Seinfeld and Rapper Wale: “Chicken and Naked Women”

wale-attention-deficit

“The pornographers did a kind of stealth attack on our culture, hijacking our sexuality and then selling it back to us, often in forms that look very little like sex but a lot like cruelty.” Gail Dines, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality

“People are famous without having any talent” – Wale in Jerry Seinfeld and Wale Discuss Strip Clubs for Complex (video below, Nov 17, 2014).

Linguistic violence as the “best” jokes

While watching YouTube videos, a sketch of Seinfeld sitting in a NY cafe with well known young rapper named Wale was suggested and started to autoplay. I met Wale before he made it, years ago at the Blue Note. In fact, he gave me his number and it’s still in my phone. I never called. Being a bit older, I had no idea what we’d talk about. But back to this sketch…

Seinfeld is sitting with Wale — the most unlikely pair I could imagine and wonder what the marketing tie is. One of the lines from Seinfeld is “I understand Chicken and Naked Women” when talking about strip clubs. Wale talks about hanging out at Magic City, the strip club in ATL. He says he goes there with his friends. He’s done interviews there, painting it like a social club for men. Wale ends the segment talking about how people are famous without having any talent. Hmm? Being in the entertainment business ain’t about talent. If it was, some of the best artists I know in NYC would be sitting with Seinfeld including myself. Yeah, we all got talent. But business these days is about something else in social media.

You know what I wish? I really wish the talent Wale speaks of in hip-hop or comedy came with gender ethics about misogyny and misogynoir. Ethics about the subordination of girls and women by men who claim to have power. I recently started reading Disconnected by Carrie James, a digital media ethnographer from Harvard. She distinguishes between morals — you’re sense of good and bad — and ethics — your care and attention to/for unknown individuals, for instance, on the web. Girls so could use some ethics in their online lives!

There are few ethics in entertainment hip-hop about girls esp when strip clubs are in the picture. Instead they silence girls (and women’s) voice. The gender lifestyle portrayed in “funny” media — in satire and in spoofs on YouTube — are shaping audience’s perceptions of what is tolerable and thus acceptable to think AND DO to women and girls who are simply unknowns to you–bitches, hos.

UNKNOWNS: UNCLAIMED PROPERTY

Women are the property that makes a joke funny and not only men. It is the stuff of ideology and manufactured consent. Women are bitches and hos. Their bodies make it rain to sell rappers’ content up the male chain supply and demand. Women are property in this discourse of laughs and lyrical labor as well as the prime discourse of the rap music industry. If you like in any residentially-segregated neighborhood it’s present in the everyday discourse you hear on the streets from little boys. It is often cruelty towards girls and women in loud aggressive grand-standing in the name of “being a man.” Even from the  mouths of babes — 8- 12 year old black boys — this is ordinary in the hood.

I know there are probably non-black boys doing the same,  emulating their part of hip-hop in a southern style or drawl or in some ghetto heaven to the east or in midwest.  Still I’ve never seen it. It’s always black boys and men. That reminds me. I need to read about Black Twitter often dominated by women vs. Hotep Twitter. Hotep Twitter is about social justice for black men, but not so much for black women or black LGBT folk.

Let’s go to the videotape and check out Seinfeld giving this linguistic violence with Wale a bigger platform instead of operating ethically in this Complex sketch that seems real as rain. And I don’t mean the rain as in the strip club, although it has over 244,000 views to date.

 

NO BLACK FRIENDS IN NYC? #blackfriendsmatter

I’m in the midst of finishing a script for a major talk about twerking, its interesting historical intersection with YouTube and Katrina, both celebrating 10 years in 2015, and the resegregation of our racial and sexual mentalities by funny or playful social media. It’s about the role this kind of video content plays in reinscribing stereotypes. While the digital mobility of black youth leads all others groups including adults, 63% of black kids under 18 reside in low-income households (i.e., making ends meet without any savings aka wealth). See more about mobile teens in this Pew Internet study.

