Links of the Week 03/16/2013

1. Stop Following the Rules [Happy Black Woman]

Just because you go to college and get good grades doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll land your dream job. Ask all the unemployed college grads and they will tell you. Just because you go on to get a Master’s degree and your own condo and a nice car still does not guarantee you happiness in life. And we all know that even if you follow The Rules in any dating book or manual to the “T”, you are not guaranteed love for a lifetime.

That’s because The Rules were created for all the people who are satisfied with “good enough.”They are perfect for the people who are fine with someone else telling them what to do with their lives and how to do it. The Rules are for people who are willing to settle for a mediocre life because they aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to create an amazing one.

But for those of us who want more out of life, The Rules are useless. We see that they can only take us so far and then we have to figure out the rest ourselves. We realize that we’re actually sick and tired of playing by The Rules anyway.

And then we decide to create our own.

2. Swedish Mannequins! [Feminist Philosophers]

Swedish Manequins in H&M store

Swedish Manequins in H&M store

An H&M clothing store in Sweden is being hailed by women around the world after a photo of two surprisingly curvy mannequins there were photographed and posted online.

“Dressed in skimpy lingerie, the mannequins displayed softer stomachs, fuller thighs and generally more realistic proportions than the traditional department store models. For comparison, most mannequins in the U.S. are between a svelte size 4 or 6—a departure from the average American woman who is a size 14.”

3.Joan Morgan on Black Sex, Identity and the Politics of Pleasure [Parlour]

To me Beyoncé does work that isn’t discussed beyond ‘Why did she have to gyrate that way?’ or ‘Why is she wearing that kind of clothing?’

I want to get past that. I want to look at how people, and women, are getting pleasure from what Beyonce does and so is she, and why that’s important.

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Rape is Rape

Steubenville Ohio Rapist:  Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmon,

Steubenville Ohio Rapists: Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmon,

When it comes to sex, no means no, and stop means stop.  I promise you that there is no hidden meaning. And if a woman is passed out drunk, then she is in no condition to consent to sex.  But who would want to have sex with an unconscious woman? Unfortunately for the sixteen year old victim involved in the Steubenville Ohio rape case, this is exactly what happened. She was unconscious while two males “penetrated her vaginally with their fingers, and then distributed pictures of her and one of the perpetrators masturbated on her. I can feel the vomit rise in the back of my throat while reading how these monsters violated and exploited this young girl.

Victim Blaming

Another aspect of this case that is disgusting is the victim blaming. People are blaming the victim  for being drunk, blame her parents, and believe that it was her lack of morals that caused this situation. Some even believe that she wanted it, or that she gave consent before she passed out. This is utterly disturbing. But what is even more disturbing is that the perpetrators in question, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmon, don’t have any remorse for the crimes they committed against this young woman.

No is no. And no consent given still means no. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. I don’t care how short your skirt is, if you’re walking down the street naked, or if you’re drunk and high all at once and passed out on the corner, no man has the right to penetrate you in any way. As a society we need to stop blaming the victims.  The fault lies with the rapists.

Unity

As women we should stand behind this young girl, not pick her apart. We need to set the standard that what happened to this girl and what happens to millions of women around the world on a daily basis is not okay. I cringed when I read tweets from other women bashing this girl. What if you were drunk and unconscious, would you want random men sticking their fingers up your crotch? What if she was your sister, your best friend or daughter? . When a fellow woman is raped we need to support her.

Rape does not discriminate       

Rape does not discriminate against race, age, or social status. It is a monster that knows no boundaries. Single women are raped, women are raped by their boyfriends or friends, and yes some women are raped by their husbands. It happens to the prostitute on the corner, or the student innocently walking home. I call on women who have sons to teach them to respect women. Teach your sons that sex is not a right, that a woman is not a toy, and that they should not act out their sick porn-influenced fantasies on a woman who has not given her consent.

My Plea

This hatred against women needs to stop. No one deserves to get raped.

