Posts tagged ‘sexism’

Say it to my face!: Anonymity, Sexism and Social Networks

I recently signed up to try the current social network craze, formpsring.me. Formspring takes Facebook’s Honesty Box a step further, allowing people to submit questions to ask you either anonymously or not. I’ve never been into the Honesty Box because I wasn’t that pressed to find out what people think about me; I come from the school of thought that says: “if you got something to say about me, say it to my face.”

But, the straight forward Q&A nature of Formspring really intrigued me. I find that Twitter moves too fast sometimes to allow for a pure Q&A type of discussion. So as other people’s formspring answers showed up on my Twitterfeed, I felt compelled to check it out and see what this particular social network was about.

Most of the questions I got were tame. Lots of people were curious about why I moved to DC from LA, where my parents went to high school since they are both DC natives, what I thought about weaves versus natural hair, what grade I would give President Obama, etc.

Then, about halfway through the q & a, someone asked me my views about pre-marital sex.

Many of you who read my blog know that I support grown adults making decisions about sex for themselves…and for parents to teach their kids the importance of protection and sexual maturity. So I reiterated that in my answer.

But the anonymous questioner didn’t stop there. He (as I am sure this was a man) also began a line of questioning and judgements that would be what many call “sex-shaming”…better known as “slut-shaming.”

Do you think you’ll marry your current boo? (too early to tell…and if I knew I wouldn’t tell someone who insisted on being anonymous)

Oh but you’re already giving it up? For shame! (I’m grown, son. you don’t know my life)

He needs to put a ring on your finger…you need to learn some self-respect!

[Note: this was edited/paraphrased as the original dialogues/questions have been deleted so as not to give power to sexist, judgmental, and dogmatic behavior]

Wow.

I was hurt… I was being triggered. I felt like my relationship was being questioned by people who don’t even know me nor my partner. And I was being bullied for no reason at all.

I am not the first woman to experience sexist attacks on the internet and/or social networks. One thing about social networking platforms that allow for anonymous or semi-anonymous posting/reactions….and some people use these spaces for more harm than good.

from The WareHouse (@carolinaware):

We all type things that others may not want to see sometimes. It happens. Now you DO HAVE THE OPTION NOT TO HAVE IT STREAM to your Twitter/Facebook and not to answer all the questions. The only problem with the latter is that you have some people who LOVE TO START SHIT and will be asking questions they shouldn’t. You don’t answer and ignore it, then they step from behind the shadows..Now if they had to ask you behind the mask, then they probably shouldn’t have been asking anyway and….well…you get the picture right?

This all very true indeed. But I still believe that this issue is complicated by gender. What learned from my own experiences and observation of the way Formspring works is that women are more likely to be asked rude and/or offensive questions than men are. In fact, one of my male followers made the point that most men would never have to to deal with the kind of questions and implications that I or other women (cis or trans) would have to deal with in online spaces.

Too often we are told that the internet is a playground for boys and a dangerous place for girls…but as long as we have d-bags who are using the internet in sexist, racist, and/or misogynistic and transmisogynistic ways, I worry that we still have a ways to go before the telling of this story changes.

So what do you all think? Does the anonymity of the internet allow more room for sexism and other forms of oppression? What can be done to change this?

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The Sotomayor Hearings and White Male Condescension

Picture Courtesy of the New York Times

Picture Courtesy of the New York Times

By the way: For those of you who missed the hearings or just want to see a good rundown of who’s who in all of this: Check out Adam Serwer’s post over at the American Prospect.

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I really did watch all 4 days of the Sotomayor hearings.  I didn’t watch so much to hear what the Republicans were going to say. I was pretty sure that they were going to harp on her speeches and the “wise latina” comment in particular, and do some failed race-baiting. I really did it to hear Sonia Sotomayor speak, and to watch her play hardball in the face of all of that racist and sexist adversity.

But what I wasn’t counting on was how offensive the tone of Republican’s questioning was going to be. I was more offended by the condescending and bullying tone peole like Tom Coburn used than the words themselves. They spoke to Sotomayor for 4 days as if she was a 12 year old on the street. Jessica Faye Carter talks more about this in her column at True Slant:

There’s another way to describe how certain Committee members have spoken to Judge Sotomayor: microaggressively.

The term “racial microaggressions” was originally coined in 1970 by Dr. Chester Pierce, a psychiatrist, to describe the (sometimes unconscious) mistreatment and humiliation of Blacks by Whites. But the definition has evolved over time to include behavior exhibited towards women and all people of color.  According to Dr. Derald Wing Sue of Columbia University, microaggresions are subtle behaviors that communicate slights, hostility, insults, or disrespect toward a specific person or group. In other words, they are put-downs that don’t really seem like put-downs—making them all the more challenging to identify and address.

Microaggressions generally fall into three categories: microassaults, an overtly racist act or communication, microinsults, which are demeaning or insensitive behaviors, and microinvalidations, or the negation and invalidation of a person’s life experiences.  The more subtle microaggressions were not only present in Judge Sotomayor’s hearing, but seem to have gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream media.

