On White Womanhood And Why It's So Dangerous For Men Of Color

On White Womanhood And Why It's So Dangerous For Men Of Color

How Lena Dunham's comments about Odell Beckham Jr. are an extension of a fraught relationship between white women and black men.
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Earlier this month, Lena Dunham received an enormous amount of backlash -- rightfully so -- for posting her interview with Amy Schumer. Dunham accused Odell Beckham Jr. of misogyny for not talking to her at the New York Met Ball.

In her mind, him being on his phone instead was dismissive and rude. All of this, according to Dunham, was happening because she's a woman who doesn’t physically ascribe to the beauty standards of the models in the room (never mind that Dunham is white, rich, straight, able-bodied, etc), some of which were sitting at the table with her, and with whom she assumed Beckham would rather be talking to.

Of course, she had no evidence of this. But according to her, what she felt in that moment was enough to tweet out to her nearly five million followers.

Shortly afterwards, Dunham apologized, for what she realized were really “narcissistic assumptions.” She went on to claim that she would “never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies -- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men.” She went on to apologize to her fans and to OBJ himself.

Before apologizing, she claimed in a tweet that, “My story about him was clearly (to me) about my own insecurities as an average-bodied woman at a table of supermodels and athletes.” At some point, she also tagged her friend, Amy Schumer, with, “Glad the outrage machine roars on though, right @amyschumer?”

Schumer herself is no stranger to racist comments about black men. When Twitter user Paulo L dos Santos tweeted “Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, et. al. refuse 2C that misogyny among men of color, while hideously prevalent, is no more so than among white men.” Schumer responded by asking, “how would you know? Statistically who is hollerin at you in the street more pa?”

Both Schumer and Dunham (along with many other white feminist celebrities, some of which I have written about before) are all too representative of how white women are willing to make gross, blanket statements about not just black men (though in particular), but about any man of color. Schumer especially has had some very racist jokes made in her stand up shows about Latino men.

Their behavior and their justification for it is one of the core problems with mainstream white feminism. As part of their bravado and their supposed “confidence,” they take it upon themselves to “defend” their insecurities (just as Dunham has done) in a way that perpetuates racism. Because they don’t necessarily see color, and are only affected by sexism, they don’t see the race of the men they are being critical of.

Their insecurities end up manifesting themselves in a vacuum, where they think they can approach issues of body positivity and sexuality without acknowledging their positionality as white women first. In today’s world, their viciousness may tarnish a black man’s image, get him fired or land him in jail. But in earlier periods of this country’s bleak history -- such as the Jim Crow Era -- the ignorance and blatant racism of the likes of Dunham and Schumer would have gotten a black man lynched.

Their self-victimization, their racist deductive reasoning and the confidence with which they participate in said actions are crucial characteristics of white womanhood and how it was constructed, particularly from the years 1882-1930, after slavery had supposedly ended, but before the Civil Rights Era (a point at which many want to believe that racism came to an end). In fact, the construction of white womanhood as an inherently pure racial entity allowed white women to not only victimize themselves without repercussions, but to participate in the lynching of black men, which reached its peak in 1919 (today known as the “Red Summer”) as either spectators, or the supposed “victim” watching her “rapist” meet his fate.

When Dunham victimized herself as an “average-bodied” woman, she forgot to mention that she was an average-bodied white woman. When Schumer claimed it is statistically men of color “hollerin” at her, she had no idea that her thoughts were in line with the white women who, less than a century ago, felt that it was only black and brown men who were prone to misogyny against white women and who therefore deserved the gruesome deaths they were met with.

Maybe in today’s world, black men aren’t being lynched as a spectacle (even though they are jailed and brutalized disproportionately), but what people fail to realize is that white women, such as Dunham and Schumer, are only two examples of how white woman have harnessed and perpetuated racism, only to be saved by the same exclusive feminism they promote.

Cover Image Credit: E! News

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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