Why We Can’t Have Black Feminist Pop Icons.

9 Feb

This. If you read anything today, read this. Especially if the subject makes you uncomfortable. Especially if the thought had never entered your mind.. especially if you are lost about pop icons (as I am. It’s terrible because I should pay more attention to have more insight but in general I”m oblivious to pop stars.. so this one was an important one for me). So while I don’t know very much about Nicki Minaj or Lilly Allen (had to look them both up. I know, where was I?).. these are such excellent questions.


(Lesli-Ann Lewis is a small, queer and brown invader of homogeneous spaces. Fancying herself a burgeoning writer, this is her first piece for Hood Feminism. She can be found on Twitter, all too often: @lesellele.)


Remember several weeks ago when blogger and writer Jincey Lumpkin called Miley Cyrus a feminist icon? Outspoken Black feminists took her to task for ignoring Miley’s exploitation of Black women. The backlash was so fierce that Jincey apologized.

Fast forward to November 13th, an ordinary day made extraordinary by the declaration of Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” as a feminist anthem and her video as a “genius” satire of pop videos. The video swerves into Miley’s lane featuring a relatively covered pop singer surrounded by scantily clad Black women. It features close-ups of Black women twerking, a long-standing hip hop dance for which has bizarrely been given credit Miley Cyrus. Lily Allen herself claims…

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As we begin Black History Month…

7 Feb

*sigh* Oh do I remember this growing up..

Change From Within

Please stop asking why there isn’t a White History Month.

White History

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Changed My Mind About Blurred Lines

29 Jan

So.. That’s embarrassing, isn’t it?

Well, I think it’s better to have a real discussion rather than pretending I understood the outrage over the song Blurred Lines. It really did skip over me that “blurred lines” had anything to do with drugging her. I’m the WORST at knowing about drug references. I didn’t catch that for a while. Also, I have a habit of.. well, just.. being a bit naive about bad intentions. It doesn’t matter how “aware” I am of things, sometimes even the most obvious stuff runs right past me without me catching it.

Really and truly, I thought the song was about not being able to cross over those lines because had a boyfriend. I kept focusing on the relationship part.. rather than the “I’m just going have sex with you one way or another” part. That’s rape. The drug reference blew it wide open for me. Then I could see it. 

I talked about this a LOT with friends.. it just didn’t make any sense to me. But about a week after my post I changed my mind about the song. 

And promptly forgot to write another post about it here 🙂

Blurred Lines: She Wants It?

1 Oct

Blurred Lines

So there’s this song that’s been getting a lot of attention: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. When I first heard it, I loved it. I mean, I turned the stereo up or stopped whatever I was doing to go out on the dance floor. All I ever heard was “I know you want” and something about good girls. The beat took over everything else.

Since I heard the outcry against the song, and watched the parody. Which I also thought was funny and then it was confusing because sometimes when people make a point.. just.. *sigh* Whatever. So lets move on, right? But then I read this post against the outcry against the song. Then there was this video of teenagers responding to the song. The responses were mixed: confusion, irritation, jaws dropped but mainly confusion.

Hey, I’m right there with you.

The most common response was: If this were a feminist song (as Robin Thicke claims), then this video would be different. It would be respectful.

But what the HELL does that mean? What does respect mean? What does respect toward women mean? The knee-jerk reaction is “women who respect themselves keep their clothes on” or “if that man respected that woman, he wouldn’t need to take her clothes off.”

And then.. there are the lyrics which didn’t initially bother me. Even the “I know you want it,” the classic line that every R&B song I grew up with has in it, didn’t throw me into a tizzy. And that’s one of the lines in the song that pisses a lot of people off. Perhaps my desensitization is because it is a line that’s in many songs. The people who are swatting away the angry commotion with the excuse, “But it’s just a pop song and it’s not like pop songs are ever high quality” aren’t doing us any favors. But I also feel that sigh with them.

Then there was this post: a mix of the song lyrics and real words spoken to sexual assault victims/survivors by their rapists. Currently, I feel that is pushing the line of connections. Though I can certainly understand it and see the point being put out there.. That these words “I know you want it” and the woman in question is being called a “good girl” inviting the “madonna/whore” complex all over again. And then there’s the title of the song, “Blurred lines.” When I finally went to read the song lyrics, I had a different reaction than I anticipated. So many people were upset about the song that I thought I would be too.

So first, I’ll say this: the song is definitely degrading but does it invite rape culture? I’m not convinced.

