I love my skin!
I love my skin!
From "How Should We Remember Joan Rivers?" by Gabrielle Moss:
Rushing to dress up Joan Rivers’ legacy in the familiar robes of the “truth teller we weren’t ready to handle” doesn’t just gloss over Rivers’ real highs and frequent, genuine lows, it misses an opportunity to examine the real lasting legacy of Joan Rivers’ greatest passion: whether we should respect the concept of “shock” humor.
The idea of an “equal opportunity offender” is heavily flawed from the get-go. Simply having the power and platform to get in front of a crowd and tell jokes means that you already have privilege and an advantage over some of the people you’re going to take aim at if you want to engage in what comedians refer to as “punching down"—telling jokes at the expense of those with less societal power than you.
"Punching down" is a practice frowned upon by a lot of today’s most beloved and acclaimed comedians, though it still shows up, most often as part of “equal opportunity offender” comedy like that of the Comedy Central roasts or Anthony Jeselnik. Rivers was part of an older school mentality that embraced the impossible ideal of the “equal opportunity offender,” which is how Rivers reasoned away using the same kind of barbs to skewer, say, both Renee Zellwegger and the women who were held captive by Ariel Castro.
That sounds shitty, and that is shitty. But it is that same animating urge towards shock that led Rivers to her ground-breaking jokes about double-standards in dating and abortion in the ‘60s, or her jokes about aging and anger in recent years. Is it possible honor the transgressive potential of shock comedy, without honoring everything that the shock comedian has to say?
It’s easy to grimace at the idea of offense for offense’s sake—most of the time, shock humor works by taking aim at folks who are are already societally disadvantaged. But sometimes, the practice of offense for offense’s sake gives performers the space to push very transgressive, pioneering ideas (like trying to go on TV in the 1960s and tell jokes about abortion—something comedians have a difficult time doing to this very day), not because they’re necessarily part of their political agenda, but simply because they shock another contingent of listeners.
The Joan Rivers jokes that people are holding up as feminist breakthroughs didn’t come from a political place, though I think they served an important political purpose. Rather, those edgy jokes came from an urge to say whatever was considered too impolite to speak about in front of company, the same urge that made Rivers joke about her gynecological exams or the Holocaust.
Some days, it feels like we’re at a crossroads in games, that the power of thoughtful transformative work is pushing us forward. But then the death threats start up again and we’re reminded that the process of untangling gaming culture from toxic misogyny is still very much a work in progress.
Despite (or because, as keen observers suggest) of the hard work that has made game culture more inclusive, backlash against female designers and critics who push vocally for change has become near constant on social media. This past month, game developer Zoe Quinn has been at the center of a perfect storm of hate-speech-laced conspiracy theorizing. Quinn is an accomplished developer best known for her game, “Depression Quest” an innovative indie title that explores depression and mental health. In August, an ex-boyfriend published a lengthy account of their breakup online, which launched a campaign of harassment by online vigilantes that spiraled into physical threats on her life.
Swirling amid the free-floating hatred and sex-shaming of Quinn are infuriating questions about her work. Message boards and comment sections are awash with armchair investigators claiming her relationships with journalists were tantamount to jury-rigging the reception of her critically acclaimed game. Putting aside the irony of attacks that involve hacking and theft of personal information over what is being characterized as an issue of “journalistic ethics,” or that charging cultural critics with “corruption” is profoundly missing the point of how critics have always been integral to the development of art and culture—what often goes unmentioned is that none of these alleged acquaintances ever reviewed Depression Quest and that (unlike your typical racketeer) Quinn released her game for free or pay-what-you-wish. It’s a situation women in every professional field are made to fear: that unfair judgments about our personal lives will not only follow us to work, but that at any moment a rumor can be weaponized to tear down our hard-won success.
Continue reading this article by Sarah Schoemann on BitchMedia.org. T-shirt design by Gaming’s Feminist Illuminati.
From Amy Lam’s article "Nicki Minaj’s Unapologetic Sexuality is Not a Crisis":
When Minaj received negative feedback after releasing the cover art for “Anaconda,” she took to her Instagram to highlight the inconsistent and—let’s be honest—racist reactions to her displaying her own body. She wrote“Angelic. Acceptable. Lol” alongside photos of white Sports Illustrated models, topless and arching their backs, with their barely-covered bottoms on the cover of the magazine.
When Lady Gaga uses her body as a form of expression, she’s an “artist.” When Nicki Minaj owns her own hypersexuality, she’s slut-shamed.
