A REAL Debate to Have

December 17, 2013

I am attempting to coalesce the dissonance of the many critiques of women in the media.  From women twerking, to the sexualized image of girls in pageants, to the dissonance of Beyoncé being a feminist.  People critique women for the men they marry, the men they do not marry, their lack of marriage, the fact that they are married, when they do not have children,  when they do have children and especially when they are “out of wedlock”—as if being within wedlock is the end all, be all for women.  We are critiqued for being hypersexualized, sexual, asexual, homo-hetero-bi-try-pan-any-sexual.  And in this process we are dehumanized and people tend to lack the insight into the variability and growth potential of us women as humans, even when we loudly vocalized our variable history.

I find the critiques of events as they occur in our social media sphere to be limited.  Not only in their word count, but especially in their critique of the nuanced natures of women.  We can only be woman if … we can only be feminist if … we can only be this if … we can only be that if …

Yet, in the process the criticizers yell how they are interrupters, pro-feminine, pro-woman, et cetera; while denying women their own feminism.  Is that not anti-feminist, anti-woman, anti-interrupter?  Are feminists incapable of being sexualized in their professional or personal life?  Are they incapable of being feminist because of things their husbands’ say/do/experience or said/did/experienced? And in the most recent case of Beyoncé, is she not capable of being a feminist because she sampled words that were not her own but provided a strong message for hundreds of thousands, millions even that would not have otherwise heard about it? And is that the only thing that would make her seem like a feminist on her entire album?  On some level, I want to ask ain’t she a woman. Even with the myriad of sexualized, dynamic, dissonance-creating images and positions that women embody as they navigate their degrees of power in this Western patriarchal society, why do we continue to have to ask–especially in reference to women of color “Ain’t I a woman?”

It is always nice to dialogue about the merits of another individual, but how about in our contemporary urge to dialogue about the merits of Olivia Pope (fictional), Michelle Obama (real), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (real) we stray from critiquing one person’s personage and instead critique the work they have done when they profess that girls run the world, for women to demand the relationship they desire, that it is okay to give up career to be wife and mother, that it is okay to eschew the wife-mother roles, and the list goes on.  How about we critique the patriarchal powers that dictate to them the manners they should be female, the manners they should own or accept their OWN sexuality, how they should feel about their body, how their body should be, how they should negotiate their own identity, and the list goes on?  How about discussing the patriarchy that has people debating the merits of Beyoncé’s (of all people’s) sexuality, femininity, and feminism, among other things? Where is the debate about  the hegemonic structures dictating that Michelle Obama must be angry in a picture when she may just be giving ‘neutral face?’  Where is the critical thinking in our discussion about the intersectionality that plagues women of color (Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and even Olivia-fictional character-Pope) as they navigate the Westernized patriarchy that commodifies their bodies and decries them for their comfort in their being!?

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