May is starting out strong with a whole slew of news in the world of intersectional feminism!
This week, Bitch Media co-founder Andi Zeisler published her newest book, We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Cover Girl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. Within, she discusses the commercialization of feminism, its growth in the celebrisphere, and the negative repercussions of becoming a “trend.”
Acknowledgment of this “marketplace feminism,” as Zeisler calls it, is a step forward in a movement slowly being reduced to cutesy period art and empty proclamations of solidarity. While connecting in pop culture is integral to achieving and maintaining societal change, there is a danger in identifying with the “feminist” identity without exploring the ideology or political action. We must refrain from viewing this popularization of feminism as an end-point, and instead use it to catalyze action.
Comedian Margaret Cho, author Ellen Oh, and Nerds of Colour blew up Twitter earlier this week with their campaign #WhiteWashedOUT as part of National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Spurred by Paramount and Dreamworks Studios releasing images from the upcoming film Ghost in the Shell, featuring Scarlett Johansson as the canonically Japanese protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, #WhiteWashedOUT speaks up against the continued whitewashing of Asian characters in Hollywood and beyond. Representation matters, and continually casting white actors in Asian roles decreases the already small number of opportunities for these minorities to see themselves on screen.
Activists Alicia Garza and Janet Mock visited the UN this week as part of their Recognition, Justice and Development: Women of African descent event. They were on a panel discussing race and gender within an intersectional context and focusing on the perpetual violence facing the community. The full panel is definitely worth a watch.
Rumer Willis is speaking out against Photoshopping in media. Willis called out Vanity Fair for using Photoshop to alter her jawline in a recent shoot, making it appear smaller and more “feminine.” Her critique of the alteration was on point, especially when she straight-up called the photographer a bully for trying to change her appearance.
The West Coast is known for its liberal hotspots: Portland, San Francisco, Seattle. But these areas are all seeing a massive exodus of Black residents. Despite pioneering for change, communities here are not providing the necessary economic and social climates conducive to retaining minority populations. Yeah, #BlackLivesMatter, but who cares if they can afford housing?
Are we soon to be free from the so-called tampon tax? Will those of us with periods finally be able to buy these “luxury goods” tax-free? While menstruation mitigation may not be the most pressing issue in current American politics (I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna stop bleeding!), symbolically, the removal of a luxury tax on menstrual items is an opportunity for legislators to express support for the feminist movement by standing against this economic inequality.
If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale, close your computer, put down your phone and change that right now. When you have, you will be as excited and trepidatious as me at the announcement that Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel will soon become a Hulu mini-series. The bar is very high, but if executed well, the series has the potential to be a scorching feminist critique of a world where men control reproductive rights and basically a warning of what may happen to the world if someone like Donald Trump becomes president (is that too blunt? I don’t care).
In more sobering news, this week the world lost Afeni Shakur. While she was likely best known as the mother of Tupac Shakur, the late rap icon, Afeni was an influential character in her own right. As a member of the Black Panthers, Shakur worked actively against Black oppression and wrote for the Panther Post. Her resilience as an activist, mother, and woman will not be forgotten.
A far less meaningful but still unsettling death this week was that of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. While the Internet will miss laughing at Cruz’s gaffs, awkwardness, face and faux link to the infamous Zodiac killings, his stepping down places the GOP in the terrifying position of naming Trump as their candidate for the presidency.