It Wasn’t Sexual Until White People Columbused It

Columbusing, or the art of [white people] “discovering” something [people of color do] that is not new, ought to be declared the term of 2014. It probably will in 2015, if it manages to get itself Columbused by next year. Something that did recently get Columbused is twerking. Those who only pay attention to mainstream white culture associate it with Miley Cyrus, erasing its long history among those of African descent.

As Christiana Mbakwe says in The Origins of Twerking: What It Is, What It Means, and How It Got Appropriated:

The roots of twerking are rich. Variants of the dance exist in most places where there’s a high concentration of people of African descent. Its current iteration is commonly associated with the New Orleans bounce scene, however growing up in London I immediately associate it with the Dancehall scene.

If people took the time to explore the root of what’s been dubbed as the “twerk,” they’d realise its origins lie in West Africa. It’s strikingly similar to the Mapouka dance from Côte d’Ivoire, a dance done by women that focuses on the buttocks. It’s existed for centuries.

The similarities between twerking and another dance of non-white origins gets downright eerie around here:

If we view twerking through a Western prism, we’ll interpret it as being sexual, scandalous and controversial. However when you place it in its original context you’ll realise it’s a cultural expression of joy, with its function being primarily celebratory rather than for sexual provocation. Growing up, I saw it most frequently performed during joyful occasions — family gatherings and weddings. There was nothing scandalous about it, it was simply dancing.

What happened to bellydancing is what is happening to twerking.

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#WhyIStayed: How to Rationalize Your Abusive Relationship

Content notice for all things domestic abuse. Please note that this is intended to be a personal account from a person whose feelings about what happened to them aren’t always fair or coherent and may carry misplaced resentment.

Whenever you realize what’s going on, remember

  • The wedding. How glamorous you felt. How happy everyone’s mom was. How sternly affectionate everyone’s dad was. How even the relatives you hate seemed lovely to you. How even the relatives who hate you wished you well without coming off as entirely passive-aggressive.
  • The cute story about the mishap from your honeymoon, when he performed a heroic, manly feat that saved you both.
  • The flowers he got for you on his way home from work each time you called him at work to let him know you were going to have his baby.
  • The ginger tenderness with which he held each newborn. The happy smile on his face in the picture you took each time of the bundled baby lying so snug and so small that he only had to use one arm to hold the tiny person.
  • How much your firstborn, who you love so dearly, looks like him.
  • That time you were listening to that one song on the radio and he swore he’d give his very last drop of blood for his children.
  • The one trip you took when there was no Incident.

When you are confronted by peers who realize, bring up

  • All the times you “almost left.”*
  • That he’s a good provider.
  • Your own lack of sainthood, how you
    • Provoke him.
    • Didn’t stand up to him in time or enough to fix it.
    • Still aren’t good enough to fix it, but you hope to be, someday.

* When confronted by your own hopes and dreams, talk to him about leaving

  • There will be absolutely no conviction in your voice.
  • There will be no reward for you, since you know that he knows that you know that you’d be helpless without him. Your punishment for this will be meted out slowly over time.
  • There will be no risk to the relationship, since you know that he knows that you know that he’d be helpless without you. He will remind you of it, voice quavering with penitence, and you will draw, yet again, from your endless well of forgiveness.

When your babies get sad, tell them what other daddies do to their babies

  • Beat them.
  • Starve them.
  • Leave them.
  • Sell them.
  • Mutilate them.
  • Marry them off.
  • Ship them away.
  • Rape them.
  • Kill them.
  • Hate them.

When your babies get angry, explain to them that

  • He’s only trying to fix them. They don’t want to grow up to be imperfect like you, do they?
  • All men are this angry, this irrational, this irritable. They’d better get used to it.
  • He used to be worse. Nobody is perfect. Everyone deserves a chance.
  • He used to be worse. Their anger will make him regress. They should stop their fussing right now, before he gets home.
  • He feels bad for it. Remember how bad he felt last time? It will blow over this time, like it did last time.

When your babies get too big and too loud with their sadness and anger, ask them why they

  • Are living in the past.
  • Can’t forgive their father. He’s their father.
  • Assert that an old — older than your father when he died, older than his father when he died, growing older every day — man, who never changed when he was younger, can’t change.
  • Refuse to give him credit where it’s due. He isn’t as bad as he was before.
  • Have gone through so much therapy and still carry so much negativity.
  • Can’t just be nice to him, for your sake? After all, you chose him, over and over and over again. They can make their own choices.

