Capitalizing the ‘B’ in Black

Elia's Diamonds

Let’s get down to the words on the page.

We are a racial AND ethnic group in the United States and internationally around the world.

So why do people not capitalize the ‘B’ in Black when writing about Black characters in their books or whatever else?

I’m not really much of a grammar whiz but I wonder….

Words that are capitalized as opposed to words that are lowercase have a certain effect on many people when they see them on a page. Why is Black, as the race AND ethnicity of millions of people, treated like an adjective?

For the reason above, I see it as a slight against Black people that many writers, no matter what field, do not think to capitalize the ‘B’ in Black. In this instance, when talking about a group of people…Black is a pronoun, not an adjective, folks.

Evermore real,

MsQ

Inglorious Bastards, film

If at all possible, I have some of the same issues with Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards—my sister made me watch it—that I have with his Kill Bill movies, if not more.

 

1. The graphicness of the violence is at Tarantino’s usual level, though it isn’t unbelievable. Still gross though.

2. The use of Native/indigenous/Native American/Indian/American Indian references is most offensive. (I never know which race/ethnic phrasing is preferable, or rather “PC”, to use.)

3. Of course, they took two or three shots at Black people as a race, the only Black person in the film being male and French and the lover of a white Jewish woman (Emmanuelle).

4. There were three women in the film, though two of them appeared the most frequently. All the women are either being used for sex or they are women who, in my opinion, aren’t allowed to live because they are deceiving men. There was that disgusting scene with female French interpreter in her leopard hair piece and that one Nazi guy—brief but like most disgusting sex scenes left its mark on my memory, like Forest Gump (the sounds were enough… =_=). Then there was Bridgette Hammersmark and Emmanuelle Mimeux, who were both killed in the film by violent German Nazi men. Bridgette was a German spy for America and Britain. Emmanuelle was a blonde and blue-eyed Jewish woman, who sought revenge against the Nazis and paid for it with her life. Bridgette was strangled to death after she was found out and Emmanuelle was shot to death though her revenge was successful even if she wasn’t alive to see it.

 

I just got through watching the movie so I’m not ready to go in-depth about the film, but I’m grinding my teeth over it a bit. I wonder what Jewish, Native, and German audiences thought about it….

Issued: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon [Anime Adaption]

Please keep in mind that this article is about the anime based off Takeuchi’s work and it assumes that for the most part the anime and the manga match up.

“Thinking about how this sort of thing works, I am reminded of an AMV I saw last night on my iPod (see above) which focuses heavily on the “magical girl” transformations of Sailor Moon especially. The emphasis on women already being fairly strong, but also transforming into forms that aren’t overly sexualizing or animalizing seems to be more admirable. Though it is a bit problematic for the show to essentially conflate images of lithe, short-skirted, and magical lip-stick-wearing teens with beauty, purity, and heroism, it seems also a possible source of empowerment considering that these women fight for themselves, for others, and for each other using the power of their hearts, their wills, their agencies. The whole heart crystal thing is beautiful, in that it offers a way to be true to ones feelings and emotions without relegating them to some crystallized “essence” of femininity. There are still some things wrong with the portrayal of the Sailor Scouts, but I think there are a lot of things to appreciate about a story coming out of a birthing feminist awareness and desire to depict women’s agencies in manga and anime. I wish I could see some more of it (remembering that I was young when I saw it first…I even cried when it ended its run on CN). The matter of transformation is certainly important, authors use the transformation to tell us more about the characters inner qualities, the exposure of their potentials and an idea of secrets revealed. Kubo did no favors to Sun Sun, Mila Rose, Apache, and Halibel in their transformations (even though their toughness and determination was a nice breath of fresh air), Takeuchi at least allowed women to be more positively “transformed” into versions of themselves expressing outwardly the emotional, mental, and spiritual powers that are internal at all times, though she still has some issues of stereotyped “beauty” and “valor” to work out there.”

This article has been in my thoughts but came about after a correspondence I had with a good friend of mine on the topic of Halibel Tia, Mila Rose, Sun Sun, and Apache from Tite Kubo’s Bleach. I asked if I could post part of our conversation (the eloquent and sincere commentary above) and my friend agreed.

