WRC staffer, Sac State Students speak about rape

This week, WRC’s staff member Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd and other Sacramento State University students gave their opinion on rape to the Hornet, Sac State’s newspaper. Comments also touch on US Congressman Todd Akin’s comments that women’s bodies are capable of “shutting things down” to avoid pregnancy when a woman is raped.

FALL SEMESTER KICK OFF!

The Student Parent Support Group will begin on September 12th. We will meet every Wednesday thereafter at 4pm in the Womens Resource Center (next to Round Table on thefirst floor of the University Union). This group is for parents who attend Sac State or another school in the area. If you have a child (or children) and are in school and need emotional support or want to network with other people in your unique situation, please come! The meetings will be brief and tons of fun. Kids are welcome! See you there!

 

Also this semester we have a phenomenal event. On September 11th from 4-7pm in the Redwood Room, in the University Union. We have an amazing instructor who will teach self defense moves to participants. Come learn how to kick butt and gain confidence that  you need to lose that fear of waking around alone at night.

 

Yemeni Women against harassment and Feminist-Christians/ Feminists and Christians

 

Catholic women as out-of-control radical feminists who blaspheme against God and church? That is how the Vatican frames these Christian feminists and their work.These nuns have their own story- they just give a sh** about social justice. Check them out at https://lcwr.org/. Check out the controversy at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/us/vatican-reprimands-us-nuns-group.html.

Russian ladies offend the religious. These wild women get mad a President Putin. Feminist collective/ puck rock band “Pussy Riot” faces years in prison for charges of “hooliganism.” Basically, if you haven’t seen the youtube video, this band mocked Orthodox Christian religious ceremonies in performing a punk song on a church alter, to protest patriarchy and Putin. Now the world watches as the 3 imprisioned band members fight for freedom.

An article:

http://news.yahoo.com/russian-police-pursuing-other-members-female-punk-rock-140134733.html

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big4TY

Lastly, check out Yemeni women’s efforts to end street harassment! http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6566/safe-streets-campaign-in-yemen

Fall Semester Approaching/ “What can you do with a Women’s Studies degree?!”

Get ready for an exciting semester! We have about three more weeks until school begins again at Sac State. One thing I am especially looking forward to is the WRC’s Student Parent Support Group. We will be meeting every Wednesday, from 4-4:30pm. Location is TBA, but right now I am thinking it is most likely going to occur in the Women’s Resource Center itself. Stay tuned to the blog and website (www.csus.edu/wrc) because the first week of school I will post the location.

On a personal note…something I am not so excited about is how busy I will be during the semester! In addition to working at the WRC, I also have my regular job (lactation counselor and childbirth educator with various hospitals in the Sac area), will need time for my son, am applying to several grad programs all over the nation (to become a nurse-midwife) with no idea how likely it is I will get in or how to plan in the event that I am admitted, and I am trying to piece together an orgiastic graduation celebration to take place in December (on a laughable budget). The grad party needs to be a gluttonous occasion because it has taken me TEN YEARS of on-and-off schooling to complete my college education. Three schools, ten years and one kid later, a BS DEGREE (in Women’s Studies). I can’t believe I am trying to launch right into a 3 year grad-school program…

Ok, so I will relate my personal tangent to a feminist topic. Why do so many people find it an impossible task to imagine how a Women’s Studies degree might be useful? A friend and recent Women’s Studies graduate told me that when she was out celebrating her achievement of obtaining a degree, she had some folks say some pretty rude things to her. Actually, another friend and recent Women’s Studies grad told me she encountered the same rude comments. All too often, us Women’s Studies majors hear comments like, “Oh, what are you going to do with that?” as if it really mattered in today’s job market exactly what one’s degree is in, unless you are in accounting or nursing (actually, after I get my WS degree I am going into graduate nursing). People also look at us WS grads with an incredulous or puzzled look, which is fine because I do not expect all persons to know “Women’s Studies” is, so I explain the Women’s Studies major. I explain it as the academic major where students take courses in a number of different disciplines with an emphases in feminist theory, and to put it in perspective, I let folks know that our major is in the same college (“Social Science and Interdisciplinary Studies”) as economics, sociology, ethnic studies, anthropology, government, etc. In fact, as a WS major, I took classes in most of the majors just named. People still look at me and my fellow WS buddies like we are silly ladies. My response to people’s inquisitiveness of my major is cheesy, but pretty true- “Well, what can’t you do with a WS major?” In all honesty, many WS majors safeguard their future by getting dual degrees, often in psychology, government, biology, or other majors. Others, like myself, hope to go on to pursue master’s degrees that are less esoteric (nurse-midwifery qualifies as mainstream, right?) Being very honest again, I don’t know what to make of the trend in WS majors obtaining degrees in other concentrations. Are we truly incapable of obtaining decent jobs with out WS degrees? Maybe…but probably not. For myself, my major is actually an asset when applying to the CNM program at top universities like UCSF and Yale, who specifically suggest that WS majors bring a perspective to the profession that is welcome and needed. In fact, he American College of Nurse-Midwives recommends that high school and college students who are CNM hopefuls actually obtain a major in Women’s Studies http://www.midwife.org/For-College-Students.

