abuse, feminism, feminist, gender, media, misogyny, race, racism, strenght, Uncategorized

Give Us Le-ss Misogyny and Racism

The significant uptake and influence of fandoms over their respective show/movie/media can have amazing effects. Just look at Brooklyn 99 loyal fanbases efforts to see their favourite crime-fighting sitcom renewed, or, more recently, the #SaveShadowhunters hashtag which takes pride in (the need for more) LGBT+ representation. Just as fandoms can be wonderful and inclusive spaces, so too can they be vitriolic and destructive, as the recent case of Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Marie Tran.

Tran was apparently driven off the picture sharing network Instagram earlier this month owing to the needless and vile influx of abuse and harassment; her decision to virtually pack it in has led to many of her co-workers and fans lamentation, but that has not stopped Give Us Legends from claiming responsibility and claiming pride in what they have accomplished.

GiveUsLegendsHateGroup

It’s disconcerting and downright scary that someone would find the abuse of another person as “bloody glorious,” it more worrying that they call for further acts in the name of “forced diversity”

Digital violence is real; abuse does not happen in a vacuum, it has affects and influences the people involved. It is a common misconception to think it is easy to sign out and leave the comments behind; the reality is that this abuse has racial and misogynistic overtures which not only belittle Tran (and others, let’s not forget Leslie Jones’ abuse) but support and boaster such hegemonic structures.

What the user defines as “forced diversity” is a mechanism currently being heralded by far right political groups to reaffirm white male hegemony. These groups maintain that diversity politics and affirmative actions processes are in themselves somehow “racist.” These are groups which fail to account for an already unfair playing field; one which sees white as default, acceptable and welcomed while People of Colour are at worst the anti-thesis of their white counterpart, at best different. Reni Eddo-Lodge details this well in the recent book Why I’m not Longer Talking (To White People) About Race. To quote Eddo-Lodge at length, because she has both lived this reality and details it so succintly:

“Positive discrimination initiatives are often vehemently opposed. Descriptions of the work addressing the over-representation of whiteness inevitably reduce it to tokenism, nothing more than an insult to the good hard-working people who get their high-ranking jobs on merit alone. Whenever I do the panel-event circuit, meritocracy and quotas tend to be an issue that rests heavily on audiences’ minds. The main questions asked are: is it fair? Do quotas mean that women and people of colour are receiving special treatment, getting leg-ups others can’t access? Surely we should be judging candidates on merit alone? The underlying assumption to all opposition to positive discrimination is that it just isn’t fair play.
The insistence is on merit, insinuating that any current majority white leadership in any industry has got there through hard work and no outside help, as if whiteness isn’t its own leg-up, as if it doesn’t imply a familiarity that warms an interviewer to a candidate. When each of the sectors I mentioned earlier have such dire racial representation, you’d have to be fooling yourself if you really think that the homogeneous glut of middle-aged white men currently clogging the upper echelons of most professions got there purely through talent alone. We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance. Opposing positive discrimination based on apprehensions about getting the best person for the job
means inadvertently revealing what you think talent looks like, and the kind of person in which you think talent resides. Because, if the current system worked correctly, and if hiring practices were successfully recruiting and promoting the right people for the right jobs in all circumstances, I seriously doubt that so many leadership positions would be occupied by white middle-aged men. Those who insist on fairness fail to recognise that the current state of play is far from fair.”

– Eddo-Lodge pg. 78-79*

Groups such as We Are Legends, which build a community based on anti-diversity, while they may maintain other ideals (in this case, magically re-glorifying the Star Wars through heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white representation), are primarily interested in maintaining patriarchal structures which only benefits them (often, heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white).

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These groups are afraid of the (often still decidedly token) female and PoC characters who are finally emerging on screen. Reactions to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as protagonists on the Star Wars reboot depicts this enough; it would be no surprise to find them next targeting L3-37 for her representation of a humanitarian/(robotarian?) freedom fighter if she had a social media presence. (Here’s hoping her voice actor is left alone, given that she is the main delight for most the movie, and, you know, a human being?)

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Kelly Marie Tran’s Instagram account is still there, but it’s empty of posts, leaving her abusers no opportunity to abuse. Her account picture still stares out, her bio still reads “afraid but doing it anyway”. It exists now at once as both her own attempt at self-care and, perhaps, her space of protest.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

*I quote Eddi-Lodge at length and copyright that work to her; I feel that, in the discussion of “positive discrimination” and affirmative action policies, her work details both a truth and a reality of what PoC live and work daily.

