No Type: Trap Feminism Pt. 2

I’ve been thinking a lot about trap feminism and what it means since I first wrote about it in January. In this introductory piece — which was mostly a purge of initial ideas that I had been bouncing back and forth with friends — I identified some of the makings of trap feminism which included an acknowledgement of women as participants and contributors to hip hop and trap music, active agents over their sexuality and bodies, and conscious players in informal/non-institutional financial transactions. Reflecting back now, trap feminism can be applied much more broadly. Today I find myself thinking about trap feminism as a tool used to identify liberating themes in trap music and facets of it’s surrounding cultures. As a means for critical feminist engagement, it is important to understand that there aren’t any perfect examples. (It’s worth noting that I haven’t exactly found any perfect examples of feminist texts either. *sips tea*) More importantly, as mentioned in the first piece, it is a great opportunity to challenge the idea that trap music and culture are uniformly anti-feminist/oppressive.

One new track that I’ve been doing some internal theorizing about has been Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type.” This fall banger, produced by Mike Will Made-It is currently making it’s way up Billboard charts. The central line of the song, accentuated by a perfect base drop is: “Ion got no type. Bad bitches is the only thing that I like.” In contrast to tracks like 5 Star Bitch, which uptake the task of defining an ideal woman to the tee, Rae Sremmurd is rejecting a subscription to any one kind of woman. While I don’t think they are producing materials for a body positivity campaign, they are creating a space to broaden personal standards of beauty and attractiveness within trap culture. As someone who has done the hip hop feminist work of perverting and redefining the term “bad bitch” — mainly expanding the terms meaning beyond the parameters of physical aesthetic — I can’t help but identify this track as an affirmation.

Beyond physical dating and sex, the track includes some lines like “I make my own money so I spend it how I like. I’m just living life, and let my mama tell it, n***a I aint livin right” and “Keep your 2 cents. Take your own advice. I’m just living life. Like I live twice.” The two members of the the group Rae Sremmurd, are brothers aged 19 and 20. They represent a demographic of young adults who are able to make decisions on behalf of their own lives, but are still susceptible to ageist disenfranchisement and unwanted parental intervention. In this context, these lyrics can be seen as resistance to such power relations. If we were to apply a thesis to this track, it would be: I’m doing my own thing — which includes using my own measure of attractiveness selecting partners, using my purchasing power as I see fit, and engaging in whatever leisure activities I choose and am able to pursue– and I need you to respect that. 

Along similar lines, popular Memphis rapper Yo Gotti urges a different kind of individuality in his new track “Errbody” (the visuals for which address the appropriation of Black culture by white people).

Everybody getting money.
Everybody say they from the hood.
Everybody real. But they not boy
Every chick say that she a bad bitch.
Everybody on Instagram looking like they mad rich.
But they not.
Everybody say they started from the bottom now they at the top

This song address the false projection of wealth and status. He even tackles the issue of barsexuals. Here, Gotti joins Rae Sremmurd in a rejection of homogeny for those who participate in hip hop and trap culture. Both of these songs are laced with trap feminist themes in the broader sense of the term. It speaks to youthful nature of trap culture (Migos refers to it as a “young n***a lifestyle”), in addition to its capacity to resist (and simultaneously set) social trends, and resist opposition and oppression. This, in addition to a critical eye on the role of women and the femininity, are strong pieces of trap feminism.

Avatar Image Sesali imagines her conversations about trap feminism playing out like any good trap artist’s mixtapes. You can expect a part 3, 4, 5, etc.

The Muslim Spain, Part II

And then a disaster of unimaginable proportions struck. Between 75 and 200 million people died in Europe within the span of just 7 years. This means that between 30 and 60% (and in the south of Europe up to 75%) of all population died. Even today, seeing every other person you know die in front of you would mess with people’s heads a lot. We’ve heard of 2 people dying of Ebola in this country, and there is already an unhinged response to that. Of course, the illiterate, unsophisticated Europeans of the XIVth century did not react calmly and rationally to the devastation of the Black Death. They freaked.

It seems that the plague had been brought to Europe on the merchant ships traveling to the continent’s southern shores from the East. More often than not, there would be Jewish merchants on those ships. So what was the conclusion that the medieval Christians drew? Obviously, they thought, “Jews, East, all of those dark-haired people who speak Arabic, weird religions and habits, all of that travel here and there – God is punishing us for tolerating all this stuff.”

So Christians freaked out and started persecuting first the Jews and the Muslims for not practicing the right religion and then, when there were no more Jews and Muslims, they were persecuting each other for not practicing their shared religion correctly. In 1492, after the Jews were expelled from Spain and the last Muslim kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula destroyed, the King and Queen of Spain sent Columbus to look for more people to convert to the right religion and then persecute for not practicing it correctly. What ISIS is doing to less fundamentalist Muslims today, Spain did to Protestants in the XVI and XVIIth centuries. And then again to the Republican Spaniards in the 1930s and 1940s.

