Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Slut-Shaming Feminisim: The Amber Rosery

Until last week, I had no idea who Amber Rose was, nor did I understand why everyone was going crazy over her Instagram account. By now, though, I know who she is, and by the looks of her Instagram account, she really likes string, and really hates clothes. Good for her. String is very useful, and sometimes clothes can be cumbersome. Her penchant to wear string as clothes, however, confuses me, but hey, she’s her own woman.

What I still don’t understand, though, is why everyone was going crazy over her string-as-clothes selfie. As predictable, many people ogled and then called her a slut and whore, as per patriarchal protocol, and then people said she is setting women back by not dressing “respectably”, and of course, some brought up that she’s a mother and should know better.

The claim that she is “setting women back” by posting selfies of her nearly nude is as ridiculous as thinking that women posting selfies of themselves nearly nude is a threat to women. As long as they are taking these pictures of their own volition and not under any duress, then where is the problem? The Hobby Lobby decision is a threat to women. The new House of Representatives, who tried to push through a bill limiting abortion rights not even a month after being sworn in, is a threat to women. There are a bunch of old men who have never in their lives had vaginas actively trying to regulate vaginas more than they wish to regulate things that are ACTUAL threats to our lives, like chemical pollution in drinking water and guns. You’d think that vaginas were Cthulhu or something. Disproportionate sexual assaults and loose laws to deal with them are a threat to women. Then of course, things that are threats to men, like poverty, income inequality, crime, are threats to women. You realise Cee-Lo Green, who essentially admitted to drugging and raping someone, and Bill Cosby are still on the loose? A buzzcut blonde woman who wears dental floss as clothes is NOT a threat to womankind.

To the “She should know better, she’s a mother” point, I must ask, “So what?” What is this “better” thing that she should know? Mothers are no longer allowed to be sexy? Someone had to have found them attractive, because that is the first step in long process of making a baby. (In Ms. Rose’s case, I assume the second step is getting a pair of scissors so that she can undress.) Why should a mother no longer do things that she did before, so long as she’s not hurting her child? There is an entire million-dollar niche industry in porn that is centered around sexy mothers and their clothes-optional adventures. So why is it so bad that Amber Rose, mother of one, still wants to feel sexy, and acts on that want?

This same tripe was lobbed Beyonce any time she performed after she had Blue Ivy. How dare she go out and perform in skimpy clothes and dance and sing about sex? THAT IS HER JOB. Beyonce is a performer. Just because she is a mother, she still has a job to do, and nowhere in her work connotes that she must now wear an over-sized grey poncho and only talk about her baby and motherhood. Mothers are not saints. They are not exalted to asexual seraphims after they have had children. They are humans, and they have the right to have human desires, like wanting to look good/sexy, doing whatever their jobs are, and not being judged by hypocrites who like have a pile of Mom-on-Teens porn stashed on their thumb drives labeled “Taxes”.

This all just harkens to  the ridiculous double standard that we have that claims that women must be chaste, virginal vessels of tranquility, especially after they’ve had a child, even though men can go by the credo “boys will be boys” and get away with anything. Who the hell do you think boys are “being boys” with? People who have this view generally have a problem with boys being boys with other boys, so there are obviously girls “being girls” with the boys.

Being hot and showing it off establishes absolutely no evidence about one’s aptitude for raising a child. If Beyonce and Amber Rose want to act/feel attractive and express it and want to continue to sing and dance and...whatever the hell Amber Rose does...as long as they’re not hurting anyone, you sound really dumb criticising them.Maybe if we spent more time registering to vote than we did going nuts over some woman’s selfies, perhaps we wouldn’t have such an inept Congress, and women everywhere would not have their uteruses regulated as if they were guns.

...JUST KIDDING! America doesn’t regulate guns.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Si Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Aussi Ahmed.

Courtesy aljazeera.com
As I write this, news outlets everywhere are covering the deaths of the murderers* of the employees, visitors, and two police guards at Charlie Hebdo headquarters. The assailants claimed to be avenging the honour of Islam and their prophet, who were often targets of the publication’s satire. Their act of terror is the worst France has seen in a very long time, and it seems that instead of fear, it merely solidified France with the #JeSuisCharlie meme, and also showed how hypocritical they were when they killed a Muslim police officer. Look up #JeSuisAhmed. Now that this ordeal will hopefully be over soon, and hopefully with minimal casualties, let’s get a few things straight.