I hope that in tough economic times, when women’s programs in every sector are being cut, Women’s Studies is not edged out of universities (examples in my own life where women’s programs are being cut and which impact me directly: the master’s-entry division of the nurse-midwifery program at UCSF, who boasts one of the best CNM programs in the nation, might have to discontinue the program…also, just this week at the hospital where I work, they carefully selected the program which helps pregnant women manage their diabetes to sacrifice to the chopping block…ethnic studies programs are under attack…
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-02-02/tucson-ethnic-studies-programs/52938952/1….). On a more positive note, I also hope that our culture as a whole comes to recognize the value of a WS degree, of the well-rounded education their potential employee will have under her or his belt, of the critical thinking skills that are refined and perfected within this major and which are so crucial to have an employee who needs to function at a high cognitive level. I myself considered a different major when I returned to school after a long break, but ended up declaring WS because I am in love with feminist theory and with the diversity of knowledge I obtain withing the major.

In conclusion…Have a blessed day, and stay tuned for more rambling blog posts and info on the Student Parent’s Group! Thanks for reading. <3    :D)

 

Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd

WRC at Slut Walk Sacramento 2012

WRC staffers Rachel and Emily set up an info booth at Slut Walk Sacramento 2012, Sacramento's first Slut Walk!

WRC staffers Rachel and Emily set up an info booth at Slut Walk Sacramento 2012, Sacramento’s first Slut Walk!

Want more info on the Slut Walk? Check it out on Wikipedia! Photos by Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd.

Slut walk 2012 sacramento! A group of about 50-75 participants, and several vendors and supportive community organizations gathers in front of the Capitol building to speak out against rape, slut shaming, victim- blaming, and other social ills which harm women.

Slut walk 2012 sacramento! A group of about 50-75 participants, and several vendors and supportive community organizations gathers in front of the Capitol building to speak out against rape, slut shaming, victim- blaming, and other social ills which harm women.

Major Lazer is Bad for Women: How the Dancehall DJs Repackage Sexism, Neocolonialism and Racism as Hip to Gain Fame and Fortune

By Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd

I like weird humor and good music. I cannot stand racist and sexist representations of people. That is why I felt conflicted when I stumbled upon a few Major Lazer music videos on the Tim and Eric website. Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job is an experimental comedy series on Adult Swim. It is very bizarre and absurd and that is why I love it in all of it’s freakish hilarity. Although I do not consider myself to have a presence in the Hipster community, I think it is also popular with “hispter” folks.

When I watched the music video by DJ Major Lazer’s song “Pon de Floor,” a remix featuring Jamaican dancehall artists, I was impressed by the awesomeness of the music, and appalled and disbelieving that such a racist representation of Black people was unfolding before my eyes. First of all, in Western culture there exists even today a longstanding stereotype of Black women as hyper sexual. This dates back to when Sarah Baartman, a slave abducted from South Africa in the late 18th century by Dutch slavemasters, was forced to tour Europe as a freakshow feature. Attention was drawn to her buttocks and long labia as her body was exhibited by animal trainers and studied by scientists. Many scholars point to the exploitation of Baartman’s body as a symbolic starting point for the hypersexualization of Black women’s bodies in the West.