This freakout lasted until the XVIIIth century when, finally, Christians looked around, scratched their heads, and said, “OK, what the hell was that, again?” Obviously, these were not all Christians but a tiny minority of the most educated and intelligent among them. They started realizing that maybe it would be best to leave religion in the realm of the spiritual and the private and organize societies according to the principles other than the correctness of people’s religious practices. 

This is a worldview that many people still haven’t managed to adopt fully. The political life of the US, for instance, still centers around this issue, although civilization is steadily, albeit slowly, conquering minds, one brain at a time. But the legacy of the terrified Medieval folks is still here. Whenever something goes amiss, the XIVth-century thinking of “something must be wrong with the evildoers’ religion” switches on. Just yesterday, I read a long and passionate article, arguing that Islam makes people violent because blah blah something in the Koran blah blah blah while something else in the Bible blah blah blah blah. Of course, as a literary critic, I can tell you that any work of literature can say to anybody whatever that anybody chooses to see in it. Blaming violence on books is as intelligent as blaming it on TV shows or video games. The course of human history has demonstrated that if people feel like killing, raping and torturing, they can find a justification for that in pretty much any book, newspaper, speech, TV show, online game, or the way the clouds look in the sky this morning.


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The Muslim Spain, Part I

John Hayden, whose blog I highly recommend, left a long and interesting comment on our blog yesterday. Here is an excerpt from the comment that can be found in its entirety here:

Conflict between the Moslem world and the Western world has been ongoing for a thousand years, give or take. It used to be called a conflict between the Moslem and Christian worlds, and some would continue to characterize it as such. However, it is no longer reasonable to characterize the Western world only by Christianity. The hold of western religions on populations has weakened in many places. But the hold of religion seems to have intensified in much of the Moslem world.

Almost from the beginning, Muslims were expansionist, conquering Northern Africa and half of Spain. During the era of the Crusades, Christianity, led by the popes, saw the Muslim world as “Infidels.” Likewise, the Muslim world saw Christians as “Infidels.” Centuries of land and sea battles ensued.

This longstanding battle between east and west has been on hold for a century of more. During that pause, “modernization” has tremendously widened the gulf between the Muslim world and the West, with Turkey sort of caught in the middle. Muslims and Christians have lived side by side in many places. But the breakup of Yugoslavia is instructive. As soon as central government disappeared, ancient enmities between Christians and Muslims turned violent.

Thank you, John! I love long, intelligent, passionate comments like yours. Since you mentioned Spain, I was inspired to write a little comment of my own. If any of my students are reading this, I warn you that you will be bored to death because you’ve heard this a hundred times already.

In 710, the Iberian Peninsula (the part of the world where Spain and Portugal are located today*) was a very sad place. The barbaric tribe of warrior Visigoths had conquered the peninsula and destroyed the great civilization of the Roman Empire that used to be there. These barbarians had no appreciation for the philosophy, art, and culture of the ancient civilizations of Europe. They ravaged the peninsula, enslaved the Jews, demolished the repositories of knowledge, and the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans was lost. The situation in rest of Europe mirrored that on the Iberian Peninsula.

Then, in 711, an enormously more advanced and civilized culture came to the the Iberian Peninsula. Muslims crossed the Straight of Gibraltar and soon conquered almost the entire peninsula. They brought with them the scholarly, artistic, and scientific sophistication that the poor, dumb Visigoths couldn’t even begin to imagine. They built palaces, gardens, repaired the Roman roads, and – most importantly – they brought to Europe the greatest gift our Western Civilization ever received. Muslims brought back the lost knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Iberian Muslims established the Caliphate of Córdoba which was later destroyed in a civil war and was substituted with a number of smaller Muslim kingdoms called “reinos de taifas.” In all of these Muslim states on the territory of the Iberian Peninsula, Christians and Jews could practice their religions freely, with only few minor restrictions (for instance, the sound of the bells on a Christian church was not allowed to drown out the call of the muezzin and the tallest church was not allowed to be higher than the tallest mosque.) Jews were known to reach highest ranks in the management of some of these Muslim kingdoms. The most famous example of that is Sh’muel HaLevi ben Yosef HaNagid who served as a vizier to the Muslim king Habbus al-Muzaffar. 

