Tagged: race

Problematic Ethnocentrism & Identity

The Boy with Sapphire Eyes

Boy-with-the-saphire-eyes-2 by Vanessa Bristow

When a photo of a young lad in Africa with pale blue sapphire eyes was posted on the internet the immediate reaction from non-Africans was that it must be photoshopped.  It is the typical reaction because how could an African have the blue eyes typical of another race?

No one considered for a moment that (a) all of humankind are descendants of Africa (b) blue eyes, like blonde hair and pale skin are genetic mutations that westerners consider ‘normal’ (c) race is a social construction not a biological one – this is the power of cultural hegemony.

Domesticated dogs were the genetic mutants descended from wolves that were rejected by the pack for their differences and found companionship with humans who bred them for greater genetic abnormalities that have resulted in the dramatic diversity of breeds today – why do humans think they are so different?

We are all a part of the African diaspora, and many clans travelled far and stayed, adapting to new climes and situations that favoured such mutations. That is biology. Our categorization of people into essentialist ‘races‘ is not. There is less genetic diversity between a European and an African than between two Europeans or two Africans and all the genetic diversity of humankind are within Africa.

Love vs. Porn

Jane Caputi in, The Pornography of Everyday Life (video link above), declares pornography as “a habitual mode of thinking”, that underpins our everyday discourse, supporting oppressions like sexism, racism and homophobia. It makes us see a man possessing, overpowering, threatening, using, humiliating and abusing women as ‘manly’ and ‘sexy’. She argues that pornography is not about arousal – it is about objectification, desensitization and dehumanization. These negative mass representations of sexuality is a public form of psychological abuse that limits or ability to imagine alternatives.

rape culture

Cindy Gallop, founder of makelovenotporn.com and makelovenotporn.tv has first-hand (no pun intended) experience with the effects of mainstream pornography, the sources it seems for many people – her young male lovers in particular – for learning their bedroom techniques, which she says,  makes them inconsiderate lovers. In an era where all types of pornography (Rule 34) are more freely and widely available than ever before. She believes, parents and sex education teachers still give too little guidance about how to develop healthy, sex-positive relationships – so toward that end Gallop created makelovenotporn.com and makelovenotporn.tv

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so that young men don’t think that’s always the normal way of behaving in the bedroom and their girlfriends don’t have to pretend to like it

Gallop aims to re-educate people via the internet with #reallifesex filled with type of passion and intimacy distinctly missing in the typical commercial mainstream porn flick. Gallop’s model is new – anyone can ‘share’ a video (ie: their own production) that meets the positive sex guidelines (plus “no poo, children or animals”) and collect 50% of the rental fee that others pay to watch it.

This is a good example of what Feona Atwood, in No Money Shot? – Commerce, Pornography and New Sex Taste Cultures (2007) would refer to as ‘a community of exchange’ where members of the website (free to join) participants as both vendor and consumer typical of our  technology enabled participatory culture. One could also argue however, that it is an ingenious way to make money off of amateur pornography, as such videos are usually posted online in various forums.

In my opinion, ‘ordinary’ folk accessing ‘realcore’ like Gallop’s site or altporn available on Nerve.com or SuicideGirls.com can be a positive experience and influence on mainstream culture as it can open the door to more (& positive) sexual exploration outside of vanilla, monogamous, hetero-normative intimacies and into realms like polyamory, bisexuality, and BDSM. That said however, I think that it can also have a negative impact such as sex-positive empowerment narratives being perversely translated into mainstream commercialism with works like “Fifty Shades of Grey” by authors who have only experienced (and understand) the tiny tip of the iceberg of these alternative communities, and cherry pick concepts that fit into their hegemonic frameworks of male dominance and female submission.

I am not the White guy you had in mind …

Interesting story about a pale-skinned, blue-eyed surfing son of a dentist who grows up in California thinking his ancestors were Italian and discovers he is actually a multiracial descendent of a Bantu-African slave from Virginia working as a grad student with a prof who had the same last name. See his short film here. I would be very curious to know what effect, if any that this discovery has made for him and for his family, particularly if it has impacted his ideas of identity.

Context & Identity

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“The context that we live in always shapes the way you identify yourself and the way others identify you”

<http://1nedrop.com/1ne-drop-launches-kickstarter-campaign/>

Being Black is not a matter of pigmentation – being Black is a reflection of a mental attitude.” – Steve Bantu Biko

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In talking to people about race – here is a helpful tip <http://youtu.be/b0Ti-gkJiXc>

(1)ne drop also has a FB page with lots of excellent related stories around colourism/ shadism/ racism

<http://www.facebook.com/1nedrop>

How does the context you live in effect how others see you? how you see yourself?