Zayn & the propeller cap / x /
I tried to ignore Miley’s antics for as long as I could. After all, her catchphrase said it all – she’s just bein Miley! But when she dropped her video for We Can’t Stop, a catchy, summer-fueled jam made popular by famous hip hop producer Mike WiLL (who’s worked with the likes of Kanye West and Lil Wayne), it became impossible to look the other way.
That’s because We Can’t Stop – not to mention Miley’s Twitter, persona, and overall attitude – is riddled with cultural appropriation. (If you haven’t seen it already, go get ready to vom on your keyboard by watching it here.)
The video features Miley writhing around in an (aptly enough) all-white getup, surrounding herself with black people, who are supposedly her friends and party guests. She’s wearing a gold grill. Black women twerk around her in the background as she grabs their asses and sticks her tongue out cheekily at the camera. Basically, as VICE says, it shows her accessorizing with black people, using them as props to boost her authenticity as she tries a different sound in her music. AKA she literally said to her songwriters, “I want urban, I just want something that just feels Black.”
The message of the song is pretty simple, and matches the tone of most of Miley’s public image recently. She’s all grown now. She’s independent. Whatever, Disney Channel! She’ll do whatever she likes, because she DGAF.
Here’s why you should give a fuck, Miley. Because you grew up steeped in white privilege; with your father’s name, you’ve been wealthy your entire life. Because your simultaneous appropriation and stereotypying of black culture is harmful and oppressive. You can twerk and pretend to be “ratchet” but it only lasts for the three minutes and 34 seconds that you’re on screen, and then you can take it all off and live life as the privileged white girl that you are. Other people of color can’t do that. They have to deal with the awful stereotypes, the racism, the discrimination that comes attached to their non-whiteness.
A comment on the youtube page for “We Can’t Stop” really sums up why everything about this sucks: “I love how miley twerks. its not the casual black girl, big ass, twerk, but a white girl showing off her moves. loved it!” Great – so not only are we into the appropriation and exploitation of black culture for profit, but now we’re mocking and degrading that very culture when it’s authentically performed by black people, only to praise it when it’s performed by white people? Ugh.❞
TW: Rape - Missouri victim’s house burned down after she accuses football star of rape
October 14, 2013
The Kansas City Star published on Sunday their remarkable, seven-month investigation into an eerily similar story that unfolded last year in the small, northwestern Missouri town of Maryville. In this case, though, the rape victim never got to see her horror story go to trial — and the family’s terror hasn’t ended; they’ve even had their house burned down.
Fourteen-year-old Daisy and her 13-year-old friend were both high school freshman in January 2012, when they were invited to a house party by a senior star of the Maryville football team. Once there, the older girl was given a large glass filled with alcohol and urged by a room full of some of the school’s most popular athletes to drink it. She did, and they handed her a second glass.
The following morning, Daisy’s mother discovered her daughter, alone on her front lawn in sub-freezing temperatures, weeping. She helped Daisy into the bathtub after finding her outside, where she noticed reddish, irritated areas around her daughter’s genitalia and buttocks.
Daisy’s mom also found the 13-year-old friend was upstairs in Daisy’s room, also “confused.” Both girls were taken to a hospital. On Daisy’s body, a doctor found small vaginal tears emblematic of someone who has just had sex. The 13-year-old, who remembered the night’s events, told investigators she was forced to have sex, despite saying “no” over and over again.
Eyewitnesses who spoke with the Star, including Daisy’s 13-year-old friend, recall seeing Daisy being carried — crying — by some of the older boys out of the house into a car.
It didn’t take long for police to round up Barnett and other partiers for questioning. Barnett, a 17-year-old defensive end for the Maryville High School football team, admitted to having sex with Daisy but said it was consensual. Jordan Zech, a teammate and standout wrestler for Maryville, admitted to recording some of the encounter on another friend’s iPhone.
Within days, both were arrested in the case. Barnett was facing a felony sexual assault charge and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. Zech was also charged, for sexual exploitation of a minor.
But like Steubenville before it, the town of Maryville revolted against the facts in the case.
Days after the incident became public knowledge, students at the high school began attacking Daisy and her family. On social media, fellow Maryville students began threatening Daisy, tweeting that she would “get whats comin.” Daisy’s older brother Charlie, who was himself an athlete for Maryville, was booed by his own classmates during a wrestling meet. Her mother, a veterinarian, was fired from her job two weeks after the incident without so much as an explanation, only later learning that her boss feared that her presence “was putting stress” on her other employees.
Meanwhile, members of the community rallied behind Barnett and the other perpetrators. In March, just over two months after the alleged rape took place, the most serious charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor was dropped without an explanation.
Daisy’s family moved away to avoid the threats and harassment they faced since her story first came to light. But the trouble didn’t end. Six months ago, their old house burned down mysteriously.
If the story sounds at all familiar, it’s because it almost mirrors the case in Steubenville, Ohio. Like Steubenville, the perpetrators were members of the high school’s immensely successful football team. Like Steubenville, the town of Maryville rallied behind the alleged rapists and ostracized the victim. And like Steubenville, the events in Maryville are quickly becoming a national story.
In some ways, though, the Maryville case is actually worse. Barnett, aside from being a celebrated athlete, also happens to be the grandson of a prominent Missouri state senator. Less than a week before the charges against Burnett and Zech were dropped, Daisy’s mother got a phone call from a friend who warned that ” favors were being called in and that the charges would be dropped.”
The Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice, who was responsible for the case against Barnett and Zech, also has political ties to Rex Barnett, the grandfather of Matt Barnett. When the mother of the victim sought an explanation from Rice as to why he dropped the charges against both boys, he ignored her phone calls. The Star finally tracked down Rice months later and asked the same question, and — in his office, where a picture of Rex Barnett hangs — he told the paper simply that it was due to a lack of evidence. He went on to dismiss the events of that night as the act of “incorrigible teenagers.”
The video that Zech admitted to filming on an iPhone has never surfaced, not even to police. And Missouri state law dictates that in cases where the charges are dropped, all of the records pertaining to the case — interviews with eyewitnesses, tests done on bedsheets, the results of rape kits — are sealed.
Even if Maryville didn’t learn anything from the Steubenville case, the media has an opportunity to show that they have. As rape cases have emerged in the national spotlight, news outlets from ABC News to Yahoo have been quick to portray the accused rapists as the real victims, denied of promising futures, or an opportunity to play in a few high school football games.
A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.