Now, let’s remember that this was all taking place in the Middle Ages when everybody was constantly at war with each other. Christians kings fought other Christian kings, Muslims battled with other Muslims. Often, Christian leaders would recruit Muslims to fight against other Christians. Then, one Muslim kingdom would turn against a former Christian ally, and they would fight against each other, etc. Everybody had their religion, everybody’s religion was super central to their lives, but somehow, all these folks managed to co-exist quite well together, creating what today is our Western civilization. Crowds of scholars and intellectuals from all over the known world would congregate on the Iberian Peninsula to imbibe the great knowledge of the Western and Eastern civilizations.

* Of course, the words “Muslim Spain” in the post’s title are incorrect. While there were still Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula, there was no Spain. Once Spain started to consolidate around a shared manufactured identity, Muslims (and, of course, Jews) had to be expelled and vilified.


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Men Dressing Up as Fat Women

Flashback Friday.

An excellent piece of evidence that femininity is hilarious or ridiculous in U.S. culture, or even frightening or disgusting, is the fact that men use the category “woman” as a Halloween costume. We laugh when we see men dressed up as women because how ridiculous, right? Women do not generally dress up like a generic man on Halloween because adopting masculinity is an everyday things for us. It’s valued, not mocked.

Many costume manufacturers (or homemade costume makers, for that matter) add fat hatred to the mix. Because there is nothing more disgusting and hilarious, we are told, than a fat woman. Except, perhaps, a fat woman who fails to be properly humiliated.

The costume manufacturers know this and are trafficking in this hatred on purpose. Here are some examples, sent in by Michaela N. and Shane M., from several different online costume stores:

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Pamela Anderson’s character on Baywatch wasn’t fat. This reveals that the costume manufacturers aren’t just making costumes that let people dress up as fat others, they’re adding fatness as a joke.

Halloween is a disturbing fun house mirror, showing us what we really think about each other.

Originally posted in 2010.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Things I am too hot to care about

It’s the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea. They don’t get it! They’re not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, health care. They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.”

–Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, on why young women don’t need to vote

  1. Affordable housing. With hair like this, you don’t need a roof over your head.
  2. Parental leave. Sometimes I think about having a kid but then I just rub my perfectly shaped stomach until I drift into a peaceful sleep.
  3. Community investment. I believe strongly in the importance of building youths’ self-esteem so it’s really best that I just stay home.
  4. Income inequality. Coins are sort of reflective, so every time I go to pay for something I am startled by my impeccable bone structure.
  5. Safety. Once someone tried to mug me but I just smiled.
  6. Criminal justice. Once someone tried to arrest me but I just smiled.
  7. Police brutality. Once a cop was going to shoot me but I just smiled.
  8. Education. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning, lug all my textbooks to the library, turn to the assignment, open up my laptop, and suddenly it’s four hours later and my Photobooth library is full.
  9. Reproductive health care access. I am out of everyone’s league.

Alexandra

Alexandra Brodsky is too hot to write a bio.

Zim mini buses

Icarian concept and "fall from Grace"


Why so few people shamanize

Mike and I enjoyed a brilliant conversation, today, on the beach, going for our early morning run.

The issue was the differences in perpectives between people predisposed to a shamanic perspective and those who actively avoid one.  It's not just that some passively recoil in fear at some shamanic notions,  but rather that a totally different mindset in the first place does not lend itself to some having shamanic notions.

In the end it surely comes down to physics.  At least in Nietzsche's sense, it does.  Shamanism involves destruction and rebuilding, but if somebody senses that there is not enough within them to facilitate rebuilding, then shamanism has no positive side to offer them, only a grave negative.  Destruction without rebuilding is like renovating whilst only completing half the job -- the tearing down of elements.  You want to rebuild again, but sorry, there is no money in the bank account.

That is why shamanic books are for the few.  You have to be rich enough to afford devastation.  Because it's not just devastation you're affording but the opportunity to rebuild.  

When stated like this, I think the matter becomes very plain as to why many feel no pull toward intellectual shamanism.  They implicitly recognise that they can't afford it.

But there's something else that goes on, too, which is that our value judgements are contorted by the dominant cultural set of values.  We may use words that are suited to a set of values that automatically preclude entrance into shamanic experience.

I think both Nietzsche and Bataille would agree that there is enjoyment to be had in terror, specifically that terror relating to the danger of one's self-destruction.  This has to do with being able to withstand the terror and expand oneself in the process.  Instead of contracting and being destroyed, one allows the frightful experience to enter ones bones so that one starts to grow from it.

But the language we use for people who initially encounter this terror is pejorative.  We call them
"sensitive" or overwrought, thus precluding the possibility that they may rise to the occasion of their terror and learn and grow from it.

An example that came to mind, as I attempted to explain to Mike what obstructs our enjoyment of shamanic experience, was, fortuitously, and prosaically, a situation on a soap opera last night.

Here we have a middle-aged woman who contracts a soldier's PTSD just be listening to him.  Leaving aside whether this is a realistic scenario, or probably not, she has an episode of terror, involving an image of her husband who opens the fridge and then blows up.  