I consider this to be a tribute to what I both love and hate about Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon dubbed, edited, and somewhat torn apart for American television. I was so excited to learn, on Wiki for what its worth, that there’s a Sailor Moon revival in the works. All the years I saw Sailor Moon anime collection on sale, subbed and dubbed, and never scrapped up enough money to get it–how I regret that! By the time I realized that most anime comes from a manga, Sailor Moon the manga wasn’t even available anymore. I will be using the terms Sailor Soldiers and Sailor Scouts in this article although I prefer Soldier since Scout makes me think of little girls in berets trying to sell me cookies. 0_0

  1. blond hair, blue eyes AGAIN?: This is the same issue I have with Naruto and it doesn’t help that Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus look so much alike and are popular characters. Why are white characteristics consistently being mapped onto main characters, presenting them as the essential aspects of magical messiah-like characters? I admit, I like the brightness of the colors, but I don’t like what they potentially present on these pale-skinned heroes. Why’s the blond with pacifistic powers gotta have the top spot?
  2. By the purity of their hearts?: I understand it in a metaphorical, metaphysical way but I don’t think Sailor Moon’s power would be able to combat real violence. I’ve seen it and experienced it in my life so that part of me that has experience more than my share of hard knocks is unimpressed with the pacifistic sentiments in the show. In order to save yourself and others, there may come a time when force is necessary.
  3. Love, love, love the transformation: I don’t care if it’s the same every episode, I just like to see them. There’s something in those representations of power that I just love, that transcendence of normality. I felt like I was transforming with the girls, into a powerful self that could fight evil and dish out justice.
  4. slut-shaming: The villains were often portrayed as skanky in revealing outfits with fuller, curvier figures, often showing  cleavage (though some of Sailors did, too).
  5. Uranus and Neptune, cousins?–Oh please!!!: They are so totally not cousins and I hated how Disney censored their relationship because it’s not heterosexual. This is the epitome of the lies suburban white folks tell their curious kids at the dinner table when they ask about two women/men kissing. I think they’re beautiful and I always have. As a matter of fact it confused me even more when I tried to understand whhhy they were being presented as cousins instead of lovers.
  6. Villains outfits again: I actually like the villains outfits and actually find them brighter, sharper, cooler, more mature, and sexier than the Sailor Scout’s/Sailor Senshi (Soldiers) uniforms sometimes.
  7. Young vs. old: With the exception of Luna and Queen Serenity, who appears to us in cat form for a vast portion of airtime between the movies and the anime, women past their tweens are largely villainized in the series. This could be read as a metaphor for how age sometimes comes with the loss of one’s dreams and spirit, bitterness, and a negative sense of disillusionment. Even with this reading, I find it kind of disappointing that only royalty and their servants, and, as my friend said, long-legged “lithe, short-skirted magical lipstick-wearing teens” can be good role models for young women and represent “beauty, purity, and heroism”.
  8. Sailor Stars: Not that I really minded, but I had to watch the Sailor Stars season in Japanese because American producers thought it was too complicated and risqué for their closeted audiences. This trio has a lot of significance for me and I’ve heard some transgender folks referencing the Sailor Stars as well. I would have liked to have seen it brought to America in English. Considering how they botched, censored, and edited the other seasons though, I don’t know how great it would have been….
  9. Sailor Mercury and Sailor Venus: All the other Sailor Soldiers, with the exception of Sailor Moon herself, had physical powers—Jupiter had lightning, Mars had fire, Neptune had water, and Uranus could crash like an earthquake. But Venus had…what? Love? And Mercury had, like…bubbles 0_o
  10. the moon as female: It’s both positive and potentially negative that the moon is portrayed as female. The representation of the moon is rooted in many myths but in a few words, its beauty, paleness, remoteness, and its relationship to the Earth. Mamoru (Prince Darien) represents earth and Usagi (Princess Serena) represents the Moon. In a negative way, the moon and earth metaphor reinforces not only heterosexist norms and Eurocentrism, but maintains certain ideas about beauty and women.
  11. Tuxedo Mask is the worst male archetype: There is definitely a European motif in Sailor Moon, starting with Tuxedo Mask, his tuxedo, his mask, his gloves, and his top hat. He literally appears to save the day when Sailor Moon is being an idiot.
  12. Saturn is the emo one–with her goth, lace-up fetish boots: Sailor Saturn probably has the most awesome power, seeing as how she can end the world by lowering her glaive. Too bad she doesn’t appear very often and everybody spent most of the series confusing her with Mistress 9.
  13. makeup compacts, mirrors, nail poilish, lipstick, pendants, butterflies, hearts, bubbles, flowers, crystals and jewels, unicorn, earrings, tiaras, gloves, ribbons and bows, sailor fuku, short skirts, pumps, boots, and high heels: that’s all I’m saying….
  14. Pegasus and Mini-Moon: One thing that bothered me about the relationship between Mini-Moon and Pegasus is the fact that it is contingent upon her innocence as a child. In the episode where Mini-Moon becomes a teenager and Sailor Moon is turned into a child, Pegasus would not answer Mini-Moon’s call with the crystal bell. As if every adult has no innocence and no dreams, he does not appear to her in this form.
  15. Essentially Feminist: As central as guys are to the majority heterosexual characters in the show, Sailor Moon is a show about girls and women running things, not guys running countries and planets. Otherwise the show would be about Mamoru running Earth instead of the moon queen and princess of the Moon. Take that Kubo’s Bleach and Kishimoto’s Naruto!

