Links of the Week 04/19/2013

1. How Sketch are Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches? [Beauty will Save the World]

Yes! Society does need to delight in women’s minds and abilities but alongside women’s beauty- not instead of. And I would argue that it is the same for men. We should delight in men’s minds, abilities, and beauty. This is why I would have loved to see more than two short clips of a male subject. Hence, there are faults to this video no doubt. The presence of more men involved would have fought another lie that self-image is only a female problem. And when I say involved, I mean as subjects not merely as informers (like the male artist depicted as the male source of affirmation telling females that they are beautiful). Because a woman’s beauty needs to be celebrated not merely by men but by other women too! And a man’s beauty needs to be celebrated not merely by women but by other men! Just as we learn to identify and celebrate beauty in others, we cultivate the aptitude to recognize it in ourselves. This has been made a difficult task in our society and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches touched on it.

As long as this is a conversation on beauty, this cannot be about defining -but about recognizing. For beauty is not for us to define how we want; it is for us to appreciate what it is.

2. Not your erotic, Not your exotic [Suheir Hammad] 

don’t seduce yourself with
my otherness my hair
wasn’t put on top of my head to entice
you into some mysterious black voodoo
the beat of my lashes against each other
ain’t some dark desert beat
it’s just a blink
get over it

Teach Boys Not To Rape

Audrie Pott

Audrie Pott

It has not been long since the Steubenville Ohio rape case, and unfortunately two other rape cases have come out with similar scenarios but have ended in death.

Tragically, Audrie Pott,  a fifteen year old girl from California hanged herself after being sexually assaulted by three boys.

Not too long ago, Rehtaeh Parsons  a seventeen year old Canadian girl also hanged herself after being sexually assaulted by four boys.

 

This story is repeating itself over and over again and it has to stop. We need to teach boys not to rape. We need to teach

Rehtaeh Parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons

boys to respect women. Just like we hold women morally responsible for their sexuality, we need to make men accountable for their sexuality as well. Women should not bear the burden of worrying about what to do to not get raped. The victim should not feel shame the rapist should. These boys in all three cases behaved like beasts, like wild animals in the jungle.

As a woman I should not expect to be raped or sexually assaulted. I should not have to tell my future daughters to expect to be violated by men. We as women have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, living in fear of getting raped or sexually assaulted takes that right away from us. I am calling for justice for Rehtaeh, Audrie, the women in the Congo, and the women sold into sexual slavery every day. They deserve justice.

For any woman who has been sexually assaulted suicide is not the answer. There is life after being raped, there is happiness and there is a future filled with hope.

If you have been raped there is help available for you

National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE

http://www.rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline

Sexual Assault/ Abuse Does Not Define You

stebeunville rape photo #2 (1)

As most of you know from my previous blog post and tweets, I have been closely following the Steubenville Ohio Rape case.

Both boys, Trent Mays and Mailik Richmond, were found guilty. And the punishment fits the crime: [They]will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, and both will be labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

In spite of all the ugliness surrounding this case, the victim’s mother conveyed a message of hope when she addressed Richmond and Mays at the end of the trial: “This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on.  Her mother could not have said it any better. This is a message of hope for her daughter and millions of women around the world who have been raped, or sexually abused.

Sexual assault/abuse does not define you.

When someone violates you sexually, that can be hard to heal from.  Take your hurt, your pain, your shame and do something great with it, gather strength from it and move on.

I also what to extend this message to women who have chosen sex work, stripping, who have pursued a promiscuous lifestyle, or have experienced the heart ache of being used and dumped by a man like a Kleenex:

What you do or do not do with a penis, or what a man does to you, do not define who you are.

Stuffing the Beauty Box

Nigerian model Adaora Akubilo

Nigerian model Adaora Akubilo

Why do we stuff the beauty box?

We put all sorts of things in it: stretch marks, scars, cellulite, droopy skin, fat, wrinkles etc.

Maybe we’re rebelling against the unrealistic images of female bodies that our monthly subscriptions of Glamour and Allure tell us we should look like.

But in our attempt for a more realistic portrayal of our bodies are we still buying into the message that our bodies’ primary function is to convey beauty? Maybe we believe that beauty equals worth. So no matter how unpretty, everything goes into the beauty box.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that we should recognize and celebrate physical beauty.

But how much of our worth should come from beauty? And if we are flawed or God forbid not pretty what then?

Post-pregnancy belly

Post-pregnancy belly

Sometimes, I think that maybe we are delusional about our bodies.

We are not frozen pictures in a magazine or paintings hanging on the walls of the Chicago Art Institute.

Our bodies are for living.  We cook, clean, write, hug, fix, create, run, leap,  think, lead,  and love with our bodies.

Our bodies tell our stories.

Maybe we get stretch marks because we ate too much and gained weight. Or because we made love and are pregnant. Or because we just entered puberty and our bodies grew too fast.

Our bodies tell our stoires

Our bodies tell our stories

Or sometimes in our living we accumulate scars that tell a story of bodies that have overcome cancer, self-mutilation, rape and other forms of violence.

Is our worth diminished because we are no longer pretty or certain  body parts are deformed, scared, wrinkled, missing etc?

labonya

Labonya Siddiqui

A couple of weeks ago I came across Labonya Siddiqui, a model and burn survivor who is ‘determined to show the world that scars can be beautiful.

I think Labonya has beautiful eyes, hair and smile. And I am thrilled that she is challenging what is an acceptable body type in the fashion industry.

But I want to tell Labonya that she doesn’t have to convince the world that her scars are beautiful. That she doesn’t have to stuff them into the beauty box.

Her scars tell a story of bravery, suffering, resilience, and hope. And that’s more than I can say for a photoshopped picture of a Victoria Secret model.

I want to celebrate bodies like Labonya. Bodies that convey vulnerability, strength, dignity, hope, joy, suffering and beauty. I want us to celebrate our own bodies: they carry the marks of our lives and of our living. They are more than just beautiful.  I want to celebrate our bodies telling our stories.


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.

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 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?