Are you sure you should be eating that?

Tell me if this sounds at all familiar.

You’re walking around the mall with your non-social justice friend in the middle of the day. You see a person wearing short shorts and a midriff shirt. Your friend whispers in your ear: “Oh, she should NOT be wearing that out in public.” And then as your friend starts to go on about the appropriate attire for a person’s body size, you start to drown out that voice, and reevaluate why you’re keeping this person as your friend.

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Body shaming is highly prevalent in our culture, which is depicted as a person overtly or covertly being socially examined or scrutinized due to that person’s body image/size. Women are most commonly the victims of body shaming, particularly women of color. Women have a long history of being under a social microscope, and often times their value is determined based on their bodily appeal, when considering a heterosexist situation. Women of color’s cultures commonly value or casually accept curvaceous women, but living in this culture brings means clashing the ideal acceptance of one culture, for the socially constructed goal of “thin is good” within the other.

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I also have to point out that body shaming is gender blind. Don’t tell me men don’t judge other men based on their bodies. The desire in this instance is to be big and rough, marked by the accusation: “do you even lift, bro?!” Men feel the pain of others’ judgment, but being men, they are taught to internalize and reject any notion that this is troublesome.

But why do people body shame at all in the first place? I might now know the answer to this, but I have a hypothesis. When a person is discontent with his own body, he rejects the pain of focusing inward, and instead will focus outwards, and project his own bodily dissatisfaction onto others. This malicious domino effect has been occurring long before the first bikini was revealed, and can only be thwarted when a person realizes this is being done and takes the responsibility to stop. Having a stomach that isn’t rock-hard tight stomach is a totally acceptable thing. It’s silly to assume that individual worth is as easily readable as one reads the numbers on a bathroom scale. In my own experience, I have hated my bodily perception so much that I was willing to eat little and do 1000 calorie workouts to punish my body just so I can pass in society. But now, I challenge the notion that I need another person’s acceptance to accept my own body. Furthermore, it’s been weeks since I’ve weighed myself, because I don’t believe that number makes me any more or less significant. I can excel in school, work, and life just as well as the person with a six pack, and I bet you could too.

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Because, Patriarchy

I’m a huge fan of weddings. When there are opportunities to dress up, free food, music, and the occasional open bar, what’s there not to like? I was at my cousin’s wedding shower this past weekend when the dreaded but comical awkward toasts began. The soon-to-be bride and groom gave theirs, and the parents of the couple went on next. Everyone’s speech was quaint, heart-felt, and filled with laughs. Well that all ended when the father of the groom went on to speak.

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First and foremost he wanted to congratulate his son on “getting this one,” which was a reference to my cousin. He then took it upon himself that she would be changing her last name, which seemed to be news to my cousin. Lastly, and most disgustingly, he announced that he expected her to be giving birth within the next two years. And of course when she gave another look of surprise and obvious hesitation, he responded with a “oh don’t worry, Mark will talk to you about it tonight.”

I clenched my jaw so tight I think I felt a tooth crack.

What I was being disgusted at is the manifested effects of Patriarchy. A Patriarchal system is a system by which there is a head male authority figure that holds authority over everyone attached to the social system. Patriarchy is very prevalent across all cultures and creates male privilege, which makes females the subordinate group. It’s through this creation of systematic misogyny where men get off thinking that they “own” women, and women become objects of sex, service, and reproduction.

In the institution of marriage there are heavily male-privileged customs, such as: women being sold for land and resources, the woman taking the last name of the man, the man being the person to “remove” a woman’s veil symbolizing purity, and the bride throwing the bouquet to rush another woman to marry. My soon-to-be uncle in-law takes a modernistic step by publically announcing what he thinks she should do with her reproductive system.

A few members of my family initially laughed at some of these “jokes.” But all it takes is a second’s worth of critique to realize that these are not jokes, and they’re not humorous, but that they are instead male-privileged patriarchal remarks. My family is pretty matriarchal, so I was able to get them to recognize the privilege stench the other family was giving off. I also may have accidently started a little family rivalry.

 

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Yo Chick, She So Thirsty

I learn a lot standing in line at Starbucks. When I overhear conversations other people are having, I find out that the fall flavors only kick in when there’s a dip in sales, that Starbucks apparently makes millions of dollars by over icing drinks, and the new tumblers are “beyond tacky.” Oh, I should have mentioned: I often find myself in line when there are about 20-30 high school kids in there too. However, hearing how the younger generation talks to each other was quite insightful, take this dialogue between two screaming girls for instance:

“How the hell did I lose it? I knew I put it in my bag in the morning! I love Snickers!”

