12/14/2013

"It's Their Fault For Taking The Job"

No.


Comment sections are enraging, as anyone with eyes will know. In the comment section on Miss Representation's video on how the media failed women in 2013, there was a comment which voiced a (white male)'s opinion on how the women were equally to blame as the media was, because they kept taking these jobs/roles. I think that you can have that opinion, but only if it is consistent, and therefore, if you can answer yes to the following questions:
  • Do you blame men for continuing to apply to jobs where women are disregarded (due to gender, not capability)?
  • Do you blame white people for continuing to apply for jobs where BME people are known to be constantly disregarded due to race?
  • Do you blame thin people for continuing to buy clothes that they fit into, when the clothes being sold fit no other body types?

The bigger problem isn't the people taking the job, the bigger problem is that they are the only ones being considered the job - if an employee was to call their boss out on such a practice, unless they had the power to call for a mass boycott/strike/anything of the sort, they would be immediately replaced - by someone who looked exactly like them.

Another very real problem is the dangerous view that if these women didn't line up for the job, there wouldn't be a standard, when this standard is completely manufactured. Very few women (if any) look like the photoshopped dismembered images that are spewed out. If the women who come (somewhat) close to looking like that weren't available, they would get the next closest thing and proceed to remix and edit it in order to make it look exactly like what the standard is now, because that is the problem, the standard.

This also disregards the thousands of women who came to look like that solely to get the job, because they knew that it would be the only way - first they are bullied into changing their appearances for a system that gives them little or no other choice, and then they are blamed for succeeding. Is there any way for them to win?

While I don't think that the people who play into these standards are entirely blameless, I do place the majority of the blame on the employers who continue to only recruit a specific minority, under the excuse that they are selling what everyone wants to see - which is code for what a privileged western white male fragment of the population wants to see. I place another part of the blame on people who continue to consume these images without thought and reflection.

12/04/2013

"Slutty" Costumes

Perceived Issue: "Costumes for women are so slutty"



The Real Issue:
  • The fact that clothing is referred to as slutty - the term slut is linked to the amount of sexual partners a person has (had). A person's clothing is in no way a reflection of their sex life.
  • When the same costume is marketed differently at men and women, the women's usually being more revealing 

  • When there is no "non sexy" options for women or no "sexy" ones for men
The Ideal To Push For: To have sexy/non sexy costume options for both men and women, and for people to stop judging others based on which one they choose :D

Rabbit costume/Sexy Rabbit costume
Sexy Rabbit costume/Rabbit costume


And for the record, these would be slutty rabbits (and I mean it in the best of ways ;D)

12/02/2013

My Hair

I've recently started sporting my natural hair, as I fully shaved my head a year ago, vowing to never relax my hair again. This has been an adventure so far.

The response I have got from family, friends, and acquaintances has been mostly positive, except for the oddball who thinks it's perfectly fine to pet me without asking.

The change in my hairstyle might not seem like a worthy topic to write an article about, but it is, and here is why.

Growing up I always struggled with my natural hair, relaxing it/straightening it/hot ironing it/doing whatever it took to get rid of the kinks. This behavior was reinforced by my own parents, who would always be quick to remind me when it was time to tend to the growth.

Whenever I walked by an Afro-hair salon (whichever country I was in), I'd get shouts from inside "Come get your hair done!" "You gonna do anything with that hair?" "You need to relax it!" - usually making me feel inadequate, or at least slightly uncomfortable.

The few times I decided to wear it short (my big chop last year was not my first one) I'd hear the same comment - "Short hair looks so good on black girls". I still hear that comment, and it's usually from non blacks. No wait, it's always from non blacks. What people don't realize is that every single time I hear this, I feel like I am being reduced to a stock image of a black girl. I am not being seen as a version of myself with short hair, I am being seen as a black girl with short hair, and guess what - it doesn't feel nice.

As you'll have guessed, this article isn't about Afro hair, it's about being a black girl. It's about the fact that being a black girl who leaves her hair alone comes with a full plate of stereotypes to deal with, with a side serving of misogyny.

A classmate asked me if I was going to allow myself to "act a little bit diva" because of my hair - I wasn't even shocked. In the mainstream media, Afro hair on a woman has been used as a prop on sssassy strawng innepennent bleck women - the women being props themselves. Afros basically became parodies of themselves, and still are. If a black person is lucky enough to be granted a role (even the token ones) in a TV show, they'll rarely be sporting natural hair, unless they themselves bring the race conversation to the table. 

Examples - 

In Sons of Anarchy, DA Tyne Patterson (played by CCH Pounder) sports a blonde straight hair wig, which she removes in private while uttering the words "Time to go hood sister", referring to the fact that she is about to play the dirty side of the law. She reveals a more unruly "natural" hairstyle/type. Her hair is being used as a device for her to reveal her "darker" and more "fighter" side. Couldn't she have just kept the wig, or simply not worn one at all? The whole scene was unnecessary, even the line "time to go hood" is offensive.


Oh and remember that one "ethnic" Spice Girl? Scary Spice, so scary with her crazy hair and animal print clothing, terrifying indeed.


The only time Beyoncé ever sported a full blown coarse Afro was to be Foxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers - I guess her own natural hair wasn't "sassy" enough for the character.


I find it sad that these are the only times I can remember seeing hair similar to mine onscreen (outside of Blacksploitation cinema or anything about slavery). The lack of examples available speaks for itself. When Afro hair is used, it isn't being used as just a hair type on a person, it's being used as a prop, which doesn't seem to happen with any other race. They aren't writing strong black female characters with Afros, they're writing black female stereotypes.

For these reasons, until last year, I strongly disliked my hair. Actually, that's a lie, I used to HATE my own hair. I never saw it anywhere outside of myself, so I assumed it wasn't worthy and I would proceed to annihilate it. Today, I love my hair. The more I expose myself to content where my hair is valued and celebrated, and sometimes even (get ready for this) is the NORM, the more I love it, and myself. There is sisterhood in kinky hair, because it is an oppressed hair type. This makes me even more confident, and for the first time in my life, I feel like a beautiful person without relying on extensions.

In conclusion: Don't touch my hair. And if you're gonna do it, don't.

Afro hair baby Naomi not giving a fuck about haters :D


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