It’s degrading because he doesn’t care about her relationship. He doesn’t care to support her in keeping it. In a nutshell, he thinks cheating is perfectly fine and he’s doing his damndest to convince her of that. That’s the most disrespectful part of the song (that and Pharrell’s lyrics. DAMNIT PHARRELL! I’m such a fan. Stop being a dick). The rap portion of the song is obnoxious and typical masculine arrogance. I hate it when women are called bitches in a context of “thing,” like bitches are something to have. Well, in that case, you can kindly fuck yourself and.. really, I mean just that.

But it is NOT degrading for the many reasons that have people up and arms: “You’re a good girl,” “I know you want it.” Here, read it for yourself:

I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
[Pharell:] Everybody get up
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

When I read the title “Blurred Lines,” it is now put into a context of “I hate the relationship lines. You can’t do anything even though you want to and damn I wish you would.” It does not say to me, “I’m gonna have sex with you whether you want it or not.” The song is talking about cheating, not rape. But if you chose to solely focus on specific lyrics, then yeah, you could say he was talking about rape. But that doesn’t include the context which is sorely needed.

I don’t agree that talking about spanking and hair pulling is degrading. When we say “we wanna get nasty” or “be an animal in bed,” our default thought is spanking and hair pulling. To some people, these phrases can mean only that or mean more than that, but generally those two things are the first actions we think of. I will agree with one of the bloggers (who made the mistake of calling herself a feminist and not a Feminist), that this is total slut shaming. DUDE. STOP. TELLING PEOPLE HOW TO FUCK IN BED. SERIOUSLY. If we wanted that, we’d let Virginia’s insane attempt to pass a law against oral sex happen. Just.. UGH. It’s not up to you to decide what is grading for one person or another. It’s a sensation and when done with a partner who is excellent in communication and loves you, it’s a good thing. It’s not a terrible thing to submissive, you know. So long as it is a choice and no one spent time convincing the person to be spanked. This is the kind of nonsense that makes it difficult for word Feminist to be taken seriously.

And the one thing that would make this song a completely rapey song that he didn’t say? Don’t pretend like you didn’t want it or something along those lines. Instead, it’s a song about a douchey guy who is willing to encourage a woman to cheat on her boyfriend. And calls women bitches, like we’re things to have. The encouraging to cheat part, that’s what gets me. Why are relationships not respected? *sigh* Sad.

Or is it because the song is coming from a male that we just automatically dismiss it any of the possibilities labeled above and label it as degrading? Or, am I completely missing the boat on this one? Please share your thoughts and comments! I’d love to talk it out. Opinions can change. For now, this is my thought.

Feminist Tyson, Rape Manuals & Texas Justice

20 Jun


Oy vey. So much going on in the news: a 15 year old girl is told to cover up by a TSA agent, a man was acquitted by a jury even though he killed an escort in Texas, there is a rape manual on kickstarter, and Tyson is a feminist?

This is madness.

The story about the man who was acquitted by a Texas jury, even though he murdered an escort, is something everyone has been talking about. The jury took 11 hours, split over two days, to decide whether or not to convict him. He would have faced a life sentence in jail. Admittedly, I’m not always sure what the correct punishment is for people. I am not a believer that jail solves things. I do think it is sometimes necessary. I also  know our prisons are overrun and run for profit much of the time. I hope this man has to go through serious counseling, at the very least and serves some kind of time for something. I don’t know what the clear answer is here.

But that he was found NOT guilty because under Texas law, he had a right to shoot her because she had stolen his property: either his money or HER vagina..

That’s what gets to me. This is wrong. This is flat out wrong.
You do not have the RIGHT to shoot an escort because she chose not to have sex with you. No, you don’t. You.. DON’T. I don’t know if he had the intent to kill–likely not. Maybe he meant to seriously harm but not kill (not that it matters in my book). I don’t think most people are sociopaths (that’s 4% of our population). I don’t think most people mean to do a LOT of things they do but they do them and they should be punished adequately. What I do think happened is this man was raised in a culture where it is okay to shoot people whenever he feels he hasn’t gotten what he wanted. That is clear because the jury supported him. This woman did not pose a threat to him. She did not break into his house, with a gun or any other weapon, threaten him, etc.. He lost money. He shot her over $150.

But the reasons.. the reasons for which her death was justified by the jury not convicting him? I.. I am at a loss for words. How is that anyone can claim you have a right to shoot someone because they won’t give you their vagina?

At any point in time, businesses have a right to refuse service. What he should have done instead of SHOOTING her was finding a way to get his money back. He clearly didn’t understand what an escort is and paid thinking the service was something else (prostitution).  Okay, so he was upset he didn’t get the service he paid for (though not one she offers,clearly). You cannot SHOOT people because you are pissed you didn’t get the service you thought you would.

