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.

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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.

 

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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.