Black Is Beautiful

When I looked in the mirror today, after my shower, after I put a favorite dress on just because, I was stunned. In the mirror, in the horrid bathroom lighting, my dark brown skin seemed to glow in all its shades of red and brown. I was mesmerized. I was beautiful.

Unfortunately this is not a 24hr experience for other black women, hell, this is not an experience I have too often. It should be though, right? My sister, my mother, my family, my friends, perfect strangers, should be able to look at their black skin and smile wide because damn, we are hot. And we are? Really, we are. Not that you’d know it, living as we do in a society that has elevated certain features not our own, certain skin not our own, certain hair not our own.

Really, we are.

So, you must have seen it by now.

That post by Psychology Today, that shall not be linked in this blog, claiming to have statistical proof on why black women aren’t attractive. I have been debating whether or not to respond because I really do not feel I have to justify my skin to anyone.

Unfortunately, I live in a world that makes justifying my skin a necessary, everyday thing.

[ETA: Apparently, PT took it down (which I don’t think is fair because they shouldn’t get to act like this never happened). However, the interwebs are always prepared for this eventuality. Here’s a link to a Scribd screencap of the article because I won’t be linking PT even if they repost it.]

Submit Thyself! Because…rats?

Recently an article written by two men was posted to Psychology Today titled- – and I swear that I’m copy/pasting exactly, no editing, no paraphrasing: Why Feminism Is the Anti-Viagra.

I’ll just give you a moment to recover.

You good? Alright, so let’s talk about submission and why as a woman you’ll never have another orgasm in your life if you don’t find a good enough caveman to cover you with his hulking body, press you to a hard surface, and spear you repeatedly with his manhood!

According to this article (written by two Ph.D. holders, because ‘smart’ people can be really stupid), “gender equality inhibits arousal” because the “majority of women have submission fantasies”; they go on to claim that the popularity of erotica and Twilight supports this and even include “BDSM fanfiction” in the pile too (okay, two problems here and we’re not even past the beginning of the article: one, they seem to assume that in BDSM scenes, all the submissives are female and two, I resent this as a member of fandom too used to others coming in to observe our curious culture before leaving to go make assumptions about why we participate in fandom). Continuing on their journey to pacify the male ego, they posit their own interpretations of rats, I shit you not, and the positions they take in coitus as proof that the female tends naturally toward submission.

My problems with this article? They are many, they are legion, but here are some highlights:

1) The title doesn’t even give the article a passing chance.

I feel like if you are going to write an article arguing fallacies already proven, well… false, you should at least allow me to get past your title before I can point out the fail. Basic academic writing formula is: pick a title that fits your topic. These guys are writing on female sexuality and all they could come up with was feminism as the “anti-Viagra”; Viagra was made for men and is primarily concerned with men’s arousal so…alright fine, argue that Viagra isn’t really about men, and that it’s more a buzzword for general sexual arousal, the title is still wrong because it…

2) Misrepresents feminism and perpetuates stereotypes about feminists.

This article is a blatant perpetuation of the myth that feminism is about women overreaching their biology to strive for what is rightfully male. Because all the male gods forbid we should ever rise above our biology, it’s not like we have complex consciousnesses, or anything. The overall implication is that feminism is really encroaching on male territory and because we dare challenge this notion, we suffer for it.

Not quite a non sequitur: I invite you to observe this particular trope in your lives, and in the media you consume. How many so-presented “strong female characters” have you watched get punished (killed, raped, violated, shamed, etc.) for not conforming to the stereotypical female roles or for exacting their agency and power? How many times has it been for the perpetuation of a male character’s development?

2) Wins all the heterosexist awards in the world

Not once in this article have they considered a sexual practice that doesn’t involve a cisgendered man sticking his penis in a cisgendered woman’s vagina. Not once.  There’s no room for LGBTQIA conversation here. I guess LGBTQIA identifiants aren’t having sex! Add that to the obsession with penetrative sex and you’ve got a full cisheterosexism bingo card.

3) Misrepresents BDSM culture and BDSM practitioners

Their arguments rely on D/s sexual interactions being a zero sum game instead of an equal exchange of power framed in explicit expressions of consent. A healthy D/s sexual scene (because not all D/s interaction is sexual) requires that participants have an understanding that the power is shared, just in significantly different ways- the Dominant in a scene can only be as dominating as the submissive in the scene consents to. They also make the argument that women are inherently wired for submission which erases all the women who aren’t, and it’s not an insignificant population, as they imply. Furthermore, just because subs submit doesn’t mean we can’t participate in a dominating role within a scene, but yet again, complexities to be ignored we continue to be.

By the way fellas, BDSM is so much more than D/s sex- oops sorry, I’m creating complexity again.

4) Same old, same old.

These men aren’t putting anything new out there (and they knew that, notice the whole “we’re not being misogynistic it’s just science” argument hidden in the depths of the fail). These are the same norms we dare to buck against perpetuated with the backing of “Great Science” and the myth that biology is the be all, end all, of human existence. Once again it’s really about heterosexual men pacifying themselves for not being able to, as Jill at the Feministe put it, “find a clitoris with GPS and GoogleMaps” all the while erasing identities, my identity among them.

Related:
You should read the great (and wonderfully funny) article at Feministe I quoted from. Seriously, go.

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