At Coachella, Let Latin-American and Black Artists Own the Spotlight.

By: Jetzel Chavira

Karol G is a Columbian musician. She recently performed at one of the most popular music festivals, Coachella. She covered music from Latin icons such as Selena, Shakira, and Celia Cruz. She chose her outfit to have colors of the Columbian flag, as she wanted to honor Columbia. In 2022, she performed at Coachella, marking a step in the right direction for representation at this historically white festival. Although Coachella has stepped up its game this year, in the past its appropriation of different cultures has made it a toxic environment for minority attendees.

In Teen Vogue, Terri Burn writes about her experience attending Coachella as a black woman. Burns discusses how she witnessed white people scream the n-word during every rap performance, wear black hairstyles, and even encountered people who would ask to touch her hair. Even before she even went to Coachella, she stopped by an African braid shop to get her hair braided and for the first time she saw a handful of white and Asian women at this hair shop. They had just returned from the first Coachella weekend. Burns heard Kendrick Lamar perform “Alright”, and she pointed out how the song was not meant for all the white people in the crowd shouting the n-word. When Lamar starts of the song with “Alls my life I has to fight”, this is only truly meaningful to the victims of discrimination and police brutality. She witnessed appropriation to the highest degree.

In the 2022 Coachella there was much more representation. We saw Karol G, Mexican American artist Becky G and even banda act such as Grupo Firme and Banda MS. Here’s hoping that 2023 does even better.

Cosplay is for Everyone!

Harley Quinn (Batman) at Phoenix Comicon 2011, Kevin Dooley, Creative Commons

By: Emma Sauer

Over last weekend, I attended Planet Comicon. I had a blast, and it reminded me of a topic I’ve always felt strongly about. Cosplay.

If you need a definition for cosplay, just think of it like dressing up at Halloween, but instead you’re doing it at a public event. Some people even do it for a living! What’s wonderful about cosplay is that it’s a craft for anyone and everyone. There are dedicated cosplayers who dedicate days, weeks, or even years, into creating their own hand-made costumes, but there are also others who take a more relaxed approach with a store-bought costume. Both, in my opinion, are great! 

Some people care a lot about making sure they look exactly like the character they portray, but others just want to cosplay a character because they like them–and that’s completely valid. Unfortunately, a real risk cosplayers face is judgement from other fans. This judgement is often  centered on the cosplayer’s physique, gender and body type.

When I was in middle school, a good friend of mine posted her cosplay of an anime character online. She looked adorable, and she worked hard on both her cosplay and the photo shoot! The comments were awful, saying she was “too fat” to cosplay as the character. She got other nasty remarks too, all from strangers on the internet who felt like they somehow had the right to police how this teenage girl chose to portray a character she loved. 

As someone active in many online fandoms, I’ve seen many, many awful comments directed towards cosplayers just minding their own business, and more often than not, they’ve been women. Even in the realm of fandom, women still have their appearances policed by neckbeards who think it’s okay to bully others just because a cosplay doesn’t look “right”. This is so silly, it infuriates me! Why are these guys so invested in how a stranger chooses to portray a character? What makes them think they have the right to tear down teenage girls like my friend? 

Cosplay is about expressing your love or passion for a character. Just because someone doesn’t have the same cup size, weight, or appearance of a character doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to dress up as them. And by the way, if you do like a cosplayer’s outfit, that never means it’s okay to touch them or make inappropriate comments without their consent. 

To make a long story short: 

Shut up and let people have fun.

Someone’s Gotta Say it: Anime’s Issue With Sexism

 

By: Emma Sauer

Hi again, and welcome to a shiny new blog segment! Thrice a month, I’ll be diving into an aspect of pop culture with a feminist twist.I think this will be a great way to bring some awareness to popular media’s relationship with feminism. This time, we’re talking about anime. In other words, I’m going to ruin fun things for everybody by talking about how they suck.

Fun!