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feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, Ireland, misogyny, personal, politics, pro-choice, race, racism, rape, sexism, strenght, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Post-March Hope

There will be less political antagonism in this post than a sense of positivity and hope (I hope…).

The post-Women’s March euphoria is upon us, and I haven’t truly come down from that high. In the face of overwhelming intolerance and hate, and the knowledge of four (possibly though hopefully not more than four) years of threats and risky policy cuts, the Women’s March proved that when they go low, we go high.

Despite the sense of anger and fear which wrought it’s insemination following the Trump victory, the women and allies in Ireland took to the streets with a sense of courage, determination and hope in what they could achieve via resistance and solidarity.

For this gathering the political overtures of what could and is occurring across the pond largely mirrored the concerns facing the Irish constituency: a Trump government threatens to ban and limit abortion access to the same circumstances which Irish women suffer and which ignites the Repeal the Eight movement; Trump and co’s misogynistic and racist practices mimic much of the vitriol which grows in this post-Brexit atmosphere; Trump has been accused by no less than a dozen women of sexual assault and harassment, in 2015 approximately 16,375 incidents of domestic violence were disclosed (Women’s Aid, Ireland) how many more victims still suffer in silence is a testament to the fear which men like Donald Trump instill.

In the face of these facts and fears, the women and allies of Ireland gathered peacefully and hopefully, chanting slogans and bearing placards both hilarious and quieting. We cheered the sponsors and speakers of the event with gusto, we welcomed the challenge gravely and bravely, we sang as one that those sisters and allies in the USA and worldwide who needed our support could certainly rely and lean on us in the future.

Nasty women, bad hombres and the next generation of children who deserve better stood united in protesting the intolerance and hate which a Trump administration stands for. The accumulation of nearly 3 million protesters worldwide attested to the fact that so many liberal snowflakes would, indeed, make a significant avalanche.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, women

Beauty and the Bill? Harriet Tubman, The New $20 Bill, and Contemporary Beauty Standards

Racism and sexism is alive and well and rearing it’s unquenchable head once again!

Only yesterday, the US Treasury announced – in what will be a milestone for women and people of colour – that abolitionist WoC Harriet Tubman would grace the new $20 bill.

Harriet_Tubman_by_Squyer,_NPG,_c1885.jpg

While the new bills won’t be available until around 2030 (or so the reports say), racists and sexists have taken to Twitter and other social media to lament the decision to represent blacks and women.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen so far is, strikingly, that Tubman doesn’t conform to modern (and often unattainable) standards of beauty. Many of the posts publicly found on Twitter question why Tubman’s “ugly ass” (that’s an actual quotation there, by the way”) should be on the bill;another claims, in what is evidently a racist trope, that Tubman belongs on food-stamps rather than currency. Shockingly, – in what can only be seen as a  manifestation of the insidious nature behind sexism and racism – it seems even many people of colour are falling into this sexist rhetoric; as though having, say, Tyra Banks on the notes would have been more applicable and timely.

The more important question here, it seems, is why Tubman’s history  is being relegated straight back to her physical appearance? Current ideology continuously positions women – of all races, ethnicity, and backgrounds – as relevant only according to the standards of beauty, physical appearance and attire they present; anything else which they may achieve during their lifetime is either an added bonus to this imperative or is, sadly, inconsequential.

So what does this treatment of Tubman reveal: that women continue to be regarded, despite their historical influence and present status, as relevant only as symbols of beauty in our culture. Tubman herself is quoted to have said:

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

It’s time to free women from this rhetoric, too.

 

Ireland, race, racism, Uncategorized, violence

Racism Rife in Ireland

A recent report from the ENAR (Eire Network Against Racism) has revealed the extent of racial prejudice in Irish culture.

Released this very morning, the disconcerting report is already receiving mass attention from various media outlets. The report, headed by Dr Lucy Michael, explores the issue of “Afrophobia” in Ireland through the use of data from racist incident reporting system iReport.ie. The launch page for the report explains the term “Afrophobia” as denoting forms of global racism aimed specifically at people of African decent and further claims:

 In Ireland, as this report demonstrates, racism against people of African descent is not a new phenomenon at all, but one which has failed to be recognised by the State and wider society, even as it has evolved from colonial times. Afrophobia has contributed to the racialisation of Irish identities, both in Ireland and overseas, resonated with anti-Traveller racism at home, and found fertile ground in specific phenomena and events, for example in what Junior Minister for New Communities Aodhán Ó Ríordáinhas called “our love affair with incarcerating people” (from the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries to Direct Provision), or in the political expediency manifest in the 2004 Citizenship Referendum. (ENAR Ireland)

A summary of the findings indicate that an approximate 30 percent of complaints submitted to iReport were incidences of racial harassment and threat against people of African descent; the harassment was commonly reported as taking place in public, specifically in/on public transport systems. Similarly, many of the complaints raised the concern of being knowingly under constant surveillance in public spaces.

