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Accurate or Offensive?

I first saw a video through a friend and had mixed feelings about what Shit Girls Say. I’ve definitely heard women speak this way, I’ve even been known to drop an unsolicited “Shut UP!” Are videos like this simply criticism on human behavior or kinda offensive? My friends and I swapped emails about it after viewing the “white girl” version of this video and came to the same conclusion: This could be damaging to women.

And then I saw the “black girl” version by a comedian named Billy Sorrell:

I thought to myself: Bummer, now we have to have this conversation. Is this funny? It is a little humorous! That’s what makes me a little uncomfortable. Making fun of women can be a hairy situation, making fun of black women seems acceptable. I don’t know if I like that.

I also don’t know if I like men doing this. Tyler Perry has built an empire on cross dressing and telling black women a thing or two about themselves. It doesn’t seem like it’s hurting anyone, but the image of black women is a precarious one. And when men feel as though they’ve figured us out enough to mock us like this, it hurts my feeling

I’d like to think that I’m slightly more nuanced than what Sorrell has illustrated. I’d like to think you are too. You can’t sum up all black women in one three minute video. If you have issues with your image as a black women and you fight hard against defying stereotypes, please check out yesterday’s book review for Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America.


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Are You Running This World?

I am so late on everything, including seeing this music video called: Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce. But I have finally seen it and I’m. . . stunned. The visuals are pretty spectacular for today’s “Gaga” standards.

The setting is a dystopic, post apocalyptic, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” landscape. There are leather and metal studded ladies who have reclaimed the Earth. There’s a lion on a leash, even hyenas on leashes! There are what look like dancing eunuchs and overturned cars and sand. Tons of sand.

Noah said he appreciated the Irish jig that occurred in the beginning. So did I.

What I wasn’t impressed with were the lyrics. Who’s running the world? Girls. Holy shit! I shouted (spitting my morning tea) When did this happen? Where was I? I had receive no notice on this. Then I watched this next video and was brought back to reality.

The commentary of the latter video can accurately describe the lyrics and how harmful they are to women’s self worth. So I won’t beat a dead horse in that respect. Instead, I would like to discuss the visuals.

Men on one side, women on the other. The women are obviously besting the men with their awesome dance moves. It does remind me of the Sharks and the Jets, but it is a tried and true theme for videos.

What I find interesting about Beyonce’s interaction with the riot control police force, is her super sexy slinking. She seduces the men and also scares them at the same time with her “Irish Jigging”. Historically, women have always had the “power” to seduce men with their wiles and then destroy them. Women were made to be revered and also feared.

But it’s the mother/whore dichotomy that has held women back from positions of authority and real change. For example, women’s seductiveness and evil persuasive nature has stopped them from being leaders in the Catholic Church. On a much smaller scale, the mere fact that women menstruate, make them an object of fear and awe. 

Beyonce’s use of sexuality is tired. We get it. Women can be sexy. In essence, the media has made it our only JOB. To what end, can we use that power? What can we to gain from using our feminine wiles? Jewels, money and cellphone bill payments? We’re not exactly courtesans anymore.

What we’re doing is keeping an ancient gender standard alive in a modern world. In a world where women are career and education oriented, the media is asking us to fall back on older means of “power.” This video is only affirms how little power we actually have and how we’re okay with that.

Are you okay with that?