FFFF: “Royals” Parody about Typecasting Women of Colour

Friday Feminist Funny FilmActress Tess Paras brings us this parody of Lorde’s “Royals” that calls out the typecasting of women of colour in Hollywood.

Read the full lyrics after the jump: Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Racism Leave a comment

Why Our Response to Uganda’s Anti-Gay Laws Isn’t Working

Photo of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

by Arwen McKechnie

So, as many of you may know, after five long years of advocacy and international pressure against it, the President of Uganda has signed a bill into law which adds horrifically harsh sentences to existing Ugandan legislation criminalizing homosexuality.

The bill originally called for cases of “aggravated homosexuality” to receive the death penalty, but that has been removed. Repeat offenders of Uganda’s new law will instead be sentenced to life imprisonment, which I’m sure is cold comfort. First time offenders would receive fourteen years.

In addition to the increased prison sentences, the new bill also makes it a crime to provide any material or emotional support to LGBTQ people or causes.  Allies would face possible sentences of five to seven years for providing material support to LGBTQ causes or running a business or NGO which supports equality.

For actually “enabling” homosexual behavior – by marrying a same-sex couple, or by trying to aid or counsel a queer person – the mandatory minimum goes up to seven years.

This last clause is perhaps the most ominous, which is saying something, considering all of this legislation is a nightmare.

As a much cleverer friend of mine rightly pointed out, “aid and counsel” can be defined in any number of ways. If a lawyer represents someone accused of homosexuality and that person is convicted, is the lawyer then subject to prosecution herself? Will even the possibility of that happening have a chilling effect on who is willing to take on such cases?

I fear that the answer in both cases is yes – which means that whatever defence a person could offer against conviction will be weakened right from the start. This becomes an easy way for malicious people to ruin their enemies, creating an environment ripe for witch hunts.

These concerns don’t even address the fact that to identify as queer and do anything other than abjectly apologize for it is now a crime in Uganda. How can the Ugandan LGBTQ community do anything to repeal this law or advocate for basic human decency, when to do so is itself against the law?

The witch hunts have already begun: the day after the bill was signed into law, Red Pepper, a Kampala-based tabloid listed the names of “Uganda’s 200 Top Homos”, some of whom were known LGBTQ advocates, and some of whom have never before identified as queer, and, for all we know, may not still.

Red Pepper apparently has a history of homophobic attacks on people, and with the timing of this article, their intention seems clear. This is nothing less than an appeal to mob violence and vigilantism.

The last time such a list was published in Uganda, in 2011, a known gay activist, David Kato, was murdered, shortly after being granted an injunction preventing that paper from publishing the photos and names of any more gay people; his picture was one of the ones that had been published, under the caption “Hang Them.” Red Pepper’s editorial board has poured gasoline on a fire that will almost certainly result in the death or ruin of many innocent people.

Of course, by innocent, I mean everyone. President Museveni previously refused to sign this bill into law, back when it carried a death penalty for repeat offences, because he believed that sexuality was innate, and to penalize queer people so severely, beyond the existing penalties already in place, for something beyond their control was unjust. He’s apparently since been convinced otherwise by a team of Ugandan scientists who have all attested to the fact that homosexuality is a learned behaviour.

What I think much more probable is that President Museveni recognized that this bill was enormously popular within Uganda and got sick of being lectured and threatened by the global North, and recognized that same outrage in most Ugandans. No one wants to be talked down to, or treated as less than, and the representatives of many governments made their views pointedly known on this subject, sometimes in distinctly unhelpful ways. Read more

Posted on by Arwen McKechnie in LGBT, Politics, Racism 2 Comments

Eating Disorders Affect Asian Women Too

Photo of mannequins in a store in Montrealby Sasha Fierce

This past week, numerous countries around the world, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, took part in the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW). According to the website, NEDAW aims to “promote public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and improve education about the biological underpinnings, environmental triggers, warning signs and how to help those struggling.”

This year, the organizers chose to focus on the theme “I Had No Idea” in an attempt to combat misconceptions about eating disorders. Although there are numerous misunderstandings about eating disorders, I find it particularly disconcerting that much of the discourse on eating disorders seems to focus almost exclusively on white women.

From the numerous conversations I have had with my friends and classmates over the years, I have come to the painful realization that many people simply and genuinely believe that Asian women are genetically blessed to be thin. As a female of Asian descent myself, I find it difficult to discuss my personal experiences with self-esteem and body image issues without hearing someone respond with an inconsiderate attempt to be funny: “But you’re Asian. Asians don’t get fat. You have naturally fast metabolism! You’re so small – what do you have to worry about?”

It is unfair that so many Asian women are faced with the unrealistic expectation to be naturally slim. There was a period of time when I did meet this expectation: growing up, I was always a skinny girl. No matter how much I ate, my grandmother would force feed me and ask me whether my parents were feeding me enough.

