I was horrified to read this week that a 73-year-old woman was raped in broad daylight in Central Park.
Read that again, let it sink in: a 73-year-old woman was raped in broad daylight in Central Park.
According to news reports, the woman goes to Central Park every day and sits on a bench, birdwatching. Last week she witnessed a man in the bushes masturbating, so she took his picture — presumably to show to police. He came up to her after being photographed and demanded she hand over the film, but she refused.
Then Tuesday around noon, she was back in the park and the same man confronted her, asked “You remember me?” and then savagely beat and raped her, vaginally and rectally. He ran off with her bag, which contained her camera, and tried to steal her watch, too. The elderly victim was discovered lying in the ground by a fellow birdwatcher, who called 911. (He was arrested yesterday.) Keep reading »
It does my heart good to see women of all races embrace Michelle Obama. It is too rare indeed for a brown-skinned woman, a descendant of slaves, a product of Chicago’s South Side to be lauded on an international stage. Considering the heavy burden of stereotype still faced by black women, I cheer a little each time the First Lady gets some shine for her strength and smarts. But I note that in their eagerness to identify with Obama and make her emblematic of modern woman, some mainstream feminists unwittingly erase a key part of her identity–her blackness–and deny the experiences and histories of many African American women in the process. Keep reading »
At this point, I’m absolutely over the phrase “having it all.” It’s been beaten to death, taken out of context, used as link bait, etc… And I’m over it. I’m mostly over it because it’s a convoluted concept. “Having it all” doesn’t have one universal definition and it is something we only lord over the heads of women. It’s problematic on many levels, yet that doesn’t stop folks from hammering the point over and over and over again. But because the concept of “having it all” is so entrenched in our society, when an accomplished professor (of a feminist anthropology course, no less) ends up bringing her sick baby to the first day of class, and at one point nurses her, it becomes fodder for an investigative story.
Keep reading »
When a public notary in Sao Paulo, Brazil, authorized a civil union between one man and two women, neither she nor the triad expected to make headlines. Now, three months after their three-way relationship was formalized, it has become an international news story with flashy headlines like “‘Big Love’ In Brazil.” The members of the triad have refused to speak to the press. But the notary, Claudia do Nascimento Domingues, has come forward in light of backlash to explain why she made the decision to authorize the three-way union (or “thruple”). As she told the UK’s Telegraph:
We are only recognizing what has always existed. We are not inventing anything … for better or worse, it doesn’t matter, but what we considered a family before isn’t necessarily what we would consider a family today. Keep reading »
CBS’s new fall show “Elementary” has not even premiered yet, but already nerds everywhere are boycotting it. Why would people write off this modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story starring Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller so soon?
There are a bunch of (not very good) reasons. Keep reading »
I was recently contacted through my website by a pregnant black woman who inquired about hiring me to perform standup at her baby shower. She and her husband were diehard comedy fans, and thought it would be fun to have a comic perform for their guests.
“How did you find me?” I asked. “I Googled ‘Fat Black Female Comics’ and you were one of the women that popped up!” she answered. “Everyone knows that fat black women are the funniest comics alive!”
After I hung up the phone, I sat there for a moment trying to figure out if I should be offended or not. While I understand that she was trying to be complimentary, I’m not sure if I am flattered by someone thinking that I am automatically funny just because I am plus-sized and black. Then I thought about the $1,500 she offered to pay me to stand in the middle of her living room and crack jokes for 30 minutes, and I instantly felt better. Throughout my career, I’ve been paid much less to do far worse. There was plenty of time for me to be offended later, but for now it was time to get paid!
Comedy is hard work, no matter what you look like. The perception that fat black women have an edge up, purely because of the size of their bodies, diminishes the amount of hard work, discipline and creativity that it takes for us to create this art form known as comedy. Furthermore, I think it’s crazy that someone would assume that all fat black women are funny.
On the other hand, I get it. Keep reading »
As some of you may have noticed, I’m really rather fat. I mention it only because it’s relevant — it has a significant impact on my life; people treat me differently because I am fat.
Or, in some cases, refuse to treat me. Which is what happened recently to Ida Davidson, who was turned away from her new primary care physician. The stated reason? Ida Davidson weighs too much for the doctor’s office to accommodate her. Keep reading »
To say that I am a fan of the British sci-fi show “Doctor Who” would be and understatement. Not only do I have “DW” viewing parties at my apartment, I own a sonic screwdriver, I’ve eaten fish fingers and custard (a “DW” inside joke), I waited for hours to get a glimpse of the show’s stars when they shot an episode in New York, and I even traveled to London to go to the “Doctor Who Experience.” Despite some missteps (cough, “Daleks in Manhattan,” cough), “Doctor” Who won my heart(s) long ago, and I keep coming back for more adventures in that blue box.
But then I saw the promo art for season seven in which the titular character of the show, the Doctor, looks darkly determined while carrying his unconscious companion Amy in his arms. (“DW” has always referred to the people who travel with the Doctor as “companions.”) If my life were a preview for a romantic comedy, this would have been the moment you heard the sound effect of a record scratching to a stop. What the what?! Is “DW” really going there? Portraying Amy as merely a victim for the Doctor to save?
It gave me pause, and it made me think about the way the show has portrayed (or betrayed) its female characters in the past. Keep reading »
This weekend, a Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate, Todd Akin, infuriated people everywhere when he claimed that victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant. He was explaining his belief that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape. Apparently, Akin believes that the female body has ways to “shut that whole thing down,” if the woman involved didn’t really want to have sex. Nevermind that according to a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, approximately 32,101 pregnancies occur due to rape every year in this country.
The response to Akin’s disgusting remarks has been fast. After the initial wave of outrage, the Congressman released a statement saying that he “misspoke” but continuing to defend his extreme views on abortion. Akin clarified, “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.” Keep reading »
When the big news was announced last week that Zoe Saldana would be playing singer Nina Simone in a biopic, black cyberspace (yes, there is a “black Twitter” and a “black Facebook”) let out a collective “Oh, hell to the naw”!
For some it was because they did not believe that Zoe had enough acting talent to pull it off. Nina Simone was an extremely complex woman in real life, and the actress assigned to do this would be embarking upon the role of a lifetime. For others, the statements ranged from “Can Zoe even sing?” to “Wait, I thought she said she was a Latina?” to “Zoe is too skinny to play Nina Simone anyway!”
As the debate continued, it became clear to me that the issues surrounding the casting of Zoe ran much deeper than her acting ability. It was “skin deep.” Once again we were seeing an example of how Hollywood just doesn’t understand black women. To mainstream America, Black is “one color fits all.” But to African-American women, the color of our skin is much more than a random hue. In many ways, it uniquely shapes who we are and how we are treated in the world. For us, body image and self-esteem does not only involve loving your womanly body for the shape of it, but also embracing your complexion, hair texture and other features in a culture that constantly reminds you that thin white women are the standard of beauty. Keep reading »