I recently read an article on the infamous feminism site “Jezebel” about how feminism is the latest “in” fashion accessory. It talked about how after years of women ardently denying that they were even remotely feminist in nature, there has been an upswing in celebrity feminist. The concern is that anything in style can then quickly go out of style.
The question becomes, what does it mean, in 2014, to be a feminist, or a civil rights activists. when so many are quick to claim that there is no problem out there, is that a good thing? Or does it make the fight that much more of an uphill battle? I actually got into an argument with a girl after I had expressed my outrage about the Trayvon Martin tragedy about this. She honestly thought that sexism and racism do not exist, and that it is all just an excuse that lazy people use for not being as successful as others. How she explains the gender wage disparities or the obvious racial profiling of said Martin case, I could not begin to tell you. The level of ignorance is everywhere.
I used to freak out when anyone called a woman a bitch. I still don’t agree with a man saying, “Look at that bitch over there” or even, “Yeah, I love my bitch” a la Biggie. I have learned that other women do commonly refer to each other as a bitch as a term of endearment. Is this sort of like black people using the “n” word as apprised to white people using it?
And when Miley Cyrus tweaks on the VMAs is it more of an insult to blacks or to women? I personally can’t stand Ms. Cyrus. This stems more from her pretending that she is “ratchet” when she is far from it. It leads me back a few years to when she released “Party in the U.S.A.”. There is a line in the song, “And the Jay-Z song is on” an interviewer asked her which Jay-Z song she was talking about. She responded that she did not write the song and was not familiar with a single Jay-Z song. But now she is ratchet, working with rappers, and being produced by Mike Will Made-It? Ok. That being said, I do see the blatent sexism in the fact that she got slammed and slut-shamed for the notorious VMA performance while a married Robin Thicke gets an automatic pass? This is basically the definition of a double standard. That act was rehearsed multiple times and was purportedly far raunchier before it aired. Thicke was hardly an innocent bystander, but the man gets a pass always. It is the same as saying that Lil Kim is a slut for talking about the same things that her mentor, Notorious B.I.G. did. But she opened up a lot of doors, there would be no Nicki Minaj if not for Lil Kim and Foxy Brown.
Of course, sexism is not the only problem in the world. If the George Zimmerman abomination taught the world anything, it is how rampant racism is. There is simply no way that you can say that Zimmerman would have done the same thing had it been a preppy white boy armed with the same Arizona iced tea.
After the verdict was handed down, I read an interview with my favorite rapper Jay-Z, who (along with his wife Beyoncé) was a strong supporter of Martin and his family throughout the entire ordeal. He stated that he felt that in this day in age classism is a much bigger problem than racism. I tend to somewhat agree with him. If you a rich enough woman, you can join the boys club. A black man can buy his way into the all white country club. Being poor does seem to be far bigger crime, than being a minority.
In school recently my second grade daughter did a written report about a president. She picked (under my guidance) Bill Clinton. For February, they did another report on a black person that made an impact on the world. She picked Nelson Mandela. I am thrilled that they are doing reports on these people, but when asked, I was told that they wI’ll not be doing a similar report on a famous historical woman for March (Women’s History Month). What kind of message does that send to our little girls? I was told that for a day -one day- they go around to different classes learning about famous women. This is in stark contrast to the other two units where each child researched a different person and then presented to the class. What women aren’t important enough to study in depth?
In way this goes back to classism. We have not yet had a woman president (come on Hillary), we don’t have a high number of female CEOs. The WNBA is no where near as popular as the NBA, and they are far better than my beloved football. There is no Pro football league for woman. There is the sort of minor league lingerie football league. What kind of message is this? Football is too rough and manly of a sport, so if a woman wants to play it, she has to degrade herself by playing in her underwear? I guess hard-hitting female linebackers would be too scary, deviating too far from the predetermined archetypes that have been constructed for women. Men are not turned on by a woman who can kick his ass, but her in lingerie, and hopefully they will forget her physical strength. I really don’t see how anyone, male or female can even try to deny the undeniable, blatant hypocrisy of the fact that NFL stars can be as ugly, overweight, or pock-marked as they want with no sense of urgency to change their appearance, while in order for women to participate in an even a slightly professional version of football, they have to be stunningly beautiful. Cellulite free with washboard abs, and supermodel cheekbones forced to literally be stripped down to their barest form of clothing, their underwear. Over sexualization of women participating in such a barbaric, admittedly macho sport helps to down play their strength. They are a lot less intimidating to the male ego if they can serve as an un-atainable, pin-up fantasy.
Hopefully the mere fact that Barack Obama won -twice!- the presidential election and that Hillary Clinton came pretty damn close, is a sign of progress. Unfortunately, Obama has to take all sorts of preposterous criticisms. Be it his middle name, he is a terrorist, or just an extremely critical eye at everything that he does. But at the end of the day, he won. Literally. Jay-Z cam up from Marcy Projects to being CEO of Def Jam, and now RocNation. Hillary Clinton was able to get out from under the shadow of Bill, and carve out her own impressive career. Senator, Secretary of State, and possibly future president. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a huge need for people to fight for their, as well as other’s, rights. Until the conversation does not need to happen, we are not close to winning the fight.