Enough

 

No one is immune from the hypercritical “gaze of puritan culture” (NegrónMuntaner, 236). Not you, your neighbor, your family members, and certainly not even celebrities. This gaze causes individuals to implode inward on themselves. From self-doubt, depression, low self-esteem, and arguably worst of all, shame.

This shame can be highly detrimental and is especially true if you’re a woman, someone of color, or both. Shame stemming from someone’s personal actions or past transgressions can be redeemed by striving to better oneself and to make more educated choices in the future, but the shame of one’s ethnicity, and ethnically marked body, is something that is extremely hard to overcome. How does someone come to terms with the fact that, at a fundamental level, their body is unwanted, demonized, or lesser? This shame and self-hatred is so profound that even the majestic Selena and the extremely successful Jennifer Lopez were aware of the problem, and both had their own personalized methods to combat the issue. Selena combated the puritan gaze by subjecting herself to liposuction surgery and J.Lo developed the self-defense technique of highlighting her ethnic body as to beat the public to the punch and by adhering to a strict diet and exercise regimen (NegrónMuntaner, 236-238).

In comparison, Gordon-Loebl’s article on being something other than the representation of WASP ideals echoes some parallels with having an ethnic body. In both cases, having an ethnically marked or a visibly queer body disturbs the societal norm. The gaze caused her to feel uncomfortable in her own skin, even though her family raised her with tender love and understanding. The gaze caused her to doubt herself and her body, just as Selena and J.Lo before her, and for what? To hopefully force all three to conform to the ideals of white society? Why should someone feel at fault in their own skin? Who decides what’s acceptable and what’s not? “You’re allowed to cross the line. Whether you can stay is another story” (NegrónMuntaner, 244) sums up this lack of understanding quite well. To all three women, as they carry themselves is as “unremarkable as eggs for breakfast” (Gordon-Loebl, 5) and should be treated as such. Just another woman in crowd who’s unafraid of expressing herself as she deems fit. It’s not about being pretty, but about being a real (NegrónMuntaner, 246) human being. Real humans have faults, imperfections, and insecurities. The image of flawless divas and supermodels displayed by the mainstream media (which they’re trying constantly to get us to accept) is a dream-world, and nothing but (Durham, 38). A fantasy gone unchecked for far too long, distorting the image of real women far too effectively hurts not only women, but a society down to its very essence. Society shouldn’t be the type of locker room where all women feel unsightly and unwelcome, but instead the type of locker room that allows women to show up, better themselves, and continue on with their days unimpeded.

Women, and especially women of color, are marginalized, sexualized, or made to feel inadequate mainly due to the fact that they don’t meet the expectations of the individuals wielding the puritan gaze. They don’t fit neatly into the generic dimensions of the metaphorical box that’s been created by the white mainstream, and that’s okay. Regardless of your sexual orientation, shape, or color, you’re enough, and sooner or later you’ll come to that conclusion all by yourself. Until then, stay strong. It’s your life, not theirs.

-Edgar Nava

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Monolithic Anything

 

During Week 6: Native American Representations, I talked about how popular literature at the time used the notion of the “monolithic Indian” to throw Native Americans of all different tribes into an abstract and generalized bunch. This strategy was effective in robbing all Native Americans of their true identities, culture, and autonomy. This dangerous idea basically made North America easy prey for white Manifest Destiny. This cultural genocide was validated by the fact that popular literature painted the Native Americans as treacherous, blood thirsty, savage, sub-human, and since “all Indians are the same,” then by logical extension, they must all be a threat too. This stereotypical “Indianness” was used to systematically silence an entire population, who at the time, were the majority on this continent, so it’s no surprise that White America is mortified by the notion of “whiteness,” the current social movement to define whiteness, and the challenging of white privilege from all fronts.

In Dyer’s “The Matter of Whiteness,” he informs us that, “This assumption that white people are just people, which is not far from saying that whites are people whereas other colors are something else, is endemic to white culture. Some of the sharpest criticism of it has been aimed at those who would think themselves the least racist or white supremacist. Bell Hooks, for instance, has noticed how amazed and angry white liberals become when attention is drawn to their whiteness, when they are seen by non-white people as white. Whites are everywhere in representation. Yet precisely because of this and their placing as norm they seem not to be represented to themselves as white but as people who are variously gendered, classed, sexualized, and abled. While speaking of racial representation, in other words, whites are not of a certain race, they’re just the human race” (Dyer, 10). This logic is the exact same thought process that was robbed from the Native Americans, African Americans, and any other mistreated minority throughout our country’s history. The first step to making an ethnicity disappear (or to take away its power) is to strip its cultural identity. Racial categorization, just like that which was used against groups like the Native Americans and African Americans, serves to place race first, and human status second. That’s why White America is so scared of the idea of whiteness to gain traction. For such a generalization to take root would threaten the white supremacy in the very fabric of our country and bring about the end to white privilege.