In the article “Big Fat Fish”: The Hypersexualization of the Fat Female Body in Calypso and Dancehall” by Andrea Shaw, the author argues that dancehall music and the accompanying hyper sexual dance style enable the scantily clad female dancer to reclaim her body from the racist and sexist colonizing society that haunts Dancehall style. She states, ” I believe [the Dancehall performers’] performances are in fact feisty and “vulgar” recastings of the hypersexualized large black female body, and these performances function as a subconscious retaliation to historical events like the dehumanizing exhibit of the Hottentot Venus’s fat caged body, which was displayed across Europe in the nineteenth. Furthermore, these performances resist the pervasive objectification of the black female body in both Caribbean and North American cultures.”

While Shaw may have a valid point that women’s sexual Dancehall performances function as a retaliation against the hypersexualization of their bodies, if such dancing is exploited by two white men (Thomas Pentz, “Diplo,” and David Taylor, “Switch”) for financial gain, then true ability to reclaim corporeal ownership and sensuality is suffocated as stereotypes about hypersexual women proliferate.

Is “Pon de floor” supposed to be ironic, true to hispter culture, in hinting at deeply racist archetypes in American history such as lynching and hypersexualization of Black women which led to the rampant sexual violence against women by slavemasters? In addition to the hypersexualization of women, I am extremely creeped out that the guy with a mohawk does a mock lynching of himself with his gold necklace during the course of the video. There is also a stereotype that Black people are naturally more athletic than other races, and the wild sex-acrobatics that the music video actors partake in seem to labor to affirm this stereotype. Surely such overt racism and sexism cannot be the accident of the music video producers , and surely they must be poking fun a racial stereotypes. I assumed that the mohawk guy was Major Lazer, the DJ who made this song, and thought that perhaps he directed the music video to poke fun at stereotypes. Then I researched Major Lazer, and was displeased with my findings.

First of all, the video was directed by white male comedian Eric Wereheim. As for the creators of the song, Major Lazer consists of two DJ-producers, both who are white males. According to Wikipedia, “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do is the debut full-length album by Major Lazer, collaborative music project from DJ/Producers Diplo and Switch.  The album is heavily influenced by Jamaican dancehall music and features guest appearances from Jamaican artists on every track.” In researching Major Lazer, I became more disgusted with the appropriation of Black bodies and women’s bodies to create the image of the artists. Major Lazer’s website disturbed me for many reasons. The site if full of nothing but images which serve to construct the concept of Major Lazer (See album cover).  One image is a woman of color posing with an armband touting one of the ML slogans “Get free” an appropriation of the historical anti-colonial revolutionary struggle for freedom from European oppression of African descendants in Caribbean colonies and plantations by hipster DJs for their hipster fans. Another photo quotes Bob Marley, saying “We’ll free the people with music” in a thinly veiled attempt to cite Jamaican culture and insert the white male DJS of Major Lazer as the freers of the Jamaican people. Worst of all, I think it is pretty disgusting that these two white men made up a character names Major Lazer, who is a cartoon Black hypermasculine militaristic maverick hero who is often surrounded by Black women in sexual poses (See here 12, 3, 4). So many musical artists appropriate women’s bodies and churn out images of men as dominators and women as sex objects, but this is a whole other level of sexist/racist representations because they are created by white men to sell records and earn cool credit among hipster circles (if you did not get it by now,hipsters love appropriating fashion, music, decor, images and other things from marginalized cultures.There is even a picture of a sexy woman of color posing while her brown fetus dances rediculously inside her bloated belly. This picture of a pregnant Egyptian queen has the potential to be empowering for women, but it has rendered pregnancy, something that many women take pride in and regard as sacred, as very sexual and silly. 

While the hypersexual Black women who perform at Major Lazer live shows might be simply expressing dancehall style of dance in which women dance in an extremely sexual manner, and while I strongly wish to avoid casting judgments on cultures (Jamaican) that are different than mine, I feel like it is wrong for white American men to get Black women to perform this dance style for their shows because the dancing reinforces negative stereotypes about women in order to put on a hip show. Ok, because I can’t shut up about this, I also want to point out that stupidly enough, Major Lazer seems to live in some sort of jungle  perhaps in mythical location in a Caribbean island or Africa.

