April 2, 2013

Twerkin' Girls: The Latest in Racist, Slut-Shaming

Everybody and their mother is twerking these days and people are still dismayed by this. 
So girls shake their asses for a camera, what about it?

So many people seem to have an issue with young women who dance this way and now I have a problem with it. My problem is this strict decorum that we've assigned young women. It seems there is suddenly a guideline on how to dance modestly. Which is funny because women have always danced and it's always been kind of sexy. There's something about women moving their "tempting" bodies that ultimately makes any dancing "sexy dancing." I mean, aren't all just little jezebel hussies tempting men to our beds? Cover your ankles!!

When Black Girls Do It

What's more damaging is that black women are easy targets for slut-shaming (that's exactly what it is, I won't mince words here) because of a dance that EVERYBODY is trying to do. (Hell, I've tried twerking! I wish I were better at it, but alas, we're all allotted a set number of talents.) I've seen a steady stream of Facebook photos associated with black women twerking that are down-right awful. Here's one comparing a black woman to an animal being scrutinized by late Steve Irwin:


I don't need to tell you how wrong all of this is. Or do I? You know what, just to be on the safe side, I'll explain myself. Let's begin with labeling this young woman as a hoodrat. She's immediately seen as ghetto, lewd, oversexed and a general hot mess. Now let's compare her to a wild animal; take away her agency, her basic humanity, and give her a new narrative: "She whores it up for any man to take care of her financial needs." Yes, we're essentially calling this young woman, who dances, a whore.

This is just a dance, people. It's not a license to morally judge women of color. Like I said, women have been dancing for hundreds of years, why is it in our best interest to be so strict now? Remember Josephine Baker? She did a saucy dance back in the day. But it wasn't her identity. She was a stage performer, but she also served as a spy during WWII and was a strong voice in the Civil Right Movement. But yeah, at one time, she did this:



Are we about to start calling Josephine Baker a hoodrat? God, I hope not.

When White Girls Do It

White women aren't held to the same standard of sexuality as black women are. Since black women have been on the auction block and in master's beds, we've been thought of as sex craving women. So it's interesting to see white girls twerk. It's clearly not as big of a deal when Miley Cyrus films her twerk session, as seen here:


When a white girl does this, it's not reviled. Instead, it's meant as funny. It's something white girls have seen and want to imitate (think low-level minstrel show). When we see this young white woman twerk in what looks like a. . . onesie (that's a whole other issue) at best we might think to ourselves: "Damn, look at that white girl twerk! Go Miley!" At worst, we might laugh at her. She's probably laughing at herself as well, because she knows she just a caricature of something she's seen in a music video. 
She saw black women do it and thought to give it a go. . . as a joke. Because that's what black culture is to someone like her, a joke.

To Miley Cyrus and other young women who twerk their little hearts out on the internet: Do your thing. Dance however you want to dance! There's a really good chance that it will be irrelevant three years from now when everyone's doing the next "slutty dance."

To the people who are getting upset and judgmental about this new breed of slutty dance: Get over yourself. Women should have the right to express themselves to whatever kind of dance they choose without being stoned by the pious public. Are you trying to tell me that you've never tried to shake a tail feather? Lighten up a little.

4 comments:

  1. Understood. Is that Miley in a Snuggie jumpsuit??? lol

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh ok, lol. You've got a good point! If one of us danced around in one of those, it would most likely be viewed as "ghetto".

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm actually really puzzled as to why Cyrus is in a snuggie. It's unexplainable to me. But yeah, being ghetto is either in the eye of the beholder or just strongly associated with color.

    ReplyDelete