Links of Great Interest: Ugh, she pretty much drowned herself?

Have I mentioned recently that San Francisco’s a union town?

This’ll be a shorter LoGI than normal — the future in-laws don’t have internet acces. I’m fiending, guys.

MEDIA ADVOCACY FOR THE WIN!

Anyways, from Scarlett:

A university student is to blame for her own murder, because who gets into a stranger’s car? I want to label this as a form of gender-based terrorism, because seriously, my first thought was GASP I USED TO HITCH-HIKE ALL THE TIME OMG OMG OMG and then my second was You only have to kill/rape/mutilate one woman to make us all afraid. Didn’t Adrienne Rich say that?

Back in January, I gave Ice Song a pretty fab review. It recently won the San Diego Book Award for best SF/F! Yay Ice Song.

Randall Horton has a poem up at the Split This Rock! blog.

Black flight is freaking out Detroit.

Ebert talks more about the Avatar casting fiasco.

This woman was fired for being too pretty. Because pretty girls have it easier. Seriously, news at 11.

Teacher alleges black hair care products sicken her, sends AP/honors student to lower academic tracking. Race = not a factor. Right.

Comments

  1. scarlett says

    re: the banker. So, were her looks causing a distraction? Were men spending the whole day milling around in the bank hoping to get a glimpse of her? Were they monopolosing her at the teller? Neither of which is her fault but I could kind of understand her emplyees peevishness if that was the case. The only way I can possibly see it as her fault is if she were flirting on the job.

    I’m curious just what they wanted her to wear as it crossed out everything I can think of that would be considered ‘smart’, and aren’t bankers supposed to dress smartly?

  2. says

    Race is not a factor “because, well, we wouldn’t employ a racist”. Oh, well then. And men never harrass women because, well, mothers wouldn’t raise a son to harrass women. Wow. That’s easy.

  3. says

    Originally Posted By scarlett
    The only way I can possibly see it as her fault is if she were flirting on the job.

    Not even then. The men can ignore it, but you know what? I bet a whole bunch of them are officers or executives, and rather than risk having to fire their precious male asses, Citibank hoped they could intimidate her into adjusting her behavior.

    But let’s break this down. It’s not her “body” – it’s her big breasts, and I covered that issue recently. If she’s violating the dress code, that’s one thing. All indications suggest she was not. The truth is, you have to wear a tent to hide breasts that big, and that would be a huge disadvantage for her career because you know how that looks? Fat! Oh, noes!

    Yep. Bet you dollars to donuts a bunch of these men who can’t rein in their libidos to get a days’ work done are old Baby Boomer execs who still think they’re living in Mad Men and life’s just one big chase of the hot secretary around the table.

    “Based on preliminary information I have, it is clear that the removal of the student, as inappropriate as it was, had to do with a health issue and not a racial issue,” he says.

    Because no white girl OR BOY ever wore disgustingly loud sickening scented beauty products with noxious ingredients that make me want to claw my way out of elevators in mid-flight when I get stuck with them. Not buying it.

    Plain racism, and the school is just providing racism apologist functions.

  4. Jenny Islander says

    Oh, for the love of little green apples. The good brother in A:TLA is white and the evil brother is brown! So, lemme guess, when we see the good brother’s dead son in a flashback, he’ll get to be Asian because he’s dead. Meanwhile, the evil brother’s good wife will be white because there’s a possibility that she isn’t dead, while the evil brother’s evil and crazy daughter will be Asian.

    Not gonna watch it. I would spend too much time screaming in rage.

  5. scarlett says

    The thing with the beauty products – did the teacher talk t her superir? The student? Her parents? Did they say anything to anyone before kicking the student out? I actually have a very low tolerance for artificial scents which smell more like chemicals than whatever they’re supposed to smell like – deoderants, air fresheners – so I want to smack anyone who sprays them around me, but I can’t see my senses being offended by one particular product that just happens to have connotations with a particular race.

  6. says

    MC – thanks for the link. Her remarks reminded me of something. When I was a pre-teen watching MTV and bands like Duran Duran showing themselves off in Speedos alongside the scantily clad women, I thought things were pretty even. I saw men *and* women selling sex appeal and thought, well, feminism worked. I had no idea how limited the male meat market was, nor how it was presumed to be of more interest to gay men than hetero women, etc. Quite a disappointment learning how things really worked. Because in my head there for a brief little while, the world was a really neat place.

