discussion. This is a something that will go down in history. Michael Brown is the not the first black boy to be killed by a police officer, and sadly he won’t be the last (in fact, many have been killed since him). But the activists that have taken inspiration from this case are hoping to make it so that it is no longer a standard.

But, I’ve digressed. What I really want to focus on is the recent discussions of race themselves. One  very interesting concept that has been touched upon before is the very definition of racism. There is an argument held by many that no one but white people can be racist. Reverse-racism is also being debunked as something that can not be possible. Why? Because “true” racism is Prejudice + Power. And who is in “power”? Why, white people, of course.

Now, I 100% agree with the concept of white privilege. I believe that there is an injustice in our society that stands on the foundations of hundreds of years of oppression of POC. As a POC, I highly resent the imbalance in opportunities. I very highly resent the fact that a young black boy who peacefully surrendered to the cops was shot down and killed out of “fear”, when a white man who shot up a movie theater in Colorado was arrested peacefully.

That said, I disagree that POC can’t be racist. I believe they can be racist toward other POC, as well as white people. Someone said that POC can have a “racial prejudice”against white people, but that it is not actual racism.

To be racist is to think, speak, or act out on negative feelings toward someone based strictly on the color of their skin. White people, historically, have show to be more prone to racism. Our nation was founded by white men who believed they were superior to other races…and unfortunately that is the foundation upon which our society is based.

Because discrimination and racism is very much institutionalized in our society,  I believe that the power for change lies with those have the privileged. So, obviously: white people.

But I stand by the idea that racism is not so much based on power, but on perceived differences in general.