While people rush to defend Taylor Swift’s racist appropriation of Black female bodies in her latest video, Shake it Off, because it’s presented as “fun,” it’s worth remembering that “satire” is no excuse for whitewashing of racism. First, satire requires cultural context to be clever; it matters who is delivering the joke to whom, when, and for what purpose. Second, racism is not simply about interpersonal insults. Racism describes a system of domination where White people benefit directly and indirectly from the status quo.
Taylor Swift has positioned herself publicly as a feminist, though her enactment of these ideals was already not without problems. This video shows she has little understanding of the history of feminism and the cultural struggles faced by women of colour. Not coincidentally, White feminism is still largely resistant to racial issues. As sociologist Jessie Daniels notes, it matters that White women are at the centre of both pop culture and the feminist movement:
White feminism, without attention to racial justice, makes an easy partnership with White supremacy.
From Miley Cyrus to Iggy Azalea who profit from brandishing certain aspects of Black culture, to Lily Allen who similarly used Black women in a video to critique White women pop stars, Swift has added her name to an ever-growing list of rich White women in pop music who use the exploitation of women of colour to make “feminist” statements. This stands in contrast, but along a similar continuum, of White pop stars such as Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne who commodify the culture and sexuality of “Asian” women. Asian femininity is sexy in a “cute,” clean and submissive way; while Black and Brown women’s sexuality is dangerous, dirty and untamed. Either way, White women’s cultural appropriation of minority cultures conforms to familiar tropes where White champions dominate the uncivilised Other.
The fact that White celebrities do not set out to be “intentionally racist” is beside the point. Racism does not require your intent, as racial bias often goes unexamined. In fact, the way Whiteness works is to place White people at the centre of culture so that they are protected from the everyday consequences of race relations. (And no, there is no such thing as reverse racism.) Not recognising how racism works, such as failing to understand how and why cultural appropriation and stereotypes are damaging, is an outcome of White privilege.
Appropriation of Twerking
At best, one might see White women’s version of twerking as a patriarchal bargain. It involves White women being complicit in the sexualisation of femininity, in a way that conforms to the male gaze, for commercial success. At its worst, the cultural appropriation of twerking is an exercise of White privilege.
Appropriation reduces Black women into an essentialist, racist and sexist image of Blackness as defined by White culture. The reason why it’s a problem is that these White women are able to co-opt certain aspects of Black culture, without any of the consequences. They profit from the “coolness” and imagined “street cred” of being The Other, safe in the knowledge that their Whiteness protects them from the racism, hyper sexism, social stigma and additional violence that women of colour live with.
Research shows that women of colour experience a higher rate and more aggressive forms of sexual harassment because of their perceived sexual availability. By presenting women of colour as little more than backdrop sex dolls, White women starlets like Swift remain at the centre of culture, while the women they use as props and parody remain on the outside.
Professor Janell Hobson argues that Taylor Swift is using narrow stereotypes of Black women in order to distance herself from promiscuity:
When Taylor Swift deliberately positions her awkwardly dancing body in “Shake It Off” as a way to defend her innocence against the constant slut-shaming she has experienced, she reifies her whiteness, her purity. Her rhythm-less dance moves distance her from the hyper-sexualized racial body in a way that positions her as somehow morally “safe” when compared to her white female counterparts Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus. She also trafficks in white female stereotypes when she positions herself as a failed cheerleader and ballerina, which would be cutesy if the recent commercial for Under Armour, featuring black ballerina Misty Copeland, didn’t remind me of Copeland’s embodied struggles for acceptance in the white elite world of ballet.
Twerking has a rich history. Its influences draw from West African cultures. It’s been shaped by colonialism, and later surfaces in places like New Orleans as both celebration and resistance. Notably, it is only one aspect of Black cultures that does not fully represent the diversity of all Black people in any given place. Yet with people of colour largely absent from mainstream pop culture, the conspicuous use of Black and Brown bodies to convey dangerous sexuality (via a satire of twerking) is both a compliance and reproduction of the status quo. This connection is driven home by the current police violence in Ferguson, USA.
