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A chorus of critical voices is what you get when you ask some of the brightest critical minds in the social media arena to collaborate with you. I asked some of my favorite critical thinkers to weigh in on a video (below), and to give me their reflections on the dynamics in the video. There is no single authoritative voice, but rather a chorus of voices adding their unique critical perspective to the conversation. Here are there reflections.
“What do I see?
I see the dynamics of power and control at play. In the scene with the married couple there is an underlying portrayal of control as she notices her husbands gaze at the brother across the theater. Its as if the image of her hand and wedding ring symbolize a force to pull him back in. It represents for me the false belief that a relationship, especially marriage, can change someone’s innate feelings. We even see this dynamic in religion when it relates to sexuality. The notion that a “relationship with god” can change and control ones desires through a form of power.
As for the rape scene, power and control is more overt since rape is indeed about power. Both scenes display for me an equally deleterious dynamic of power and control. While the rape is horrendous and incomparable to the other scene, where I see the two parallel is in power and control over the body. In both cases there is sense of forced control of one person by another. Though not equal in experiences, the rape victim will have physical and psychological trauma as will the one who feels “forced” by society to render his sexuality and body under the control of what is deemed “normal.” – @ZakiyaTheGenius
“This scene has a lot of things operating in terms of visual representations connected to larger discourse. First, the opera lyrical is a take from Shange’s “Lady In Purple” who was talking about connectivity amongst Black women (to my understanding). It seems odd that Perry chose to connect Black women in relationships with men on the low and rape. For me, this connected to a larger conversation on homophobia and prison culture. In my opinion, it is controversial to paint DL men as similar to rapists. There was also the clock element in the rape vignette that connected to patriarchal masculinity, as if the morality of the rapist needed to be challenged by his inability to prolong ejaculation as opposed to challenging how women’s bodies are constructed and controlled in society.” – @JohnnyGoLightly
“Time slowly winds as the innocence and purity of her body is stripped away. Tears of betrayal and deceit stream line down her face as the eyes of the down low brother wander into the distance. Running eye shadow creates a blurry vision; the smell of burning food conjures up an internal feeling of wounded flesh. The soulful, melodramatic sounds of the opera singer’s voices flow in an even tune. The women have become the backdrop to man’s desire-desire to control, desire to humiliate, and desire to fulfill his waning need to be a man; all without feeling an ounce of regret. The man has played the role society has given him… and the women have become the backdrop of man’s desire.” - @BlkAth3st
“This beautiful and painful scene from the film reveals a narrative about abuse. At once, there are four conflicts happening: two Black women are undergoing a crisis, one via the physical & emotional as she is raped by a man she believed to be kind. The kindness she has shown him has been betrayed and “thrown back on her face”. The second Black woman is allowing herself to be emotionally humiliated by her husband’s passes at other men, perhaps because she knows no other way to deal with the paining shock of learning her husband loves other men. two Black men, burdened by their desires and delusions, have gone down a path of self-destruction. One has decided to rape a person he’s befriended in the sanctity of her own home. The roots of rape are deep and self-destructive, and harm the victim as well as the assailant. Another Black man, dishonest about his need for the company of other men, is allowing his secret to be sacrificed to the knowledge of his wife without knowing it.” - J Douglas Turner
“This whole movie left me emotional and full of questions about black women and our places in narratives about our body and our experiences—specifically in the American cinematic narrative. I find this rape/opera scene is the one that sticks so close to the viewer and it is for lack of the better term the climax. Yet, I find it a bit sensational, if not exploitative. On one hand we find rape explored for mass media consumption and mass moralizing, on the other hand there is nothing in the movie that warns women that have been raped—who attended this movie, that they could possibly be triggered. We cannot care about real life black women and their experiences with sexual violence enough to warn them that a movie violently portrays a rape scene that could possibly trigger them.
Triggered. Before I moved to NYC, I read tons and tons of stuff on rape, but nothing I read spoke of the psychology of victims in a way that gave me the understanding that they could be triggered to re-live their trauma through our rape narratives. My friend Amanda—ever aware of how stories can re-traumatize women –has taught me to always be aware of what I say or put out by example. If it is a possible trigger she always warns the reader of her Facebook page or even someone listening to a story.
So with this new awareness I revisited the first time I saw this scene. I imagined myself back at the theatre and there I am a woman who has never been assaulted so violently going through an emotional journey with this character. But, I get to leave unscathed and some other woman could have been sitting in her seat frozen in real fear, reliving the worst experience of her life. No one warned ME about the trigger, so it’s safe to say that no one was warned.