Why.. why is this any different? Oh right because it’s about sex and women’s bodies and people still think you can possess them whenever you want. That you can own people. And is that so surprising in a world where slavery STILL exists?

This blows my mind. Really. I don’t know what else I can say about it that anyone else hasn’t already said.

To the TSA agent who shamed a young girl in public for her clothes (reminds me of the University student who wrote a letter to the girl about what she was wearing, that it was distracting and she should protect the men around her):

There are some things you should keep to yourself. That comment was one of them. If you are uncomfortable with the way she was dressed, it is not up to you to embarrass her. If she was being rude or upsetting people around her, I could understand why you might want to speak up and correct her behavior but you have ZERO right to tell her what she can and cannot wear.

That is up to her parent. Not you. So zip it.

It came to my attention yesterday that there is.. a rape manual seeking support on Kickstart. Of course, that isn’t what the authors calls it but the exerts on Reddit clearly lay it out for anyone to read. I quote:

“All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.”

“Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”


Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”

Wow. Just..

(crickets) (blink).. (blink)…

This is dangerous and I’m glad it’s being talked about. There is a difference between being dominant and being an aggressor. First rule: You ALWAYS ask for permission. Good grief. Always. Nothing gets past that.

You cannot be dominant toward someone you don’t know. You cannot be aggressive toward someone who hasn’t said that they liked it or it was okay.

This is immature masculinity. This is exactly what I spoke about in the radio show yesterday. We have to replace this with mature masculinity. There is no other option. You do not need to take in order to get something you want. If you do this, if we practice this, we will keep violence in our societies.

What people repeatedly miss about dominance is that you can only take something that has been given to you. Doing anything less than that makes you a predator, an aggressor, an assaulter. People get caught up in the romantic notion of “man grabs woman around waist because she says no but he knows.. she wants him.. because she kisses him passionately and slowly sinks down to her knees..” Lets stop there shall we? That is the picture this guy is painting. No is not a yes. I do understand that some people play that game of “come get me. I’m going to say no but I really just want you to chase me and pin me down and take me.” But that has to be discussed. It is NOT a default all women possess. You might luck out and it might be something she wants.. Or, you’re a rapist.

Is that something you want to risk?! I don’t! I don’t want to risk that.

Get the consent first, then play.

And by the way, the hand on the thigh or small of my back when I haven’t asked for it? Really creepy.. Really, really creepy. But the hand on my thigh or small of my back when I have given my consent to that person? Hawt.

Consent is sexy.


Tyson a feminist. Well.. I’m not sure I’d call him a feminist (mainly because it is a little disconcerning to be called something when you haven’t said it yourself. It feels forced and pushed on you, you know?) but I do appreciate his recent insights into his humanity and community.

SLCFeminist is pretty upset Clutch Magazine recently called Mike Tyson a sort of feminist.

but one comment a feminist does not make. Danielles explains how she cannot, “condone his violent behavior, especially when it was directed toward women,” but she can understand,  ”how he got there.” Wait, what?! Ultimately, she tells the reader that, “Feminism seeks to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, are treated as equal human beings. And that’s what Mike Tyson wants–to be seen as human. It’s what we all want.” Fair enough, feminism advocates for fair treatment of human beings, but fair treatment of human beings doesn’t necessitate that feminists overlook a harried history of an abusive misogynist because he makes a few salient comments.

Well, that is true. Making a few enlightened comments doesn’t make anyone anything. When you identify with an idea, or belief, or focus, that is done with a lot of active work. So I agree with SLCFeminist. This doesn’t make him a feminist but his recent reflection does line up with feminist ideals. He said:

“We as people — men — in my experience, we are told we are superior to women, they come from our rib and this and that. That’s all our insecurity, to make us feel like someone, like a slave master. I’m so happy to reach a stage in my life, a paradigm shift. Everything I did believe was a goddamn lie.”

Read the rest of the article here. I think that is an awesome thing to come to terms with Mike. You’ve done quite a bit of damage and your self in the present is much better than the one before. I’m happy for that. I don’t know the details of the accusations against him as a rapist. I know he was convicted. Considering how hard it is to convict anyone of rape, I have a feeling he’s guilty. The evidence must have been pretty damn good. It’s clear you have a ways to go.

but at least you have a good start.. I guess.
Too bad it was so bad for so long..
But at least.. it sounds like you’re doing the right thing now. That’s all anyone could hope for.

Catalyst Con & Radio Show Announcement

17 Jun


Interesting thing I just head via Sex Out Loud: Statistically speaking, teenagers wait to have sex until later in life when they are able to talk to their parents openly and honestly about sex (and no, this doesn’t mean warning them not to have sex). Listen to the last 10 minutes of the latest episode of Sex Out Loud to hear The Sex Positive Parent discuss this.