Beyond the travesty of justice that Michael Brown’s murder symbolises, the subsequent community protests in Ferguson show how the bodies of Black people are subjected to surveillance and violence in a way that White people do not experience. Violence in the media, even through the dehumanising of Black dancers in a seemingly silly pop video, is part of the same system of racism.
That is racism – the production of stereotypes, values and behaviours that feed into system of institutional discrimination. So, no, a pop video is not innocuous. It is both informed by, and sustains, racial hierarchies that position White people as morally, physically and socially superior to Others. And it matters that a wealthy White, young heterosexual woman who does not have to fear White authority, would hide behind satire and artistic license to re-enact racist fantasies.
5 September 2015: Swift did it again in a follow-up single (“Wildest Dreams”), where she appears in a colonial whitewash fantasy of “Africa”:
“…Nostalgia can be inherently political. Swift is white, and she was raised in a society where certain symbols of white dominance and a more-segregated past have been glorified. Popular culture exists in large part to comfort, and the omission of black people from a story set in Africa certainly helps distract from the uncomfortable history of colonialism. But in 2015, there’s a growing popular awareness that things often considered “classic” were directly enabled by oppression, and that looking away from the uglier parts of the past will only perpetuate old problems.” (via The Atlantic)
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- Why Race Matters
- Racism is Not an Attitude
- Racism is More Than “Getting Caught”
- White Privilege
- Why “Colour Blindness” Does Not Apply to Race
- Other Sociologist Resources on Racism in Pop Culture
Why Race Matters
Racism is Not an Attitude
Racism is More Than “Getting Caught”
Why “Colour Blindness” Does Not Apply to Race
Resources on Racism in Pop Culture
- Sexism and Racism in Film: Straight Outta Compton: Discussion of “colour coding” of Black women’s bodies in rap music
- Hollywood Racism
- Noble Savages and Magical Pixie Conquests: Colonial Fantasies in Film
- Images of Otherness and ‘Unintentional Racism’ in New Florence + The Machine Video
53 thoughts on “Taylor Swift Having Fun With White Privilege: Racism and Sexism in Pop Culture”
Has not Nicki Minaj presented the same thing in her Anaconda video? Is it alright for blacks to exploit blacks in the same fashion?
Taylor is so delusional and self righteous. I can’t stand her and this only reinforced my dislike… Excuse my French.. She’s a twit.
Nicki Minaj’s video can not be compared and is totally different .
I have done something I swore to myself I would never do; watched a Taylor Swift video. I compared that viewing to Anaconda. Please bear with me, as I am a fan of either artist, nor am I of the melatonin level that I have lived with the prejudice that comes with that.
Swift’s video is a collection of dancers of different styles and colors. I did see black girls shaking their butts, “twerking” I believe is the current vernacular. I also saw them as gymnasts and in some of the “hip-hop” segments (I know next to nothing about dance). What I did see was more of her lambasting the “cultural art” that is ballet. Her interest is in what other people are doing, what other styles are out there, how other cultures or skin tones or even economic classes express themselves through dance.
Nicki, however, has perverse dance styles throughout, include constant butt-shaking… constant… curiously-placed coconut milk, actually spanking of said behinds, the kind of gyrating, whip cream and banana placement you would expect from something even more explicit. Tell me how this furthers the identity of the black female in America as something above “available for sex at all times.”
Hey Miss Melony I appreciate the sentiment of your comment, “Nicki Minaj’s video can not be compared and is totally different.” I agree! The two are very different cultural productions. In an industry where Forbes deems to crown a White Woman, Iggy Azalea, as the saviour of rap music (http://goo.gl/1XOGyK) for emulating what she is is the Black South , Nicki Minaj is one of only a select few successful Black women entertainers. She writes her own music. I don’t always agree with her act, but she represents a strong woman who does not necessarily conform to expectations. She’s been outspoken about the racism and sexism levelled at her, which is squarely focused on her body being somehow obscene when White women’s sexuality is ubiquitous (http://goo.gl/rWJ0Nm).