And then there is Janet Jackson and her husband. Our culture dictates that a woman should be partnered to her equal, if her equal is a gay man, does that mean he will give her AIDS? Does that mean their relationship/love is less valid? I understand that he betrayed her by having unprotected sex with his same sex partners but the movie did not focus on women protecting themselves from black men (not gay men/not white men) because even when they do things like kill our children, rape us, are emotionally unavailable to us we have to forgive them and rebuild our lives. That’s victim blaming.
How much healing do we need if every day we encounter this violent shit?—street harassment and following is common enough for me as a black woman.
This scene reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mines about whether its racism or sexism that keeps us back and though we are oppressed under both, I find sexist oppression to be the most offensive. Black culture dictates that we call each other brothers and sisters in the struggle—but you would dare lie and rape and destroy your sister. White people are strangers to our experience—as they are too busy fashioning the racism that accompanies it, but to think of all black women have sacrificed so much for black men, that is what makes this scene so heart crushing. To watch the trust be once again destroyed between people that have more in common in their experience in white supremacy that they should be able to understand each other’s oppression.
SN: THOSE OPERA SINGERS GAVE ME LIFE. WHY DO I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN’S IN THE “UPPER” ARTS? HISTORY IS SO FUCKED UP. HISTORY HIDES TALENTED BLACK PEOPLE SO THAT ONLYTHE PRIVILEGED WHITE/MONIED CLASS CAN ENJOY THEIR ETHEREAL TALENTS. UGH. TYLER PERRY DID THAT PART RIGHT.” – @Tristlande
Does the murder of a foreigner, even an “evil” one, make you feel pride in America?
Does the murder of a foreigner, even an “evil one,” make you feel gratitude for America?
Does the murder of a foreigner, even an “evil one,” allow you to bond emotionally with others?
I posed the question to my friends on Facebook, Twitter, and BGC; and I received a diverse array of responses. Here are some of the responses,
“My black is PROUD!” – Sincerelyric
“My black is intelligent, inquisitive, critical, perceptive, humorous, thoughtful.” – Thetrudz
“My black is Artistic.” – BOOMJones
“My black is innovative and Intelligent.” – FemmeFatale Harris
“My black is resilient, strong, and unforgettable.” - Bright_Eyzx3
“My Black is storied.” – TheKabosh
“My black is creative…motivated..my black is a combination of many colors on a palette. My black is bold and has a voice…” – Cakezilla
“My black is bold and inspiring!” – srtyrck
“My black is bold, daring, humble, proud, courageous, & captivating.” - drniaimani
“My black is ancestrial, authentic, and metaphysical.” – Lifted_Truth
“My black is… undefinable, ever evolving, all encompassing, everlasting.” – UrFavCharity
“My black is loving, understanding, hopeful, free.” – LoveMrsBrenda
“My black is intellectually open.” – dreamphilosophy
“My black is aloof, passionate, sometimes egotistical, scientific, driven, going-somewhere-but-haven’t-quite-figured-it-out-yet.” J. Silver
“My Black is enduring.” – rebelsin
“My black is determined…Strong…Loving overall….sometimes militant.” – 25lighters
“My black is passionate, determined, intuitive, intellectual, and focused.” – _black_majik_x_
“My black is absolute, knowledgeable, mysterious, infinite.” – SonofBaldwin
We are in a slumber and the slumber that we are in is having devastating affects on the black community. At a time when black women account for 61% of all new HIV infections among women, black youth account for 69% of all new HIV infections among teens, and when homicide is the leading cause of death of black men ages 18-34. I would like to think that given grim statistics like those, that we would be willing and ready wake up and take action, and yet we sleep.
For many blacks we simply cannot conceive of a life that is not based on magical or mythical beliefs. Sure, we will eagerly dismiss Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Rumpelstiltskin, but when it comes to that Christian mythology many of us have been indoctrinated to believe, we just can’t seem to pass it up. So of course what you get is generation after generation that feels that their magical beliefs are special and that no one can question or critique said magical beliefs because they say they are special. If you try to have a conversation on illiteracy in the black community, HIV/AIDS in the black community, crime in the black community, of course blacks who believe in magic want a seat at the table, and not only that they want their magical beliefs to influence the way we go about combating those aforementioned ills of the black community.
