Tonight I performed (quite unexpectedly) at Bad Language, an awesome night of new and established writers.
I didn’t feel like I had the right material to take with me to read, so this morning I sat down to write something. As I mentioned in my set tonight, I’ve stopped reading the news for the last six months or so, because I read in the news that reading it makes you depressed (that got a laugh, perhaps a pity laugh, but I’ll take it). This meant that, until today, I’d managed not to hear anything about either the Syria debacle, or the Miley Cyrus debacle.
I read a lot of opinion articles about the whole twerking, slut-shaming mess, followed by the whole #solidarityisforwhitewomen mess, and just found myself rather sad.
I did read a very excellent article discussing the white appropriation and commodification of black culture, but I disagree with the author’s insistence that Miley Cyrus fully knows what she’s doing and is therefore a huge racist. Sure, she could have displayed some level of sensitivity, but on the other hand, I think that accusing her of deliberately presenting a racially-charged performance is the same as the slut-shaming that’s been going on. She’s a product of her upbringing, trapped by a tightly-controlling misogynist, racist institution, and if you think she’s free from all that, I think you’re deluded.
We blame the rape culture, not the girl who dresses provocatively. Therefore we blame the racist culture, not the girl who, without thinking, objectifies a black woman and black culture in her set.
No, it isn’t okay, but neither is this fire and brimstone attack on a young woman who maybe just made some bad choices there.
Here’s a poem I wrote about it, and which I’m sharing because tonight was probably the first and last time I’ll ever perform it. Because, you know, topical.
Twerk, baby, twerk.
Shrug off the sweating palm
of Uncle Disney.
Strip down to the real you.
Shed hair, fat,
grease your face and perform.
Show us your vision, latex and fur;
spank a bootylicious teddy bear.
with faceless women for cynical slut-shamers.
Did you find it? Your black sound?
We reinvented rock and jazz, r ‘n b and hip hop.
there: culture is shared.
So twerk, baby girl.
You’re on top of the world.