I know it’s not Friday, but whatever. Recently Blake Lively thought it’d be funny to go on instagram and post photos of herself with the caption “L.A. face with an Oakland booty”. Because white women are beautiful and glamorous and live in Los Angeles while black women are ghetto and have big butts and live in Oakland.
The more I think about this, the angrier I get.
I’m tired of living in a world where people stumble into racist, anti-Black sentiments that blatantly set up whiteness to mean ‘beautiful’ while blackness is reduced to exotic and oversexualized body parts.
But Lively’s comments up the ante even further, not only claiming beauty for whites while dismembering black bodies but also giving it a geography. Somebody needs to let the 3.8 million black people in LA know that they’re living in a city synonymous with white beauty. Don’t they know their place is in Oakland?
There’s so much more to say on this… but for right now I’ll leave you with Franchesca Ramsey and crew to talk about the pernicious evil of white beauty standards.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has a great piece up today on Bill Cosby and those in the black community who have defended him amidst rape allegations from over 50 women (I’ve written about Bill Cosby in the past here and here). Coates does a marvelous job of drawing the parallels between the language and power that’s habitually employed to harm, silence and dismiss victims of systemic racial violence and that being used by Cosby’s supporters in response to his victims and critics.
It’s also a great piece because it lifts up the idea that ‘victim’ and ‘oppressor’ are not constant titles, but rather shift from issue to issue. And that to demand justice for yourself without demanding it for others — is really nothing more than a demand to join the privileged class.
It is always particularly painful to see those who have been victimized by a habitual looking away to then turn around and do it themselves. But what it illustrates is that the line between victim and victimizer is largely circumstantial. There was always some number of black men who invoked Trayvon Martin’s name simply because he was a black male, simply because it could have been them. “It could be me” is a fine starting place for confronting the evils of the world, but a really poor conclusion. If no broader theory of sympathy and humanism emerges beyond one’s mean particularism, then all we really are left with are tribalism and power.
One of the points we’ve really tried to emphasize here at the Civil Word is that violence against women an issue of violent men. And in order for this country — and indeed the world — to address this problem will require men to accept responsibility in ways small and big. This is the topic of a wonderful TED talk given by Jackson Katz co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program. Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments.
From campus assault to leaked nude photos — anytime a woman’s rights are ignored or violated a chorus of voices emerge to explain exactly what a woman did wrong and why she’s responsible for her own assualt.
Oh you got raped at a party? Maybe you shouldn’t have been drinking so much.
Don’t like all those men out there catcalling you? Try not wearing such a short skirt.
I tell you, it’s hard to remember all of these rules. Luckily Jay Smooth has put out a call for help. If somebody has a complete list of all the rules we have for women, please please contact Smooth so we can get that posted somewhere.
Or, alternatively, men could just stop being such assholes.