We might leap to defend her psychical structure by remarking on how she needs to withdraw from her weirdness and not be so fragile and imaginative.  That would be the normal reaction, as conditioned by the common-sense of the majority of people who do not have sufficient resources in their banks to afford a psychical reconstruction.

But consider it from a shamanic point of view.  The boring suburbanite achieved a really dramatic and potentially life-changing experience at little cost to herself.  She didn't even need to go to Afghanistan.  She only had to sit still for a while and listen.  This psychical intrusion gave her a window that could lead to insight into whole dimensions she would not be able to experience.   She could know a soldier's life, experience the meaning of death, know mortality, understand the limits of suburbia and of conventional thinking all in the flash of a shamanic lesson.

It would not take longer than the lighning strike of this psychical intrusion to know much more than she had ever previously known.

The problem is the rebuilding.  If she has the energy to do so, she would radically advance her knowledge and experience of the world.

Perhaps it would be unlikely, though, that a suburbanite would have those kinds of resources.  She'd have to be exceptional among her ilk.  But supposing she had the necessary recourses, then psychical tenderness would be the gateway to psychical toughness.













True Healing Takes Sacrifice

Open Thread and Link Farm: It’s The Great Pumpkin Edition

delort-Its-the-Great-Pumpkin-Charlie-Brown-variant

  1. Above: A poster for “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by scratchboard artist Nicolas Delort. More info about the poster (including alternate versions) here.
  2. A round-up of some well-reasoned, civil critiques of #GamerGate.
  3. And here’s another #GamerGate Link Roundup, this time from Brute Reason.
  4. ​We’re All Tired Of Gamergate
  5. At least 8 women in gaming have had to flee their homes due to threats.
  6. The Only Thing I Have To Say About Gamer Gate | Felicia Day
  7. Actress Felicia Day Opens Up About GamerGate Fears, Has Her Home Address Exposed Minutes Later
  8. Did you know that Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and others have been involved in a major wage theft scandal? The companies conspired to not compete for employees, so that wages would be artificially held down. The conspirators included George Lucas and Steve Jobs – people who clearly didn’t have enough money already. Assholes. Pando Daily has an archive of their stories on this subject.
  9. Occupational Licensing of Strippers Isn’t Just Unnecessary, It’s Dangerous – Hit & Run : Reason.com
  10. The People’s Climate Change – Windypundit Shorter Windypundit: When right-wingers claim climate change doesn’t exist, that’s the fault of left-wingers for using left-wing rhetoric or advocating left-wing policies. The idea that right-wingers are responsible for their own choices and views is, it seems, inconceivable.
  11. Voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee dropped 2012 turnout by over 100,000 votes – The Washington Post
  12. EconoMonitor : Ed Dolan’s Econ Blog » Could We Afford a Universal Basic Income? (Part 2 of a Series)
  13. “Yes means yes” is about much more than rape – Vox
  14. In defense of John Grisham – The Washington Post
  15. What Happens When Hasidic Jews Go Secular — Science of Us
  16. Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man | Brain Pickings
  17. Immigrant Rights Groups: Obama Administration Runs ‘Deportation Mill’ in New Mexico
  18. Protests Greet Metropolitan Opera’s Premiere of ‘Klinghoffer’ – NYTimes.com Appallingly, the protests have succeeded in getting the producers to cancel a planned nationwide broadcast on movie screens.
  19. Serena and Venus Williams Battle More Body-Shaming
  20. The common law tradition says that shopkeepers have no right to discriminate : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  21. New Research Exposes Myths About Voter Fraud
  22. Kurt Busiek Addresses the Misconceptions of the Marvel/Kirby Legal Dispute
  23. South Carolina prosecutor argues that “Stand Your Ground” law doesn’t apply for victims of domestic violence.
  24. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: More Men Are Raped in US Than Women? Spoiler: No.
  25. To say: “we fought the war on poverty and lost” is to reveal your contempt for facts.
  26. You can fight City Hall (but if you take them to court, they get lawyers, too). A good post about the claim that a city is trying to take away the first amendment rights of Christian Churches by issuing a subpoena.
  27. Obama’s war on leaks – and on free speech – is unbelievable
  28. Whites are more supportive of voter ID laws when shown photos of black people voting – The Washington Post
  29. Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong – The Washington Post
  30. MRAs please take note: A comprehensive study of shipwrecks has shown that “Women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared with men.”
  31. Chart of the Week: Politicians Following, Not Leading on Same-Sex Marriage
  32. The evidence on travel bans for diseases like Ebola is clear: they don’t work
  33. Studies suggest the overwhelming motivation behind voter ID laws is hyper-partisanship, not racism.


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