Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Race and Rape


Over the past few days, I've seen Antoine Dodson videos linked numerous times on facebook. I've seen links to videos proclaiming him a hero, and as well to "the Bed Intruder Song," something I found to be kind of more than crude. (Normally I really enjoy auto-tune the news videos.)

Today, I finally figured I should watch the video (the original, I hadn't seen any beyond the link name) because seeing it around so much was starting to annoy me.

My first thoughts were basically, this is just "people laughing at working-class African-Americans!" (Funny I should think that... as here is this post about that fact) And then, this is another instance of America racializing sexual violence and writing it off. And the fact that you can BUY "the Bed Intruder" song is very disturbing to me, as it should be to everyone.

Which is why I am happy to have found this wonderful post on the Crunk Feminist Collective blog. It really hits all the right points. Basically:

1. As an internet people, we should not trivialize the seriousness of sexual assault. Kelly Dodson was fortunately not raped because her brother did happen to hear what was going on and kick the guy out. However, laughing at this video is not only disrespectful to African Americans, but to other survivors of rape and sexual assault. What about those survivors who didn't have brothers to come save them? As a person who is disturbed by the fact that one of my close friends was sexually assaulted while I slept through it, and I am sure for people who have actually suffered from sexual assault or abuse the fact that Antoine's reaction is viewed as FUNNY instead of anything less than purely... heroic is really troubling! (Oh, and if I had woken up, I totally would have Antoine Dodsoned that douche bag too. )

2. Putting the focus on Antoine is taking the focus away from Kelly, the actual victim. The blog post points out,
Framed under the guise of “news” this masquerades as a story about a woman awaking to an intruder in her bed but is really a story about a funny black man, hilarious in his anger. It was never about her.
The post then goes on to discuss the "invisibility" of women of color.
For women of color, invisibility is often forced and along with hypervisibility, it is used to as means to discredit and oppress. This is indeed the case with Kelly Dodson, made invisible through the hypervisibility of her brother. Her invisibility is highlighted by the numerous Antoine Dodson for President T-shirts and paraphernalia that exists in the same space that doesn’t even remember Kelly’s name.
3. Why are so many portrayals of women of color and people of color stereotypical? Especially when these portrayals go memetastic? Is it the little racist inside of every one of us who enjoys laughing at other races when they do something stereotypical? Oh, this is from real life, so it's okay to laugh at. No, no, it's really not. There are not the same kinds of video posts satirizing whiteness... so why is it OK to make fun of people of color this way?

This is something that's been irking me, and I think on a whole this relates to the problem of racism within the feminist movement. As a movement, we're pretty white-dominated. And more than than, prominent feminists tend to be cis-gendered, middle-class, highly educated and white. Now, seeing as I fall into that category... it's on me to make sure that I don't use my privilege and ignore the needs of others. There's been a long and complicated history regarding women outside of the cis-gendered, middle-class, educated, white majority in the feminist movement, and it hasn't been nice either. You would think that a group of progressively-minded people such as feminists would be welcoming to other women more oppressed than they. But no. It's really not been like that.

That is why we, who are sort of straddling the 3rd wave , have got to stand up for incorporating the ideas, opinions, problems, and successes of all feminists. Men, women, white, black, latina, asian, transgendered, bisexual, lesbian, young, old... You name it-- all of them. It's a complicated world that we live in, which means that we must embrace it and NOT cast it aside.

I don't have a whole lot of plans/structure for this blog; usually I just sort of post whatever is really tugging at me that day. However, one actual goal of mine is to incorporate the opinions of feminists outside of my cis-gendered, white, middle-class, educated world view. That's me. I am one person. But there are a lot more people out there, and a lot of them are not like me. So, here's some linkage relating to this post. There are things that I know, and other things that other people know or can express better.

The Crunk Feminist Collective: this is an awesome blog written by and for the hip-hop generation women of color. Race, current events, hip-hop, and women's issues are only a few of the things that this blog covers, and I highly recommend it.

Womanist Musings: Renee states on her blog that, "I am a committed humanist. I believe in the value of people over commodities. I believe in the human right to food, clothing, shelter, and education. I am pacifist, anti-racist, WOC. My truth may not be your truth, but I intend to speak it nonetheless."

NO! This is a website forged out of the need for breaking the silence in the African-American community about inter-community sexual violence. I saw the documentary last year in one of my women's studies classes, and I really, really recommend it. The website offers resources for those looking for answers, as well as looking for a great film to show and discuss for class, with a group, with a community, or with friends.

RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Co-founded by Tori Amos, a rape survivor, activist, and prolific musician, RAINN "created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at1.800.656.HOPE. This nationwide partnership of more than 1,100 local rape treatment hotlines provides victims of sexual assault with free, confidential services around the clock. The hotline helped 137,039 sexual assault victims in 2005 and has helped more than one million since it began in 1994."

Racialicious: The Intersection of Race and Pop Culture. There are lots of links to what's going on, for those of you who like to rely on the internet-hunting of others for your news (like me!).

Holla Back New York City: This blog is devoted to giving victims of street harassment an outlet to post pictures of their harassers and HOLLA BACK! No matter the context, you always "have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being the object of some turd's fantasy..." Holla Back also has a bunch of links to resources and like-minded progressive websites, like Gender Across Borders, Street Harassment: A Feminist Guide to Action, and SAFER: Students Active for Ending Rape to name a few. There are also Holla Back websites for Washington, D.C., Chicago, the UK, and Toronto, Canada.

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