I cannot stress enough that the very magical beliefs that have helped to create the problems that we currently have in the black community cannot be looked to as the solutions to the black communities problems.
We have been a churching and praying and holy ghosting people for decades and in light of that things have gotten worse not better. We simply can no longer dismiss issues affecting our community as, “The devil being busy.” We can no longer gloss over the hypocrisy in our churches as, “Put it in gods hands,” we can no longer start conversations based on the premise that, “Gods ways our not our ways.” If we continue to do these kind of things, incorporate these magical beliefs into our dialog, we will never be able to have the honest and open conversations that we so desperately need to have.
In a lot of ways the Bishop Eddie Long sexual abuse scandal broke the camels back for me. As a secular humanist I have long been concerned with the hypocrisy in the black church, and have spoken out on it many times, but seeing this saga unfold has really taken me to a new level of vigor when it comes to challenging my community and trying with all my might to get us to wake up from our slumber.
We are constantly told by those who believe in magic that they do so because they have “faith,” and yet as soon as the Bishop was accused of sexual assault, the first thing the same Christians who demand faith yelled was, “Those young men need to prove that the pastor did what they said.” To me it’s just a window into how sick and disgusting things haven gotten. Citing faith when it suits their magical beliefs and demanding proof when it doesn’t.
We are coming to a point in the black community where religious beliefs, magical beliefs, and mythical beliefs, are just not going to cut it anymore. We know the problems and we need solutions and those solutions are not going to come from reinforcing the same magical beliefs that led to our current problems.
WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WAKE UP and look at things from the standpoint of facts, evidence, reason, and science!
Thinking back to a movie that many blacks love, “School Daze.” We are going to have to take heed to the message at the end of that movie, we are going to have to wake up.
History hasn’t always been kind to people who are developmentally disabled (I use this term only after looking for the most appropriate one possible as I by no means want to offend anyone.). They have experienced unspeakable injustice and I am the first person to educate others about their own disableism. Given the treatment of the developmentally disabled in our society I often give them a pass when it comes to understanding some of their behaviors as they aren’t aware of all the social rules and cues as that the rest of society might be operating under.
Today while waiting for my 4:45 class to start I took a seat at a computer in the on campus library. Sitting next to me was a developmentally disabled young man. This was my second time encountering this young man as I had seen him on another occasion, and the only reason why I am writing about this young man now, is because of the way he related to the young women who came in the library.
The way this young man got a young woman’s attention was by snapping at her. If he succeeded in getting the young woman’s attention he then told her what year he was (he said freshmen) and began to question what year she was.
He asked the young women could he have their number. His exact word were, “Yo baby can I get yo digits.” He told each of the women that he wanted to go on a date with them and that he was single.
I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and let him know that a young man should not solicit a woman’s attention by snapping at her and that he should speak to her without calling her “baby” or “sexy,” but I didn’t.
I consider myself well versed on a lot of issues and I try to keep myself abreast of the latest information in terms of relating to all humans and showing them dignity and respect, but I was stumped with this young man. It’s obvious to me that he has picked up on how to relate to women from the men in his life or the images he sees of men relating to women on television. His snapping and demeaning language was learned somewhere.
I guess the question I was left wondering was if it’s important to teach the developmentally disabled to be respectful of others. Should this young man know that its inappropriate to speak to women in certain ways? That women are not sexual objects?
I plan on doing some research tonight so I can help myself answer these questions.
Update: I asked the young man his name and took the time to tell the young man that it wasn’t cool to snap at a young woman. He also asked me how to spell “mp3 player” and I helped him spell the word and helped him type in the rest of the word.
If that were the case every gay man on this site who had sex with a woman during middle or high school or college would be straight.
Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others.
Therefore just because someone gets their penis sucked by a man, just because someone has sex with a man, does not necessarily mean they are gay.
Conversely just because you stick your penis in a vagina isn’t an indication that you are straight.
It’s more to it than that.
Ugh! Can someone please mandate Human Sexuality for all graduating seniors and college freshmen?
Someone asked why would a straight man have sex with another man?
My Answer: Lot’s of people do lot’s of things for any number of reasons.
We live in a world where strict adherence to acceptable gender roles is promoted and I think that’s where you are basing your judgment.
You simply can’t fathom that a straight man would want to have sex with another man because that is socially unacceptable and taboo in our society and is a violation of the strict gender role of a man which is to have sex with women and women alone.
