Breaking news! A white boy complains about the coloured kids hanging out together!

7 04 2009

I rarely read the Tufts Daily, but as I was waiting for my friend in Dewick, my curiosity got the better of me. Unfortunately, I was reminded why I don’t like reading the Daily. Well, maybe just the columns.

Will Ehrenfeld has a column called “Stuff Tufts People Like,” which I am sure is a rip off of that “Stuff White People Like” website that was actually funny. This particular piece was not. It was titled “Cliques.” It seems harmless enough, but it actually turned into an attack on the culture centers, but not ALL of them. Just the Group of Six, which includes the Women’s Center, LGBT Center, Africana Center, International Center, Latino Center, and Asian American Center.  I knew I was going to hate this article as soon as he mentioned his “curiosity” at the signs that International students or coloured students may get on their doors freshman year.

Then he says “Tufts people love belonging to a minority group or, at the very least, a group that at one point has been discriminated against. I’m going to call this a thirst for victimhood.” I added the bold myself. I honestly could NOT believe he said this! First of all, it is not like people who are in marginalized groups CHOOSE to be discriminated against. I’m pretty sure most of us would enjoy to not have to be automatically disadvantaged in so many aspects of life because of our gender, sexual orientation, race, or country of origin. I think it’s very wrong and OFFENSIVE for him to just assume because people who participate in activities at a culture house that they may identify with just want to just BATHE in their victimhood, loving every minute of it.

He then admits that he is a privileged white male himself and “tried pretty hard to find a maligned group that [he] could be a part of, but [he’s] a straight white male from Connecticut, [doesn’t] identify with any religious sect, nor [does he] have particularly outrageous political views.” OK, fine. Great. This isn’t helping his point at all. It just shows how he is in a position to NOT be able to understand what it’s like to be in a marginalized group and recognize the necessity, or even just the benefit of these houses. I’m sorry that your personal thirst for victimhood wasn’t quenched because you’re not a part of a group that’s been oppressed.

Will also seems to be selecting which groups he is picking on. Yes, all those centers exist, but there are also other houses dedicated to a particular culture. For example, Tufts has a German House as well as a Hillel; there are countless (well it feels like it!) culture clubs that are mostly comprised of those who identify with that culture. Why does he choose to ignore these? Tufts obviously is supporting the other culture clubs and houses. The lack of acknowledgment of other efforts that Tufts makes the column more frustrating and infuriating.  I think he has this all wrong.

Perhaps he spends too much time with his white friends and looking at other students, wondering why HE doesn’t have “different” friends. What he writes makes it seem like he thinks that people of different backgrounds do not interact. He says,

The interesting thing isn’t wanting to belong to a group of similar peers; psychologically and sociologically, it makes sense for a minority individual to seek out other minority group members within a larger group with whom they can identify. My concern is the self-segregation of these cliques, where groups typically don’t mix and “outsiders” aren’t welcome. We can have diversity, but it’s meaningless without social interaction.

I know from my personal experience that as a minority that it is practically IMPOSSIBLE to not socially interact with someone outside of your race/gender/orientation. WE HAVE SOCIAL INTERACTION. I think one part of white privilege is that you CAN more easily spend most of your time with people of your own colour and you don’t have to worry about others looking at you and point and exclaim “self-segregation!” Perhaps we go to schools with the same name, but the Tufts I experience is one where people of all backgrounds and identities interact and befriend each other.

Will tries to and fails at justifying why he thinks what he is saying is true.

I’m not talking about affirmative action or anything to do with admissions — it’s the orientation process and the Dean of Students’ Office’s explicit focus on encouraging cliques that concerns me.

I don’t think that having centers available automatically causes cliques. Also, I have heard of many people in OTHER orientations (Wilderness, the volunteer one) complain that it can be “cliquey.” Having the centers will not FORCE anyone to form a “clique.”  I applaud the Dean of Student’s Office recognizing the needs for these places. Will’s experience of going to two events (one held by the LGBT center and another sponsored by the Africana Center) is FAR from enough for him to even have an educated opinion as to why these centers are apparently unnecessary and creating “cliques.” Nothing is being pushed and no one is promoting self-segregation. It’s just really easy to look at a group of minorities together and accuse them of being self-segregating.

Also I think it is important to stress that it can be important for some people who are minorities to have a safe space where they can feel comfortable. I also know that they DO welcome people that may not have the same identity and love it when they do come and participate in the events.  Also, I think Will was struggling to think of something to say for his column, however I think a not-so-great side of him came out when he claimed that people who identify with a marginalized group just LOVE to play the victim.

He writes a disclaimer in the comments of the online version of his article. He seems to be missing the point. There is meaningful interaction amongst the students. This issue has been brought up many times before by many white people who don’t understand the necessity of these centers and groups. I think he is held back by his own assumptions and prejudices. The events ARE opened up, but people often think that they are not welcomed because it’s hosted by a particular group. He’s not bringing anything new to the table.

