Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane

PYNK

Make Me Feel

 

Women Need Pockets

By Ann Varner

I like to buy men’s clothes, especially coats and shirts. Why? Because they have pockets. And not the pockets that can barely fit your pinky finger, I’m talking about real pockets that can actually hold essential items. Unless I’m wearing jeans (which is never because I don’t like them), I am wearing some sort of sweat pant, yoga pant, or legging. But these items rarely have pockets, and when they do they can only fit one small item.

This isn’t news to women. We become excited when a piece of women’s clothing has nice, big pockets for us to stash our stuff in. In fact, throughout history women’s clothing has never had the equivalent amount of pockets to men’s clothing. Why? Because pockets are “bulky” and don’t align well with the stitching that pulls our waists in. Personally, if you gave me the chance to choose between hauling a purse around all day or having leggings with pockets, I would absolutely choose the latter.

The pocket was introduced to men’s clothing in the 18th century. However, women were only given a small slit in their dress where they could hide their purse. It is theorized that part of the reason why women’s clothing hasn’t had “real” pockets is due to idea that the less women can carry without a purse, the less freedom they have. In the late 1800’s there was a brief period after the war when women’s clothing had pockets. During that time, it stood for independence but was quickly taken away. Now, as women we have grown so accustomed to not having pockets we haven’t stopped to ask why we don’t have them. Why don’t we have breast pockets in our coats to put our most valuable items? Men’s coats have them. Why are we expected to carry our items in a purse instead of having free hands like men do?

I’ve come to the realization that men’s clothes are not only cheaper, but they have more pockets and are better quality for the price. My closet is filled with men’s tops and jackets that I love. Sure, the tag may say “M” but that is the last thing I’m worried about when it’s sub-zero temperatures and my keys, gloves, phone, and hat can all fit in my deep, manly pockets.

Long Live the Legacy of Coretta Scott King

“What most did not understand then was that I was not only married to the man that I love, but I was also married to the movement that I loved.”

By Korrien Hopkins

Martin Luther King Jr. may be the United States’ most well-known civil rights activist of all time, but there’s no denying that his wife Coretta Scott King was a hero in her own right.

Coretta, born and raised in Marion, Alabama, graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1945. She studied singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston when she met Dr. King. After the two married in 1953, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama and had four children.

Coretta, a classically trained musician, gave up her dream of becoming a singer and became “The First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.” She devoted much of her time to raising their children during King’s career as a pastor and activist, though she would often speak about civil rights at churches, colleges, and other organizations.

Two months after her husband was assassinated in 1968, Coretta founded The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She took on leadership within the movement for racial equality and fought to make her husband’s birthday a federal holiday for nearly two decades. She oversaw the first nationally observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20, 1986.

Coretta continued to make history throughout her life by working fearlessly to create the change her husband had worked so hard for. She became the first woman to deliver the annual class day address at Harvard University and the first woman to preach at a worship service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. During her remarkable life, she received over 60 honorary doctorates and helped found dozens of organizations dedicated to advancing human rights. She was a leader in the women’s movement and a fierce defender of LGBTQ rights.

Coretta Scott King died from ovarian cancer on January 30, 2006. She became the first woman and first African American to lie in honor in the Georgia state capitol’s rotunda. The “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement” powerful legacy continues to live on today. Although there is no Coretta Scott King Day, it’s important that we acknowledge these sacrifices made by her and many women like Coretta. She, like many women, made sacrifices for the sake of the advancement of all, even when the cost was her own well-being. These sacrifices should be held to a high standard because without her legacy, the legacy of her husband would be far different. She showed the world that a person can only be as strong as their partner. She showed the power of women in the movement and is still a role model for many women today. I will always uplift her legacy and strive to be as powerful as she was.

“The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.”  – Coretta Scott King

 

 

 

Oprah Winfrey Shares a Message of Hope and Unity in Her Inspiring and Historical 2018 Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Korrien Hopkins

This past Golden Globes weekend, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award and gave a very moving speech. The actress, producer, and philanthropist presented a message of hope, unity, and optimism in her speech.

