"Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." – Donna Haraway

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Why I Can’t Fist Pump with Meryl and J-Lo

Women in the audience reacting very enthusiastically

Reactions to Arquette’s Acceptance Speech

You know what they say about the road to hell…

In this case, the intentions under scrutiny are those of Patricia Arquette calling for wage equality at last night’s Academy Awards.

Many have identified Arquette’s backstage remarks as the moment that they noticed a problem with her message. The privileging of white womanhood was certainly very explicit backstage. But to be honest, she lost me when she was still on stage. When she said, “We..have…fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” She read that from something she penned in advance.

Cut to me in my living room: *face-palm* I was immediately reminded of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag and the critiques of racism within white feminism. As implicitly biased as Arquette’s onstage remarks might have been, that piece of paper she held in front of her is a problem for me. For that paper implies contemplation and composition. And in all of that contemplating and composing, she does not seem to have questioned what she meant when she said the word “We.”

Yes, wage equality is a critical issue. But it is clear from her remarks both onstage and backstage (included below for those who did not see them) that Arquette’s “we” is white women. You pretty much have to not be paying attention to not realize that the wage gap is even more egregious for women of color. And from your position of relative privilege, it shows an extreme disconnect from the reality if you are willing to ask that people of color prioritize gender over race, and that LGBTQ folks privilege gender over sexuality, in the fight for equality. That is not a sacrifice that you get to ask for. Ideally we are fighting on all fronts, but in reality, that is not always the case. And you don’t get to demand this.

There are those who say that Arquette should not be “torn down” for her remarks. Or that people are overreacting.The truth is, she had a pretty big megaphone last night and she got it wrong. So yes, we can recognize her intentions, but we get nowhere without willing to be thoughtful about why good intentions don’t lead to equality for all.

Brittney Cooper’s response in the following tweets has started people posting to the #askawhitefeminist hashtag

I started a Storify of tweets and posts inspired by Cooper’s hashtag and also connected to Mikki Kendall’s hashtag #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen that started back in 2013. As time allows, I may get over to Storify to update with new material, but I can’t promise.

So here’s what I found so far:

Bummer. After a good 30 minutes of fighting with it, I’ve learned that non-VIP users of WordPress.com can no longer embed Storify into their posts. Here’s a link instead: https://storify.com/purplekimchi/askawhitefeminist-responses-to-patricia-arquette

**Edited to Add the text of Arquette’s backstage remarks:

“It’s time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t. One of those superior court justices said two years ago in a law speech at a university that we don’t have equal rights for women in America and we don’t because when they wrote Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women. So the truth is even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America right under the surface there are huge issues at play that really do affect women. It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.

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Upcoming Panel on Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures at #NWSA2014:

I am very excited to be presenting at the National Women’s Studies Association Meeting, Nov 13 – 16, 2014. Below you can find our panel description and abstracts of our individual talks.

Conference Theme: Feminist Transgressions Subtheme: Technologizing futures

Panel Title: Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures

Keywords: Intersectionality, Technology, New Media

Science fiction and other speculative genres engage technological imaginaries to problematize social ills and elaborate possibilities for change. Historically associated with men ─ dominated by white cis male authors and related to so-called “masculine” subjects of science and technology ─ science fiction has been troubled with colonial, sexist, and transphobic content. However,  feminist, queer, third world women, and women of color authors and artists also mobilize the conventions of the genre for critique, activism, and imagining new worlds. This panel brings together early career academics working in diverse areas of critical media and technology studies as scholars, activists, and makers. The panelists offer intersectional, queer, and transfeminist readings of literary and new media texts that emphasize their relevance to contemporary political and social issues including gender and sexual identity, neocolonial police states, reproductive rights, and others. The panel explicitly addresses the conference theme of “Feminist Trangression” by analyzing disruptive feminisms in literature, new media, and real-world activism. These texts subvert generic conventions to perform transformative critical interventions. Offering a multi-layered approach to “Technologizing Futures,” this panel examines media and genre as technologies themselves that are often used to enable but also sometimes fight against white cisgender heteronormative futurity. It explores material technologies ─ including both existing technologies/platforms (Youtube, Twitter, music videos, and video games) and imagined future technologies (robotics, androids, and clones) ─ that offer critiques of how feminist technologies can subvert and disrupt hegemonic futures. (more…)

