Tag Archives: Women

Racialicious: Black Monsters/White Corpses: Kanye’s Racialized Gender Politics

23 Jan

Kanye West has had his fair share of planned and unplanned controversy. His latest misdemeanour comes from the leaked video teaser of his song, ‘Monster’ from his latest album, My Dark Twisted Beautiful Fantasy.

The teaser, from HipHopConnection.com, is only 40 seconds long but still gives a pretty vivid impression of the general tone of the video. In it are dead women, stripped down to their underwear, hanging by chains around their necks. There are also women who appear to be either dead or drugged sprawled out on the sofa.

Courtesy of www.adiosbarbie.comI am all for freedom of expression as much as the next creative but what kind of message is being sent out in a video where Kanye makes sexual advances to dead and drugged women propped up on a bed? If this was done by anyone else in any other capacity, would we be as forgiving or as passive? Why is it somehow OK if you’re a rapper and have a gold tooth? Kanye’s derogatory views about women are well noted in his songs but as Kanye holds the decapitated head of a woman in this video, I can’t help but think this is chillingly dark new territory which does nothing but create gratuitous controversy.

Latoya Peterson writes a brilliant and insightful piece about this and how the video links in to racialised gender politics. Although it’s clear that Kanye’s video comes from a long stream of misogynistic music videos built on derogatory values, Peterson picks up on another interesting point. All of the dead women in the video are white whereas the black women in the video tend to fulfil fearsome, beast like roles in which they mimic werewolves and eat live flesh. This disturbing video not only unearths the time old depiction of black women as one-dimensional and barbaric but is also unapologetic in its sexualisation of violence. Continue reading

Review: Moolaadé by Osmane Sembène

29 Oct

Moolaadé,  Senegalese director Osmane Sembène’s last film, tells the story of Collé and her plight to protect others, in the small village of Burkina Faso, from female genital mutilation (FGM). The starting point comes from four girls who seek refugee with Collé and ask for protection from their impending ‘purification’ (circumcision) ceremony. After losing two daughters during childbirth due to her own aggressive circumcision, Collé becomes an advocate for these children and vocally stands up against FGM in the community.

By using FGM as the central issue in Moolaadé, Sembène opens the gate, not only to issues such as perseverance and the power of the community, but also to gender stereotypes and how their social constructs bear no relevance to the strength of individual character. The men of the village only inherit their power and are often portrayed as ineffectual and ignorant in their actions. However, the women, and more specifically Collé, have the passion and conviction to stand up for what they believe in despite the often violent consequences.

Sembène skilfully portrays village life with warmth through his colourful cinematography and flashes of humour. He casts a light on how religion can be wrongly used as a tool to manipulate the women into submitting to obsolete traditions, such as FGM. The conflict between traditional values and the influence of modern ideas is also evident in the film. While the men desperately cling onto the old values and therefore their power, the modern ideas, represented by the presence of the radio and television, point to the modern age and a shift towards more forward thinking women.

It would have been an amateur, but tempting, choice to graphically portray the horrors of FGM in Moolaadé but Sembène, in his experience and wisdom, is more subtle than this.  His suggestive camera shots and the power of the unsaid leaves more of a lasting impression than any invasive glimpse into the actual procedure would. A good example of this is the elusive children (who the viewers never see) who throw themselves down a well for fear of having to undergo the circumcision. We are invited to contemplate the horrific nature of FGM and how its possibility prompts two children to kill themselves in order to avoid it. Continue reading