Saturday, June 4, 2011


Wow... Beyonce's new vid is rousing some interesting debate and I find myself writing about it again.

Natasha Thomas-Jackson's article in the award winning Alternet Online magazine revealed to me another layer to unpacking the complexities around contemporary feminism.
Natasha is an MC, spoken-word artist, wife, mother, and Executive Director of RAISE IT UP! and she uses a vlog by 9teen% - a dynamic 24 year old woman, outspoken professional youtuber - to back up her sentiments and frustrations on what she calls the 'ugly' side of feminism.

There are a couple of things about Natasha's critique of 9teen%'s youtube post that colour it as an emotional response to a bad experience she had at a feminist conference.
1)  Why is it that Natasha automatically assumes that the women who looked at her with ridicule and disdain, because of of her dress choice, were either 'jealous' of her or that they could not help themselves because of an 'unconscious act of internalized sexism?
2) And why is it  that the STYLE with which 9teen% opted to deliver valuable information is 'thought of as 'snarky, confrontational, biting, sarcastic, and ugly'? Harsh words. An alternative perspective would be 9teen% is passionate, wanting to stamp impact with character (snappy editing cuts and quirky gesturing).

What if  the women at the conference had  been just plain angry with how she was dressed, as they may have held the view of 'you're either with us or against us'. What ever way Natasha was dressed  that day may have roused a frustration in those women that manifested itself in a fashion that made Natasha feel uncomfortable (angry?).  Was she was on the receiving end of 'ANGER AND HURT IN PROCESS'? We know women ALSO have a lot to answer for in perpetuating elements of the patriarchal status quo, for example, over sexualized attire,  anorexic looking fashion models, facilitating forced arranged marriages, female genital mutilation etc. Is her article over reactionary?

Natasha's response is on point in many areas, however, its intention appears rooted in a
response to a negative experience, which could be described as resonating with a hint of cat-fight about it."Oh they're just jealous!" She's almost one step away from calling them 'bitches' herself. Is this 'jealousy' something she experiences often as a woman who "likes stiletto heels and make up."? Is her article's intention born from the right context? This is not a night out in London's West End, its a Feminist conference.  This is not about how she was dressed on the day. Its about LOCATING HER ASSUMPTIONS and JUDGEMENTS of these women reactions TO THE RIGHT CONTEXT because they might be just angry. Where were  her intentions HONESTLY rooted when she wrote this article because it colours the piece? These are honest questions women must ask themselves as we enter the realm of unifying for the greater good of Womanhood, empowerment and progress as we are  IN PROCESS with building better relationships with each other and ultimately with ourselves.

The beautiful thing about this, is that the debate is ON and it's important to remember that above all, THIS is the process. We're in it. And it's great. And we can thank Sis Beyonce for that, at least.

1)  When we can see all the elements and arguments of the struggle that work in women's favour to move the cause forward
2)  when we can look beyond the emotional responses - including the anger and how it manifests - ACKNOWLEDGING them, HONOURING them, and HEALING beyond them to the 'full expression of self Natasha speaks about,
3) when we can exercise Bell Hooks' "LOVING CRITIQUE" in all our dialogue, in every media,
THEN we will feel the Unity of the Feminist/Womanist/Humanist struggle.

Race and sexual orientation will no longer be an issue, nor will class - the three things, I see,  driving the biggest wedges between women and sabotaging the Feminist movement. Let's get beyond the emotional, and in true comparison, petty bickerings (unfortunately something we women are all to  often, boringly, labelled with being). Let's get as quickly as possible to the  MOVEMENT, beyond the emotional knee jerk reaction, the kind that might underlay Natasha's article.  She speaks about 'Eyes of contempt. Eyes of lust. Eyes of confusion' upon her - overt displays  of the complex [emotional] tensions within contemporary feminism in the context of a women conference. Natasha's inspiration to write this article - "I hate it when this happens. Women drive me crazy!!" Possibly? We must be aware of our subconscious subtleties as women, fine tune our sense of self.

Both Natasha Thomas-Jackson's and 9teen%'s  posts are of equal value. Very valuable. They reveal where we are at in our passion, intellect and intelligence, AND in our Love of Womanhood. Let the knowledge circulate. Peace.

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