But in many societies such as Ancient Greece it was see as MANLY, MASCULINE, and STRONG to have sex with other men. No one would have batted an eye lash if they had over heard Sgt. Marcus saying he had sex with Captain Augustus.
It’s only in our contemporary religious fundamentalist society that we don’t allow room for such a relationship without considering it gay.
Some people are just freaky.
Being freaky doesn’t make you gay or straight it just makes you freaky.
I can admit to having sucked on a breast or two in my day. Doesn’t mean I am straight it just means that at Grad Night I was in a different mood.
Someone asked what if a man was gay and had sex with other men but said he was straight?
My Answer: No if a man has sex with only men but feels he is straight that doesn’t mean he is straight.
Sexual Orientation isn’t something that people can decide for themselves.
There are many people, who for whatever reason experience discordance between their sexual orientation (heterosexual) and their sexual behaviors (homosexual).
I would say the situation you speak of falls under that bracket.
Many gay men suffer from this.
Their sexual orientation is homosexual but their sexual identity is that of a heterosexual and thus they only have sex with women.
Someone said it’s all labels!
My Answer: Labels are a big part of it I agree.
Some people simply have no desire to identify as gay, straight, or bi.
Just like many people don’t care to identify as african american, black, or negro.
As we know these words and labels are all socially constructed.
But for the purpose of community they are important.
And as a proud gay man and someone who loves the gay community I don’t mind labeling myself as gay.
Just like I don’t mind labeling myself as a black man.
Or as an American.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care whether or not people identify as gay but I do care about whether or not people act as being same gender loving is somehow sinful, shameful, or nasty and I also have a problem when people try to deny me rights for being same gender loving.
But I don’t really care who does or doesn’t identify as gay anymore.
Too each his own.
We have been lying to black men.
We have been complicit in the destruction of black men.
We have been setting black men up for failure.
It’s time that we take responsibility as a collective for the psychological assault on black men that we all are guilty of fueling.
From the time we come into the world till the time we leave we tell ourselves and other black men (our sons, cousins, nephews, and friends) that to be a man is to act a certain way.
“You aren’t a man if you act like ________.”
“You aren’t a man if you act like ________.”
“You aren’t a man if you act like ________.”
But we don’t realize that when we tell ourselves and other black that man is an act, that’s being a man means to be a constant performer, always putting on a performance for yourself and others, that we are essentially telling Black men that to be a man means to show.
Perhaps it would be one thing if we didn’t also associate all of the acts with the very things that are detrimental to all human beings. The denial of the emotional self.
Boys who do are emotional, vulnerable, compassionate, loving, soft, sweet, kind, free spirited, and feminine are told that they are not “acting” like men.
That to be a man means to be tough, hard, hyper masculine, cold, distant, dominating, strong, unemotional, unavailable, and unloving.
Is it any wonder that there are no “good” black men for black women or anyone else? Who wants to be around a person who only knows how to be tough, hard, hyper masculine, cold, and dominating? That persons brings a miserable existence to themselves and others.
Is it any wonder that the leading cause of death for black men is other black men? When the patriarchal world we tell them will be their oyster does not come to fruition they rely on the only emotion they were told was acceptable for them as black men and that is Rage. So often leading to crimes harming other black men, black women, and children.
We raise our hands in the air wondering where did these unemotional, distant, destructive black men come from? We often ask why women are more mature than men? It’s simple.
We don’t allow men and especially black men to be emotional creatures. Something that is central to the whole of any person.
We must all take responsibility for the destruction of the black man and realize that our constant lying to black men telling them that to be strong is to be cold and distant and hard is a lie.
If you want to help save black men, save the black community I encourage you to take a stand now and put an end to the assault on young black men.
Manhood is not an act it is a state of being and no one has to perform, show, or prove anything to anyone to be a man.
With the recent news of Jene Newsome the nine-year military record weapons specialist who was discharged after police officers notified the military’s Office of Special Investigations that she had married her wife in Iowa, I think the gay community needs to realize that military service is a heterosexual privilege.
Serving in the military is a heterosexual privilege. Only they are allowed to serve and potentially die for their country.
Also: What’s interesting about Newsome is that she had honored and obeyed the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. She was not out in the military and had not openly displayed her sexual orientation. However when police came to her home and saw that she had married her wife in Iowa and she had refused to help them in their search they retaliated against her.