Still don’t believe me or Jessica? Look at this example:

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seemed unconvinced that Judge Sotomayor, a sitting appellate judge, understood specific legal doctrines. So he questioned her on them, praising her when she answered correctly—as if he were her instructor—and consistently interrupting her as she attempted to respond:

SEN. GRAHAM: When Judge Rehnquist says he was a strict constructionist, did you know what eh (sic/he) was talking about?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I think I understood what he was referencing, but his use is not how I go about looking at –

SEN. GRAHAM: What does strict constructionism mean to you?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: Well, it means that you look at the Constitution as its written or statutes as they are written and you apply them exactly by the words.

SEN. GRAHAM: Right. Would you be an originalist?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: Again, I don’t use labels. And — because –

SEN. GRAHAM: What is an originalist?

via Transcript – Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings, Day 2 – Text – NYTimes.com.

It is wholly appropriate for Mr. Graham to ask Judge Sotomayor what a specific legal term means to her, or whether she considers herself to fit into a certain legal category. But the questions testing her legal knowledge are a microinsult.

This is just another example of sexist and racist overtones to the treatment of Sotomayor at the hearings and in the press.  Moreover, they went back to Sotomayor’s background, saying that it would influence decisions she’d make as a Supreme Court Justice.  Right, as if their white male backgrounds wouldn’t. Perhaps if I got the feeling that the Republicans not supporting Sotomayor held themselves to the same standard, I wouldn’t be so bothered by this particular concern, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they do not.

Let’s face it, most of the white people–mostly males–who are coming forward as being so strongly against Sotomayor’s confirmation are doing so because they are deathly afraid of  smart woman of color who has truly gotten to where she is on her own merit and ability. They are afraid of the idea that she may very well do a better job than a white male and could quite possibly be smarter than them.

With that said, I am so very proud of Sonia Sotomayor and the intelligence, grace, and humility she showed during the course of this 4-day hearing. She makes me so proud to be a woman of color at this particular moment in our nation’s history. That wise Latina really knows how to shake them haters off.

Club Etiquette: How NOT to Act

Most people who know me at this point in my life also know that I don’t go to the club very often. Even though I’m an extreme extrovert who loves to dance, I tend to shy away from a club atmosphere–especially during the week during the happy hour circuit.

However, as the weather gets warmer and my urge to break out the strappy heels and tubetops gets greater, I will from time to time venture out with my girls. Now normally I can go to the club without incident, but recently I’ve seen people–particularly Black men–engage in some very ridiculous behavior. So, I thought I’d help the brothas out and provide of list of what NOT to do at the club.(1)

This is a continuation of a list of rules I had talked about on Twitter a few nights ago after returning from an interesting night at my least favorite place, The Park at Fourteenth here in Washington, DC. (Washingtonians, don’t judge me–I went as a favor to my soror. Besides, she makes everything fun. And overall, I guess I can say I had a good time). At the request of a few of my readers, I’ve decided to turn my tweets into a real blog post. Wanna hear it? Heah go:

1.-Do not hover over a girl and her friends. You won’t believe the number of times I’ve been somewhere and a man simply hovers. Literally. He sits there with his jack and coke while my girls and I are sitting down at the lounge or wherever and just looks at us. Not a good look, fellas. If you want to talk to me, then talk to me. Don’t be a punk.

2.-Do not make known your silly assumptions based on how a girl and/or her friends look. For instance: If we say that we are members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the appropriate response is NOT “Oh, I didn’t picture y’all as Zetas.” The same goes for if a woman says she’s a hill staffer, an engineer, a social media strategist, an MBA–that type of response is surely not a compliment.

3.-Do not act overly impressed if I use an SAT word. It only makes you look dumb. Again, this type of response is not a compliment.

4.- For those of you without a wingman: if you are talking to a girl, and her friend is close by, do not accuse her friend of being nosy. She is not being nosy, she is being a friend. If it bothers you, step your game up and get a wingman.

5.-DO compliment a woman on her overall look and style. I like when a man says he likes my hair, especially when I just got it done.

6.-DON’T Compliment a woman on her body in a suggestive or sexual way. “you got nice lips” is NOT the same as “wow, you’re pretty” or “you have a great smile.” I have nothing esle to say on this.

7. Don’t follow me around in the club. I do not come to the club to acquire a “club boyfriend” for the night. Just because you buy me a drink, chat me up, and/or look halfway decent doesn’t mean you can stay attached to my hip all night. Stop the foolishness.

8.-Don’t grab my ass in the club. Or any other part of my body. I shouldn’t even have to tell you this. I know that if I wear skinny jeans to a club or a lounge, men will look. I realize this. But please. Unless we are dating, then there is no safe space for that kind of touching. This is not an R. Kelly song.

(1) I realize that this list doesn’t have any rule pertaining to women…that’s simply because I had a hard time thinking of any. So if you do, feel free to comment 🙂

A few Words on Chris and Rihanna

Cross Posted at Change.org

Most of you have heard about the Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic violence issue. There are several sides to this story, but I will say that violence against women is a serious issue and it is an issue that needs to be addressed in our communities.

Two members of Females United for Action – 15 year old Alex Pates & 17 year old Ace Hilliard – wrote about the Chris Brown / Rihanna case.  The group is hoping that the article will be used  for discussions around intimate partner violence and how the media frames the issue.