To represent all cultures as “just human” first, and as a race group second is an entitlement that all cultural identities should have been afforded from the very beginning of our nation’s birth, but they weren’t. In order to correct this, white supremacy must be challenged, questioned, and destabilized. Whiteness, as surprising as it may be, does not monopolize being human, but it will continue to attempt to. It will continue to death roll in rebellion for White America knows that to be the minority (or perceived minority) in America is quite possibly the most disadvantageous and life threatening social position to find yourself  and your ethnic group in. America does not need a cultural genocide or white purge, but what America does need to do is to see all ethnic groups, no matter how different, as equally human first, and as ethnic groups second. This is a white luxury that has been monopolized for far too long and should instead be a human privilege.

-Edgar Nava

Booty & the Beast

"American Idol" XIV Grand Finale - ShowHOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 13: American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez onstage during “American Idol” XIV Grand Finale at Dolby Theatre on May 13, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez is a bonafide triple threat in Hollywood; the talented “Boricua beauty” from the Bronx has shown the world that she can act, dance, and sing – which is a feat that only a few have conquered successfully across all three categories in the entertainment industry. Despite the breadth and depth of her abilities as an entertainer, the media has shifted the focus away from her talent and versatility, and onto her being “the Puerto Rican girl from the wrong side of the tracks who speaks her mind. They say she is famous for her looks, her bottom, her ex-boyfriend. And her big mouth” (Molina Guzman, pg. 66).

  Guzman’s reading delineates how the media interprets and delivers different messages when talking about ethnic women versus white women in Hollywood. The negative connotations that are attached to ethnic female celebrities like J.Lo, who “embraced her booty as a marketable symbol of desirable beauty,” are meant to counteract the challenge that her celebration of her body had posed on “white cultural dominance” (Guzman, pg. 61). In order to strengthen the pillars of white supremacy, the media took to alienating and devaluing ethnic females through objectifying, hyper-sexualizing, and subsequently reducing these powerful figures to their physical figures. The weakening of an ethnic woman’s esteem in both herself and her ethnic background reasserts “the power of whites to control or contain constructions of nonwhite ethnicity in the U.S. popular culture” through the “white gaze” (Guzman, pg. 65).

This creates a perpetual cycle of building women up about something as fleeting and temporary as their physical appearance—rather than talent or intelligence—and then shaming them for being proud of the bodies that they praised them for having just earlier. As a result, there is a constant anxiety and uncertainty placed on ethnic female celebrities to make sure they fall somewhere within the realm of what’s “acceptable” by Hollywood’s white standards.

White female celebrities are not burdened with the bait-and-switch strategies employed by Hollywood the way their ethnic counterparts are. In fact, they are taking part of the shaming themselves at times. In Negron Muntaner’s article, he mentions Lopez’s own experiences with bullying from white supermodel, Cindy Crawford, who “was repeatedly quoted in the media dissing Lopez’s bodily proportions with drag queen meanness” (Muntaner, pg. 245).

In an atmosphere thick with racial tension and power-struggles, white Hollywood norms are not planning on making any concessions for people who they perceive as inferior. It’s easy to target ethnic females because of their inherent appeal to white men, and white people in general. Ethnic women like Jennifer Lopez, who is proud of her figure and works hard to maintain it, are a threat to the institution of marriage in a hegemonic society. It might be that these white men feel shame for harboring lascivious thoughts and temptations towards the ethnic female body, and their way of relieving themselves that shame and guilt is to transfer it onto the women themselves. Sexism parallels racism in many ways, as Peggy McIntosh pointed out in a previous reading, and the white male patriarchy simply cannot allow these non-white women (for whom they have lusted after and objectified as a piece of meat) actually feel good about themselves, even in a superficial way (McIntosh, “White Privilege”). No, these ethnic women must accept the sexual objectification forced upon them through the media, as well as men in general; they must accept the compliments and perform in a hyper-sexualized way – but only begrudgingly, and never with any pride or empowerment – and always as the subordinate sex and race.