There’s this notion in the gay community that our silence will protect us. That if only we keep quiet and don’t make a fuss about our sexual orientation everything will be fine. Everyone talks about how much you can lose by being openly gay and yet this woman who lived by the notion that my sexual orientation should be kept quiet and who respected the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell still lost everything she has worked for.
The important message to take away from this horrible situation isn’t that Jene Newsome should have been better at hiding her sexual orientation, it’s that it’s absurd that she has to in the first place. I can only hope that many gays realize that in or out of the closet, playing or not playing by the rules, we are being discriminated against and it’s something that we should actively fight against.
I hear a lot of reasons for why closeted gay men don’t want people to know that they are gay. Reasons range from “I can’t let my family down” to “I may lose some Facebook friends.”
One of the more interesting reasons for closeted gay men not wanting people to know they are gay, is as they say, because they don’t want to be associated with so called feminine gay men, drag queens, and in their eyes other less than desirable aspects of the gay community.
Now let me explain why this is interesting.
If your reason for being ashamed of your sexual orientation hinges on the fact that “some” people might make you look bad and you might be compared to those people then what does that say about how you view something like your race?
Take the Black Community for example. I am a member of the Black Community a community that has many positive and negative attributes about it. I don’t appreciate Black men who father children and don’t take care of them, I don’t care for Black men who sell drugs, I don’t care for Black women who choose men over their children, but I somehow manage to not let these cases make me ashamed to be black. I am still a proud black man even though some Black men don’t take care of their children and some Black men sell drugs.
You see my pride in my race and my community is not tied to whether or not I can be associated with bad aspects of the community I belong to.
Feminine gay men make up the black community. Rupaul is apart of the black community. Every black so called feminine gay man is apart of the black community.
I don’t see these closeted gay men who cite feminine gay men and drag queens as reasons for not wanting to be seen as gay talking about how ashamed they are to be Black. How ashamed they are to be members of the black community.
The same feminine gay men that make you ashamed to be apart of the gay community also exist in the black community so shouldn’t that mean that closeted gay men should also be ashamed of the Black community?
Feminine gay men are still apart of the black community!
Which leads me to believe that this particular reason cited as a justification for being ashamed of being gay isn’t a very strong one. Otherwise there would be a lot more Black gay men ashamed to be apart of the Black community as well.
But honestly your pride in your sexual orientation, your race, your gender, etc should not be dependent upon whether or not certain members of the respective communities make you look bad or good.
Discussing femininity and masculinity as it pertains to the gay community is nothing new. There have always been debates over whether one is better than the other and there are likely to be many more debates in the years to come.
I am under the belief that there is nothing wrong with being feminine and there is nothing wrong with being masculine, but many men do not share my sentiments. A growing number of gay men seeking to distance themselves from the gay community, which they perceive to be solely dominated by feminine gay men, are vying to create the perception that feminine gay men are somehow antithetical to homosexuality and somehow not living up to what it means to be a gay man.
Now I want to make it clear that I am all for people having preferences. I have nothing against one preferring whatever it is that they prefer. I do however have a problem with discrimination though and I will continue to fight against it in society and especially within the gay community.
Preference: Is the set of assumptions relating to a real or imagined “choice” between alternatives and the possibility of rank ordering of these alternatives, based on the degree of happiness, satisfaction, gratification, enjoyment, or utility they provide.
If masculine men make you happier, if they bring you more satisfaction, if they gratify you more then there is nothing wrong with that. By all means do you until the cows come home.
Discrimination: Refers to the treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group in consideration based solely on category (femininity). Discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection.
Now if someone simply does not prefer another person why is there a need to malign and denigrate the person they do not prefer? When you have to say things like “I hate feminine gay men”, “Feminine gay men are disgusting”, “Feminine gay men make me sick”, “Masculine men are better than feminine men”, “I’m so tired of feminine gay men making masculine gay men look bad”, that crosses the line from you simply having a preference into you being discriminatory.
Again I have no problem with preference I do however have a problem with discrimination. What many gay men are guilty of doing is not simply preferring masculine men but taking it a step further and discriminating against feminine men. Why they do this I have no clue.
Again my message is simple. Prefer whatever it is you want to prefer but do not discriminate against so called feminine gay men because you don’t agree with their manhood.
We don’t all have to prefer each other, but we can at least not discriminate against each other.
Homophobic heterosexuals and self hating gay men are a threat to the gay community feminine men are not.