The Audacious Oroma Elewa

Today, be inspired to be audacious.

Recently, I discovered Nigerian-born Oroma Elewa and her critically acclaimed fashion magazine Pop Africana. This woman is a visionary who had the guts to realize her dreams.

Oroma Elewa

Oroma Elewa

Oroma  launched Pop Africana  in 2010 without any publishing experience. What she had was an intense desire to redirect the world’s opinion of Africa. She talks about her lack of publishing experience in an interview with Vogue:

I don’t have any publishing experience, but you have to admit, the audacity is what makes it interesting…the need to document the African experience and redirect the opinion of the African superseded the need to have everything in place first. I do not claim to be the most professional anything but what I did was that I take a shot at what I truly believed and what I truly believed was lacking for a global African community.

Cover of Pop Africana

Cover of Pop Africana

Pop Africana challenged the single story of Africa: the loin-cloth wearing native complete with spear and shield. In the magazine, Oroma presents us with a vibrant and fashion-forward Africa that not only speaks to today’s Africans but the rest of us fashion enthusiasts.

For a brief moment this Vogue 2011 style star shone in the fashion world. Her dream was alive. It pulsed. The visually stunning imagery of Pop Africana attracted attention from fashion megastars around the world.

Sadly, Pop Africana has ended its run. But images of the magazine’s pages can be viewed on Pop Africana’s facebook page. Take a look. Be inspired. Be audacious.

Is White (Female) Privilege a Blessing?

got-privilege

A few weeks ago I came across Caryn Rivadeneira’s article Preach On, Victoria’s Secret Model, An unexpected realization about privilege.  The article referenced model Cameron Russell’s TED Talks,  in which she speaks candidly about her privilege as a beautiful white woman. I felt she was honest and insightful.

However, I can’t say the same for Ms. Rivadeneira’s article. She tries to develop a message for the Christian community based on Cameron’s speech: we should acknowledge our privilege and thank God for it because it is a blessing. Therefore, I am not surprised that Ms. Rivadeneira believes that her privilege as a tall, blonde, affluent white woman is from God.

But Ms. Rivadeneira glosses over some of the major points from Cameron’s speech about white female privilege.The reason is that socially constructed privilege i.e. white female privilege may be a lot harder for the Christian community to digest. Below are some more of my thoughts about Ms. Rivadeneira’s article and privilege:

1. Being a tall, blonde, white woman is not a privilege from God. The white female privilege that the author possesses is based on a social construction of beauty that lives off the vestiges of a legacy fraught with white supremacy and prejudice. It’s a man-made privilege.  White female privilege extends beyond the sphere of beauty.  If Ms. Rivadeneira and anyone else is confused about what is white female privilege, Andrea Plaid from Racialicious does a good job of providing examples in this post.

2. Privilege is complex.  Underpinning privilege are legacies that are not altogether just, fair or reflective of Christian values.  For example, I inherit  a million dollars from my grandfather. Am I privileged? Yes. Am I blessed? Not necessarily so. If my grandfather earned the million dollars through theft, murder and nepotism, am I still blessed? I don’t t believe ill-gotten gains are a blessing from God. And sometimes the privilege that you possess is a tangled mess of good, bad and ugly. How do you pick out which parts are  blessings and which aren’t?

3. Someone pays a cost for our privilege. As a model, Cameron recognizes the costs associated with her white female privilege. In her speech she references a study by a Phd student who in 2007 counted the number of models and out of the 677 that appeared on the runway only 27 (4%) were non-white. Non-white models bear the costs of a beauty standard that prefers “whiteness” although they make up over 30% of the US population and the majority in terms of world population.

4.Ms. Rivadeneira had the perfect platform to challenge Christians (not only white women) to  reflect on the privileges that they possess and critically understand how these privileges are built. Do these privileges impact the church community?  How? And what is our responsibility? Ms. Rivadeneira believes that we should share our privilege and help others see theirs. But what about challenging the attitudes, beliefs, social, political and economic structures that create those privileges? What about addressing the injustices that privilege creates?

