Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet

A love letter to anxious ladies.

Black women are an electoral voting force.

White belly dancers and cultural appropriation.

The Army’s top sexual assault prosecutor has been suspended after assault allegation.

Over the trend of black “it” girls.

Filibuster for military sexual trauma.

Hate to link to TMZ, but they’ve got the most quotes straight from Crossfit on their transmisogyny.

Brooklyn elementary school ignored repeated abuse of student.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/ljepotica/ Ana Casian Lakos
  • http://feministing.com/members/vryheid/ Mike

    From the “white belly dancers” article:

    “Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.”

    This notion of cultural ownership is so rooted in archaic, xenophobic attitudes regarding race and ethnicity that I don’t even know why it’s being lumped in with modern feminism. The very concept that anyone can have some sort of “divine right” to a specific art form simply because of the work of their distant ancestors is both deluded and extremely egotistical. It’s so telling that the author is so willing to make these ridiculous comparisons between belly dancing and blackface because of how weak this argument is on its own. Would it have been so hard for the author to give even one example of how these white belly dancers have had any tangible negative impact on her life? Of course it would have, because they were in no way harming or demeaning her, and the only offense they committed was apparently not having dark enough skin.

    Are we going to start condemning Asian classical musicians, simply because the genre was invented and popularized by white Europeans? I guess we have to, because that’s “cultural approbation”. Maybe we should tell all those professional South American football players to “find another form of self-expression” because the sport originated in England. And I guess we have to start criticizing African Americans who start attending yoga classes, because- Oh wait, it’s not okay to do that? Huh, I guess hypocrisy is only acceptable if you’re needlessly bashing white people.

    It’s no wonder the article was pretty much universally condemned on the comments section and has had several critiques from other sources. The Washington Post had a well written response which is worth taking a look at. From the article:

    “But, wait: Maybe — and I know this is a radical thought — artists, whether high or low, should be able to work in whatever artistic fields they want to work in. Maybe they should even be able to work in those fields regardless of their skin color or the place from which their ancestors came.

    Maybe telling people that they can’t work in some field because they have the wrong color or ancestry would be … rats, I don’t know what to call it. If only there were an adjective that could be used to mean “telling people that they mustn’t do something, because of their race or ethnic origin.””

    • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

      How dare Arabic people think they can have something that is unique to their culture without some white people appropriating it! I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a long hisotyr of colonialism, racism, and ethnocentrism from white –

      Oh, there was?

    • http://feministing.com/members/bellecloche/ Emily Sanford

      I also felt the Salon article was too simplistic. If the author had said that white girls bellydancing is merely another irritating reminder of the unjust power imbalance between the West and the Middle East, or if she had suggested ways in which Westerners can explore Arab culture respectfully, or if she had used one concrete example of how (naively) trying to learn a dance can be a form of violence, then I would have loved it. Writer Jarune Uwujaren and the blogger Spectra do a fantastic job of writing about cultural appropriation in profoundly helpful ways. But the Salon author came off as just wanting to call people out, not stimualte dialogue.

      Cultural appropriation and the objectification/fetishization of minorities are definitely a problem thanks to power imbalances. (I wish the Washington Post article had recognized the staying power of colonial history.) And anyone who delves into another culture in order to draw attention to how special and different they are is being solipsistic, not open-minded. But dismissing naive behavior as exactly as bad as mean-spirited behavior isn’t very helpful either.

    • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley

      Mike, Bravo!

      Exactly my feelings too. I’ve never understood this concept of ‘appropriation’.

      From what I read here it seems that it is wrong for someone of white skin to belly dance, or for a white guy to rap. I’m pretty sure only Blacks are allowed to play jazz, too.

      But if someone complained that a Black guy sang Italian opera because it is ‘inappropriate’, then there’d be cries and squeels about racism, etc. And if someone said that only Germans should be allowed to sing Wagner, just imagine the uproar!