Anyway, if you know anything at all about me, you know I’m a huge anime fan. My friends can attest to the army of anime figures on my bookshelf, my enthusiastic rants about the most newest shows, and those who have seen me at my most depraved will recall my Kuroshitsuji cosplay (we do not speak of those dark times). But as someone who has watched anime for half a decade now, there are things about it that I’ve never grown fully accustomed to. 

There’s the fanservice- upskirt shots of barely legal schoolgirls, beach episodes showcasing cleavage, seemingly random nude scenes, and jokes that often end with an embarassed/angry woman as the butt of a joke. To clarify, I don’t have problem with dirty jokes or sexy characters in anime–this is not the issue. Rather, what skeeves me out is when sexual harassment is played for laughs, or when the “sexy” character in question looks like a child. For example, take the first season of the Netflix original anime, Seven Deadly Sins. The main character constantly harasses another character by groping or looking up her skirt, while the other characters berate him for being a pervert. This is supposed to be a running gag. 

That’s not a joke. It’s just sexual assault.  

Even elements of anime as simple as character design show blatant sexism. Let me present to you: a murderous assassin who attacks under the cover of London fog, Jack the Ripper. If you clicked that link, I’m sorry. No, the show does not provide a reason for Jack the Ripper, of all things, to appear as a skimpily-dressed minor.  And no, there’s not a good reason for her to be wearing a bikini. And no, I have no idea why she’s wearing heels. We all know that if this character was a dude, there’s no way he would be dressed like that.

Although these aspects of anime are unsettling, at least I can skip them. I can easily avoid a scene that will make me uncomfortable. If I’m bothered, I can just skip, or I can laugh at how stupid it is. But you know what I can’t skip or laugh off? 

Crappy female characters—especially those in otherwise decent shows. Don’t get me wrong, anime has no shortage of awesome female characters, but too often, especially in shounen (usually action oriented and marketed towards boys), female characters are sidelined by their male counterparts. Take for example, a character that’s been universally hated since her inception: Sakura Haruno, from Naruto.

Sakura’s a train wreck of a character. Her deepest desire is to get together with a boy who has the romantic appeal of an enraged housecat. Sakura doesn’t have any complex desire for self-realization, or a reason to push herself that doesn’t involve a dude.

The manga’s creator intended for Sakura to be the quintessential “girl” character, which makes me pretty concerned about what he thinks the average woman is like. If every woman acted like Sakura, I think the human race would just be doomed. She’s a walking stereotype: a constant damsel in distress, weak, boy-obssessed, annoying, and vain. However, Sakura does have her redeeming moments- she gets very little action compared to the male characters, but she does have some fight scenes, and she’s regarded as a capable ninja in her own right. Personally, I can’t bring myself to hate her fully. I love Naruto, and since she’s one of the only major female characters, I have to take what I can get.

Although poor Sakura is an extreme case of a poorly written female character, I see the same issues she has in female characters all over anime. Female characters are seen as lesser in all contexts, both by other characters, the audience, and the people who create them. This issue is perhaps more complex than I give it credit for: anime is created for a Japanese audience, not an American one. They have their own unique issues when it comes to gender equality, as does the United States. The way Japanese society views women is different, and it’s important to keep that in mind as you enjoy your favorite anime. At the same time, I believe that’s a poor excuse for anime to have such poor female representation. I’ve seen great anime that don’t use the harmful tropes and stereotypes I’ve described, that allow female characters to be more than set-pieces for the male ones. It’s possible. Anime can do better. 

If you’re like me, it can be hard to let go of anime, despite all of its systematic issues. I’ve spent my whole childhood watching anime. At this point, it’s just a parasite sucking out my brain noodles and replacing them with cup ramen. You don’t have to stop watching the anime you love. I understand it’s not possible for every person to do that. However, as anime fans, we need to at the very least, recognize the sexism at play in anime. The degree to which it’s ignored is astounding. 

I get it’s asking a bit much to demand that the anime industry abandon its weird obsession with school-girls and french maids, but can we at least acknowledge it’s weird that it’s there in the first place?

I mean, someone’s gotta say it!

She’s Gotta Have It remake is a feminist breakthrough

By Korrien Hopkins

Cinematic genius Spike Lee has recreated his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, adapting it to the era of T.V. and Netflix originals. The new Netflix dramedy’s 10- episode first season became available to us all this Thanksgiving holiday.