Based on my analysis of over 615 videos of black girls twerking, not in strip clubs but in the “privacy” of their bedrooms which are likely in residentially-segregated neighborhoods, I am starting to link the isolation of blacks which has returned to levels not seen since 1968 to ways the invisible audiences, like the 28 million views associated with my data, are probably contributing to the problem that is at the heart of #blacklivesmatters. These invisible audiences are not too dissimilar to many of the undergrads I teach who live in NYC. Most don’t have any black friends. They cannot tell the difference between an 13 year old black girl, a stripper, and a woman. And they are so conditioned to not talk about skin color privileges and race that they cannot tell the difference between dark or light skin, black and most Latinas, and they began and some continued to be afraid to even ask so our data could be accurate. As accurate as anyone else guessing on YouTube.

Reminds me of a favorite quote by Alice Walker:

“People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools.”

I have a lot to write about here but I am just hinting at all I am learning. Still, this study may not be taken seriously because of its content’s association with strip clubs vs realizing it’s little girls under 13 who are not being protected by YouTube, VEVO, mega artists or COPPA act that says kids under 13 should be protected from advertisers online and must have the consent of their parents. Meanwhile, we all agree to the terms and conditions of apps and websites.

FOMO is real but it’s also an illusion. Seductive and irresistible.

fomo

MISOGYNOIR FOR FUN, AN ONLINE BLAST

So what do we do about these misogynoir linguistic environments — hating on black girls and women — that are not private and networked to publics on your handheld always on devices? They are linguistically violent against women everywhere! “I tried to call the cops / That type of thief they can’t arrest” sang Lauryn decades ago about manifesting a women’s ownership over her body and her ability to resist the seduction of her power in the music biz and the world. Misogyny by satire. Misogyny by strip club. Misogyny. When will we restore the feminine and the erotic to empower women and girls? When!?

The only way we do is through dance it seems. Dance is the way out by going in. A way to love yourself and still be here in the patriarchal den of thieves.

I was reading a GQ article “Make it Reign: How an Atlanta Strip Club Runs the Music Industry” by Devin Friedman with photos by Lauren Greenfield (bet there aren’t many black writers and photographers at GQ — #justsayin).

A stripper at Magic City talked about the old days during the BMF (Black Mafia Family) when women who stripped there made $20K vs $5K a night now. (I purposefully am not calling them strippers just as I no longer use “slaves” for African enslaved people. Dehumanization in language is a stealth and insidious teacher. Transforms thinking in a second so you don’t value the people who have had to make choices to combat the lack of opportunity or the feminization of poverty in this nation, esp. among black and brown women.) Ok. I read this quote in the article that stunned me but at the same time I could see how women have come to accept it as normal. C.R.E.A.M. (cash rules everything around me) except “females” are always property, not getting currency. Still enslaved by gender hegemony and misogyny in highly capitalistic ways.

“They was a little brutal back in the BMF,” the dancer Aimee told me. “They would have joy slapping the girls in the face with the money. You get sucker punched in the face with a thousand dollars, but you laugh it off because it’s so much money.”

riri gifIf trauma is something you learn to tolerate, than thinking your in the spotlight when you are the trick to get other’s paid is easy. No amount of money will heal the wounds that come from that misuse of your soul. You cannot kill it and wait for the bonus at the end. You won’t have any soul let to spend it on.

I seriously wonder who social media is making us become as women and as men. Anything for a laugh. Anything for a buck. Anything for internet fame or view or two. Never measuring up.

Dance, baby, dance! to Stupid Hoe

What are we cognitively doing to kids when 8 year olds are twerking to songs like Stupid Hoe even by a female artist like Nicki Minaj. Things are gettin way to hectic! We will not see the impact of this right away but I suspect it’s way too seductive to stop and notice for most of us.  This is just a pondering blog post. I’m pondering how to tackle this as a scholar and as a woman who’s been through her share of trauma digested in the name of romance or sex or marriage. Misogyny is real!

