I try really hard to have some kind of feminist media solidarity with other sites. It’s not always easy. We don’t always agree. After all, feminism is not a monolith. And it’s no picnic. But I try to keep a relatively low profile when it comes to in-fighting with other feminist sites. I mean, underneath it all we are all working toward pretty similar goals, right? Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing. But, more and more, I wonder if the answer is a maybe with a helping of side-eye.
Take Jezebel. There’s no denying that it is a site with a delightfully high snark quotient. And when it comes to skewering pop culture, there are times when you can’t do much better than Jezebel. But it’s getting increasingly hard to ignore the site’s serious problem on race. And I mean this from the bottom of my way-too-old-for-this-fucking-shit heart, seriously, WTF Jezebel?
Don’t believe me? Allow me to elucidate:
Exhibit A. Giving (alleged) statutory rapist R. Kelly a total pass, but fuck Chris Brown right in the head. Amiright, ladies?
Just today Isha Aran had a little post on R. Kelly’s new album, which is apparently filled to the brim with pussy-tastic songs about pussy. The post was called R. Kelly’s ‘Black Panties’ is a Magnificent Ode to Pussy and featured nuggets like this:
Of course, no song quite reaches the heartfelt poignancy of “Marry the Pussy,” a song which not only boasts repeating the word “pussy” 56 times, but also is an actual proposal song to a woman’s sex organs. Yes. A marriage proposal to a pussy. And one that will undoubtedly usurp the stronghold Train’s ‘Marry Me’ has on the first dance at far too many weddings.
Now, to be fair, Aran is not exactly telling us to go out and buy the album. But still, it’s not exactly held in any kind of context with what we know about the maestro of pussy. Kelly has been accused of raping underage girls on multiple occasions and has chosen to settle rather than deal with whatever might come to light in a courtroom. Controversial duets with (rape apologist?) Lady Gaga notwithstanding, there is at least as much evidence linking Kelly to rapey behavior — and trolling for girls outside of high schools — as there is of Chris Brown’s continued public shaming for domestic violence. Are you really going to say that it’s okay to still listen to Kelly because he hasn’t been convicted of rape? Because, rape culture.
Or as folks in my twitter feed explained in 140 characters or less:
WOMEN FROM FUCKING FAR AND WIDE WERE TALKING ABOUT R KELLY CRUISING HIGH SCHOOLS FOR CHICKS @JEZEBEL. WHAAAAT THE FUCK.
— Jamie Nesbitt Golden (@thewayoftheid) December 2, 2013
Next person that comes in my TL telling me the Jezebel article is satire is going to get a swift kick to the babymaker. Seriously. Stop it.
— Imani ABL (@AngryBlackLady) December 3, 2013
Actually, I can’t decide what is worse. The rape culture elements — aka implicit rape apology via total lack of acknowledging history of rape-like activities — in which Jezebel as a media outlet exposes it’s complete and total hypocrisy, select nihilism. Or, it’s total white privilege bordering on racism. Do we even have to choose? Because, fuck you.
(And PS: I get the repetition of using the word pussy as a kind of joke about Kelly’s ridiculous theme, but it wears a little like a girl who runs around saying the word “cunt” just because it pisses people off. Nobody wins. Or to put it another way: You’re doing it wrong.)
Exhibit B: Katy Perry as Geisha Princess? Jezebel love her long time.
While most of the interwebs were aflame with Down with Katy Perry and her mega-fucked race-appropriations performance at the AMA’s Callie Beusman was cool with casually wondering in her best “post-racism” Urkel, “Did she do that?”
Perry spent a while doing poses straight off of a “sexy Geisha” Halloween costume package, and her costume was — as pointed out at Kotaku — a mix between a kimono and a Chinese cheongsam (it’s worth noting that Perry’s costume featured an ample amount of cleavage, which is not at all characteristic of either garment). A lot of people on the Internet are decidedly Not Into It, leaving us to wonder, as Jesse David Fox did at Vulture: “Was Perry’s Great Wave of Japanese signifiers offensive, simply stereotypical, or harmlessly deferential in an inert Katy Perry maximalist way?”
Because … white privilege.
Exhibit C: Lily Allen great social commentator on race and misogyny, or greatest social commentator?
I like a fun pop song just as much as the next gal. Well, probably not, but still. It was interesting, however, to see Jezebel’s decidedly different take on the recent release of Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” and its blog-baiting video. (Guilty.) While others decried the impressive amount of white privilege on display, coupled with a galling lack of self-awareness for perpetuating the exact things you purport to be against, Jezebel took the bold stance to be for the whole mess, crowning it a “scathing pop culture commentary.”
There’s nothing subtle about Lily Allen’s new video for her song “Hard Out Here,” and that’s what makes it so great. An effortlessly poppy tune that will please those who fell in love with her way back when “Smile” first came out, “Hard Out Here” has Allen referencing everything from the sexual double standard for women to the glass ceiling. It’s a feminist pop anthem you can blast at parties.
There is one thing I agree with in this paragraph. Allen’s song and video are not subtle at all. But what part of it is the “feminist pop anthem?” The blatant, unironic objectification of the black female dancers? The fact that Allen is covered up and all the backup dancers are on display? The lyrics, in which Allen goes after the tropes of the R&B and rap music genres — ones that are dominated by African-American artists and listeners? Shall I go on? I mean, I’m whitey-mc-fucking-white-white and I can see this.
I’m beginning to wonder if Jezebel writers, in this case Kate Dries, know what the word satire means. (Perhaps it does mean what you think it means?)