I was skinny until I entered high school, started birth control, and my body changed. At 5’2 and 115 pounds, my family and then-boyfriend began to “joke” that I was “chubby”, “fat”, and “porky”. I was no longer told to eat more, but was instead reminded to watch what I eat and to make sure I got enough exercise. I am always either too thin or too fat – there is no middle ground, no comfortable medium.

“For many Asian girls,” Noel Duan notes, “being thin is imperative; being a fat Asian—or even an Asian of “normal” weight—basically implies you’re a glutton who managed to out eat your own superfast metabolism. To be an attractive Asian girl, being thin is supposed to be a given.” Read more

Posted on by Sasha Fierce in Feminism, Racism 5 Comments

FFFF: Hari Kondabolu on Whites Becoming the Minority

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Hari Kondabolu uses his comedy skills to deconstruct the panic around the prediction that 2042 will be the year whites become “the minority” in America.

Transcript (after the jump): Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Racism Leave a comment

FFFF: Your First Black Girlfriend

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New York-based writer and comedian Akilah Hughes was inspired by challenges in her own interracial relationship to create this funny and pointed video about how to treat black women as human. Hughes told the Huffington Post:

I think Black women are exoticized in interracial relationships because the media only portrays Black women in a few ways, while other races tend to get more options. The media mold for a young Black woman is very limited–must be extremely aggressive, commandeering, unintelligent, etc.–while that has not been the case with the overwhelming majority of Black women I’ve met from all different backgrounds. Truthfully, I think more Black women would feel comfortable dating outside of their race if that wasn’t the case, because it’s one thing to have a TV show or movie that doesn’t know you see you in that negative light–it’s quite another to find out that your significant other does as well. When media starts to reflect the actual world we inhabit instead of aiming to create it, I’m sure there will be greater understanding in interracial relationships.

Transcript (after the jump):

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Racism 1 Comment

The Hobbit: Desolation of my Childhood

Poster for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug"by Jessica Critcher

The Lord of the Rings movies came out when I was in middle school. I was already a big enough nerd at that point that I saw each one on opening day. My friend Chantal and I would ditch school and geek out about them. Once I even wore elf ears. And I still watch the films regularly. My most recent LoTR marathon was New Year’s. One does not simply walk into Mordor—It’s a 12 hour affair on extended Bluray.

The Hobbit stands out in my mind as a book that turned me from a kid who reads a lot into an official nerd. Parents, beware: allowing your children to read may result in strange behaviors and the decision to major in English.

Because I’m such a fan, it took me a while to place why I was so reluctant to see The Desolation of Smaug. Part of it was Martin Freeman’s rape “joke” in an interview about the film. But it was something else, too. (Rumor grew of a shadow in the East, whispers of a nameless fear.) It wasn’t until I was already in the theater (and people started walking out) that it hit me. Star Wars. This is Star Wars all over again.

Like Star Wars, LoTR was a highly successful trilogy. They’re both still widely popular well after their release, referenced often in pop culture. They were both given a big budget trilogy prequel that nobody asked for. And like the new Star Wars movies, The Hobbit films have no soul. Read more

Posted on by Jessica Critcher in Books, Pop Culture, Racism 3 Comments

Reading Asian Women Writers: Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe

Cover of Sky Lee's novel, Disappearing Moon Cafeby Emily Yakashiro. For Emily’s previous review, of Hiromi Goto’s A Chorus of Mushrooms, click here. Next, Emily is planning to read and review The Bird by Oh Jung-Hee.

Reading Disappearing Moon Cafe by Vancouver author Sky Lee kind of drove me crazy…but then I realized that might be the point. Reading Lee’s bio (she identifies as a feminist) and the description of the story on the back cover (which refers to, amongst other interesting plots, “the passionate loves of the women of the Wong family through four generations”) had me sold on the spot.

The book seemed easy enough – it’s divided into seven chapters with a few characters featured in each. As I went through it, however, I realized it wasn’t going to be a simple tale of three or four characters; the voices, stories, ghosts, and desires of Kae Ying Woo, Hermia Chow, Lee Mui Lan, Fong Mei, Choy Fuk, Ting An, Beatrice Li Ying Wong, Keeman, Morgan, Suzanne Bo Syang Wong, and many others, crowd the pages. It’s rather dizzying to keep track of so many people who have so many different things (such as incestuous longings that would make the Lannisters blush) happening in their lives.

Despite all the seemingly disparate narratives and characters, I want to focus on the theme of community, even though the novel seems to question whether that very concept may just be a lofty dream.

The novel is based in our very own Vancouver Chinatown and other areas around British Columbia, making it super-local. Vancouverites will know how big our Chinatown is (that is, not very big at all), and Lee’s novel shows with heartbreaking poignancy how very lonely things can be even when you’re supposed to be “home” or are assigned by the status quo ruling class to stay within the confines of your community of Others. Read more

Posted on by Emily Yakashiro in Books, Can-Con, Racism Leave a comment
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