I’ll be deleting your comment because you used a sexist word to describe a person (Swift); I don’t allow this on my threads. Here’s a link to why I think that word should be re-appropriated by women. 😉 (http://goo.gl/Pu9TgD).
Edit: I’m leaving your comment since you changed your wording – much appreciated. For others following, more discussion on this below.
Sorry The Other Sociologist I like the c word personally… I use it more than most I’m sure… But i understand why baby dislike it. I don’t see it as sexist, but then I only use it on women… Positively and negatively. But im glad you agreed the two videos are differnt
Thanks for this Miss Melony. On a side note, the sociology of swearing is something I’m interested in and I’ve written a little about (http://goo.gl/Atobzb). When it comes to sexualised swear words, however, especially those levelled at women, other power dynamics come into play. For me, this particular word has different connotations to other swear words as its historical use equates femininity, or vaginas more specifically, with weakness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
OT: I don’t think the c word holds any weakness. Different from the p word people use to mean sissy or week. The C word to me emulates something to be reckoned with. People seem to only use it when they are… Scared of, powerless to stop, or good natured about all the uses of a vagina.
I fell in love with the cword after performing in the vagina monologues. I get a joy out how people react to the word when I say it and how they react when they call me it and I don’t cringe. I love my vagina and I love being compared to it. This thing births babies, bleeds once a month to clean itself and does not die, protects me from disease and is self cleaning in some areas…. Yea.. I’m a c word if you want. And I’m proud.
Miss Melony There’s a great paper you might be interested in reading which looks at the 500 history of this word and who owns it. It analyses the use of this word in anti-Government and anti-establishment graffiti versus its other social uses (http://goo.gl/fqsLkW). The paper notes that it’s no accident that this word is considered the most obscene in the English language. There are heavily limitations on when TV censors will allow it, for example. Why is that, when other swear words are relatively more common? It is absolutely about the cultural fear of the vagina.
As Judith Butler has argued, words are part of bodily practices. Where swear words or derogative words both describe bodies of minorities and evoke violence and marginalisation, there is a challenging process for minority groups to reclaim and change meaning. Women, including feminists as a collective, do no embrace this word, and there are complicated reasons why this is the case. So I’m all for changing the word so that it is not used as an insult. In the link I provided earlier, Germaine Greer shows how she tried to change the meaning in the 1970s but it didn’t work:
“I tried to take the malice out of it. I wanted women to be able to say it. The same way I would say: “You think c**t is nasty? I’m here to tell you c**t is nice. Like “Black is Beautiful”. C**t is delicious. C**t is powerful. C**t is strong. Ah – it didn’t work. And now, in a way, I’m sort of, perversely pleased, ‘cause it meant that it kept that power.
So to reiterate: this meaning of empowerment I am down with. Notice in my original blog post I do not “blank” the word; I’m only doing it here because I’m on G+. Using this word to hurt women or to insult others I am not okay with.
I wrote about the mythology and problematic view of vaginas a couple of weeks back. Actress Shailene Woodley gave some scientifically incorrect advice about vaginal health that journalists are dutifully copying. My point was that women’s bodies are overtly sexualised and policed yet when it comes to the basics of talking about vaginal health, mainstream culture and education is largely silent (http://goo.gl/95RTCR).
I am such a fan of the Vagina Monologues and I’m pleased to read you performed this! I went to see Leah Purcell perform it and she was electrifying. (Side bar: this will linger as one of the most memorable theatre experiences. She broke the fourth wall – someone sneezed in the front row so loudly she had to stop speaking. Then she said, “Bless you,” in character and kept going with the show. Also she made the amazing documentary Black Chicks Talking, about her experiences as an Indigenous woman. She talks about it here http://youtu.be/zY3_bt-NF-8)
Edit: thanks for editing your earlier comment; I’m leaving it. I’m glad it led to us having this conversation on women’s bodies and language.
VeySon The Younger Can’t watch videos at work, but I would guess the difference is that Nicki Minaj has built her career out of that kind of outrageousness, whereas my understanding of Taylor Swift is that until now, she has stuck to good-girl sexiness.
Joanna Staebler-Kimmel, I appreciate your addition to the conversation and look forward to your analysis of the items available and what conclusions you reach.
