Quickies: Nipplegate Revisited, Beyonce’s Halftime Show, and Whitewashed History

  • An incomplete review of female comics getting asked if women can be funny – “The ‘debate’ has its modern origins in a 2007 Vanity Fair piece entitled ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny’ by Christopher Hitchens. (He had a follow-up a year later with ‘Why Women Still Don’t Get It.’) Since then, women in comedy repeatedly get asked a variation of this tired question, which we’d like to rewrite thusly: ‘Are humans beings — creatures equipped with an intellect and the ability to communicate via verbal and non-verbal cues — capable of constructing humorous concepts and conveying them to other humans in order to elicit laughter?’ “
  • Nipplegate Revisited: Why America Owes Janet Jackson a Huge Apology – “What about this double standard: showcasing breasts in Budweiser or Hooters commercials is deemed acceptable television because, in those contexts, the female anatomy exists solely for the pleasure and benefit of men. Step outside of that framework into any reality where the woman might be in charge of her sexuality or *gasp* enjoy herself and there will be a problem.”
  • A Whitewashed History of Credit – “One of the reasons I think some conservatives get so angry when histories are given identity qualifiers—whether Black History Month or scholarly books with ‘women and’ in the title—is that they cast aspersion on the general category. History with a capital-H becomes just white history or men’s history or white men’s history. To smooth over this inconvenient past, unqualified American History has projected a post-civil-rights subject backward, judiciously adding ‘and her’ or ‘they didn’t mean black people, but we do’ when they’re necessary to universalize the Founders’ lofty (but not that lofty) proclamations. But that’s revisionism, and it deserves its own qualifier too. I think we should call it Business History. “
  • Beyoncé’s Radical Halftime Statement – “Both Beyoncé and Bruno wore black. They dressed the same as the people they stood shoulder to shoulder with. And then, before being interrupted by a strange retrospective video about past halftimes, they offered a reminder that synchronized dancing can be the best kind of spectacle there is—better than Left Shark, better than a middle finger to the camera, better than a crotch slide from Springsteen. There was no racial subtext to this, just text. Mars’s crew was B-boying. Beyoncé’s was channeling black radical movements and Michael Jackson in 1993. These were displays of cultural power coming from specific places, with specific meanings. They were rooted in history, but obviously spoke to the present.”
  • I’m a survivor of female genital cutting and I’m speaking out – as others must too – “As I learned more about the practice, I discovered that more often than not, men are oblivious and may not even know it is happening – or has happened – to their daughters, sisters and mothers. I learned that FGM/C dates back thousands of years, predating Islam and Christianity. It is a cultural practice that is neither rooted in religion nor bound by geography nor restricted to a socioeconomic class. Like other forms of gender-based violence, FGM/C is a manifestation of power and means of controlling the sexuality of women and girls.”
  • The NYPD Is Kicking People Out of Their Homes, Even If They Haven’t Committed a Crime – “The toll of nuisance abatement actions falls almost exclusively on minorities, our analysis showed. Over 18 months, nine of 10 homes subjected to such actions were in minority communities. We identified the race of 215 of the 297 people who were barred from homes in nuisance abatement battles. Only five are white.”
  • What the Middle Ages Show About Women Leaders – “Politically active women thrived in the Middle Ages—as queens, duchesses, countesses, and so on—because the medieval period seated political power within noble families, and women were members of those families. Medieval history may not be the obvious source for an examination of active women rulers—after all, books on the Middle Ages often center on the infighting between kings and their knights, while increasingly misogynistic monks produced diatribes against the wiles of women. Nevertheless, noble wives in the Middle Ages were regarded as co-rulers of territory, alongside their husbands, and were expected to participate in both political and military affairs even when their husbands were present and available.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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