Issued: Lynne Ewing’s Daughters of the Moon series

I really enjoyed reading the Daughter of the Moon books by Lynne Ewing as a teenager and this is what I have to say about them in retrospect.

  1. Ending? WTF is this?: The ending was definitely whack and rushed. The series is like twenty books long and it ends like that? Don’t want to put spoilers here but it was really lame and cliché….
  2. Shimmery Lights = a Girl’s Power???: Why is it that the only power that women and girls have is this shimmery metaphorical light? Women who use force are looked down upon, even when it’s to save their live and other people’s lives; these women are looked at as aggressive or animalistic. Ewing portrays the goddesses as pacifist and their powers are pacifistic. I understand that there’s a message of non-violence, but why does a woman’s goodness and worth have to be aligned with a gentle, motherly demeanor and nonviolence when the world demands that a woman know how to protect herself and her daughters even if she must sometimes use violence to protect. It’s the difference between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. It’s the reason I have issues with Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon. Ewing’s biography states that she is also a counselor for ‘troubled’ teens. I don’t understand how she came up with the girl powers =  non-violent powers theme, knowing that we live in a violent world. I feel the same way about Sailor Moon to a somewhat lesser degree. More to come on this topic in later posts.
  3. Jimena, the only sista in the crew: With the exception of Jimena, there are no girl goddesses of color. The first racial/ethnic group that white writers select from for the magical girl genre is Latin@, because in my opinion they view them as tan versions of themselves. Not too dark to be disassociated with the purity of white femaleness, not too white that there’s no difference between them and other white character. And Jimena adds spice and a flare of color to the all-white cast of this girl power series. The only young woman of color, of course, Jimena.  I shouldn’t be surprised.
  4. Inspired: Like with Sailor Moon, when I was growing up, Ewing’s Daughter of the Moon was a real source of inspiration to me, combining the magical/supernatural with slice of life and girl power, even though there aren’t many people of color involved. It’s difficult to completely identify with a series when people who look like you aren’t present, as a young woman of color. Still, the series wasn’t a complete loss and I still look upon it favorable in some ways.
  5. Heterosexist obsession with boys: Are all young girls really obsessed with boys or are they this way because we keep writing them into existence. Ewing doesn’t crack down any barriers or break any molds on this front. The only thing that saves the goddesses from being read as total boy-crazy airheads is their internal and external struggle with the antagonistic forces in the series and the building of their characters. That’s saying a lot.
  6. Followers?: Sounds like Twitter and Google Reader… There is a lot of metaphorical meaning in the symbols surrounding the Atrox but also some passive commentary on teen culture.
  7. Dressing, Club scenes, and Dancing: I love the way Ewing describes the clothes, hair, makeup and the club and night scenes. I love the way she talks about the goddess girls’ strut!
  8. Ewing would pick Latin and goddesses hailed and propagated by Eurocentric academia: ‘nuff said
  9. Sons of Dark: …well that ended pretty damn quickly and she killed them all off!!! I keep wondering if, in addition to the crappy, rushed ending of Daughters of Moon, it was a publishing issue that caused Ewing to write these bad/cliché ending for the Daughters and the Sons.
  10. The Choice: Why did she make it so that the girls either had to ascend to some higher plane or lose their memories and their powers and remain on earth? That kind of took me out of the story.
  11. Hunger for something more intense: Someone described Daughters of the Moon as “lackluster”. I think there is something about the style of writing and third person omniscience that I find to be “lackluster”. I had just convinced my sister to read Harry Potter with me and we took turns reading out loud with each other until we did the whole series. I wanted to push it a bit further and read Daughters of the Moon. As I was reading it out loud to her, I realized that there was something almost boring about reading it out loud, something too PG-13, or something. I just couldn’t figure out what was turning me off from it where in my teen years, I was enthralled and couldn’t get enough. Maybe because I know the end, it just isn’t filled with as many possibilities for the new and exciting to me.
  12. Using their powers: As always with magical girl stories, I always like to see them use their powers in the given situation. That’s exciting for me.
  13. Gender binary: Gotta bring it up, it must be done. Everybody in the books fits neatly into ‘male’ or ‘female’. It’d have been nice to see some queerness up in this series.  I’m finding more and more that my own sexuality and gender identity leans away from the male-female binary.
  14. Body positivity: I always loved how the goddesses were so comfortable with their bodies (or became that way). I felt like in order to be a goddess or goddess-like, like these girls, I should look like that. Too bad I’m not white or particularly thin…and I don’t have long flowy magical pony hair….
  15. Cover art: I love the cover photos for the original hardbacks of the series and I own all of them. Like I said, it’s difficult for a Black girl in the white dominated media but I always loved these covers and thought the models were beautiful and ethereal-looking.