Hi Joanna Staebler-Kimmel “Good-girl sexiness” is right on the money as to how Taylor Swift has crafted her image. The issue with her video, however, is not that she’s stepped out of this image per se, but that she’s using Black culture to make her point that she could never be hypersexualised. I addressed Nicki Minaj above in addressing VeySon The Younger’s comments.
The Other Sociologist So Swift’s portrayal of black sexuality is evoked as a contrast with her own public image, does that sound right? Whereas Minaj seems be saying that while these portrayals of black sexuality are ridiculous, they’re still a part of her. Simultaneously problematizing and embracing.
Minaj and Lady Gaga seem to have similar absurd approaches to performing. How much of their acts are shock value, and how much is actually cultural commentary, do you think?
On a vaguely related note, Janelle Monae seems to be very deliberately making social commentary with her work. I’m not sure if she’s talking about the way society treats black people, or women, or lower classes, or youth, or if she’s trying to address all of them at once… but she seems to be doing a good job of it.
And tangentially, your comment about how the ballerinas and the black women in Swift’s video are non-overlapping groups reminded me of the UnderArmor ad with Misty Copeland. She is the third ever black soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, and if I remember correctly, she’s the first dancer to be featured as an athlete in UnderArmor’s ads.
Joanna Staebler-Kimmel You’re spot on with the differences between Swift and Minaj. Swift is contributing to the “Otherness” of Black women (they are different, they are sexual beasts) to defend her femininity (I’m not like this, I’m a good girl). Minaj is not Othering.
All pop music is about marketing. Minaj and Lady Gaga do use shock value to sell their music. Gaga was much more interesting when she first started and has since descended into problematic areas by trying to commodify gay cultures in narrow terms (http://goo.gl/NbrFbX) and her presentation of disabled people as spectacle (http://goo.gl/sG47Hg). Moreover, her music is no longer interesting to me. Minaj plays with images of women’s sexuality in unconventional ways, because of her outlandish costumes. I find her to be self-aware and intelligent in interviews. I don’t doubt Gaga is also smart, but Minaj has remained intriguing to me personally. Here’s an old clip where she talks sexism. “When I’m assertive, I’m an bitch. When man is assertive, he’s a Boss.” (http://goo.gl/U4uEC3)
I love Janelle Monae. She also plays with femininity, in a different way, by being more androgynous. Her music is more political, I agree. For example, she says Q.U.E.E.N. is for “the ostracised” (http://goo.gl/pzLsyt).
I also love Janelle Monae. I also love Nicki for what I see is her using the industry and its rules to make money. To me she is playing the game but flipping the rules. Plus I think she’s hot and I have a crush on her.
Hi VeySon The Younger Taylor Swift’s “parody” is supposed to be that she cannot possibly fit into “Black” music – twerking and rap – because she is just a goofy “good girl.” She plays an innocent girl in the twerking segment whose purity is set against and emphasised by a dance form that is associated with (one form) of Black culture. The broader context of the video is that many other White pop stars have both used twerking to emphasise their sexuality (e.g. Miley Cyrus) or to critique the sexuality of other women (e.g. Lily Allen). Further context is that Taylor Swift is using Black dance forms to distance herself from the claims that she promiscuous.
Promiscuity is one of the racist and sexist charges aimed at women of colour that is used to justify violence against them, including sexual harassment. “Slut shaming” of any group is not to be tolerated, but here Swift is using the stigma of women of colour’s sexuality to defend her experience. Given the racist and sexist stereotypes and social disadvantages that women of colour face, this dichotomy that Swift creates is all the worse. It is conspicuous that she does not choose any Black women to be ballerinas – in Taylor Swift’s eyes, they are not feminine enough.
The difference with Nicki Minaj is that unlike Taylor, she does not position herself as an outsider of Black culture. She is not using Black bodies to elevate her “goodness.” There is a huge difference between a White woman using Black women’s bodies to make a statement about her sexuality (purity in Swift’s case) and a Black woman using Black dancers to represent her own sexuality.