She opened with a story reflecting on her childhood when she was a little girl in 1964, watching the Oscars from the linoleum floor of her mother’s house in Milwaukee. She explained how hearing five words that changed history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier,” inspired her to be the person she is today.

“I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said. “I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” she said.

In addition to being the first black man to win Best Actor at the Oscars, he also was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982. The same award that Oprah was receiving. She also spoke of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who in 1944 had the courage to speak out against her white male rapists. Taylor was of great inspiration to Rosa Parks and many others.

After hearing Oprah Winfrey’s speech, I realized how important it is that we live in our truth as she said. When we follow our heart, despite opposition and fear, we are in turn paving a way for others and inspiring others. We are shaping the future for us all because, when it comes down to it, we are one.  Winfrey’s inclusiveness of men and women in the fight against sexual harassment on all levels was strong and very inspiring. Her speech proclaimed the strength and sisterhood of the women in Hollywood who suffered and spoke out against harassment along with women all around the nation.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue… Recy’s truth is here with every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too,’ and every man who chooses to listen,” she said including male allies.

Perhaps her speech was never meant to be anything more than that, but it became a moment where many like myself, saw her presidential potential. People took to social media to express their #Oprah2020 dreams. I’m definitely not opposed to this at all. I think it takes someone who understands life and human connection in a special way to be President. This is what Oprah has shown us throughout her career. She is authentic and relatable, despite her lack of political experience which clearly is needed in today’s world. I think her life experience and amazing wisdom outshines many by far. This is what I believe could evoke a positive change and unity for all of humanity. I think that’s why her Globes speech transcended to the American people far beyond the fancy occasion. She met people in their living room sharing her truth to encourage us to share ours. We also can’t forget her extremely generous nature. Could you imagine her giving out free college tuition and student loan forgiveness in the same way she once gave free things to her audiences on the Oprah Winfrey Show?

 

“You get free college…. and You get free college….”

“You get loan forgiveness…. and You get loan forgiveness.”

I mean, a girl can only hope and dream. Right?

Oprah’s speech opened my eyes to a brighter future. Whether she runs for president, or just continues to contribute her thoughts of inclusion or shares her story, I’m happy. She continues to inspire me to overcome the many obstacles I face because of my gender and the color of my skin. She shows me that although it’s not easy, it’s possible. And the more we create change for ourselves, we are creating change for others because we are one. So that one day, hopefully sooner than later, young women like myself won’t have these same problems.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men — but their time is up. Their time is up!” –Oprah Winfrey

Missed the speech? Watch it here:

The Dress Code

By Caroline Turner

As kids, some of us dealt with school uniforms. Luckily for me, I did not. I would have hated the idea of being restricted to wear only two pairs of pants and two different colored shirts. In fact I remember writing school papers passionately siding on why kids should be able to express themselves, make their own decisions, and wear what they want without uniforms. In an institution that requires strict dress codes or uniforms, you know what you’re signing up for. But in the real world once we graduate from those institutions do we still have dress codes telling us what we can and cannot wear as grown-ups, specifically as women?

When men go shopping there are many options to choose from. Wear a bow tie, wear a tie, or no tie. Get a tight tee shirt or a loose tank top. Wear baggy pants or tight pants. Wear sneakers or dress shoes. All of these choices are ok and express one’s freedom of choice and personal style preference. Once the clothes are purchased and taken home, the man would probably not have a second thought when getting dressed in his new clothes later on.

