Category Archives: Pop Culture

A Frank Discussion on Black Sexualities

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Black communities often seem to shy away from discussions on sexualities, as if somehow this clashes with culture, identity, or religiosity. A conversation about sexualities is not just about sex, which in itself is a discussion that begs having. Talking about sexualities encompasses: identity, culture, power, politics, gender, orientation and yes…sex, the act and/or the physiologically/socially constituted category.

What brought me to the question of black sexualities was my work in early sexualization and hypersexualization. I did a project a couple years back on the early sexualisation of pre-teen girls. This was in 2006, and at the time there seemed to be this pervading moral panic, mainly stoked by white middle class parents and academics about the sexualisation of their daughters, grand-daughters, relatives, friends etc… Super-sexy Bratz dolls, push-up bras for 8 year-olds, Katy Perry/Xtina and MTV were all culprits in this process. The rhetoric hearkened back to a time, when apparently Barbie let young girls know they could be all they ever wanted to be (with a perma-smile, butt-skimming hair, and boobs that would realistically result in a concave chest). Stories abounded about 5th grade girls providing oral sex to boys in the back of the school bus and lipstick parties. These were all very legitimate concerns. But nowhere in the reams of pop-psychology books, interviews, studies and Oprah and Tyra exclusives did I see a race or class-based analysis. Sure, Jada Pinkett Smith wrote a whole children’s book about loving yourself and your hair, because 8 year-old Willow had said something about wanting to be sexy. But there was no real engagement with non-white, non-middle class pre-teens.

It is precisely because of this glaring gap (deliberate or not) that we need to talk about sexualities. Black women’s bodies have been sexualized, historicized, objectified and used as symbols. We are rarely the architects of our own sexual stories and experts in our experiences. Sex is something that is done to black women, by the media, hip-hop, Johnny-down-the-way, or bs studies.  We are painted as either these ravenous sexual succubi, completely asexual and undesirable non-beings, or hyper-masculine. It boggles the mind that we can be all three at once.

And yet, despite the ass-swiping credit card of Nelly’s tip-drill video, marathon gang rape of a California teen outside her prom, and sexual assault in the campus hallway, we still refuse to talk about it. That is until it explodes onto our screens in voyeuristic orgies penned by Tyler Perry…like Precious. But even then, the melodrama is just excessive enough for us to easily detach.

A frank discussion about sexualities is more than the sum of its parts. It is what is needed. Black women need to be able to articulate their stories and experiences, to be their won advocates and architects, in whatever way and along whatever spectrum they so choose.

This is why this event is so important.:

Saddi Khali in Ottawa Neo-NegritudeExpressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

https://wocinsol.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/saddi-khali-in-ottawa-neo-negritude-expressions-reclaiming-our-sexualities-2/

It is important for Black women, and it is important for the Black community and for everyone in general. On November 18th, 19th and 20th do come out!

Gender-bending in hip-hop

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Cross-posted from clutch magazine.

Gender-Bending Rapper Starts ‘XY Movement,’ Is It Just A Gimmick?

FRIDAY NOV 11, 2011 – BY 

Hip-hop isn’t the most accepting of men who don’t fit the conventional definitions of masculinity. In a genre so comfortable disparaging gays and lesbians, it seems like career suicide for an new rapper to rock lipstick and wear pink tights–and NOT be in contention to be the next Nicki Minaj. But that’s exactly what 19-year-old Daryll Duane Philips is doing.

Philips, who goes by the name DPhill Spanglishman, created the XY movement to encourage men to get in touch with their feminine side.

Predictably, many aren’t feeling his style and question his sexuality (he’s straight), but DPhill says he’s unfazed.

He told reporters, “I believe I’m 40 percent female basically because of my emotions. I’m a very emotional person”

DPhill continues, “Everybody has a soft spot, I just embrace both sides.”

The Colour of Beauty

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The Colour of Beauty is a documentary by Elizabeth St.  Phillips produced by the National Film Board of Canada. It chronicles the trials of Black model Renee Thompson who tries to make it in the fashion industry. As luck would have it Renee ‘s  features are considered desirable by the fashion industry for she looks like `a white girl painted black`.

WOC in Pop Culture

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I am an avid TV addict, and unfortunately cannot turn off my critical race theory lens even when watching inanity-laden shows like the Hills or the Bachelor.

Women of color are often absent from the ‘ good clean fun’ depictions in reality tv, they are not the next ‘bachelorettes’ or the title characters in lifestyle shows. They are portrayed as;the angry women of color, the person with an addiction-be it drugs alcohol or sex, or ‘the exotic’. More recently in my quest to justify my trash-tv addiction by attaching some level of social commentary, I stumbled upon one of my perennial favorite dating reality shows ‘the Millionaire Matchmaker’- while the premise of the show is problematic on it’s own, and Patty the Matchmaker is full on offensive and patently misogynistic and racist.

I still persist in watching , mainly because of all the crazies. The show consists of matching millionaires up with women who’d like to date them. In one way or another, the majority of these men are socially dysfunctional and due to the priviledge of masculinity and their wealth, this of course comes off as quirky or charming.Patty, the matchmaker , aside from ‘reading energies’, and her matching responsibilities, is also a social cartographer of sorts.

What really set my blood afire is her typology of women, apparently there can be only four: the girl next door, the sexpot, the intellectual or the exotic. White women can easily bounce from one category to the next, inhabiting multiple spaces at once. But women of color are invariably relegated to ‘the exotic’, apparently we are neither ‘the girl next door’, nor ‘the sexpot’, or ‘the intellectual’. This is yet another example of the structural oppression that seeks to reduce, restrict, and immobilize women of color into a sexually objectified, silenced other.I AM the trekkie girl next door who reads Balzac and is obsessed with shoes, listens to Wu Tang Clan and can exude whatever sexuality she chooses. I am global, local, everywhere, and my norm for beauty is not defined by blond hair and blue eyes. I am myself and all the wonderful womyn around me; Aung Saan Suu Kyi, Miriam Makeba, Angela Davis,Wangari Mathai- and I refuse to be defined, reduced or compromised.