Professor Janell Hobson writes: “This is why, as a black female entertainer, Nicki Minaj’s own defense against slut-shaming is not to distance herself from these hypersexual images but instead to embrace them, to poke holes in them, to remix and then signify on them. It is no coincidence that Nicki remixes as a hook the “white girl” vocals from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back“: “Oh. My. God…Look at her butt!” We can almost imagine Taylor’s own voice here when we see how her appropriation of twerking bodies invites the same incredulity and mockery. Nicki Minaj engages in parody as well, but her body is also placed on the line—*culturally*—and becomes the subversive signifier of excess sexuality, which she simultaneously denies to the male onlooker at the end of the video.”
All of this, and more, is explained in my blog post. Read it if you need further information about the argument I’ve presented. There are further links to other research and articles on these issues.
Thank you for pointing this out and explaining it so well.
The Other Sociologist, I want to thank you for taking the time to explain to me your points so eloquently. I literally took none of that away from the videos and had to spend some time re-reading what you said just to make sure I have a firmer grasp on the nuances that went right over my head.
“There is a huge difference between a White woman using Black women’s bodies to make a statement about her sexuality (purity in Swift’s case) and a Black woman using Black dancers to represent her own sexuality.”
This was the point that stood out to me as the apex of what you were trying to convey to me. As someone who spend his younger years in a trailer park in the Midwest, I was often confused by the statements said around me about other human beings, and ashamed as I grew older when I finally learned what racism was. I thought they were just being mean, not stereotyping, indignant, and repugnant. In relation to a woman’s sexual availability making it “okay” for a guy to force himself on her… This is just disgusting. As a white male, I find myself appalled by how other white males perpetuate the need to be less than humane.
I expect I will return to learn more from you, as I clearly have more to learn.
VeySon The Younger Thanks so much for sharing your story. This is one of the main reasons why I love G+ – the ability to go back and forth and learn about people and topics. Your story of growing up hearing discussions that you now understand as racism reminded me of something Maya Angelou said, “Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better.” Or to turn it around, “When you know better, you do better.” Racism is complex and many people don’t fully understand how it works or even when they’re engaging in it, so this is why we need to share and discuss stories and why sociologists share their social critique. Have a great weekend!
On a slightly related note, what do you think of Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”? I think it’s commenting either on the explicitness of rap or on the fake-soulfulness of white-boy ballads.
Joanna Staebler-Kimmel I’ll take a step back to answer your question. The original song by Sir Mix-a-Lot can be seen in two ways. On the one hand, it is sexist – it objectifies women as sexual objects. On the other hand, women of colour are culturally derided. The fashion and beauty industry barely features women who aren’t light-skinned and who aren’t rake thin. While this affects all women because it creates an ideal few can live up to, it is doubly problematic for women of colour who have faced a history of being dehumanised and who continue to face disgusting racism and violent sexism. So when Sir Mix-a-Lot brought that song out – a Black man celebrating Black women’s curves – it was somewhat gratifying that the song became so popular. There are problems with the lyrics and the video clip (mostly featuring lighter-skinned Black women, highly sexualised images, a man valuing Black women for their bodies primarily, and so on). So to preface my answer: the backdrop is that this song has contradictory meaning and value.
Jonathan Coulton seems like a well-meaning guy who has given music away for free which I always admire. But with respect to this song – his version loses the nuances of the original. It is not a (complicated) anthem about Black beauty. It is a middle class White man singing a sanitised song – a little tongue-in-cheek (he’s talking about loving big butts, tee hee hee). It is simply sexist without the complicated race politics and unfortunately, veers closely to the clueless hipster racism that is so ubiquitous in pop culture. Pop music crosses social boundaries; it is not necessary the property of any one social group. But cultural appropriation still matters. As I note in my original blog post: not understanding how racism works is not an excuse for perpetuating a system of racism.
Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song can be placed back into context of our discussion on Taylor Swift versus Nicki Minaj. Have a look at the way in which Nicki Minaj is derided for showing off her body. She is self-possessed; she enjoys her sexuality and yes it is for commercial purposes, as with all entertainers – but she is subjected to a level of body policing that is heavily laden with racism and on top of this she is expected to carry the burden of “Black respectability” (http://goo.gl/yxvJcj). Have a look at the sexist and racist ways in which Michelle Obama’s body is discussed in the media (http://goo.gl/Ve2C0t). Same goes for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez or any other woman of colour. Compare it to the cultural celebration of White women stars like Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, and best epitomised by Sports Illustrated or Victoria’s Secret models.
In this context: a White man singing a Black man’s song originally intended to talk about Black women is not subversive or challenging or interesting in any way.
Very, very potent stuff here! Thought provoking indeed!
Thank you for the feedback Shery!
This is just what the anti-racism movement needs, tumblr-level analysis of stupid pop culture bullshit. That’s going to go a long way towards reversing institutionalized racism.
You have a poor grasp of the concepts you’re attempting to discredit here. The media is a social institution. Racist dynamics in the media is the very definition of institutional racism. Analysis of racism in the media is central to anti-racism. Sociologists study everything from the gendered stereotypes used in advertising images (e.g. Erving Goffman) to the power of racism in media coverage of sports (e.g. Stuart Hall). Analysis of popular culture is pivotal to addressing institutional racism. As for Tumblr, not only am I am avid user, I’ve been a strong advocate that this blogging platform is producing some of the most innovative analyses of race, given that Tumblr has a high proportion of minority youth bloggers. If you’d like to learn more about institutionalised racism, my blog and social media are dedicated to this topic, or you can see a list of references I recommend on my “What is Otherness?” page.
Stop exploiting Taylor Swift’s name to get some clicks on this site!
As a minority, I say – lighten up and twerk! Dance ballet, do a cheerleading routine whatever. The point of the video you are talking about was to put Taylor into diverse dancing situations. She is making fun of her dancing skills!
Get a life.
My blog provides sociological analysis and this includes examining race relations in the media. Writing about how popular culture perpetuates racist hierarchies is not exploitation. White people who use Black bodies as disposable props, and who benefit from racism, need to rethink how this imagery contributes to inequality. The music industry favours men, but within this patriarchal world, White, rich and middle class women fare better than women of colour who are either ignored or punished for their femininity and sexuality. White people benefit both directly and indirectly from sexual and racist double standards. This is not something to celebrate. Ms Swift is in a privileged position and could easily use her wealth and cultural power to uplift women of colour by portraying them in a more positive, complex and inclusive way.
Do you realize your degree was given by cultural marxists and has no basis when applied to evolutionary psychology?
All those “Professors” that taught you have spent their entire lives working in academia and have never actually spent time in tbe real world to see how things really work. My degree may be in electrical engineering, but I grew up on the streets, and traveled the world in the military, so I can tell you that everything you hens are clucking about is wishful thinking.
Your education fails to consider reproductive biology and resource access (i.e. sociosexual hierarchy and r/K selection), thus falls flat on its face as a nice utopian ideology with no basis in actual reality.
Cultural Marxists are a school of sociology, but not a central part of our discipline. Evolutionary psychology is a theory within psychology. This sociology blog is not the place to read about evolutionary psychology. You seem upset by this fact, but the good news is that the internet has many other blogs to read things that make you feel good about your personal beliefs, and which will shelter you from reading research-based analysis. Thanks for vising my blog after all your time on the streets!
Very fitting to read this article the day before Irish Holocaust Memorial Day.
You realize all races have suffered? Or you just hate yourself that much?
Hi again Bookoball,
Strange that you keep returning here to make comments when you seem so upset. On this occasion you are understandably cranky with yourself to have missed Holocaust Memorial Day, which was observed globally on 24 May 2016, and nationally in Ireland on 24 January 2016, to commemorate antisemitism in Ireland. You are writing in November, so you are very late on both fronts, but you can learn more about the holocaust on many useful websites, such as this one.
