Feminism, Terrorism, and Killing Your Idols
So this happened a while ago, but with our recent talk about Nicki Minaj and feminism, and with the advent of your new favorite tumblr, I thought it might be a good time to talk about pop culture and feminism. Before I continue, know that I'm a cis-gendered straight white male, so, if everything I'm about to say is voided for you because of that, feel free to skip along—the last thing I want to do is offend anybody's sensibilities while talking about this.
So now for the really incendiary thing: highly-renowned intersectional feminist thinker and social activist bell hooks called Beyoncé a terrorist a few months ago, because of Beyoncé's TIME Magazine photo-shoot, in which the popstar is posed alluringly and scantily-clad. bell hooks said she sees "a part of Beyoncé that is anti-feminist, that is a terrorist," because she's "colluding in the construction of herself as a slave." Just so no one is confused, we're talking about this picture:
(The article I linked to up there, by the way, is a very interesting one, especially considering it's writer being Roxanne Gay, author of acclaimed book Bad Feminist, wherein she talks a lot about this exact kind of behavior. The article itself represents an interesting collision between three hugely important feminist icons.)
What bell hooks said is indisputably not okay—I really hope no one is arguing otherwise. Especially with a term like "terrorist," which I'm absolutely certain hooks thought was a fair critique, is way overboard. However, like Gay states in her article, "Beyoncé is not above critique;" the conversation of how the female body is portrayed in mass media is one to be had, but bell hooks isn't above critique either, because her way of going about the conversation isn't particularly conducive to actual, well, conversation. In a way, this goes beyond feminism: no one person should ever be upheld as perfect and without flaw in their actions—by human nature, we are all flawed, and none of us should be stripped of that because by doing so we become less than human and put on a pedestal. None of us reside on a hill; we should all have these conversations together where our voices echo along the walls of the valley. Until we realize that none of us are above critique, no meaningful conversations and following steps toward meaningful actions will go underway.
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Black Market of Today, and Tomorrow?
By now, I'm sure most people I know have heard me rant and rave about the recent ongoings of a mummified monk found in Mongolia. Most interesting to me was the oft-overlooked first statement of the article published about it, which highlighted that the monk had been discovered while being sold on the black market. As somebody who had never before considered buying a mummified monk on the black market, I was dumbfounded as to what the use would be for such an item. Would one place him in the corner of the room as a type of taxidermy conversation piece? Is this a common item of status I was previously unaware of? Regardless, it got me thinking a lot about the black market, and how the black market works in our day and age.
Many of you are probably aware of The Silk Road. Until recently, it was the untraceable online black market for things of all illicit natures - things illegal, drug-related, dangerous, etc. The Silk Road was uncovered by authorities and taken down in 2013, and recently the wizard in this virtual Oz has been discovered. Ross Ulbricht, as of about a week ago, has been found guilty on seven counts of drug-trafficking, narcotics-trafficking, and the like. The site had garnered many fans and consumers during its two-year lifespan - effectively making the buying and sells of contraband as simple as using Amazon.
The problem that I think many of the government officials involved - as well as the prosecutor of the trial - are overlooking is that another Silk Road is almost inevitably going to arrive. We live in a society where a taxi cab is an app away, Seamless is utilized more often than telephone take-out, and clothes shopping is frequently done online. It seems to follow naturally that our black market will also make moves to become exclusively on the internet. The world wide web offers anonymity like nothing else ever has, and the destruction of the Silk Road only leaves a hole that is begging to be filled. The FBI made its move. What's next, internet?
To see Ulbricht's thoughts on the subject of the Silk Road (which are really quite interesting), click here.
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"Go Set a Watchman"
As many of you bibliophiles already know, Harper Lee is releasing a second novel, Go Set a Watchman, 55 years after the publication of her world-renowned classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee's new book, which will be released in July, is a sequel to Mockingbird, revisiting many of the characters from her beloved masterpiece, such as a much older Atticus Finch and his now adult daughter, Scout.
According to Lee's publisher, Lee originally wrote the manuscript for Watchman in the 1950s, before she wrote Mockingbird. However, her editor was so captivated by the portions of the book devoted to Scout's childhood flashbacks and told her to write an entirely new book with a story told from young Scout's perspective. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird was born, and the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was thought to be lost or destroyed all these years. When it was recently rediscovered, it was decided that it should be published. According to the New York Times, Lee's new novel will take place in the same town—Maycomb, Alabama—and it will also discuss racial issues that took place in the South during the 1950s and father/daughter relationships.
Of course, millions of fans rejoiced, eager and excited for Lee's next contribution to the literary world. However, this wonderful news is not without controversy.
Many wonder exactly how much involvement Lee actually has in the publication of her new book. The details of the book deal are murky, and Lee, who is 88 years old and living in an assisted living facility after suffering a stroke in 2007, is notoriously private and has consistently shot down pleas from publishers and fans alike to write a new book. It's not surprising that the release of Lee's unedited manuscript is shocking to many. In a statement released through her lawyer, however, Lee said "I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman."
Is Lee being manipulated by money-hungry lawyers and publishers? All the statements about the new book are coming from Lee's representatives, instead of Lee herself. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many also say that Lee is in full possession of her faculties and independently made this decision. The book's release continues to get more and more complicated.