This column was not done correctly. I think using the words “victimhood” and implying that people who are Black, Asian, Female, LGBTQIA, Independent automatically go into “cliques” just riles people up. It makes me doubt how legitimate his argument may be because of his word choice and how he articulated his thoughts. Also, he wrote like every asian will be friends with each other in this clique and NO OUTSIDERS ALLOWED! His point of view is very otherizing and he just. doesn’t. get it.

Anyway, I’m going to close this out with a message to Will Ehrenfeld: Your male, white privilege is showing. I highly recommend reading this, titled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Maybe it’ll open your eyes.

You are welcome to disagree, but if you are rude, I will DELETE

7 04 2009

A recent post on Feministing called “Feminism Online, Feminism Offline” basically laid out all the reasons why blogging is so friggin exhausting!  I do not believe in censoring free speech, but this IS a feminist blog, and as of now, we are going to have to impose a few rules about comments.  Here are the types of comments that bother me most:

  1. My number one dislike are comments that are rude, mean, and downright disrespectful, but somewhere deep down have some valid points.  If you disagree with our posts, please say so respectfully.  You have the right to your opinion, but you have no right to attack the blog’s authors.  From now on, if your post is rude, I will delete it.  And that would be a pity if your comment actually could have contributed something valuable to the discussion.  So be careful how you word things, please.
  2. Rude and stuck-up self-proclaimed “feminists” who attack our opinions, use words like “Feminazi,” and suggest that our chosen topics are irrelevant or ridiculous are my number two pet-peeve.  You are welcome to continue to call yourselves “feminists” while spreading hate and attacking our opinions, but DO NOT DO SO ON THIS BLOG.
  3. Trolls, obviously, are not welcome here.  Offensive comments that are posted purposely to derail the conversation and upset people will also be deleted.  These comments create a hostile environment for our readers and for us.
  4. Advertisements.  Will.  Be.  Deleted.  Don’t use this blog to advertise your crap.  I don’t care if your comment is fan-diddly-tastic.  I will not post your comment, and I will not buy your penis-enlarger.
  5. This isn’t really something I hate, but it’s something that I think I need to make clear to readers of the blog.  It is really difficult for us when commenters expect us to continue debates indefinitely on circular topics and to respond to comments almost immediately.  Really, we do enjoy interacting with the readers, but we are also college students and may not have the time to answer all of your comments.  Please don’t think that we are rude if we don’t respond.  We really do appreciate your comments, but sometimes, we really just don’t have time to respond or simply don’t think that the debate will be constructive.  We try our best to answer comments that ask for our input, but don’t place ridiculous demands on us to answer every comment.  Thanks.

As Jessica’s Feministing post states:

The vast majority of our commenters and community members are incredible, but it can be really difficult and frustrating to continually get comments criticizing what we choose to write on, personally attacking us or our feminist and political cred, or just folks being plain jerkie/sexist/racist/transphobic/fat-hating.

I completely agree with Jessica.  I really appreciate when people disagree with us on the blog.  Most of our readers have been great with debating respectfully and even correcting errors that we may have made in our posts.  So many of our readers have provided great opinions in their comments and have really been constructive in debating.  But please, disagree respectfully.  We are people, too.  Don’t abuse us.  This also goes for your fellow commenters.  We love when you debate;  we hate when you insult each other.  Nobody wants to be afraid to post on a blog because their opinions may be attacked.  

I want to let you know that we won’t delete any posts that we have already approved, but from now on we are going to be a little stricter about our approval policy.  Consider yourselves warned, and adjust your commenting styles accordingly.

As Jessica wrote:

Doing online feminism, I feel like it’s easy to get caught up in threads and user names and forget that there are people behind those computer screens – whether you’re talking about bloggers or commenters. So I guess I’m just wondering how we can take the humanizing interaction of real life activism to create better communities online: feminist communities that support each other; comments sections that are critical and contain progressive debate, but that do so without attacks and with accessibility; blogs that are informed by offline activism and visa versa.

I think…no scratch that…I know we can make this blog a great place to respectfully discuss feminism and activism.  So, readers, please watch the way you comment, and help us make this blog a better place for all of us to constructively share our opinions.

What’s the big deal? It’s just a joke!

7 04 2009

There is the good old stereotype that we feminists hate jokes and that we’re no fun.   If we object to a misogynist, sexist, racist, homophobic joke then we are written off as being humorless and too serious (Gosh, I’m just joking, can’t you just take a joke?).  For example, misogynist jokes like “Want to hear a joke? Women’s rights, bitches!” (a joke that was told to a large audience earlier this year during a freshman pre-orientation ceremony of sorts) and rape jokes are not funny, ever.  Offensive remarks that reproduce and maintain dominant patriarchal narratives often masquerade (and get away with it innocently and successfully) as mere funny jokes.

Humor is a very effective and ubiquitous tool in normalizing and perpetuating patriarchal oppression.  Because it is a “joke” we are just supposed to laugh it off.  Humor is used as a way to shame and silence people so that they fail to question or challenge the underlying meanings embedded in the oh-so-innocent joke.  Questioning or objecting to an offensive joke makes people think that you’re overly sensitive, weak, too serious, not fun and most people don’t want to be written off as the overly serious, stuck up person who can’t take a joke.  (I’m just joking, geez!; Why are you getting so upset? It’s just a joke!)