Ordinarily I anonymize info but this content is publicly available. I go back and forth because this young girl is way too young to consent to what happens to her content but clearly freely participating and seduced to do so since an adult provided the mobile device she used to record it, YouTube doesn’t utilize it’s infinite digital power to keep kids under 13 off their site, YouTube, Nicki Minaj, the artist of the song the girl plays, and VEVO all profit off the backs of girls like this. She gets internet fame with over 86,000 views from her first upload posted in 2012 but everyone else is earning a living from the collective messing around on YouTube by hundreds of thousands of girls who are marginalized as well as young white girls, too.

This has been incredibly challenging ethnography and I have so much to say. I wonder if connecting the linguistic violence to the high rates of intimate partner violence that black girls suffer might be a good thing to begin to examine.

Would love your thoughts?

Kyraocity didn’t kill the kat!! Curiosity I hope keep you coming back to my blog.

 

Juicy J’s $50K: Managing Self, Managing Privacy on YouTube

Now that the barriers are crumbling everywhere, the Negro in America must be ever vigilant lest his forces be marshaled behind wrong causes and undemocratic movements. – Mary McLeod Bethune, Last Will & Testament

In my previous post Class is (Not) in Session, I mentioned that one of the best submissions to the Juicy J contest was made private when the winner of the contest was announced. Since then YouTuber Miss Kimari has made the complex submission public once again and I hope you’ll not only take a look but you’ll take multiple looks at what a complicated representation of self is in an age where context collapse (having the context of who you are, where you came from, what you really mean to portray from your POV) denies viewers a complex understanding of black girlhood and black female agency and consciousness.

I want to thank  Dr. Treva B Lindsey, a professor at Ohio State University, who introduced me and the participants  at the December 2013 Gender, Sexuality and Hip-hop conference sponsored by the Anna Julia Cooper Project at Tulane backed by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry.

I have begun interviewing Miss Kimari about a week ago and I’d like to share one thing she shared with me.  I asked her several questions that are helping me ethnographically understand what is happening inside being a practitioner of twerking. Kimari is an undergraduate student at a major university in the so-called Dirty South where twerking is common body language. She has had an online identity since about 2005 on MySpace as a ninth grader and has “shut down” a couple of her YouTube accounts to manage her public persona, which was something I was not expected to hear from her. My preconceptions of the women who might twerk for the contest was stereotypical until I started studying the phenomenon and remembering the dances I did at her age and beyond as part of the black expressive vernacular communities of music and dance.

She said one thing that struck me. I wasn’t surprised as much as I was struck by my own past identity as a college student, as a black female student, who had never learned that black people even went to college before Civil Rights until I went to a school, the University of Michigan, that had a significant black presence on faculty and among the graduate students. What she shared reminded me of both the empowerment that comes with learning about being black in America and the disempowerment that comes from learning more about patriarchy and sex oppression.  I am paraphrasing from my notes because I haven’t yet transcribed the recording.

Miss Kimari (paraphrasing): Last semester I was learning about black women’s struggles in the transnational state in all of my Africana classes and what I learned was who I am is a problem and that’s what I’ve seen my whole life. The way we talk about stereotypes. the way we reproduce them…it kills people living this reality.

In the video, Miss Kimari lets us see her black feminist textbooks and her twerking. She has video, the context of which gets collapsed, from when she danced professionally in a former iteration of her life, and video of her teaching classes at college. She consciously presents views of race, gender and sexuality which the generalized other on YouTube and other social media channels might consider challenging to their moral or societal values about young women and their freedom of expression in this day and age. But she has agency. She is exploring and quite consciously and, as her withdrawal of her video from YouTube suggests, she knows she is not completely in control of it all.

We live in a world of radical openness and we often, I can attest, learn our mistakes in highly public ways that can be emotionally traumatizing before we realize that we left the doors to our safety unlocked. While we think we see what we are doing when we create a video of twerking or even a personal vlog, we are totally unawares of the infinite ways that chunk of media could have not only now but in the infinite nows that will live as a result of our transmission.