A Not So Romantic Experience with the Romance Genre

One of the first romance novels I ever read, in addition to Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady, was Silver Angel by Johanna Lindsay. One of the most painful things I have ever experienced and continue to experience to this day is the way Black women are portrayed as minor characters and stepping stones to white heroines in romance and beyond. I’ll never forget the African princess in Silver Angel. She is sentenced to mass rape by the palace guards when she spits in the sheik’s face for opening her clothes and feeling her breasts when she is brought in to be “sampled” for his harem, like a slave on an auction block or a piece of meat at the market or a cow to be bought. Maybe she was sold to the sheik by her own people or kidnapped—who knows. All I remember experiencing, in her brief appearance, was this feeling of complete and utter worthlessness, that people can do anything to Black women and no one cares.

I suppose I should have felt happy that the kidnapped white girl heroine traded her own freedom in order to save the African princess from such a fate. Now all I think, sarcastically, is this: “Oh, didn’t the white girl look so noble, saving the African princess like that—kudos for her. Oh and look! She got seduced and found a husband in the process (though she was never in any real danger because he wasn’t going to let anything happen to her anyway)!”. (I feel like I can’t even properly explain the whole thing without talking about the white characters for the background story. The guy in the story is part-Arab, of course *rolls eyes*, and his twin brother is a sheik while he himself is a nobleman in England. He has to pose for his brother for a while because there’s some danger and encounters an English woman who has been sold to the sheik as a concubine. The African princess is encountered when he has to choose women for himself from among the new meat, so that he’s not touching his brother’s women.)

It’s not so much an issue of white writers being deliberately cruel. I view them as willfully ignorant, but the real issue is the fact that Black women/people are minorities in representation and in influence/power and/or they’re tokenized in white people’s writing.

This is a very painful experience for me, one that I live with every time I crack open a book, and I had a hard time writing this down. It is something I experience again and again, reading works from white writers where people of color are mostly exotified, eroticized, brutalized, and only appear as minor characters if they appear at all. People of color are the splash of brightness, the background for white writers to prop up or paint their imaginations onto. Mostly, we’re just props to them.

Reading work from writers of my own race, on the other hand, is different challenge in and of itself along with everything else.

For real,

Queen

Ms. Queenly’s Response to ‘If I Were A Boy’ (via parisianfeline)

It got so long, I made a new post on my blog for it :(….

I’ve noticed this too, thank you for being on point. I have very similar thoughts on the topic.

Women’s presence are completely centered around men in movies/on TV, to reinforce heterosexist norms. Some people even say the only reason that a women gets dressed nice in the morning is for a man. Sex in the City is all about a couple of single white women trying to find love in NY. (My sister was watching a marathon or something and I was kind of annoyed)

Its exactly as you wrote–fraternal bonds as opposed to bonds between women are just portrayed as stronger. For example, Anita Blake, its like Laurell K. Hamilton just added some typically guy characteristics to her in an attempt to make her less girly rather than build a real believably “strong” female character. If there is a so-called strong female character, then she’s a lone wolf/anti-social type incapable of truly caring for or befriending others, especially other women. On the end of the spectrum, a woman’s strength is also portrayed in her her ability to mother, have children (sons), cater to guests, kindness, and gentleness of personality. And if there is one, there’s only one and she’s surrounded by guys. Or she turns up dead. Or she’s a detestable villan.

I think its completely and utterly understandable why you would be more interested or captured by stories about young white men. I am, too, only I just keep reading stories about women and being disappointed. Boys–their scope is larger. They are portrayed as being able to take on atypical personalities and emotions, and pursue adventure and new horizons and whatever else they desire, whether that includes romantic love with a female or not. Young women are trained to be chained to their heart’s heterosexual romantic desires and all things surrounding that. Women very rarely have the same types of adventures as men, especially young women of color, as these stories are portrayed in the media.