-D. Liao

Week 14: Representations of Trans/Gender sexuality

 lgbt

“Queer theory, then, examines the social construction of all human sexualities (not just lLGBT ones), in order to deconstruct the ideologies and institutions of heteronormativity , a broad social structure that claims that “married straight white man on top of white woman sex for procreation only” is the only normal and desirable sexuality. ” (Benshoff, pg. 196)
#rubyrose #LGBT #transgender #homosexuality

 

I chose this image  and quote because I feel that in today’s society they are very accepting of LGBT community, and people are now free to be open and freely choose their sexuality. Back in the day , you would need to hide your sexuality, or be afraid of really sharing who you are. It’s nice to live in a society where people can take pride and be able to comfortably love who they choose and be who they want to be. Ruby Rose is a great example of someone who take pride in who she is.

Week 14: Trans/Gender and Sexuality

“As queer historians have noted, the terms heterosexuality and homosexuality were coined in the late nineteenth century, although their original meanings were somewhat different than today: both connoted a state of disease (Katz). By the middle of the twentieth century, however, heterosexuality and homosexuality had become fairly synonymous with the more colloquial terms straight and gay“ (Benshoff, 2009, Pg. 195).

#LGBT #language #wordshurt #Respect #don’tsaythat#Rodriguez

I chose this quote because I think it’s important to remember what language to use when speaking about human sexuality. The term homosexuality or the short version homo, is not a nice word to say because the word makes it seem like it’s a disease. Being gay is not a disease so it should not be referenced as one. It’s hurtful to the LGBT community so it should no longer be used.

Join or Die

“This struggle over the “ownership” of the politics of feminism seems to be the primary lens through which contemporary feminisms are understood. Indeed, one of the most impassioned discourses involving feminism lately has not been generated by differing political platforms or a specific egregious act of discrimination against women but from the arguments, contradictions, and general disavowals between different manifestations of feminisms.  Within the contemporary context there are different feminisms (just as many different feminisms made up the broad second-wave feminist movement in the United States). Thus, the political focus of the postfeminism is vastily different from that of third-wave feminism for the for the former eschews gender politics as rather old-fashioned and dreary and the latter refigures gender politics in a commercially bounded culture. There is clearly a lack of genreational cohension between the various feminisms, making it difficult to figure out one’s position within feminism.” – Banet-Weiser, Sarah. ,“What’s Your Flava? Race and Postfeminism in Media Culture” (207)

It’s no surprise that older generations and newer generations butt heads on a variety of social and political issues, but for a movement that totes itself as empowering for women and women’s rights, I find it curious that even though these different types of feminist movements share most of the same goals, beliefs, and ideals, that they still direct so much time and energy against each other, instead of elsewhere. True feminism is about empowering women in the face of adversity, and the moment a certain sect of women try to force their ideas on other women (regardless of their race, religion, or political beliefs) and guilt or shame them for not submitting, then aren’t these perpetrators themselves doing to women exactly what they’ve supposedly set out to combat?

-Edgar Nava

 

Week 14: Representations of Trans/Gender and Sexuality

tumblr_nzuhsmVilR1u6g2h9o1_1280

“For in many ways the film was a graphic documentary portrait of the way in which colonized black people (in this case black gay brothers, some of whom were drag queens) worship at the throne of whiteness, even when such worship demands that we live in perpetual self-hate, steal, lie, go hungry, and even die in its pursuit. The “we” evoked here is all of us, black people/people of color, who are daily bombarded by a powerful colonizing whiteness that seduces us away from ourselves, that negates that there is beauty to be found in any form of blackness that is not imitation whiteness. ” (hooks, 1992. Pg. 149)


I chose this picture because in the documentary, Paris is burning, Octavia Saint Laurent worships the throne of whiteness. She believes that the only way to happiness is through looks and material goods. On her wall she displays images of white women in hopes to be like them, to acquire their beauty. Octavia is obsessed with her image and how it is going to take her to certain places in life.

Week 14

stock-vector-gay-rights-concept-heart-word-cloud-345173852

“…visibility both onscreen and in real life, is a necessary component of the fight for equality and the passing of civil rights laws. After decades of invisibility and marginalization, the coming out of LGBT people dispels myths, challenges perceptions, and changes the culture’s understanding of (homo) sexuality in general” (Benshoff, 194). #equality #LGBT #gayrights #Mack

I agree with this quote because for a minority group to gain acceptance and recognition, their voice must be heard through the media and in life. We have become much more accepting of the LGBT community since early America when they were looked down upon negatively and their sexuality was often disguised.