Black Women Can…

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This collage highlights the beauty and versatility of black women. We can be models, beauty queens, princesses, doctors, race car drivers, ballerinas, pilots, actors, Olympic swimmers, gymnasts, politicians, presidents, authors, astronauts and bloggers. Being black and a woman does not put us in a box.  Let us celebrate the great things that we as black women can do.

Links of the Week 02/22/2013

1. Let’s get rid of ethnic churches. [Chine Mbubaegbu]

Our society is becoming increasingly multicultural. But a multicultural Church isn’t just about political correctness. A multicultural, diverse Church is beautifully symbolic of the God whose very essence is unity.

The Church therefore should be the last place where, before entering, I put on the Cloak of Race and stand side by side with those sporting the same attire as me.

The Church should be the one place where the cloak matters least; where we stand together with one sole, unifying identity.

2. Django, in chains. [CNN Opinion]

Tarantino stated his goals and interpretation of the Oscar-nominated film’s impact: “I’ve always wanted to explore slavery … to give black American males a hero … and revenge. … I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years.”

He went on, “Violence on slaves hasn’t been dealt with to the extent that I’ve dealt with it.”

“Django Unchained” is being projected on screens around the world, out of context: A slim percentage of consumers have any real understanding of what took place during slavery, one of history’s most prolonged, barbaric and celebrated human rights violations. Sadly, for many Americans, this film is the beginning and the end of that history lesson.

A big reason slavery is avoided in American storytelling is guilt. Unlike the Holocaust, when it comes to slavery, our people were the bad guys. But we’re not German, so we can rail on Hitler and the Nazis all day without thinking critically about our legacy.

For descendants of slaves, and all Americans, our ovens — the slave plantations — are tourist destinations and wedding venues, home to preservation societies and guided tours. The “good ole days,” when faceless black folks with zero potential were merely quiet, collateral damage.

America’s minimal comprehension of slavery combined with the kind of trivialization “Django” offers renders us ill-equipped to empathize with its victims. This is a chicken or the egg manipulation: “Do I know nothing about the complexity of slavery because it’s not that big a deal, or must it not be that big a deal because I’m only vaguely informed?”

3. Bongi Ngema Zuma:  I chose to be his fourth wife [BBC World News]

BBC interview with South African President Jacob Zuma’s fourth wife, Bongi Ngema Zuma. She is speaks about her foundation, and her marriage to Jacob Zuma.

4. The Oscar Pistorius File [Africa is a Country]

The South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius shooting and killing his girlfriend seems to be the only news out of that country these days. Nothing else seem to matter. Even Usain Bolt was asked his opinion during what seemed like an interview to promote a brand on CNN. Bolt declared himself “shocked.” Shocking. There’s also the ridiculous: Femi Fani Kayode, a former Nigerian government minister, —in a rambling Facebook post—blamed Steenkamp for her own murder. Pistorius, Kayode claimed, “was provoked into a murderous rage by his pretty little lover (who) played on his insecurities and inadequacies.” Steenkamp was a “creature from the sea” sent by the devil. Okay? Incidentally Kayode wasindicted for money laundering last week.

The Cage of Beauty

Recently, we attended the Chicago Artists Interpret Shakespeare As They Like It  exhibition at a local college. We were  intrigued by this interpretation of women and beauty in the play Hamlet.

Bird Cage by Marzena Ziejka

Bird Cage (Hamlet) by Marzena Ziejka

Symptomatic of an unhealthy culture, many young women live in the illusion of false expectations, preconceptions and assumptions about beauty and female role in society. The attainment of an unattainable ideal is the trap. The culture of beauty can assemble itself in their young lives, like a cage preventing them from living their lives to the fullest. ~Marzena Ziejka

Can beauty become a cage?  Has it prevented you from living a full life? Thoughts?