It's been one hell of a week, and I'm still suffering moderation whiplash from moderating two posts at once for the past two days. In the interest of moving on, I'd like to put out some recommendations for reading this week. One of my tasks as a blogger is to be reading as much as I'm writing, because every good writer should also be a good reader. So I've got a few posts from the last couple weeks that you should be reading if you've not already.
From Tressie McMillan Cottom, we have one of the best posts on the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke/VMAs debacle from Sunday:
Fat non-normative black female bodies are kith and kin with historical caricatures of black women as work sites, production units, subjects of victimless sexual crimes, and embodied deviance. As I said in my analysis of hip-hop and country music cross-overs, playing the desirability of black female bodies as a “wink-wink” joke is a way of lifting up our deviant sexuality without lifting up black women as equally desirable to white women. Cyrus did not just have black women gyrating behind her. She had particularly rotund black women. She gleefully slaps the ass of one dancer like she intends to eat it on a cracker. She is playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact. It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially.
From Sarah Moon, who has been doing a wonderful job with her "You Are Not Your Own" series about Christian dating guides, we have a wonderful post about how the church is complicit in allowing abusers room to abuse (content note: contains Hugo Schwyzer):
But listen. Abusive people exist. They know about our redemption narratives and they see in them an opportunity to gain the power and respect they need in order to abuse and get away with it. They use them to get a foothold in “safe spaces” where they can prey on people who have been hurt, people who are looking for help and healing, people that they perceive to be vulnerable.
And this piece from Rachel Edidin at Wired, about why she's never going back to the Penny Arcade Expo is a good read.
In Krahulik’s mind, he’s still the underdog rebelling against an unfair world bent on keeping him down. Despite decades of success and influence, he’s never learned to distinguish between criticism and censorship or understood the relationship between power and personal responsibility. He’s an angry teenager with the clout of an industry baron, and he’s cultivated a horde of followers who respond to criticism with death and rape threats. This are the sorts of people Penny Arcade courts when it digs in its heels and goes to the mat in defense of its right to punch down.
And frankly, the fact that one blogger may say, Bathing suits are immodest!, and another says, No, bathing suits are fine, it’s closets that are too sexual! — this is all evidence that this whole rubric is flawed. There is no set of rules that will make a woman’s body acceptable. Some find two-piece bathing suits too much exposure; others one-piece suits; others pants. In this game, the only way to win, the only way for a woman’s body to be acceptably modest, is for her to cease to be visible.
And last! Becca at Bookworm Beauty put up a great post in defense of the teenage girl.
But the issue is that even within the subset of culture that accepts and celebrates this, there is still an othering effect for the teenage girls that haven't proved that they are exceptions to the rule. To be accepted as okay, as worthy of some begrudging respect, teenage girls must go to extraordinary lengths to prove that they're not like the rest of them. They have to prove they're the opposite of the stereotypes held against their gender and age group. And that, frankly, is stupid.