Where was the outcry against Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” when she laid about nude on a puffy pink cloud, with a small piece of fluff covering her bum? Did folks call Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” a piece of pornography when she salaciously licked a sledgehammer and writhed around naked on an actual wrecking ball? Did Jennifer Aniston face disparaging criticism for her strip scenes in last year’s We’re The Millers? Nope, they asked her how she got in shape for the role.
We Need Diverse Books Exclusive Cover Reveal:
X, A Novel – Releasing January 6th, 2015
The WNDB team is proud to host the exclusive cover reveal of X, A Novel, by Candlewick Press, a book we are so excited about!
Candlewick Press announces the publication of the FIRST young adult novel based on the coming of age of a boy named Malcolm Little.
Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and award winning young adult author Kekla Magoon, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.
Timed with the 50th anniversary of his death, X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
“Malcolm inspired me with his eloquence, his wisdom, and his thirst for truth and righteousness. This powerful, page-turning story tells us how he discovered these qualities within himself.” – Muhammad Ali
"Powerful and charming—makes you see things in a whole new way. One of the best books I’ve read in quite some time." – Chris Rock
Definitely excited to read this when it comes out!
You can’t file away desire. The maddening and amazing thing about the heart is its inability to be classified or pinned down. Labeling myself sexually has never worked. I have been a folder without a label, languishing in sexual limbo during a time of increasing mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ identity.
But while the Q of “queer” is rightfully gaining more traction, the Q of “questioning” doesn’t get a lot of love in a culture that demands definition. I have always envied people who find the perfect sticker for themselves and proudly display it one way or another, but I grew up finding role models in people of color who expressed a sexuality fluid enough to seem as close to being a questioner’s love as possible—the broad romanticism of Zora Neale Hurston, bell hooks’s adamant romantic flexibility, the undesignated bisexuality of Lorraine Hansberry, or the declared free sexual expression of Alice Walker and Meshell Ndegeocello.
— Joshunda Sanders, The Questioning Continuum
Surveying the history of representation in text and film, the Asian female has continually been exoticized and eroticized, an image that persists today. Last year Katy Perry’s performance of “Unconditionally” at the American Music Awards was both lauded and derided as a form of “yellowface.” Perry appeared onstage in a Hollywood (read: sexier) version of a kimono, along with a troupe of similarly clad backup dancers. They spun their paper umbrellas on a set designed like a Japanese garden and sang about, well, unconditional love. Bloggers dubbed it Perry’s “geisha performance” and criticized it as perpetuating images of the groveling, self-sacrificial woman who has been abandoned.
Continue reading Patricia Park’s essay at BitchMedia.org. Illustration by Juliana Wang.
Discussing the politics of desire takes major guts in our culture, especially as a fat person. Most people still believe they don’t need to question their own reactions to fatness and fat people or how those reactions affect us. Many people still regard fatness as the exclusive problem of fat people. If we want to be treated better, we should stop being fat, right?
Once during college, I visited the local urgent care facility because I was feeling deeply depressed. I explained to the on-call psychiatrist that a major source of emotional distress was how other people were treating me because of the size of my body. His advice? Cut out potatoes, rice, wheat, and corn from my diet. Implicitly, he was confirming that the problem was me, not other people’s treatment of me. If I wanted respect, I should be thinner.
Holding other people accountable for how they treat fat people is still very taboo. By extension, attempts to work through the politics of desire—already a topic met with hostility and derision—are especially difficult for fat people. We have been trained in Western culture to think of the political and the intimate as polar opposites. This ideology pits the rational and the irrational against each other along with other corresponding binaries: the masculine and the feminine, the public and the domestic, the mental and the emotional, the mind and the body, the head and the heart.
Continue reading "It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Absent Dialogue Around Fat Women’s Sexuality" by Lisa Knisley.
These numbers are shocking—and they’re important to recognize that this is one more example of how white people have the privilege to ignore race. Because we live in a culture where whiteness has historically been considered the norm, white Americans can more often than not wander through our days and lives simply not thinking about race. That’s acutely true when it comes issues around policing and justice: A study released this spring showed that nearly half of all black men in America have been arrested at least once by age 23. When black men’s chances of being arrested are as good as flipping a coin, it’s impossible to ignore the role race plays in shaping our justice system. New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy has been another clear example of this reality. New York State Senator Eric Adams testified that the NYPD’s aggressive stop-and-frisk has disproportionately targeted black and Latino men because “he wanted to instill fear in them, every time they leave their home they could be stopped by the police.” To say that we “race gets too much attention” is a notion founded on the false idea that race doesn’t really impact peoples’ lives that much.