I am so glad that these two young women are speaking out about this issue. My hope is that this story will begin an honest dialogue about domestic violence among men and women, boys and girls, gay and straight.

This is not an easy discussion nor is it an easy topic for me to write about. The thing that really bothers me about the way the media handles the Chris-Rihanna case is that it perpetuated a culture of blame when it comes to domestic violence coverage. What did Rihanna possibly do? Bloggers and reporters started to ask. Maybe she dressed too sexy. Maybe she threw his keys out the car. OMG, she gave him herpes! 

All of a sudden, the blame game began. The media–particularly entertainment media and the gossip bloggers who benefit from it–were blaming Rihanna for what had taken place. Nevermind the fact that Rihanna was in pain, mentally and physically–it was her fault right out the gate. 

Many rape and domestic violence cases go unreported because no survivor, regardless of their sex, gender, race, or sexual preference, wants to be blamed for the abuse they have experienced. No one wants to be told that perhaps they “deserved” their abuse, and no one wants to go to court only to see their absuer let off the hook. 

We need to break out of the habit of blaming the survivor for their abuse. I will acknowledge that there are several sides to cases like Chris and Rihanna but I also we must realize that a honest dialogue means having compassion and sensitivity for our friends, loved ones, sorority sisters, neighbors, and coworkers who have survived any form of abuse. An honest dialogue means being careful what we say around our children–that if we continue to be insensitive and forwarding around pictures of Rihanna’s bruised face, we are only setting a dangerous precedent for them.

Dov Charney, sit your ass down.

absolute foolishness.

Dov Charney–for those of you who have been living under a rock–is the CEO of American Apparel, a California-based fashion line. Dov is no stranger to controversy. However, the quote in the above ad,  taken from an interview with  McGill University student, is inexcusable:

Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence, maybe one is involving a man.  And this has made a victim of culture out of women.”

OH REALLY?

So what you’re telling me is, my friends, relatives, and countless other women who have experienced domestic violence did so because they somehow “deserved it?”

It’s been said that this is most likely a fake ad, but the actual quote is very real; it was taken from a  2004 interview with the American Apparel CEO.  And the quote itself is what angers me the most.  His statistic is not only untrue, but it discounts the stories of women all over the world who have been beaten, raped, and yes, killed by the men who claimed to love them.

I showed this quote to a male friend of mine. His response? “Tell Dov Charney about Nova Henry.”

From United Press International:

A woman found slain in a Chicago townhouse, identified as the mother of NBA player Eddy Curry’s son, was trying to escape an abusive boyfriend, her family says.

 

Nova Henry, 24, and her 9-month-old daughter Ava were found shot to death Saturday by Henry’s mother, Yolan Henry, who told Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune her daughter had just moved to the South Loop condominium to escape an ex-boyfriend against whom Nova Henry had taken out an order of protection.  Read the rest of the article here

Clearly, this is in’t the only example of a woman who tried to escape an abusive boyfriend or spouse. But if tangible examples aren’t enough, you’ve gotta use raw facts and data:

1 in 4: The number of women raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime. (for men: 7.6 out of 100)

1.3 Million: The number of women physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. (for men: 835,000)

20: The percentage of nonfatal violence against women committed by an intimate partner. (for men: 3)

33: The percentage of female murder victims who were killed by an intimate. (for male murder victims: 4%)

1,247: The number of women killed by an intimate partner in 2000. (for men: 440)

There is plenty of statistics to debunk Dov’s bullshit, and if I were to lay them all out in this post, we’d be here all day. But one thing is clear: Dov Charney, aside from being a completely asshole, cares nothing about the lives of women, and what is sadder, may not even care to know.

From Womanist Musings:

Charney is using his position as a male of privilege to reinforce this destructive message.   There has been ample evidence of his hatred of women and the only question that remains is what we are going to do about it.   Obviously we cannot hope to change his mind, such misogynists  men rarely come to an understanding of the ways in which their behaviour is not only reductive but dangerous.  If he cannot be taught to respect women, he can still be brought to heel by a boycott of his stores.  What human decency he did not learn in socialization can be force fed through economic sanctions.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The best thing to do now is to boycott American Apparel. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of the brand nor the sleezy soft-core ad campaign. But I think we can take it one step further with a boycott and start to let our younger sisters know about this foolishness. American Apparel is, after all, a fashion line that is marketed to Generation Y and older teens as well.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, go here for information on resources, support, and other services.

H/T: Womanist Musings

Black Woman Walking: A Documentary

I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I feel like the director is under the impression that only non-white men/Black men do this….then I went to her website and I wasn’t sure what to think…the cover of her book shows a black woman with a white man. What does that tell us?

Does that tell us that we should stick to dating white men and everything will be all right?

Does that tell us that white men are the only men with sense?

My younger sister was dating a white boy at her school. My mother told her she doesn’t trust white men, and then my sister replied, “well I don’t trust any guys. Any man of any race can be a jerk, mom.”

I tend to agree.

In any case: Like the documentary, not sure if I agree with all her sentiment.

What do YOU think?