But the threat is not only public; over half of the reports received and studied described instances of online abuse and racial threat, mainly on social networking sites where many people where individually targeted and harassed.

Many of those who reported incidents of racist abuse and harassment further recorded a disillusionment with Gardai services:

There are low levels of trust in An Garda Siochana to address and understand the impact of racist incidents, and to apply the definition of racist incidents adopted in 2001.

People of African descent experience worse outcomes from Garda involvement even where the racist incident is perpetrated against them and, should they confront the perpetrator, are more likely to be considered suspected of instigating the incident. (Report Summary)

Currently, the ENAR is urging An Gardai Siochana and other public bodies to implement a more stringent anti-racist discourse among staff, in order to encourage the official reporting and handling of both verbal and physical forms of racial violence and that an eventual change in legislature is required to protect these groups. For my part, I argue that better educational practices need to be established throughout primary schools, with the conversation being brought into the home as well. The Irish people need to be educated on issues of racism, their psychological and undermining effect in our society. The ENAR further encourages the need for a renewed national action plan to combat racism, and the time for that is now.

Links:

http://enarireland.org/afrophobia-in-ireland-racism-against-people-of-african-descent/

http://enarireland.org/enar-irelands-submission-on-integration-multiculturalism-and-combating-racism/

 

feminism, feminist, gender, race, racism, strenght, women

Viola Davis Makes History and (Hopefully) Changes History with her Acceptance Speech

The beautiful Viola Davis just made history, as the first black woman ever to win an Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress in a series. Her role in How To Get Away With Murder as Professor Annalaise Keating has been praised countless times since the series’ debut in 2014 and her role is appraised alongside those of Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope on Scandal, Deception‘s Meagan Good and Taraji P Henson as Cookie in the massive series Empire and, of course, the notably diverse cast of Orange is the New Black.

Certainly, the growing visibility of coloured women on our screen is wonderful, with such shows dominating television ratings and challenging racist ideologies worldwide; but – and this there is no denying – the continued and ingrained racism which television and movie production companies and hierarchies continue to flout evidently hinder the existence of roles available for women of colour. And this is exactly what Davis emphasises.

As she takes the stage, resplendent and emotional in equal measures, Davis emphasises the lack of opportunities available for women in the entertaiment industry:

Let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. (Davis)

In that moment, Davis captures the heart of her audience, both before her and watching on screen, and Davis continues to take her opportunity to challenge hegemonic beauty myths which establish white women as desirable and beautiful, by quoting Harriet Taubman’s still relevant words:

In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line. (Taubman)

Davis continues to praising those that have withstood these racist ideals and created spaces for women of colour on screen and finally applauds those actresses who stand with her challenging these ingrained racist ideologies and proving women of colour worth their salt both on screen and off.

feminism, feminist, race, racism, strenght

José vs Joe: Who Gets A Job?

 

Same man, same resume, same job; different name.

The fact that we continue to discriminate in terms of ethnicity and race is evident in this short video, with José failing to receive any job replies until he changed his name for the benefit of his could-be/would-be employers.

José, clearly, was a capable candidate for certain applications (having received several invitations to interviews after the fact) yet was not deemed so until he took it upon himself to remove the ‘s’ and the acute accent from his name.

These prejudices continue to damage our contemporary society and divide us as human beings who could and – more significantly – should treat one another with the respect and admiration.

This video needs to go viral, we need to see just how deep the roots of prejudice and discrimination go and can they be excavated at long last?

advice, feminism, feminist, race, racism, women

Barbie Can Go Suck It, There’s a New Doll in Town

Organisation “Natural Girls United!” completely blasts Barbie industries out of the water with their realistic African-American styled selection of dolls.

 

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The ethnically appropriate and incredibly beautiful dolls and their designs – from the natural Afro hairstyles to their clothing choices and facial appearance – acts as a catalyst in contemporary toy manufacturing, challenging the non-authentic, Western-appropriate aesthetics of Barbie’s close (black)friend, Christie.