  7. Patrick McGraw says

    The “it can’t have been racist because we wouldn’t employ a racist” argument reminds me of something I saw a few years ago on a comics forum with a heavy feminist focus.

    The long-running Mexican comic book Memin Pinguin came to attention in America when someone saw it being sold at a Houston Wal-Mart. The comic is about a little boy whose character design is very much in the tradition of racist caricatures – especially noticeable because all of the non-black characters are drawn realistically.

    Several posters defended the comic as not being racist. Their argument essentially went like this:

    1. Lots of Mexicans love this comic.
    2. Mexicans aren’t racist like you Americans. (Actual quote.)
    3. Therefore, something that lots of Mexicans love can’t be racist.

  8. Ray says

    3. Therefore, something that lots of Mexicans love can’t be racist.

    Just like something women like can’t be sexist!

    …an argument that perpetually baffles me partly because I know that there are things that I like (even as they anger me) that are sexist. And I acknowledge that, and I look for better things, strive to encourage and participate where I can in the creation of better things, but, well, things that are not sexist or racist or etc. are hard to find.

  9. says

    1. Lots of Mexicans love this comic.
    2. Mexicans aren’t racist like you Americans. (Actual quote.)
    3. Therefore, something that lots of Mexicans love can’t be racist.

    1. Is this even true, or just a Got My Invisible Army With Me tactic of debate?
    2. Are Mexican-Americans, then, racist or not? ;) I have a feeling by “American” this person meant “white”, which is a whole other can of worms. And no, white people have no monopoly on racism.
    3. What Ray said. If women avoided entertainment unless it was 100% sexism free, we’d avoid entertainment, period. As long as you have the white male default in fiction, almost every fiction is going to be inherently racist and sexist even when it really means not to be *and* is probably opening the door for better stuff in the future.

  10. Patrick McGraw says

    Exactly. Even fiction written with the best intentions will end up being problematic in some way because of unexamined assumptions on the authors’ part. And you can still read and even enjoy something while acknowledging its problems. For example, I love the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and he was deeply, deeply ethnocentric, to the point that people of other ethnicities were given loathsome desciptions in the same vein as the inhuman Things That Should Not Be that populated his stories.

  11. photondancer says

    My sole acquaintance with Memin Pinguin is its Wikipedia article but it’s quite interesting. Since the comic has been in print for decades, I think it can safely be said to be pretty popular. Do you have a better reason than “it doesn’t conform to our standards for visual depiction of non-whites” to condemn it for being racist?

  12. photondancer says

    Addendum: my use of the word ‘better’ in my post above probably sounds feisty, but is intended in the sense of ‘would make sense to someone not raised in the USA and likely college-educated to boot’. There was a dismaying whiff of essentialism in the discussion; can something be racist/sexist/Xist if nobody perceives it to be so?

    The Discussion page for the Wiki article is also quite interesting, incidentally.

  13. Patrick McGraw says

    As I stated above, the main character’s appearance is very much in the racist tradition of black caricatures. There’s quite a bit more (as seen in the Wiki article and discussion page), but the racist caricature is the most obvious to a casual reader.

  14. Ikkin says

    Oh, for the love of little green apples. The good brother in A:TLA is white and the evil brother is brown! So, lemme guess, when we see the good brother’s dead son in a flashback, he’ll get to be Asian because he’s dead. Meanwhile, the evil brother’s good wife will be white because there’s a possibility that she isn’t dead, while the evil brother’s evil and crazy daughter will be Asian.

    Wow, I just realized how much I hadn’t been paying attention to the casting for A:tLA, because I’m a fan of the show, and had no idea what you were talking about at first.

    And then I realized that the “good brother” you were talking about was Iroh, whom I’d assumed would be cast as Asian so strongly that I forgot I was just assuming.

    Casting Aang as a white kid, I can understand, considering his appearance and voice in the show. Casting Iroh as white, when he was originally voiced by Mako? I don’t think there’s any way to defend that.