It’s hard our here for a black girl. But this is the new context of our self-construction and it’s not just a adolescent age thing. Anyone on YouTube or social media is slowly learning the very old lessons once taught by Reconstruction era grandparents. This is why when I was a girl we had oratory lessons in our privatized spaces. Practicing how you present yourself to a general audience mattered and it still does. But YouTube is a mixed space where things that were once private and local and highly publicized, persistent (you may never get rid of it online) and no longer personal.

Would love your thoughts about how you manage your online identity but also invite you to consider HOW you online interactions are reshaping the construction of your SELF. Once online, always online. Be careful out there!

Be Curious and Question!
Kyra

The Best Match for a Burning Question

I am a fan of fire starter, passion expert Danielle LaPorte.  The former name of Danielle’s blog WHITE HOT TRUTH caught my attention back in April 2010 after our lives got connected as contributors to an ebook honoring International Women’s Day titled What’s Dying to Be Born. Editor Lianne Raymond wanted to curate a womanist version of Seth Godin’s What Matters Now for the new decade.

Last week, she released her latest book of sermons on word, life, love, cash, desire, time and soul. The Fire Starter Sessions is next on my list to buy…once I get the cash.

This morning I got my latest email from Danielle with one ask this morning:

ANSWER THE BURNING QUESTION: What money resentments do you have…that you could let go of?

How fitting!

LETTING GO

The last three months I have been enduring a divorce and my biggest complaint since I left: my marriage sucked the life out of my cash flow. Following Brene Brown’s lead in her 2012 TED Talk I am letting my vulnerability shine through storytelling. I found the love of my life. Married him. Discovered we were not compatible after all. And am divorcing him.

Believe it or not, that is a vulnerable story for me. Why? It didn’t involve any drama. And there’s been a lot of drama. Being straight and accepting the simplest truth is real vulnerability right now.

LOCATING YOUR AUTONOMY

Danielle insisted in her blog post this morning to listen to my inner voice of autonomy when she wrote:

Sisters doin’ it for themselves, heard on high.

Whatever money thorn you might have in your side could be affecting your entire money flow. Locate it.

I’ve been blaming myself for failing at marriage. My ego at work. But that work can’t change my cash flow. Never has and never will.

Resentment ruled 3 months of my life suffering from thoughts of failure and the perceived loss of love after a VERY public romance that started on Facebook. Time to let go.

NO THORNS. FIRE!

That thorn made me a victim in a really bad nightmare. And you know what? I am starting to realize the blessing it has been for me to start my life again. I am on a journey, a true discovery, unleashing my skills, my capacities and the best of what I bring to the party. My ego was suffering (so what!). I am a damn great teacher (ask my students) and that’s what’s so, baby!

My coach just impressed upon how humans’ biology can shift:

“Language is physics. Say it and move in that direction. Freedom is there.”

So today I declare in action my morality in motion. Moving past suffering to shift my own gears. I made a mistake. That’s it. And what I do from here defines the morality of my existence. The past is … just the past. I can bring no change to that. I can bring it to the future.

So what’s next, you might ask? I’m not saying. Shut up and publish. Shut up and produce. That’s my motto.

I am an amazing speaker (gave a successful talk for SAP Marketing event in March). I am an award-winning writer and a singer-songwriter. I got a P-H-and-D in hip-hop and anthropology. Oh, yeah, and I am a TEDFellow. And none of those accomplishments and the skills that led to them were ever sucked out of me by marriage or anything else. That was all simply action or no action, not a failure.

I am the best match for setting my world on fire.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY, MORNING GLORY?

So what’s your answer to Danielle’s burning question of the day: What money resentments do you have…that you could let go of?

What could you share right now that you could let go of today?

Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. | KyraocityWorks
2009 TED Fellow, Author, Coach, Singer-Songwriter aka Professor G
Voicing “the unspoken” through song, scholarship & social media

Tweet Me!   Friend Me!  Become a Blog Fan!   Email me!  http://kyraocityworks.com

Exploring Gender Cross-Culturally: Black and Asian Women More Likely to Be In Debt

So this week, actually this moment, I am taking control of my debt. I got more than I ever thought I would ever have. My first experience with money was a passbook savings account from my mother. It had $500 in it. I spent it all within months on candy and other miscellany at 15. My mother gave me money but no context for what to do with it. All I knew was spending, not generating more income with money. Boy if I had to do it all over again.

Here I am. I have made more money than probably anyone in my family as a professor and I am still that 15 year old spending and not investing and creating new income. I might as well have a nine-to-five the way I operate around money and my job. I behave like a slave to my work instead of making work and money work for me. I have some much clout and credibility and I resign myself to be a sort of wage laborer in my mentality. And being a woman on top of that doesn’t help.

I found this great TV show produced on AlJazeeraEnglish TV called Everywoman. It features excellent journalism on women around the world and fits perfectly into my theme this week on cross-cultural perspectives. This show pointed to some revealing insights.

In this episode: Men owe twice as much money as women, but women are more likely to struggle with debt and more likely to use ‘sub-prime’ credit – credit which is easier to access, but costs more in interest rates.

Everywoman – Women and Debt – 28 Dec 07 – Pt 1

PS. I may be offline til Monday as I am heading to DC area, Rockville to be exact for a performance at the Caribou Cafe on Norbeck Rd July 5th at 6:30 – 9:30pm. All my peeps from my hometown are coming and I am so excited! More next week.

Caribou Cafe Jul 5th 6:30 – 9:30pm
301-460-0047
5562 Norbeck Rd Rockville MD 20853
Photo credit: Gerald Peart 2007, Geefoto.com

Exploring Gender Cross-Culturally: Africa, Gender and Development

In the representations of Black America we see through media and even through our neighborhoods, patriarchy tends to dominate. Even when it is said that women run the church, the school and even the home, it is men whom tends to be seen as the head of the household. Even his absence points to this as we speak often about the impact of not having a father on the wife/female partner, sons and daughters not to mention the community from both a generational and an economic development perspective. Women are increasingly becoming the heads of households around the world and since women tend to be paid less than men but often have children, this has led to the increasing femininization of poverty. So gender and economic development should be a concern for us all.

PRIORITY AFRICA – Gender Equality

Today, I found an interesting article online by Elizabeth ANNAN – YAO titled “African Gender Research in the New Millenium” She writes:

Gender relations in patrilineal communities differ greatly from those in matrilineal communities. In the former, women tend to be totally submissive to men (their
father, brothers, husband, uncles… ) and have hardly any decision-making powers nor the freedom of speech in public. Some common examples are that women easily yield to forced marriages; they have no political attributions and cannot inherit property…

On the other hand, in matrilineal communities, although women are submissive to men, they have some decision-making powers and liberty of expression and can generally choose their own husband. They can be Queen-Mothers in the political domain and can even inherit property from their maternal uncles and their mother…

Gender relations in general, but particularly in Africa, are always patriarchal in nature … whether in a matrilineal or a patrilineal community, or whether in the upper classes of society, men always impose themselves on women and insist on the subordinate status of women. There is therefore the need to challenge gender inequalities, gender stereotypes, biased attitudes and harmful practices against women and also all forms of discrimination against women in order to promote gender equality which is a necessary tool for development.

I know you readers out there are reading. I can see I get hits everyday. My blog gets traffic. What would really make a difference is for this blog to live in both a read and write culture. Try commenting once a week if you read once a week.

Stephen Lewis on Gender Equality and the Women of Africa. – 1 min – Sep 29, 2006

Here’s a question for the day: What differences do you perceive around your gender expression or role and your relationships with the economy, finances, money, your earning power aka your job/career, power relations at work or home, and even in dating or marriage relative to money?