It’s important to call people out on offensive jokes because they are not funny, and pointing out that they are not funny does not mean that we are not funny.  It means that we are taking a proactive stance and action against the perpetuation of patriarchal oppression.  It is also important to recognize that patriarchy relies on the “in-group” to help further normalize oppressive, patriarchal narratives via humor. As Melissa over on Shakesville writes:

Humor that exhorts its targets to participate is even more insidious—and promoting the patriarchal narrative of women as sex class via humor has come to rely heavily on the participation of feminist women themselves. And our allies.

When women make sexist or misogynist jokes, when gay or lesbian people make homophobic jokes, when coloured people make racist jokes, does that make it okay?  Does that make it harmless and acceptable?  No, it doesn’t, but a lot of people think it does.  When a certain group makes jokes about themselves people don’t perceive it as a problem because it’s supposedly all right for black people to make racist jokes about black people, it’s supposedly okay for women to make misogynist jokes, etc.  However, it is essentially just another way of reaffirming and reinforcing patriarchal norms that continue to marginalize certain people.   It is another way to silence people because hey, if they’re joking about themselves then so can we!

Joking about a type of oppression or a marginalized group gives people the false impression that we are beyond that oppression and that everything is okay.  But no, sexism isn’t over.  Racism isn’t over.  Ableism isn’t over.  Heterosexism isn’t over.  All forms of oppression are intertwined and function in conjunction to maintain the status quo.  Therefore we can never be “beyond racism” unless we are “beyond sexism” or any of the other forms of oppression.

These oh-so-humorous offensive jokes are so deeply institutionalized and embedded in our society as harmless things that we need not worry or make a big deal about.  But they are really just mechanisms to silence people from protesting these offensive “jokes” and shame those who do object as un-funny, un-fun losers.  Because yes, you’re just an overly sensitive girl who can’t take a goddamn joke for not laughing at a rape joke and refusing to let such triggering comments slip by as humor when it’s not funny to begin with.

Well, to tell you the truth, I’m shocked, too!

7 04 2009

Apparently, actress Anna Faris is shocked by her sex scene in the upcoming movie Observe and Report, where she stars opposite Seth Rogen.  Why?

[B]ecause she had to be unconscious, naked and covered in vomit.

Rogen’s mall cop uses tequila to lure Faris’ character into bed in the new comedy.

So, Seth Rogen plies Anna Faris with alcohol to the point where she’s unconscious and covered in puke … so he can have sex with her.

This sex scene is rape. I’m not just a feminist overreacting; sex with someone who is unable to consent is rape.  One major way that people are rendered unable to consent?  Through the use of drugs or alcohol.  Since Faris’ character is unconscious, she is unable to consent to any sexual act, and therefore any sexual contact is sexual assault, and any penetration is rape.  The fact that Rogen’s character uses alcohol to “lure” her makes it clear that his actions are premeditated.  He’s certainly not the kind of cop I’d like to have around.

The law here is not vague; director Jody Hill filmed a rape scene, not a sex scene.

Admittedly, we will have to wait until the film is released to determine whether or not the scene is rape.  However, from the description of the sex, the designation of the scene as a “sex” scene, and the information that the scene made the final cut, I have very little doubt that we have a rape scene on our hands.

Faris was originally shocked at the scene, and she only agreed to film it because she expected it to be kept out of the finished film.  It is in the final cut, but:

now Faris has seen the footage, she’s had a change of heart: “I’m grateful, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that the movie is unapologetic.”

Treating rape as comedy is unapologetic?

I suppose it’s not true to say that I’m shocked.  I’m really not shocked that sexual assault is misunderstood to be sex, and that it’s slipped into comedies as a way to make movies funnier.  I am, though, disgusted and saddened.

What will make men buy these products? Aha! A naked lady!

7 04 2009

Details magazine has a slideshow called “Girls Not Included” which features the following  images:



details-3In these images, the woman is unsurprisingly hypersexualized, objectified and clearly positioned for the male gaze.  Her naked body is used as space to showcase men’s accessories.  These accessories (sunglasses, belts, bags, etc.) are for sale and using a woman’s bodies as the shelves to display implies that women are available for consumption as well.  The title of the slideshow, “Girls Not Included” points out (in case you didn’t know) that the products don’t come along with the girl (also she is not a girl, she’s a woman).  Although it’s not news that female bodies and female sexuality are up for grabs and publicly designated for consumption, it never fails to upset me.

The woman is also always in a position of inferiority which is also highly sexualized: first she is on her knees bending over backwards, then she is lying down, and then she is on her hands and knees looking down.  We never see her face because it’s not important – what matters more is her body: her sexy, thin, naked body which is exploited to market male accessories.  Even then, the only purpose of her body is to serve as a shelf to market products geared towards (upper class, heterosexual, white) men.  The constant hypersexualization and objectification of women in the media and in advertising contributes to and perpetuates rape culture because objectifying someone is dehumanizing and therefore invites violence.