I’ve had a post on my draft queue entitled ‘Men’s Egos–Women’s Vanity: A Reflection on Gender (Binary) Co-Dependence’ for a year, so your post really resonated with me. Heterosexism, fear, and homophobia have a lot to do with it in my opinion. I think women don’t want to be hurt by men but they definitely don’t want to be hurt by other women, who are more likely to understand and call them on their bs.

In my own non-blog fiction-writing, I am breaking from this lack of sisterhood and writing about women who are friends and/or in love with other women (while also exposing how women stab each other in the back over men or in other arenas of self-interest…). I put men in for added fun, to show how I wish relationships with them were. Increasingly, my long-term writing projects are about women of color, mother-daughter, sister-sister, female friends, and intimate partner–basically, women looking out for each other and loving and caring about each other. I realize now that I’ll just have to write the types of things I want to read.

Sorry I wrote a whole dissertation here! I’m trying to stop blogging for the rest of the day and get some other non-blog creative writing done but so far I’ve been unsuccessful.

Checking out Gender Across Borders, thanks for this piece–

Queenly

Today, Gender Across Borders is having a guest blog series about masculinity. Since I had forgotten to submit my own story, I figured I could talk about it here. Which is really perfect since last night I saw How to Train Your Dragon for the first time.  I had heard about the hype, so when it came on close to midnight, I decided that it wouldn’t be so bad to give it a look. And.. it was pretty amazing. Which isn’t atypical since I have a track re … Read More

via parisianfeline

ABVH Tight Bod Superiority Complex

Laurell K. Hamilton focuses a lot on exotified/exoticized bodies. I may have touched on the topic on several occasions at Elia’s Diamonds, but here’s the real deal. By making them normative, Hamilton hypes up the hype and fetishizing surrounding certain body types. For example, several of the polyamorous Anita’s guyfriends and/or significant others and sex partners are “exotic dancers” (I don’t know how PC that is, so the quotations), strippers, have been prostitutes, cops/ex-military/mercenaries, or trained dancers. Most of the men surrounding her are either totally survival-of-the-fittest-tight-bod or decorative beauties. Normal yet intelligent guys (Zerbrowski? Maybe? Though he is a cop….) with just enough fighting skill to get them out of a tough situation are few and far between. Women for that matter, too. Most of the women are either weaker than her or some kind of challenge to her. I understand that normal people will most likely die around her, sure, but that doesn’t cover the fact that Anita looks down on people who are, er, “preternaturally challenged” (meaning that they are human), or who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse and torture at the same time that she champions them.

It’s like taking all the beauty and the brutality of the world’s most prominently exotified animals, mixing them with human beings, and putting them in strip clubs and other places where people sell sex, and saying this is the world, deal with it. This isn’t to ignore the kitchen-bedroom-restaurant-life scenes; its just to draw more attention to the exoticizing. The most problematic thing for me is that if lycans really existed, this is probably how it would be. Although, Hamilton claims that being made a vampire doesn’t make you any sexier or rather it doesn’t change your appearance. But does lycanthropy change your appearance (since it changes your metabolism and eating habits)??? The unanswered question, yah! If I’m not mistaken.

The further you get along in the series, the less “normal” people you see as main characters. And primarily by “normal”, I mean usual body types or ostracized body types. Its all six-packs, broad shoulders, breasts-that-need-bras or cute small high tight breasts, muscles-in-extra-places-that people-can’t-see-and-that-mere-humans-don’t-have, sexy but petite lingerie, curls and waves and long hair, brushed silk drawers, kinky corsets, pale white this and pale white that, blonde hair-blue winter-spring sky eyes, the ardeur made me do this and the ardeur made me do that. And Hamilton seems to think that adding in some scars here and some folds there makes that big of a difference. Just like she seems to think that giving Anita curly hair and dark eyes makes her appearance less than that of a white girl.

Anita tries hard not to boo-hoo about being half-Latina in her blonde family. Reality check, honey, you’re white to most eyes….

A character like Jamil is portrayed as “dark-skinned ‘muscle'”, of course. And, of course, his body is probably very tight.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been socialized to think that tight bodies and thinness are sexy. That defined curves and hollows reign supreme. In some part of my mind, I’m always questioning what I think is beautiful or sexy because I know its social conditioning from a society that has taught me not only to hate myself but to disregard and harshly criticize body types that aren’t of the type of molds Hamilton depicts. Those bodies that everybody secretly thinks of as sexy and slutty and beautiful.

The disclaimer here is that the tight bod, hypersexualized bodies in these books are kind of an embedded motif. That is to say, the exoticism is part of the package.

Ever more on point,

 

Ms. Queenly