Tangible Harm? This is so Much Bigger Than One Tweet About Quvenzhané Wallis

I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes when I heard that Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Oscars. I don’t “get” Family Guy. Not even the Star Wars episodes. When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did an amazing job at the Golden Globes, the prospect of MacFarlane hosting the Oscars seemed like an even worse choice. Rather than watch alone, my partner and I made a few dishes named after cheesy movie title puns and had a few friends over. As a result, I pretty much stayed offline much of Sunday. MacFarlane was predictably awful, but watching was made better by doing so with friends.

I signed on to Twitter this morning and it turns out that MacFarlane wasn’t the worst thing about the Oscars this year. Instead, the worst thing has been the media’s treatment of Quvenzhané Wallis. Where to begin?

Well, this rundown of the situation by Arturo García at Racialicious is a pretty good background primer.

As others have pointed out, white child actresses have never been subjected to this kind of treatment. The tweet from The Onion was reprehensible. After the apology, as people continued to discuss the incident, the following appeared in my tweet stream:

apology-tweet

(more…)

“Get in My Vagina! Language and Power in Online Comedy Videos” posted at In Media Res

I thought I’d take a moment to draw your attention to a recent post I wrote for In Media Res. On their “About” page, IMR describes themselves as “dedicated to experimenting with collaborative, multi-modal forms of online scholarship. Our goal is to promote an online dialogue amongst scholars and the public about contemporary approaches to studying media. In Media Res provides a forum for more immediate critical engagement with media at a pace closer to how we experience mediated texts.”

The structure of the site is that they put out a call for participation for “theme weeks.” Proposals are reviewed and if you are accepted, you submit an image, series of images, or video along with a brief Curator’s statement. One post is published per day during the theme week. The Curators, other scholars, and the public are invited to engage in dialogue around the week’s posts.

This is the second time that I have participated in an In Media Res theme week. The first time, a group of Fashioning Circuits graduate students and I curated a piece called “The Multiply Mediated Voice of the America’s Next Top Model All Star,” that addressed the use of social media to construct “authentic” participant personae on the show. This time the theme week was “Women’s Health is a Joke.” My piece, “Get in My Vagina! Language and Power in Online Comedy Videos” addresses the ways that certain comedy videos use the word “vagina,” taking into account our social context in which biological language to describe women’s bodies is deemed improper.

(more…)

Flyover Feminism is Looking for Ideas and Editors

Flyover Feminism.

Flyover Feminism attempts to give voice to feminists who are traditionally marginalized, due to geography or other factors. This is one of those cases in which emerging media can be a powerful organizing force.

Check them out and submit ideas for posts!

Re-blog: What We’re Really Talking About When We Talk About Hillary Clinton Without Makeup

What We’re Really Talking About When We Talk About Hillary Clinton Without Makeup.

Much of what Erin Gloria Ryan has to say about the attacks on the appearance of a woman is similar to my discomfort with the reactions to the Alexandra Wallace “Asians in the Library” video, which I blogged about here.

RE-blog: Bollywood Primetime: Can One Big Dance Number Smash Racism? | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

Bollywood Primetime: Can One Big Dance Number Smash Racism? | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.

I don’t watch Smash, but I found Sayatani DasGupta’s post on Racialicious really interesting nonetheless.

She reflects on depictions of Indian culture in U.S. mainstream media and the influence of Bollywood on Western perceptions of India. Through multiple missteps, the makers of Smash flubbed an opportunity to portray Indian culture in a nuanced way.