  15. says

    would make sense to someone not raised in the USA and likely college-educated to boot

    Could you clarify this, or maybe clarify what it is about Patrick’s points that doesn’t make sense to someone meeting your description? Particular the reference to someone being college-educated?

  16. photondancer says

    Patrick refers twice to a ‘racist tradition’ of depicting ‘blacks’. What tradition? I don’t get the impression he’s referring to any Mexican tradition (if, indeed, they even have one for ‘blacks’). If he means the caricatures that used to be common in the USA, then I do not see why people from other countries should be expected to be familiar with them or to understand them in the same historical sense he does. It does not sound to me as though Mexicans, by and large, consider the Memin comic to be racist and I find it offputting that someone is apparently saying that because it would be deemed racist in the USA then that makes it racist, period.
    The Wiki article also points out that several issues of the comic deal with racial discrimination: it seems therefore that the verdict of racism is being imposed solely because of the style of depiction of Memin and his mother. Now, it is true that they are the only characters depicted so crudely: that is interesting and certainly points to something, some conscious or unconscious decision on the part of the author Yolanda Vargas Dulche. Since most of the sources about the comic are in Spanish I am having trouble finding out more about that. One Mexican comment I found said that Memin is supposed to be an ugly kid with a good heart. Maybe she chose Memin’s look because it is ugly. Other illustrations stated to be by her depict ‘blacks’ much more realistically e.g. Fuego. Due to the language problem I am not sure if she was illustrator and writer, or writer only.
    I’m no longer sure why I mentioned ‘college-educated’ except perhaps that I get the impression that demographic is more sensitive to the notion of racial slurs and is more used to thinking about them in a theoretical and historical manner.

  17. Patrick McGraw says

    If he means the caricatures that used to be common in the USA, then I do not see why people from other countries should be expected to be familiar with them or to understand them in the same historical sense he does.

    I am tired of this excuse. “They’re from a different culture, they don’t understand how they’re perpetuating a legacy of oppression.” They shouldn’t have made use of that legacy’s tools without doing some research.

    It does not sound to me as though Mexicans, by and large, consider the Memin comic to be racist …

    Just like how the white Americans using the exact same imagery did not consider it to be racist. Just like how Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief Joe Quesada did not consider the cover to Heroes for Hire #13 to be sexist. Just like how the white school officials defending teacher in the linked article do not consider their actions to be racist.

    Do you need me to go on?

    The Wiki article also points out that several issues of the comic deal with racial discrimination: it seems therefore that the verdict of racism is being imposed solely because of the style of depiction of Memin and his mother.

    And you’ll note that I haven’t addressed the comic’s story at all. But that doesn’t mitigate the way the characters are drawn.

    Mr. Popo in Dragonball is a great character, that doesn’t change the fact that Akiran Toriyama’s design for him is horrificaklly racist. But I suppose that doesn’t count, because Toriyama is Japanese and can’t be expected to know what he’s drawing?

    I’m no longer sure why I mentioned ‘college-educated’ except perhaps that I get the impression that demographic is more sensitive to the notion of racial slurs and is more used to thinking about them in a theoretical and historical manner.

    It gives the impression of minimizing the concerns as elitist, as something that “normal people” would not (and therefore should not) be concerned about.

  18. Maria says

    That, and racial caricatures often work in conversation with each other. For example, Little Black Sambo was written by a Scottish woman living in India and included stereotypical reps of Tamil, dark-skinned kids that resonated with Southern ideas of blackness and nicely intersected with American and European ideas about blackness. And if you look at some Casta paintings, you’ll see that the racist stereotypes about dark skinned black people are pretty similar (and, I’d argue, working with and against) stereotypes about blackness, poverty, and violence in the US.

    I’m not saying that the histories of African Diasporic populations across the globe are similar. I’m just saying, globalization isn’t new, and people’s histories and stereotypes were all cross pollinated.