In another Major Lazer music video, “Keep it Going Louder”, makes the dancers, the actual women actors, invisible while drawing a disproportionate amount of attention to their bodies by distorting their faces to appear inhuman and very unappealing. There are two other women, the singers of the song’s chorus, which serve as a contrast to the backup dancers. The two singers are very different. First, the dancers are of a normal bodily size, dance suggestively, are dressed in tacky bikinis, and have distorted faces. In contrast, the singers are impossibly thin, wearing cute and hip little dresses, make small ironic dance-like gestures, and are pretty. Again we see the mohawk guy, making silly faces and even at one point extracting a 3 foot long furry tail-looking object from the front of his pants, suggesting a long and animal-like phallus (sigh, again with the racism, for mohawk guy is Black). The only white male in the video is Diplo, one of the artists for Major Lazer, who DJ’s on CGI turntables throughout the song. Interestingly enough, the video website makes it clear that Major Lazer is the star of the the movie by projecting the name everywhere in text and in verbal shoutouts during the song. The information below the video gives information like “Directed by Eric Wareheim, Edited and Animation by Fatalfarm, Art by Kevin O’Neill, Produced by Clark Reinking and Dave Kneebone, Styling by Amanny Ahmad, Makeup by Tara Loren,” (hmm, only men involved in the making of this movie, besides women to take care of makeup and fashion) but no information is given as to who mohawk-guy is, who the singers are (two Black women), nor who the backup dancers are. By the way, at the very end of the song, everyone except the white male is blasted into outer space, and the song/video is over. Read into it as much you like. It seems like a racial/sexual purging to me.

Man. I used to be into hipster stuff, like reading Vice magazine’s Dos and Don’ts fashion section. Then I slowly accepted the fact that magazine was using hipsterism to mask deep racism and sexism, became too disturbed when I flipped through the mag, and I stopped looking at it altogether because it depressed me. What is up with the phenomena of hipster culture that makes it ok to have views that are consistent with KKK ideology and makes it cool to buy clothes that emulate a fashion in a way that literally reenacts colonialism by appropriating their patterns and reproducing them for corporate profit at the financial and moral expense of the affected peoples. Major Lazer acts in this neocolonialist manner by stealing Jamaican dancehall music and bringing it to the American hipster audience for profit and fame. While it is good to make available new ideas from other cultures which are accessible and understandable, it is problematic when white people draw from people of color, when those from the Global North take from those of the Global South, and when capitalist interests are involved (sell Major Lazer shit!) .

I also found a remix of Pon de Floor on Major Lazers website, which depicts women in two ways: hypersexual women who do nothing but fuck (Black women) and women as infants (Asian woman). The problem with this is that in our society, women are expected to be infantile virgins AND sexually experienced whores who will have sex with any guy who wants it from them. And that is not even going further in depth to examine the way Asian women are expected to be submissive and childlike domestically and sexually while Black women are expected to be respectable and yet hypersexual. The video outlines the sexist dichotomy perfectly, in a hipster manner of course.

I am still going to listen to Major Lazer on youtube and Pandora. Their music is fabulous. I will not purchase their music however, because I do not support their sexist and racist methods of earning money and fame. I want to note that not all hipsters are bad. Not all cultural appropriators are white. We all participate in oppressing and being oppressed in one way or another. Even if you don’t identify as a hipster per say, or as a white male dominator, if you wear Native-American print clothing which is very popular right now, whether you bought it from Nordstrom to Forever 21 to Target, you are participating in hispter neocolonialism. My rule is that if I am not going to purchase the item with a Native American print from a Native American vendor, I will not purchase it. Now if I was somehow in a reservation in New Mexico and I was at a local vendor who sold real Native American shit from which profits would be made and given back to the people of the reservation, I would totally buy it. Vote with your dollars and opt out of neocolonialist, racist and sexist purchasing. To conclude, I suggest boycotting Major Lazer with your dollars, even if you sneak in some listening time to their bumpin’ music (fyi, “Pon de Floor” was blasting in the ballroom at New Student Orientation last week at Sac State). As for me, I will continue to actively critique racist and sexist trends in art, society, politics and the like, even as I take such mediums in, to appreciate that qualities that can be salvaged from the wreckage of ignorant and oppressive productions.

Note:Check out this other cool blog post on Pon de Floor from which I was inspired and from which I got some ideas you read in my blog http://theramblingfeminist.wordpress.com/tag/major-lazer/