When women go shopping, very similarly, there are also many options to choose from. Wear a bra, wear a push up bra, or no bra. Get short shorts or jeans. Wear a crop top or wear a tank top. Wear sneakers or heels. Again, all of these choices are ok and express one’s freedom of choice and personal style preferences. During the process of shopping, once the clothes are bought, or maybe both times, there is a thought that creeps into women’s minds when getting dressed. And it’s not about how the clothing will feel, or if the clothes will last a while.  It’s a thought about how others will treat her based on what she’s wearing. “Is there too much skin showing? Will people be looking at me unwantedly? Will they think of me as promiscuous, easy? Will they interpret this clothing as me wanting to make a sexual advance? Will I be respected or taken seriously?”

Sexualizing women unwantedly has largely become socially acceptable. The media and our culture works to pin-point styles and behaviors as being sexual, even if there is nothing inherently sexual about them.

The in depth report on the sexualization of girls by the American Psychological Association explains that girls can then self-objectify themselves by “(internalizing) an observer’s perspective on their physical selves and learn to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance.” There is no clear dress code on what women can and cannot wear, but based on societal standards we monitor ourselves. For example, we may not wear shorts because they might be too revealing.

For women it seems there is a dress code, albeit one that is more clearly read between the lines. Some of us may be more aware of it than others, but it is one that is created by us, our sisters and brothers. This dress code is based on sexualizing women and teaching us how to monitor ourselves in the process. I never was a fan of dress codes, and this woman’s code is an especially sneaky one that has got to go.

My Experience at the KC Women’s March

womensmarchby Zaquoya Rogers

Going to my first protest, which was the Women’s March in Kansas City, Mo. was a totally new experience for me and I loved it. First stepping into the crowd, I was in awe at how many people came out to fight against sexism. It was not a crowd that you would see at a concert: people keeping to themselves, coming out just to listen to the music, socialization, but no sense of unity. At the march, even though it was so many people, I felt the togetherness that oozed out of the crowd. We stood there to be seen as one unit, fighting for our rights as women and against sexism and the glass ceiling. What also interested me was the different ways that women and men voiced their ideas. From pink pussy hats, to shirts that screamed female empowerment, to witty signs that were bound to make you laugh and give you the energy to help you continue to protest with power. Creativity appeared at every corner. Strength, motivation, resistance, demand for respect and peaceful unrest fueled what was the biggest Women’s March in history.

Personal Space

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ckc21Cdblsc[/youtube]

By Matiara Huff

This slam poetry video featuring Reagan Meyers a great description of what it feels like when a women’s personal space is constantly being invaded.  It is degrading when someone ignores my existent and lazily reoccupy the space I am taking up. No one deserve to be force to feel small and insignificant. Try to be mindful of the people around you, consider how they might be feeling. Someone’s personal space should not be a tactic for negation or away to make yourself more comfortable. If you feel like your personal space is being invaded, speak up. You deserve to always be comfortable where ever you are.

Transwomen in Prison

Image courtesy of Flikr.

By Zaquoya Rogers

The Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” highlights many different female experiences that tend to occur in prisons across the globe. They portrayed the problems of women in prison within every race, sexual orientation and background. One that caused an increase in conversation was about trans women and how they were being treated within prison. Since, obviously, male and females are separated into different prisons, where do transwomen fit? People started asking what it means to be a women. Also, why are transwomen’s gender is being trivialized? Lindsay King-Miller states “A woman, no matter her background, should never be asked to prove she is a woman.”

Laverne Cox, a transwomen actor and speaker, played Sophia Burset in the popular series and accurately depicted the struggle and mistreatment of transwomen in prison. In prison, transwomen go through difficulty in consistently receiving necessary hormone medication. In Season One, Sophia’s medication had been reduced because it wasn’t deemed as necessary which caused her male characteristics like facial hair to return. This happens in prisons today and scars transwomen’s sense of self.  A transwomen inmate named Mary was placed in the male prison Boggo Road Gaol located in Australia. She was denied any access to hormones medication. She states, “It was like my identity was taken away from me. I look like a woman and I think if a transgender person is genuine and they are living as the opposite sex, then they should be housed in a female prison, even if you’re in a wing on your own.” Denial of one’s gender is abuse and is not fair.   