  19. photondancer says

    Patrick, your argument consists simply of repeatedly asserting that because Memin’s style of depiction would be considered racist by the standards of many USAains, and particularly by your standards, that makes it racist. Perhaps you should read the recent post on USA universalism and think about it a little. Personally, my sardonic sense of humor can’t help but be tickled by the thought of USAains lecturing Mexicans on racism, even as they build walls to keep the latter out. I do not know why Memin was drawn that way and neither do you (or so I presume, given you’ve provided no sources). So I’m willing to wait for further evidence before condemning Dulche for active or passive racism.
    As for Little Black Sambo, I deliberately bought a copy of it a couple of years ago as my own little protest against the apparently ingrained USAain belief that anybody with brown skin must be ‘black’.

  20. photondancer says

    Also, since I’ve forgotten to ask this a couple of times already: why do you give the visual depiction priority over everything else eg. story, characterisation, historical and cultural context?

  21. says

    But Maria’s point about cross-pollination backs up Patrick’s assertions. Photondancer, you seem to be saying it’s possible for someone to caricature a person of another race without it being racist. Ideally, yes – but race politics on this planet are not ideal.

    I have to admit: if a man drew a cartoon and everyone in it looked a certain style, but the lead female was obviously caricatured, and there weren’t a ton of other women in it not being caricatured, I’d suspect sexism. Why shouldn’t I? The woman’s being singled out for something, and nothing women are typically singled out for is my idea of good. What are black people typically singled out for? Is there some place on this earth where they’re routinely thought of as really good CEO’s or excellent leaders or something, and I just haven’t heard about it? I think the “sport” and “crime” stereotyping goes way beyond US borders, based on my viewing of British TV. Correct me if I’m mistaken.

  22. Patrick McGraw says

    Personally, my sardonic sense of humor can’t help but be tickled by the thought of USAains lecturing Mexicans on racism, even as they build walls to keep the latter out.

    Okay, I’m going to stop feeding the troll now.

  23. says

    Photondancer, in the USA Universalism thread, you argue:

    Westerners (another ambiguous term) are nervous of being accused of being superior or colonialist but some practices do need to be condemned.

    Here you argue:

    Personally, my sardonic sense of humor can’t help but be tickled by the thought of USAains lecturing Mexicans on racism, even as they build walls to keep the latter out.

    Which is it? Because Mexicans, like most any culture of human beings ever, do most certainly engage in racism. Should we US folks call them on it, as you suggested in the USA Universalism post, while hopefully making clear that by no means do we think the US as a whole is superior in that regard? Or should we be silenced by people like you, like you’re arguing contradictorily in this thread, because our government’s policies are less than perfect?

  24. says

    I know I’m not the one asked here, but if you wait for someone with a perfect record to show up and be allowed to point out flaws in someone else, you’re waiting for Godot.

    In my opinion, a good quality to have when criticizing someone is being open to criticism yourself, but even if you’re not, you can still be right on target. Saying criticism doesn’t count because of who’s saying it is an ad hominem fallacy.

  25. Jenny Islander says

    Oh, the fail in The Last Airbender is widespread and deep. It isn’t “just” taking an Asian-inspired setting with a plot infused with Asian mythologies and characters from three thinly disguised Asian cultural groups plus Inuit and deciding that the leads must be Caucasian. See here:

    http://www.racebending.com/v3/background/avatar-calligrapher-professor-s-l-lee-shares-a-statement/

    Professor Lee was the person who was hired by the people who made the original Nickelodeon cartoon to make sure that the Chinese writing that appears in nearly every episode was correct. In other words, he is not an imaginary being and he does not live in the Mysterious Land of You Can’t Get There from Here. Except that it is, according to the TLA team, so incredibly hard to get Chinese writing right that they had to spend extra money making up a gibberish writing system to use instead. So I guess Professor Lee is imaginary after all.

    Oh, and then there’s the costuming, which includes a whole passel of female extras dressed in clothing that is only worn by dead people, which is sure to make the movie popular overseas.

    And so on. And so on.

    If they really couldn’t find a single expert to advise them on any of this, the cartoon series has its own flippin’ wiki, for crying out loud.

    But, you know, it’s that Asian-y stuff, therefore irrelevant.

  26. Patrick McGraw says

    I remember reading a casting call for extras that requested actors dress in the “traditional dress of their culture, for example, if you are Korean, wear a kimono.”

    It’s like they’re trying to be as insulting as possible.

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