Sexism, Dating Violence, and Racism: Bass-ackwards America, 2012
Whew, it’s been a while since I last tumbled, but only 3 months into 2012 there’s already so much for me to write about and since a recent skiing-related knee injury has required me to rest up, I have a little time.
First (and I’m way behind on this), there’s the issue of Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who got a lot of media attention when she expressed that she thought contraception should be covered under Georgetown’s health insurance. Obviously, this is a request that’s sure to invite some controversy. But some of the responses to this story were flat out terrifying. The one response that had me searching for a barf bag came from none other than Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as to suggest that if taxpayers were going to pay for her to have sex then they should at least get to watch (vomit).
While it’s obvious that Rush was trying to make fun of Sandra, I find this perception of women to be offensive and disturbing. The fact that he’s comparing an eloquent, self-advocating law student to a whore just shows how much he values women. And this suggestion that he should get to watch is just encouraging the perpetuation of a notion that women are little more than sex objects; a notion that this country supposedly did away with ages ago.
The second thing that’s been bugging me is Rihanna’s decision to collaborate with Chris Brown for a downright humiliating remix of her song “Birthday Cake”. She got a lot of backlash for this decision from fans, other celebrities, and domestic violence groups alike. This topic is also so five minutes ago, but I’m not over it, and I’m also angry at Rihanna for a different reason than most of her other former fans are.
In the months and years following Chris Brown’s attack, I thought Rihanna handled the situation with tremendous grace. She gave one interview and she was very real about her feelings and the effect the incident had on her. But despite being utterly broken and humiliated, she was determined to find the good in the situation and move forward with her life.
And move forward she did! For the three years following the tragedy, she reigned over the pop charts, and gained international adoration for her catchy music, fearless style, and above all, the strong and empowered image she created for herself in the months after the incident with Chris Brown. She went through a horribly traumatic experience and all of it was very publicized. But in spite of it all, she got up, dusted herself off, and took over the world. This is what I cherished so about Rihanna, what I connected to, and what I lost when I heard her sing, "Remember how you did it? Remember how you fit it? If you still wanna kiss it, come, come, come and get it."
Here’s how I feel about it; It’s absolutely her decision to forgive him. But she shouldn’t have collaborated with him on a song, contributed to his fame and fortune, and helped him revive his floundering career. He didn’t deserve that. Or if she had to collaborate with him, at the very least she shouldn’t have sung about how even though he beat her face in and told her he was going to kill her, she’s still going to give it to him. But since she went there, she absolutely needs to stop presenting herself to the world as a strong, empowered woman. No strong, empowered woman would invite the man who savagely beat her back into her life, or her bed.
I think with this move she made it very clear that three years later, she’s still just as broken and lovesick and pathetic as she was the day it happened. Which I kind of expected her to be, but she shouldn’t have been so publicly weak. She shouldn’t have given Chris Brown so much power over her. Apparently nobody ever told her: We fake it ‘til we make it.
Last but definitely not least, there is the shameless racism that seems to be everywhere you turn these days. Obviously, there’s the tragic Trayvon Martin case (get your shit together, Florida!!!), but there’s also been quite a bit of chatter about the casting choices for the Hunger Games movie. Three of the main characters in the movie are black, but apparently some of the fans imagined them white and were actually outraged that the movie producers chose black actors for the roles, posting all kinds of hateful things on social media sites like facebook and twitter.
I can’t wrap my brain around why some people just can’t get past skin color, or sexual orientation, or religious affiliation, or gender, and judge people based on who they are as a person. Among many of the disgusting comments I read, one that left a particularly bad taste in my mouth said, “why did the producer make all the good characters black?” This commenter went so far as to suggest that only white people should get good parts. It’s the same kind of thinking that lead to poor Trayvon’s murder; this bizarre notion that black people are all criminals, thugs, and killers. This is wrong and it’s something we need to address as a culture.
It is 2012, right?