There is a lot going in the world of Modern Sex Culture. I’m planning to attend Catalyst Con at the end of September. It’s a collection of sex educators, psychologists, counselors, activists and oh so much more who come to speak about their favorite topics. How could this NOT be awesome? Topics range from Language Matters: How to Speak Sex Positivity So That People Lesson, The Five Biggest Myths About Sex & Aging, Pros & Cons: Liberty Vs. Legality (by a former Lusty Lady!), What is Normal? An Exploration of Sexual Behavior, Diversity and Judgement, The Politics of Producing Pleasure: The Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe, Feminist Porn 101: What it is, What it isn’t and Why it Matters, Male Circumcision: A Humanist Perspective (a topic near and dear to my heart. I support this documentary, “The American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda”), Managing Your Message: Can You Really Control What Gets Published and oh so much more.

I would love to go! It’s only $110 for the full weekend in LA (until June 20th, then the price is hiked up to $150. It is still insanely cheap).

Please donate to Modern Sex Culture so she can go and report all of this lovely information back to you 🙂 Kindly look to the right of this post for the Paypal donation link.

Coming up! Modern Sex Culture’s first radio show, tomorrow! It was supposed to air last week but there was some major last minute things to take care of in my personal life and I was incredible sick: in bed with a fever, a zombie. I’m not sure how often I will produce this show. For now, I think it will remain at every two weeks but I may get too excited (meaning, I can’t shut up) and will likely produce it every week in the future. But one step at a time here! I don’t want to stress myself out. I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew and spitting it back out.

I’ve been waiting to do this radio show for years. Now I finally have the time. 🙂

Children: Makeup & Bras

27 May


A little over a week ago, I asked Facebook what they thought of my tension over children in make up and/or in adult styled clothes? Most people agreed putting make up on children sexualizes them. To be clear: My tension with children in makeup is because I do not believe makeup and/or sexy clothes should ever = sex. Because it doesn’t! Clothes and makeup can be expressions of SO many things.. Though sometimes they are representations of feeling sexy and/or attractive (which, to be clear, does not mean sex). I took serious issue with my knee-jerk reaction. Consciously, I do not agree with my subconscious. There is some work left to do, you know?

I do not think we should contribute to an idea that clothes and makeup, used to be attractive or to enhance attractiveness or.. whatever the reason, should automatically equate with sex. That leads to our default assumption about someone who is wearing “attractive” clothes (whatever that means; the definition varies from culture to culture) and/or makeup is looking for sex or wants sexual attention. THAT is dangerous and simply untrue. There are so many reasons why people wear clothes that revel the lines of their figure or use make up to enhance features (or play down certain features). So much of it is just normal in our culture anyway. It’s just.. habit and expected (many women put make up on for the work place. It’s only recently the requirement of wearing makeup has been disputed).

Even after dismissing this reason for being uncomfortable in my subconscious and reaffirming with myself that clothes/makeup does NOT equal sex (I have plenty of habits to undo), I still felt uncomfortable.

So.. why?

There was a comment left on my FB page that this robs children of their childhood. I think this is what bothers me. It’s not that I don’t think children should learn about how to be a fantastic adult. I do! Childhood is the foundation for how are default adult characters will be. And that’s the problem I have with putting adult makeup and adult clothes on children. There is sooooo much time for this later in life. In fact, MOST of our lives, we will spend being adults. Playing with clothes, playing with our hair.. and while we say looks are not important.. we understand, as adults, that our societies will judge us based on our looks, how we present ourselves. I’m not saying that doing this is correct way to be but it is a reality (which is why I fight rape culture; because people still think how a victim is dressed contributes to rape and well, the victim had it coming. That’s flat out wrong).

Childhood should be about building character. They already watch adults primp, figure out what clothes to wear, spray on cologne or perfume and fix their hairs.. or not do any of these things. They are observing. So why put them in the position to make adult decisions? Why can’t they just left to observe a while? Those years of figuring out how they want to express themselves are coming up fast.

Then again, I have a friend who lets her daughter (under the age of 10) dye her hair the color she wants (I thinks he picked pink). I think that’s awesome! But it was seeing a 7 year old I know, happily showcasing her bras to me..  made my heart sink and my stomach cringe. Seeing her in eyeshadow got to me. That is what triggered this discomfort. She’s just a little girl. It doesn’t seem like costumes .. or playtime. It felt too grown up.

Perhaps I haven’t figured it out just yet.. What do you think?

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