I am a woman of color and I did not think what Taylor did was a form of racism. Honestly, when I first watched this video, when I saw her twerking, my initial reaction was awe, and I honestly did question whether it was slightly racist. My initial response felt that she was being insensitive. But after watching the video a couple more times and realizing her intent, my view changed pretty quickly. Honestly twerking is considered cool in this day and age and she was exploiting the fact that she is a white girl and unable to do this dance.I understand that racial bias does not require intent, and she has white privilege that allows her to make fun of a dance, and preform it and seem innocent. Honestly it doesn’t bother me even the slightest anymore.
Hi Jasmeen. The issue is not whether or not individuals think this is okay. This is about the cultural impact of using women of colour as props. And if you’re truly a woman of colour as you claim, then you would understand that White women have cultural power that is not available to Others. Culture is more than just one individual White woman appropriating aspects of Black culture to sell, and another woman, calling herself a woman of colour, giving that pop star a pass. Culture reproduces images and narratives that feed into institutional racism and sexism. When so few women of colour are allowed to succeed, all of this matters. Read the links I’ve provided and my page on Otherness. Start with bell hooks’ Black Looks: Race and Representation.
I wish you would have included some discussion of the portrayal of black women in pop culture produced by black artists and by this I mean artists who are on par with Taylor Swift in terms of the intellectual depth of their videos. It seems that many black pop artists also portray black women as sexual objects and you’d have to dig deep to find some profound reference to African cultural practices. I’m not saying it makes Taylor Swift’s video ok but it does put it into perspective.
So Black artists can only be “on par” with Taylor Swift when they embody the “intellectual depth” of racism and sexism of a famous White woman? You may be surprised to learn that Black artists and other people of colour are brilliant at their craft without reproducing White supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Thank you for stopping by to defend oppression, but, unfortunately, accepting the status quo is hazardous to the wellbeing of people of colour and other marginalised groups. What works for Swift and you is damaging to the rest of us.
You’re pretty damn awesome Dr Zevallos. You have so eloquently schooled all the armchair sociologists who come in here and try to discredit your work.
It’s like they didn’t even try to understand what you wrote about. “I’m X and I don’t agree” means nothing against years of education, observation and factual analysis.
Thanks for reading Supora!
I’m just curious what your views on the hypersexulization of women in rap culture are.
Is that okay?
I’ve written posts on this issue as it relates to colourism as well as women rap artists’ feminism, which challenges patriarchy, racism and dominant models of rap (see the comments here and this post as examples).
Very interesting read! Well thought out! Nice work.
El propósito de tu artículo es analizar dicho vídeo con ojo sociológico, me parece muy interesante el cómo analizas la imagen de la mujer negra frente a otra mujer blanca. Me llamo la atención el terminó que utilizas “sátira”, un término que hacer referencia al sarcasmo o a la burla y que fue implementado en el vídeo musical, es obvio que tendrá diferentes visiones, la música de TS esta dirigido para un público de entre 12 a 25 años, veo muchos comentarios carentes de argumentos pues porque no lo ven desde el punto de vista sociológico. Hablas del contexto cultural, lo cual es un buen punto, ya que tu opinión difícilmente lo va a analizar una niña de 15 a otra de 20 años con un enfoque más centrado hacia tu tema.
“La feminidad asiática es sexy de una manera “linda”, limpia y sumisa; mientras que la sexualidad de las mujeres negras y marrones es peligrosa, sucia e indómita” .”La investigación muestra que las mujeres de color experimentan una mayor tasa y formas más agresivas de acoso sexual debido a su disponibilidad sexual percibida.”. Tocas un buen punto, hay dos polos: una mujer blanca bailando ballet (pasos más elegantes), mientras que una mujer negra hace un paso extravagante (twerking), gracias a estos dos polos que expones se presta a analizar la posición, significado y el uso que ocupa una mujer en las diferentes danzas.
“Al presentar a las mujeres de color como poco más que muñecas sexuales de fondo, las actrices blancas como Swift permanecen en el centro de la cultura, mientras que las mujeres que usan como accesorios y parodia permanecen en el exterior”. Se vuelve a lo mismo en pleno siglo XXI, una mujer blanca destaca más que una mujer negra, ¿Por qué esa necesidad de poner una mujer negra en la parte de atrás?, mientras que una mujer blanca puede estar al lado de la estrella de pop.
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