Week 13: Women of Color and the Racialized Human Body in Popular Media

beyonce-booty1

“Other than hairstyle, the hip hop booty defines classed femininity in music videos featuring Beyonce´. While colonial discourses suggest that all Black women are promiscuous, the hip hop booty has been reassigned to working class Black women
specifically. Rap modifiers about the booty as junk, ghetto, bubble, big, or bootylicious not
only assess its physicality, but also its value and the spatial location for women who possess
that body type (read: ghetto). To call attention to a sexual sign already imbued with racist
discourses of hypersexuality is, in the words of Destiny’s Child, classless” (Durham, 2011. Pg. 41)


I chose this picture because other than hair, black women are often defined by their butt. The larger the butt the better. These ideas though have racist undertones as a large butt is often attributed to licentiousness which is not seen as something someone with class would do. These ideas often go hand in hand with hyper sexualization of large butts. Even though large butts are not seen as classy, in the hip hop world the bigger the butt you have the more value you have as a woman.

White Privilege and Donald Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

With one of the most ferocious presidential races happening right before our eyes, Donald Trump’s campaign stops nothing short of extraordinary. With his flagrant personality and unfiltered mouth, Trump’s campaign is teeming with white privilege. The platform on which Trump’s campaign relies heavily upon is that of his anti-immigration policies against Mexicans and Muslims. The beginning of Trumps campaign started with his unrestrained views on Mexican immigration and his plan to build “a wall.” Threatening deportation of millions of immigrants, Trumps campaign excludes any person of color, in an almost white supremacist type of way.

Trump’s policy on Mexican and Latin American immigration shows major undertones of his racist ways. Labeling all Mexicans as criminals and rapists, Trump lumps a whole culture and race together in an extremely negative and derogatory stereotype. He associates one type of people with crime and drugs, all based upon stereotypes often portrayed in the media. When Trump says these disparaging things he is further engraining these types of ideas into peoples minds. He is strengthening ideas that people of color are connoted with crime and drugs. Thus saying, that ultimately, White people are a more supreme race because they are not associated with these types of negative imagery.

When speaking about President Obama, the nation’s first African American president, Trump labels him as not one of us. But  Trumps meaning of “us” is white America, not the diverse nation as a whole. Trump then calls out Obama’s legitimacy as an American by questioning his birthplace and therefore questioning his rightful merit of the presidency. Trump would have never questioned another mans legitimacy as president had that person person been white. While technically, almost all Americans are immigrants in this country, except for Native Americans, who happen to also be people of color, not white. “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is” (McIntosh, Pg.2). Much of America’s history has been dominated by the white scope. The accomplishments made have all been accredited to those of mostly European decent. While immigration of the founding fathers may have been before the immigration of certain groups that have a darker complexion, those of European decent, including Trump and his ancestors, are all immigrants no matter what history books might have to say about it. Much of history is painted in the white view on accounts of white accomplishments, leaving others to look as if they have done nothing in the making of this country. Having the privilege of white skin allows Trump to disregard the fact that we are all immigrants into this country, while only labeling those who may look different as outsiders.

Trumps anti-Muslim campaign is also very controversial due to his stance on immigration. Planning to ban all Muslim’s coming into the United States, Trump also is an advocate for surveillance of Muslims already in the country. Both of these things, if taken into effect, are extremely unconstitutional and go against all that America was built upon; the idea of the American Dream and freedom. Yet under Trumps ideals, these things can only be accessed to those who are not people of color, they have to be handed on a silver platter. How much of Trumps life was spent, with white privilege. “But since the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Arabs and Muslims, two groups virtually unknown to most Americans prior to 2001, now hold the dubious distinction of being the first new communities of suspicion after the hard-won victories of the civil rights era.” (Bayoumi, pg. 3) Since 9/11, Muslims have been seen as the enemy and Trump’s campaign does not stop short in instilling those ideas among the American people. He often denounces them even as human beings, in a way that almost resembles Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies. In doing so, Trump promotes the idea that Whites are better, and could never commit such a heinous act as Muslim terrorists do. But Trump does not understand that they cannot be confined to one stereotype of an extremist group, as Christians are not confined to all the ideas of the KKK, a notoriously Christian group.


Works Cited

Moustafa Bayoumi, “Preface,” in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America. Penguin, 2009.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”