It’s a really smart piece.

re-blog: The Digital (Gender) Divide: Women Are More Likely Than Men to Have a Blog (and a Facebook Profile) – Megan Garber – Technology – The Atlantic

The Digital (Gender) Divide: Women Are More Likely Than Men to Have a Blog (and a Facebook Profile) – Megan Garber – Technology – The Atlantic.

Megan Garber relates Nielsen findings that suggest women spend more time online than men.

Is there a silver lining to brogrammer culture?

If you are unfamiliar with the term brogrammer, read Tasneem Raja’s piece at Mother Jones. Actually, read it even if you already know all about them: “Gangbang Interviews” and “Bikini Shots”: Silicon Valley’s Brogrammer Problem | Mother Jones.

Raja’s overview of the “brogrammer,” anchored in a critique of Matt Van Horn’s SXSW talk, provides some insight into the recent rise of this term.

I’m happy to say that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a “brogrammer” in the wild. When I raised the term with my students, they seemed to ridicule and reject the idea without missing a beat. Nonetheless the term makes me uneasy. It seems that start-up or programming spaces that embrace this ethos are regressing into what Raja rightly terms “testosterone-fueled boneheadedness.” Raja frames the brogramming trend as perhaps something that hapless men without Human Resources guidance fumble into. That seems to be letting them off the hook too easily.

I would perhaps push Raja’s suggestion further and argue that the intent to foster and propagate brogrammer culture is hostile to women.  Not only is it demeaning to the women who are objectified by brogrammer tactics, it is alienating to the women who may need to share these spaces. It is hard to believe that any of these “brogrammers” could be completely clueless about the impacts of their behavior.

I suspect that the extreme hypermasculinity of the “brogrammer” is relatively scarce when they are considered as part of larger programming populations. However, the inanity and problematic gender politics of the brogrammer may also help focus attention on the often more subtle ways in which women are made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in male-dominated spaces. Raja outlines a few statistics on the issue of female programmers and the number of women heading up start ups, all of which she uses to suggest that the imbalance of women in programming and start ups is a larger problem than the brogrammer.

So while the brogrammer is a shudder-inducing term, the very thought of which makes me grind my teeth, his presence may have the potential to open up wider conversations about gender in tech spaces that tend to be male-dominated. And that is a conversation worth having. (more…)

Ken Jeong Photobombs Kate Upton’s GQ Photoshoot

I originally blogged this over at Fashioning Circuits, but I think it also fits here:

 

As a result of this project, I have been thinking a lot about fashion magazines, including men’s magazines. So when someone on Facebook shared this video, it immediately caught my eye. It is a GQ.com post about Ken Jeong photobombing Kate Upton. Before I’ve even had my morning coffee, I find myself contemplating raced and aged bodies, the artificiality of photoshoots, and all sorts of other things.

http://www.gq.com/video/videos/ken-jeong-kate-upton-photobomb-video

Jeong is clearly leading us on, asking us to believe that he was not invited. In fact, the multiple takes of his jump into the pool, wearing different shorts each time, suggest that the folks at GQ are having a laugh.

But what is it about the video that makes it funny? Pulling from Naomi Woolf’s The Beauty Myth, the main source of yuks is that Jeong is intruding into the creation of beauty pornography, causing a humorous disjunction. He is not supposed to be there. But why does his intrusion cause laughs rather than ramping up the sexual tension? For instance, even when Jeong is in bed with the couple, the viewer is never led to believe that this could turn into a menage à trois. If you think I am making too much of it, consider how the screen capture below would be different if it were the male model posing as Jeong does

Image of Jeong with Upton

Ken Jeong Photobombs Kate Upton

There are two factors that account for the humor in the video. The first, and less insidious of the two, is that he calls our attention to the absurdity of this type of image. Note the moment at around 01:00 when Jeong playfully bites his own bra strap. It looks ridiculous on him, but it is not at all inconceivable that we might see a shot of a woman doing this in any number of men’s or fashion magazines (commentary about a woman consuming the accoutrements of her own sexuality will have to be saved for another post). (more…)

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