That Time I Almost Became a Gender Statistic

This is post 2/4 of an October Friday uncouth rant series leading up to Halloween. Content notice for gendered slurs. The genesis for this was conceived in a Jezebel comment thread of which I was reminded thanks to a friend’s comment thread. 

The meme of Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damn High Party, captioned "The ladies' cleaning standards are too damn high!" A few years ago, a few places, notably Forbes, posted pieces along the lines of “you crazy bitches are make it all up! It’s not men’s fault that you do more domestic labor, it’s yours!” Or we don’t communicate enough about it. Somehow, it’s women’s fault.

As I was fresh off being broken up with (as is my wont, apparently) by someone with whom I struggled on this very issue, I couldn’t let it slide.

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Viewing Child Porn Far Is Worse Than Being a Pedophile

Content notice for what the tin says

When I get drunk, I vaguebook or answer the (ahem) after-dark type questions I often get on Ask.fm. It’s not as if laptops, tablets,  smartphones, and other web-enabled devices have built-in breathalyzers that redirect you to child porn if you’re intoxicated enough. According to John Grisham, however, it’s all too easy to get drunk and stumble onto images of underage people intended to titillate the viewer. He has valiantly gone on record defending those poor, helpless white men who consume child pornography.

Via Time:

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age — 60-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody,” Grisham said in a recent interview. Grisham said there are men in prison who “got online one night” who “probably had too much to drink” and ended up on child-pornography websites, a crime he said a friend had committed. [However,] he has “no sympathy” for pedophiles. “God, please lock those people up,” he said.

Since when was an action, i.e. consuming child pornography, less worthy of punishment than a state of existence, i.e. being primarily attracted to children?
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#AnApostatesExperience: Why I Declared My Apostasy

Content notice for body image.

The other day, we at EXMNA made #AnApostatesExperience happen in response to Reza Aslan — who utterly missed the point.

He wasn’t the only Muslim responding. I got one Muslim who told me that I would’ve been better off taking off my headscarf rather than full-on coming out to my family as an atheist. This person is hardly alone. More than one Muslim has asked me why I didn’t tell my parents that I wanted to de-veil and stop practicing Islam rather than to declare to them that I had deconverted.

Given that I went from being a devout Muslim to being an atheist without detection but am a terrible liar, pussyfooting around my atheism would have been a pointless strategy. [Read more...]

#AnApostatesExperience: A Plea to Reconsider Your Love for Reza Aslan

Remember when Sam Harris said a misogynistic thing and doubled-down on it by talking about how he has a wife, a mother, and a female editor whose contributions to his work he highly values? Most white liberal atheists saw that for what it was and mocked him. It’s the “I have a black friend” argument.

Reza Aslan did a version of that yesterday regarding #AnApostatesExperience, the hashtag we at EXMNA started.

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Top Five Arguments the Atheist Agenda Doesn’t Have the Right to Use

I’m sure you or someone you know has seen or posted Michael Luciano’s Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing piece on The Daily Banter. It’s a short piece using the conference I attended this weekend, Moving Social Justice, to claim that expecting atheists to care about such outlandish things as equality diversity is “silly” because the dictionary definition of an atheist is someone who believes in no god(s). Also implicit in the title is the idea that those of us who care deeply about social justice are not “atheists” even though many of us say we are.

Well, okay, then. Michael Luciano thinks that I’m not atheist since this is “my social justice agenda”, not that of atheists. If that’s true, then atheists like Michael Luciano have no right to bring up Cosmos (i.e. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan), Christian right-wing sexism, the normalization of atheism, religious sex scandals, and Islam’s perceived flaws in their promotion of their purely-atheist agenda. [Read more...]

National Coming Out Day: I Don’t Want to Hang Out in Your Poly Closet

This is post 1/4 of an October Friday uncouth rant series leading up to Halloween. Content notice for horror movie GIFs. A version of this appeared on my Facebook page.

There are days when I do my darndest to be full of subtlety and nuance. This is not one of those days. Since today is National Coming Out Day, let’s talk about closets.

I’m out about a lot of things, things some might say I ought to be a bit less shameless about.

A version of Allie Brosh's "ALL the things!" meme from her “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult” entry for Hyperbole and a Half reading "Come out about ALL the things"

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