I spent the following days indulging in leftovers and in this feminist refreshment. In the end, I was definitely not disappointed.

In my opinion, this show is praise-worthy. It shines light on many issues women face in this patriarchal world by showing sexual liberation and a relatable woman’s experience.

The main character, Nola Darling, is a 28-year-old sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual artist living in Brooklyn, New York. Nola is caught in a love pentagon and finds herself stuck between three male partners Jamie, Greer, Mars, and a female partner, Opal, to whom she struggles to commit.

Just like myself and so many women I know, Nola faces street harassment and assault, money troubles, the challenge of self-love in a time when body modification is increasingly popular, subtle racism, and the gentrification of her neighborhood: Many problems that are uniquely affected by the fact that she is a black woman.

After recently viewing the 1986 original She’s Gotta Have It, I would say that Nola Darling 2.0 is way more satisfying to watch. In the original film, Nola is raped by one of her partners, Jamie. This rape was very downplayed in the movie. Although the relationship doesn’t end up working out, it wasn’t because of the incident that took place just a few scenes earlier, but because Nola says that Jamie was too controlling– dismissing the fact that she was raped.

This did cause a lot of criticism during that time and was something Spike Lee said he regretted doing in the film.  Lee took his second chance, the rape was removed from the new version of She’s Gotta Have It, although in the first episode Nola is assaulted by a cat-caller as she walks home one night. She uses her artistic nature as a form of activism and starts a guerrilla street campaign. She has conversations with friends and she experiences PTSD. Her character’s response is finally congruent with the trauma she’s experienced. This change shows the progression we have made combating women’s issues in today’s society, giving much more of a modern turn to the original.

It shows women experiencing, fighting back, seeking help and healing. Nola is what I like to call more of a millennial feminist, no different from me and the many other women who face the same issues as her.

She is like Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the artist who inspired her character. Fazlalizadeh created the global 2012 campaign Stop Telling Women to Smile, which also focused on street harassment. Nola’s activism also reminded me of Tarana Burke, the creator of a non profit organization that helps women who are victims of sexual harassment and assault and the brain behind the #MeToo campaign.

In fact, Lola Darling’s anti-street harassment photo campaign has made its way to social media, allowing others to join in on #MyNameIsnt____

The evolution of Nola’s character was definitely an enjoyable watch, from her message to the great choice of music that was played throughout the season. The change also represented the type of changes we continue to go through as a culture battling racism, sexism, and lack of respect for the experiences of women. It showed progression. It showed what happens when a woman knows what she wants and works for it because “She’s Gotta Have It!”

Five Feminist Blogs You Should Be Following

By Thea Voutiritsas

Educating, entertaining, and empowering—these blogs focus on issues, news and gossip for girls and women across the board. From the blossoming feminist to bloggers themselves, blogs are a great way for women (and men) writers to share their unique ideas and perspectives. Here are five fresh blogs to help you get the reading ball rolling:

  • Everyday Feminism – The authors at Everyday Feminsim keep it truly intersectional. They tackle the everyday aggressions that people face due to gender, sexual orientation, race, class, size and other social differences.16821448686_435c60f8a4_o
  • Bitch MediaBitch Media is a fresh, feminist response to popular culture. If you’re over the media’s traditionally narrow view of what women and girls are and can be, Bitch Magazine might be the analytical, yet witty blog you need in your life.
  • Feminist Current – Canada’s leading feminist website provides a unique perspective on current events that are often under or misrepresented by other mass media sources. The site also has a number of podcasts available for those long commutes to and from the office.
  • Feministing Feministing has diverse writers that cover a broad range of intersectional feminist issues. They’re also a great intro to the feminist movement for young people, allowing emerging thinkers to be heard on an open-platform community.
  • Feminist FrequencyFeminist Frequency is a video webseries that provide a feminist take on pop culture’s representation of women. If you’re in the mood to deconstruct stereotypes both on the big screen and in the gaming world, they’ve got you covered.