A note about The Deviated Norm

This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today in Racist Sexism

As Renee of Womanist Musings often points out, Black women in our society are in the double, (triple, I can't even figure out how many) bind of being constantly sexualized while also having the standard of beauty be explicitly based in Whiteness. They are accused of looking ugly and "masculine," but are assumed to be available at all times for sex (which feeds into rape culture). They are stereotyped as angry, but also expected to be "Mammy" figures who care for all around them.

This comes out in particularly horrifying ways when Black women athletes are reported on in the media. Caster Semenya comes to mind for me, and so does Venus Williams, and it is the treatment of Venus Williams in the linked article that I want to look at.

The title of this banal (but still incredibly offensive) "article" is "Venus Williams wears a racy dress..." and the actual website address calls her dress "see-through." Which is to say, that she designed (I've read elsewhere that she designs all her tenis outfits, correct me if I'm wrong) a dress where she has black lace overlaying brown cloth where the brown of the cloth shows through. The brown of the cloth is matched exceedingly well to her skin tone (given how off "skin tone" things usually are, regardless of the pigmentation of the wearer, I feel this is no small feat, just think of those ice skating outfits where the "skin tone" bits are just an entirely different color, even with White skaters). So of course, the first major error of this short (5 sentence) article is in the website address, and it is that the dress is "see-through". It is no more "see through" than my pants I am wearing right now.
(I also remember that a while ago, a similarly ridiculous article was written about another outfit that she wore where she again matched her skin tone and the cloth color in order to not show her underwear (I believe). Again they described this as "shocking" or "scandalous.")

Another error of the article is referring to the outfit as a "can-can" outfit, given that it does not share the key requirement of can-can outfits in that it doesn't have a long flouncy skirt (with frills underneath) for the high kicking necessary to rate her activity as the can-can.

The next bit of offensiveness is in the first sentence, where they state that Venus Williams could "find work" at the Moulin Rouge. They then clarify that they mean the historical Moulin Rouge in the third sentence when they reference her "auditioning for a spot at a 19th century cabaret."
For context, the wikipedia article on the Moulin Rouge euphemistically refers to the original dancers at the Moulin Rouge as "courtesans." Of course, it also describes them as the originators of the striptease, and states that the can-can as developed by the courtesans was "an attempt to seduce potential clients" (ummm, what type of clients could they possibly be referencing?) and that in the course of the dance, the revealing of genitals sometimes happened (because that happens all the time at the ballet!). To really hit home what the Moulin Rouge was (and what the dancers were considered to be), even though the article doesn't *explicitly* state that it was a whore-house, it nevertheless refers to when the Moulin Rouge suddenly became a "legitimate nightclub" and that it had a "reputation as a 'high-class brothel'" (which would hardly be necessary to state if it was truly a nightclub in the beginning). So let's just acknowledge it for what it was at the time: a strip club where the workers probably often had sex with the clients.

So, back to the article (sorry for the digression), they are explicitly referring to the historical Moulin Rouge and saying that she could "find some work" there. So they are saying that a strong Black woman athlete is equivalent to a prostitute (or at "best" a stripper).

I want to state for the record that I do not view sex work as an immoral thing/profession. I do not believe that individuals who engage in non-coercive sex work (so, leaving out pimps for instance) are immoral for doing so. However, in our society it is extremely stigmatized to be a sex worker of any stripe, and the most stigmatized group are prostitutes.

And this article compared Venus Williams to a sex worker/prostitute in an effort to shame her.


That is all in: Today in Racist Sexism.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Search Engines Say the Darndest Things

Ok friends, I generally try to not post more than once a day, because so often I post less than once a day, so I figure: "why not spread out the joy* a little?"
But, today, I just couldn't help myself, because there is something that is absolutely necessary for you to know.

I have a little widget that lets me know how many people stop by the blog/read what posts/etc. It also tells me what searches brought my visitors to The Deviated Norm. One of most recent searches that landed someone here was...

"transgender AND gender bender AND rock fucking AND porno web sites"

I like to think that I'm a pretty open minded guy, but I seriously have to ask something. What the hell is rock fucking?
I identify as kinky, even though there are certainly kinky things that people do that I'm not interested in, I usually know about them. I know about the more regular BDSM fetishes, I know about leather and latex fetishes, I know about Furry communities and people who really enjoy dressing up as babies and get sexual satifaction from that. I know about golden showers and coprophilia. I know about people who are into surface piercing as foreplay, and flogging, and foot fetishes. I know people who are necrophiles. I know even that all of these things I've mentioned are *somewhat* common, if not super common. But rock fucking? I have no idea what the hell that is.

I mean, I honestly feel a little bad for whoever it was that searched for that and got this, because it seems highly unlikely that they found what they were looking for: I'm a pissed off trans* guy (hardly titilating, I mean, unless you really like pissed of trans* guys in a sexual way), one of my most linked to/read/commented on posts is about my deep dislike for gender bending fiction, and there isn't any pornos to be seen here. I also don't think I have any pictures of rocks up on the site.

So, I'm sorry anonymous reader interested "rock fucking" pornos, perhaps you could explain what you were looking for?

*or whatever

Advertising that Makes Deviant E Get All Cranky

Sorry for the long absence.

So let's jump right in with two examples of advertising that creeped me out and pissed me off (for very similar reasons) without them showing or saying a single negative thing.

We'll start off with a Brawny Towel ad with an animated lumberjack singing "Lean On Me"

as always, click on the cut link for as complete a transcript as I can make.

Next we have a Macy's ad for jewelry, with the song "Seasons of Love" being sung in the background.

as always, click on the cut link for as complete a transcript as I can make.

So, what creeps me out and pisses me off about these two ads? It has something to do with the idea of taking songs from oppressed groups and putting them into your advertising, and in the process making invisible their origins.
"Lean on Me" was written in 1972. It is a song written by a Black man, in the Soul genre, at a time just following the organized Civil Rights movement. It's a song about community and the strength and power that can be found when people rally together.
The voice in the advertisement sounds stereotypically "Black" and is singing in the genre that the song comes from. Yet they have a White lumberjack as the animated icon portrayed as singing it. They took a song that could reasonably be seen as a song about the strength of social movements, and erased the Black origin of it, and put it into a fucking Paper Towel ad. I suppose I'm meant to be grateful that they included a Black family in the footage? That pisses me off and creeps me out. And of course, they screwed around with the lyrics in the process so that they could do this.
"Seasons of Love" was written for the musical Rent. It's a musical about AIDS. It has numerous gay characters. Seriously, out of a main cast of 7-8 people, 4 of them are in same-gender relationships.
In the advertisement, is there a single gay couple depicted? Nope. There are numerous romantic couples depicted, and not a single gay one amongst them. The ad writers took a song that is couched in the AIDS epidemic (at the time it was written, primarily associated with gay men), and somehow manage to take away all reference to gayness in the advertisement.

Neither of the ads was explicitly racist or homophobic. But by their decision to make things more "universally appealing," they took songs from particular oppressed groups and put them in the mouths of their oppressors. They took something away from the Black community and the Gay community and gave it to Whites and Straights. If we(gays)/they(Black people) aren't good enough to be the icons of your feel good advertising, then you get no fucking right to our creative endeavors.