When white feminism, slut-shaming and racism intersect: The curious cases of Lou Doillon and Taylor Swift

A lot is happening in popular culture my dear people.

A lot of things I wouldn’t usually comment on, except that they reflect every day struggles I have with white feminism.

First off, let us start with Lou Doillon’s comments on the supposed vulgarity of artists such as Nicky Minaj or Beyonce. Long story short, French ‘celebrity’ Lou Doillon, has spent a good half of an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais dissing Minaj and Beyoncé, dubbing them ‘vulgar’ and that feminism is not about parading in one’s underpants. After all, Doillon is the ‘first of her generation to be able to kick a man out of her house’ and ‘her grandmother didn’t fight for your right to parade in a G-string’.

First of all, I’m not exactly sure who appointed Ms Doillon Great Decider On All Things Feminist, but apparently when you’re white and over privileged you can self-appoint yourself to almost anything. I personally wouldn’t know, I’m an Arab woman, and thus spend half of my life apologizing about my hair and rebuffing exoticizing comments and looks.

Besides the grand authority with which these comments were delivered (that certain people might actually call arrogance), I’m left to ponder on why exactly did Doillon choose to mention Minaj and Beyoncé, two black women who, regardless of whether you agree or not with their vision of feminism, have done and are still doing quite a lot to question and reverse the usual stereotypes associated with the sexuality of women of colour. It’s interesting to note that Doillon’s comments were not made about Madonna or Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, artists who are also dancing in their underpants quite a lot, but chose to call out specifically these two women. It’s also very interesting that she herself chose to pose naked (something she is completely entitled to do, her body her choice) and most importantly enjoy the absence of slut-shaming, a courtesy she didn’t deem necessary to extend to Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé.

It might be interesting here to remind Ms Doillon, who is probably totally unaware of that fact, having lived all her life in a privileged white dominant bubble, that women of color, and especially black women, not only have to live with the hypersexualization all women have to bear, but also have to endure pervasive stereotypes that specifically consider their physical traits ‘vulgar’, their bodies inferior and disposable, and their sexuality ‘Jezebel-like’ and depraved.

Had Doillon got off her high self-righteous horse, she would have realized she was doing nothing more that reinforcing these stereotypes with her comments and thus helping to put down women who are already oppressed by racism and sexism, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is not the best look for someone who deems herself feminist.

Besides, Doillon is also deeply wrong on another account: while her grandmother might not have fought for your right to dance in your underpants, other people’s grandmothers, mothers, sisters and their friends did and still are. To be a woman, to be able to enjoy one’s body and to be able to enjoy the sexuality you have chosen free of coercion, discrimination and violence is definitely not a vested right in any place of the world. We are indeed fighting for our right to free body expression, and we are indeed entitled to enjoy that right without any kind of slut shaming coming our way, be it from men, authorities, institutions or other women like Doillon. It would be good to remind Doillon that women’s liberation from the shackles of respectability start with her mother Jane Birkin’s mini skirt and continues with Nicki Minaj’s G-string, dancing and enjoying her life and body. If there is one thing to take from all of this controversy, is that maybe patriarchal beliefs and attitudes, regardless of their source, should stop policing women’s bodies and leave us to enjoy them in peace.

Another pop culture event that happened this week is the so-called feud between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj  (who’s apparently had an extremely busy week on the feminist front) on Twitter. Here, Minaj might have been sore about not being nominated for a VMA, who knows, but she raises an interesting point nevertheless regarding the lack of acknowledgment of the work of black artists, especially black women. It is indeed true that white thin bodies are glorified and erected as the norm all women should aspire to. When confronted by this tweet, Swift’s answer was to automatically make it about herself: ‘Oh but I love you, why are you doing this to me?’ Instead of acknowledging a dominant system she benefits from on a daily basis and position herself as a firm ally by calling this system out and choosing to opt out of these privileges, she chooses to bring the debate to an emotional, personal field where political debate get annihilated.

The take out from this week? Dear white ‘feminist sisters’: you don’t get to decide how women of color enjoy their lives and bodies. You don’t get to police us, you don’t get to shut our demands up by getting sugary and cuddly and telling us you love us.

We don’t want you to love us and carry on benefiting from systems that oppress us on a daily basis.

We want equality, equity and justice, and for this, we have to fight. And we are. And we will.

You Killed My Dreams, Too

I am currently baffled by some online phenonmenon, for lack of a better word.

No, I’m not talking about Saad Hariri’s Twitter account, although that’s pretty funny in itself.

I’m talking about women undergoing plastic surgery, plonking themselves in front of their webcam and talking.

And that’s it.

These women seem to have observed the trajectory of Haifa Wehbe and the likes: be beautiful, and if you need a corrupt doctor to be so, then by all means buy that pair of boobs, pout in front of a camera, shake that tiny booty in a gold mini dress and what do you know, you’ve gotten yourself a “career’, with many rich men spending fortunes on you and all eyes on you, you, you.

I mean, they have nothing to say or show, that absolute necessity to create something and maybe share it with the world that possesses all artists is completely absent.

They’re in it for the money and the fame. Every thing they do is directed towards these two goals: be rich and famous. Lara Kay, one of the latest sensation of that category, states it herself in many instances: “Yes I have done plastic surgery but it works so what?”Here, please understand the “it works” to attract attention and most preferably rich men.

The times we live in are terribly frustrating for our egos: economic hardships ensure we need to work unrewarding jobs to make ends meet, with only tiny pools of leisure . Besides, there’s a need of recognition and validation of our own selves: lost in the anonymity of the masses, the individual finds itself insignificant, a tiny ant labouring day in day out. Hence the pursuit of fame that is perceived to be the ultimate goal in life, bringing in its stride happiness and money. The trend of reality TV has made it all the easier for everyone to think their problems will go away with a flick of a remote control, and frankly, with the intellectual/artistic/creative level shown on most programmes, it is no wonder absolutely anyone think they can make it. When I see the sums Kim Kardashian is paid to insult her sister on TV, I wonder if I shouldn’t make a sex tape myself (Bazinga).

Social media has enabled many people to “be discovered”, regardless of their talent. Virtually everyone can have their 15 minutes of fame, and people tend to forget that every work of art, every initiative that might lead to fame is, well, work, and takes effort and dedication, and that fame is not in any way the purpose of that work.

Capitalism has long merchandised everything: art, women’s bodies, people’s lives. The wanna-be famous such as Lara Kay and Myriam Klink are nothing but by products of a system that sees everything as marketable goods . I’m not siding with bloggers and people who have been bashing them with epithets such as “whore” “charmouta” and other insulting comments targeted as their expressions of sexuality. However, I do have an issue with that expression being the incarnation of what men want, and designed to attract said men, impersonating gender stereotypes to the extreme in the sense that they’re reducing themselves to a body and looks, making their appearance their major feature, as if it were the most important thing. Even Kay’s video clip looks like sexist soft porn, the way it’s done exploiting her body and reducing it to certain parts: close ups on her vagina and buttocks, languid expressions and pouts with bee stung lips. There doesn’t seem to be any fun in their appearances, they’re not enjoying themselves, they’re merely going through the motions of exciting thé viewer, of being what they think they should be to get noticed.

Watching and listening to “songs” such as 3antar and 2ataltouleh el a7lem actually made me a little sad more than anything else. Sad because despite many decades of women’s movement, it seems to have achieved littled in terms of erasing the stereotype of beauty being the most important thing for a woman and her only way to get ahead. And sad because sexuality is supposed to be creative, and fun and sensuous and an adventure. Not a means to get showered with gifts and two cameras on one’s self.