Christie

Karen Byrd, founder and designed for the “Natural Girls United” organisation, stated that

I have wanted to take-on the project of customizing dolls hair, to have the look and feel of styles, and textures of ethnic women and girls, for a long time. As a young girl, I remember loving to play with my dolls… mainly with my Barbie’s.  I thought the dolls where beautiful, but always noticed that my African American dolls did not look like me. Their features did not look like mine, and their hair certainly did not look or feel like my hair!  This did affect my view of what beauty was.

Byrd’s desire to challenge Westernized assumptions of beauty through diversification and ethnic inclusion in the manufacturing and designing process is significant and, slowly but surely, encourage more and more young women to embrace and recognize their beauty.

Byrd’s stunning designs can be custom ordered as gifts or personal reminder’s of your own beauty on her website, linked below.

http://www.naturalgirlsunited.com/

 

feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, women

Can We Have a #FairFutureNow Already?

Who doesn’t enjoy one of President Obama’s enigmatic tweets? I, certainly, do; and especially when they involve the promise of equal pay for both men and women.

Obama’s most recent (from the 8th of April) tweet backed an equal pay program on his own site Organizing for Action and calls for people to support the cause by boasting the #FairFutureNow hashtag.

Women, on average in America, earn 77 cent for every man’s dollar despite doing the same work. This discrimination has been highlighted consistently and yet no change has actually been implemented to better the situation of women.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (found here http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf) recorded that:

In 2012, women who were full-time wage and salary  workers had median usual weekly earnings of $691. On
average in 2012, women made about 81 percent of the  median earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers  ($854)

The report also detail the wage gaps which exist between differing race and ethnic groups in the US, highlighting that Asian women ($770 per week) and men earned more than Black (599 per week), Hispanic and Latino ($521 per week), and White ($710 per week) counterparts in 2012; while White men ($879 per week) earned 83 per cent as much as Asian ($1,055 per week).

The statistics are telling, and President Obama’s support for equal pay and an end to the wage gap is inspiring in such a prominent world figure, but the questions remains; why can’t that future be now? Why, as the images suggest, must we wait for our children for the wage gap to close and equality become an actuality.

Surely, it can’t be that hard to imagine that future now. #FairPresentNowMaybe?

 

race, racism

#HowIMetYourRacism

It’s not the first time a primetime sitcom has been called out for racist content, and it’s definitely not the first time How I Met Your Mother has been put under the spotlight for indecent and offensive content.

This weeks episode featured three of the shows protagonists – as seen in the images below, Lily, Ted and Robin –  join in one of Marshall’s ongoing storylines in yellowface.

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface-2 How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface-3How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface

The storyline, quite frankly, is so ridiculously offensive and unwarranted that it’s repetition seems unnecessary. What is obvious is that the episode required a certain Asian stereotype to be fulfilled, and that was clearly done without any thought given to the offending nature behind the content.

The backlash since the episode’s preview has been phenomenal, with social media website Twitter once again being employed as a social activist medium with the tag #HowIMetYourRacism trending. Many have called for a boycott of the show, until a formal apology is issued, including activist Suey Park:

I used to watch @HowIMetMother but I now refuse to and hope they apologize for yellowface. #HowIMetYourRacism

 

I certainly will not be watching the final series before an apology is issued to the Asian community and I can only hope that others will, too, will be pushing CBS for an official apology.

 

 

feminism, feminist, misogyny, sexism, women

Should Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover be Controversial?

Renowned comedic actress Mindy Kaling graced the cover of Elle magazine this February. She’s well known for her role on The Office as actress, writer, and  director, as protagonist of her own show The Mindy Project, and for her position as a curvaceous, coloured woman in an incredibly public role.

And yet, check out Mindy’s cover:

downloadmindy

While Mindy was certainly and openly delighted about her Elle cover, there is a serious difference between her image and the three other Women in TV themed covers. The three other women – Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams – were featured at three-quarter shots and in colour; Mindy is featured close-up and in black and white, washing out what makes her completely different and unique from the three other actresses.

o-MINDY-KALING-570

Mindy may be happy with her cover – and, yes, she should be, she is an incredibly beautiful, talented women and the cover certainly depicts this – yet, the racist, sexist implications behind the shot need to be brought into question. The cover should be perceived as controversial and women – women of colour, curvaceous women who do not adhere to the stick thin standard magazine culture adores, women everywhere who desire a more accurate, honest view of different bodies – should demand better from their society. 

So, perhaps it is best that we continue to question these implications, that we criticise the racist, sexist, and demoralising realities behind the cover while upholding Mindy’s character and her wonderful talent.