In Season Three, Sophia clashes with some of her fellow inmates and is brutally attacked by the same group. Instead of punishing the perpetrators, Sophia is the one sent to the SHU (Security Housing Units/Solitary Confinement) supposedly for her protection. In reality, this type of solution downgrades transwomen and serves as an injustice. Not only do transwomen experience abuse, discrimination and bullying when serving time but they cannot count on higher authority in prison to ensure their safety. They are turned against and devalued as human beings simply because of who they identify as. This is a problem that won’t change unless more conversations take place about these injustices. I think that a great majority of people still see being transgender as something unnatural. This is why transwomen are subjected to so much abuse. The more we speak on it and accept people for who they are and not who we want to see them as, the better it will get for transwomen.

 

Black Dolls Matter

ByImage courtesy of Flickr. Korrien Hopkins

Dolls play a pivotal role in the development of girls. I remember going to Toys R Us with my family to use the gift cards our uncle had given us for Christmas. I remember going through the aisle looking for that Easy Bake Oven I had been anxious to get. After I got it, I went to the doll section. I glanced through the dolls looking for one that resembled me. No Luck. So grabbed a doll from the long selection of white dolls. My grandma came over with my brothers and asked me if there were any black dolls. “No,” I responded. She quickly found an employee and kindly asked them if they had any ethnic dolls. The employee helped us look through the dolls and checked in back. Unfortunately, they had no luck in finding a black doll. I spent the rest of the money on something else. I was a bit disappointed but quickly got over it. I learned my importance and worth from my mother. What my mother didn’t tell me I found on my own. Thanks to community, to black media, and my spiritual interpretation; I have been greatly influenced by the black excellence I see. That I am pretty and important but, why is this something I had to find on my own?

Positive self-images should be poured into children. I can clearly see why it is important for stores to sell black dolls. Playtime Projects is an organization that collects toys for homeless children. “Author Debbie Behan Garrett explains, “When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’ By providing children with African-American dolls that reflect their beauty, we can help to instill in them a positive self-image.”

In my psychology class we have talked about the “Doll Study.” This was a study that’s was done in 1939 by psychologists Kenneth & Mamie Clark, it examined black children’s preferences for white and black dolls and found that the children tended to find the white doll to be “nicer” and more enjoyable to play with. Perhaps fewer people, though, are aware that this study was repeated in 2005 by the then 17-year-old Kiri Davis. She found similar results to the original study. While Dr. Thelma Dye of the Northside Center for Child Development cautions that these results should not lead to the assumption that all black children suffer from low self-esteem, she encourages continued exploration of the meaning of these studies.

Self-representation matters! Children should be able to think highly of themselves and see that they are thought highly of in society. Whether they are of African decent, European decent, Hispanic, or Asian, a child should be able see their culture present in the world. The United states is a country full of many different cultures and I believe those cultures should be represented and embraced in all communities. It should be easy to locate a variety of dolls that represent a wider spectrum of ethnicities wherever you may go.  Children should be able to see dolls of all shades because that is the refection of the world.

It’s Not in My Head: The Hysterical Woman Stereotype

Image courtesy of Google Images.

Image courtesy of Google Images

 

By Zaquoya Rogers

Many people are convinced that women are not trusted to know when their body needs medical attention. Can you imagine that?  A woman named Kathy was experiencing abnormally heavy periods and consulted her doctor multiple times, only to be told her symptoms were “all in her head.” After demanding more advanced medical attention, she found out she had uterine fibroids. It is appalling that in 2016, women are not being taken seriously especially in health situations. This is what you call the hysterical woman stereotype.

It is the thought by some health practitioners that when women reporting symptoms of illness are suffering from an overactive imagination.  It paints women as less rational, less disciplined and less emotionally stable than men. These stereotypes can be very dangerous. If Kathy did not demand more medical attention, that would’ve caused serious complications. In order to put an end to the hysterical woman stereotype we must listen to our women and take them seriously.