“Oh I should tell you, Marissa went into your bag and ate it!”

“OMG! That slut!”

Interpreting the word slut to mean a person who is highly promiscuous, I then learned that day that eating chocolate makes you have sex frequently, and you should be morally ashamed for it.

Or.

Our youth thinks its fun to slut-shame.

Slut-Shaming is process by which a person is held in contempt for engaging in or perceiving to be engaging sexual acts. Think of an old town church elder yelling a group of teenagers for showing their wrists.

I’m challenging the notion that having sex is a bad thing. I come from a strong Sex-Positive perspective, which entails that is acceptable for a person to have as much or as little sex with whomever, whenever, and however, so long as there is mutual consent and everybody is safe. I don’t believe that having sex devalues a person. I find it ridiculous to think that a person’s worth diminishes as he or she has fun with the human body.

I think slut-shaming has its roots in early conservative eras that controlled the female body. It’s important to note that it is the womyn in society that are placed under the social microscope.

“She lost her virginity at 16.”

“She’s totally damaged goods.”

“Did you look at what she’s wearing?”

“Did you hear what happened to her? Yea, but she was totally asking for it.”

Believing in the Purity myth only reinforces the misogynistic idea that womyn are objects. It also places blame on victims of rape and sexual abuse, because there is more attention to the womyn that is sexually liberated, rather than the sick attacker desperately trying to give himself power.

It’s eye-opening to realize that there’s all this reinforced misogyny with a simple “she’s such a slut,” which is highly prevalent amongst conversation with our teens. This concept is also evolving in the media, as the new phrase is “thirsty.” Being thirsty shames a person for wanting to have sex, as though the person accusing another of being thirsty is so morally upholding by insulting another.

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So take a moment to think before you try to shame someone for doing what they want with their body. Stop yourself before you police how another person dresses. If you’re comfortable with your own sexuality, you wouldn’t be so involved with that of others.

James Franco, BOOM! Roasted!

A panel of comedians got together to roast James Franco in what was called his punishment for the Oscars. Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogan, Andy Samburg, and Bill Hader were amongst the team of roasters who took jabs at Franco’s career choices. As the night grew on the jokes got a little more edgy and uncomfortable, as comedians began to attack each other’s gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.

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I then had this moment of realization where I saw how prevalent hateful comedy can be. A few weeks ago I went to the Laugh Factory in Hollywood for my first comedy club experience. Aside from a two drink minimum the night was pretty nice… except when comedians started to bash other cultures. With the exposure I have now to cultural sensitivity I felt incredibly uncomfortable sitting in a crowd of people laughing at jokes about a cultural community.

Now I find myself questioning the whole world of comedy. Why is there so much racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia in the stand-up comedy world? Why are people so receptive to these types of jokes? Why is it so enjoyable to laugh at other groups of people?

     Aziz Ansari was the only person of color on James Franco’s Roast  panel, so of course his Indian heritage was brought up for humor multiple times. I’m confused as to why being Indian has so much comedic appeal. James Franco was constantly insinuated to be a gay man, and apparently being gay is incredibly funny for some people.

     What I see is the covert traces of xenophobia people are instilled with. People who appear different or foreign are more likely to be subjected to ridicule and comedic punishment, just because we’ll reject people who aren’t a part of “us.” And of course there are the instances where people make jokes about their own culture, and they use the argument that because they identify as the culture, then they can make fun of it. There’s a documentary titled “Why We Laugh,” which explores the internalized oppression that stem from the historical use of comedy to demean and comically lynch the African-American communities during the minstrel times. You should definitely watch it; it’s here in the Cross Cultural Centers waiting for you.

     Honestly, whenever I watch a comedy show and a person brings up a xenophobic joke, then their entire set is already ruined for me. I find humor in the every-day humor that’s universally known (watch any of Ellen DeGeneres’ stand ups if you want to know what I mean). And being even more brutally honest, I just assume racial, sexist, and homophobic jokes are a marker for a cheap comedian who can’t think of any clever joke. Don’t be that cheap comedian without a clever joke.

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