If you think that prominent Muslims in the public eye should be denouncing these acts, then you are an asshole. The “men” who executed this attack on unarmed citizens are no more representatives of all of Islam than the Ku Klux Klan is a representative of all Christianity. No law-abiding Muslim person has to apologise for the acts of terrorists as if they are drunk uncles who keep saying racist stuff in front of your black boyfriend who you brought home for the Holidays. They co-opted a banner and fueled their hate through it, much like the murderer of the two patrolmen in NYC. He was never part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; he used the tags and did terrible things, and now anyone who marched for reasonable reforms and dialogue are roped in with him, and leaders of the movement must denounce his crimes as not representative of that for which they stand. Both of these events were hate crimes, yet when white people commit hate crimes, they are depicted as lone wolves and slightly disturbed, no matter how many memberships to hate groups or hate movements they have. No one demands that Wolf Blitzer make a statement when a white supremacist, say, bombs an NAACP headquarters. So stop demanding that brown people denounce the acts of hate groups whose roots are in a specific religion or cultural background. Either that, or before you demand denouncements from large groups of brown people, formally denounce the Inquisition, the Middle Passage, the Nazi Holocaust, the Expulsion of the Moors, Apartheid, the Hottentot Venus fiasco, and every other major crime done by “Christian people”. You need to be honest with yourself: If the Internet existed in the Dark Ages, the world would be calling for the eradication of Christianity, and demanding that the Pope denounce the crimes of Christians, from witch burning to the Crusades...actually, the Popes at the time were leading the charge to do those acts, but you get the point…

If you are defending the religion of Islam by saying that the assailants were not “truly Muslim”, sorry, but you’re doing it wrong. They were Muslim. However, they were part of a hate group. Just as Christianity has many sects, there are many sects of Islam. Sadly, just as with Christianity, Islam has hate groups as well, and some of them are violent. Christianity has the Neo-Nazis, the National Front, Focus on the Family, and various militant anti-secular government groups. Islam has al-Qaeda, ISIS, and various militant anti-secular government groups. The murderers in this case undermined their actions, because as much as they claimed to be defending Islam, they killed a Muslim man. That is how indiscriminate hate works. The Klansmen who thrived on fear in the South were Christians who were killing other Christians. It is irrational, and it is despicable, and it drags the religions they represent through the mud. That does not mean the religions themselves are bad. It means the hate groups who claim to follow these religions are manipulative assholes.

If you are not hashtagging #JeSuisCharlie because you don’t feel sorry for them because they printed a lot of racist stuff, don’t be a dick. You are doing the same thing that mansplainers do when a woman is assaulted, and the first thing they say is , “Well, you shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt”. I never liked much of what Charlie Hebdo published, but I never thought they deserved to die. I just noted how much I didn’t like them and didn’t read their publications. This is the way a free press should work. If you don’t like it, you are free to criticise it, but don’t kill the author, and don’t blame the author for his own death. There is nothing wrong with saying #JeSuisCharlie et #JeSuisAhmed, and you can still not like their content, and you can still not sound like you're victim blaming people who were freely expressing themselves, as you are doing by expressing disdain for their content.

There are about a billion Muslims in the world. I know a few, and they are pretty awesome, not necessarily because the are Muslim, but I would be foolish to think that their choice to follow the religion did not help hone their own sets of values and traits that make them awesome now. The religion is not forming terrorists, unlike what you’re hearing in the news and editorials. Any religion can be used as a beacon for goodness or a bludgeon for hate. So demanding someone to apologise for what others of his/her faith/ethnicity has done is as foolish as claiming that the assailants are not of said faith, which is as foolish as blaming the assholes expressing free speech for their own deaths.

*I know the names of the assailants, but much like with the Nice Guy™ who went on a shooting spree this summer, I am not going to immortalise their names so that they can be martyrs for their false cause. Other outlets can do that.

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