Love Songs as a Queer Woman

(WLW – A term coined by the internet meaning Women loving Woman)

I am relegated to covers.

One of my latest projects was a lesbian fairy tale. It had everything: a princess, the knight she falls in love with, a bigoted cult trying to keep them apart, an old crone that is more than she seems… all of the essentials except for a playlist that I could write to. I set about naming the empty list “RoShi” after my two protagonists, moving it into the correct “character” sub-folder (as you can see, I am very well versed in the art of creating writing mood playlists) and started to build.

I wanted the playlist to be filled with songs by women for women or, at least, by women that could be interpreted as for women (i.e. lack of pronouns, use of ‘you’/’they’/’them’). I ended up completing the playlist after a long and arduous process and out of 16 songs (that’s all I could dig up that matched my criteria and the feel I wanted from the playlist), 10 were covers.

Queer love songs don’t reach the mainstream. Some can make arguments about Troye Sivan, an out, gay artist, yet the song that reached airwaves was the collaboration he had with female artist Alessia Cara, giving off the expectation of heteronormativity.

While it is true that artists such as Halsey and Lauren Jauregui have stirred the water with their coming out and putting out songs with the blatant use of she/her pronouns, those songs don’t make the big time, being celebrated mostly by the LGBTQIA+ community… and the white LGBTQIA+ community at that. WLW artists of color, Hayley Kiyoko for example, don’t get the same recognition, which is doubly disheartening for queer Asian-American women.

Arguments can be made about the logistics between each person’s record label and the branding of each artist, but taking these into account only adds more evidence that wlw of color having even less air time than white wlw. Similar to how the majority of TV shows and movies feature a white lead, the music that finds popularity often has white artists attached to them. This becomes even more prominent if the criteria is narrowed down to love songs.

Coupled with a toxic belief spanning media that LGBTQIA+ content doesn’t sell or is too controversial, wlw of color have little to no chance of reaching audiences that may benefit from their music. A lot of credit can be given to social media sites focused on fan-bases such as tumblr, which usually brings to light things overlooked.

Of course, there is still a long way to go, and to help get there, here’s a list of black, queer women artists included in the list to maybe give a listen to and support.
Also check out Hayley Kiyoko and Mitski, two queer Asian American artists on YouTube!

 

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Anonymous is an English Major at SCSU. They are an avid feminist and a passionate writer who loves coffee, cats and snapback hats.

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When My Culture Becomes a Children’s Film

Thick eyebrows, big nose, and a permanent snarl.  Portrayed with sinister music or a drive for bloodthirst or greed, Middle-Eastern people are generally cast in a negative light. They are made to be a stereotype for children to watch and absorb, while Middle Eastern culture is watered down and the land they live on oppressed.

Recently, there’s been news of a new live-action Aladdin film coming out.  Initially, I felt trepidation and hesitance about the film.  Would there be any redemption for the Middle-Eastern culture of Jasmin or Aladdin?   Or will they be it be stereotyped and white-washed to fit the high demand of a light protagonist?

I don’t want for myself to be left feeling hopeless with this new adaption.  I want to be able to watch this film and take pride in some of the components that fit my culture. I want to root for the powerful Jasmin or the mischievous Aladdin. 

But with the history of how Middle-Eastern people are portrayed, I may not be too far off in my assumptions and uneasiness. 

Belly DancerThe general stereotypes of Middle-Eastern people are the nomad, the Sheik, the belly dancer, the terrorist, the haggler, and the angry “Arabs” shouting death to all and in between.  Those are the many stereotypes often portrayed in Western film.  It’s incredibly easy to create an “Other” culture to infringe on the Western dream and society that is set. Movies and TV shows are key ways these ideas have been perpetuated.

Prime examples are films like Raiders of the Lost ArkRoad to Morocco, and Never Say Never Again.  The Middle-Eastern antagonist is often portrayed as infringing upon or causing harm to the white male lead or the exceptionally white heroine.  When a Middle-Eastern woman is portrayed, she is either in a haram or she is being ‘rescued’ by a white male lead from the evil of the Middle-Eastern culture.

Can we also ask the important question of why all Middle-Eastern men never smile or show any other emotion aside from anger or lust?  I think it’s because it is better to control how they are perceived by Western culture.  If they are painted in a threatening or dark light and goodness forbid they show any positive emotion, it is easier to control what the West should think of them. muslim-152856_960_720

What makes the stereotype of Middle-Eastern people petrifying is the portrayal of the children. The Western culture has made it incredibly easy to justify the demonization of children in war-like situations happening in the Middle-East.  Two examples are Rules of Engagement, when they paint a little girl as an honest to God terrorist and in the film American Sniper, where it was so easy to callously point a sniper at a child’s head – but wait, he’s a terrorist!

What makes these films frustrating is the lack of understanding about what is actually happening in the Middle-East and the direct effect the West has had on it.  Thousands of citizens dead from useless wars (but in the defense of the West, they were collateral damage).  The land is being cultivated for resources and ground, but the Middle-Eastern people are not appointed their rightful representation of culture or ethnicity.  They are painted in these caricature stereotypes that are so easily accepted that when an actual Middle-Eastern person exhibits a component of themselves, they become the exception to the standard media has created.

It’s numbing. 

I had the unfortunate run in today when I gave my name with the intention to explain its origin with a classmate.  I proudly say Abuhadid and she laughs and says “Abu like the monkey!”  I was flabbergasted.  I wish I hadn’t laughed along to ease the tension but I had to explain that “no, it was abu like father.” My name is powerful and my name has meaning.  It is not an “Arab” little monkey who was given a name that literally makes no sense.  She exclaims and asks me why they would name a monkey abu. 

Well, when no Middle-Eastern person is making the film, it’s far more likely that the culture to get slaughtered and watered down.

I wish I was able to explain the whitewashing and brutalization of my culture.  I am met with blank stares and confusion. 

Will I be watching Aladdin?  I’m not sure.  I honestly don’t know if Middle-Eastern culture will be portrayed authentically.  With the characters look Middle-Eastern?  Will there be a caricature of the culture?  Will they be painted in greed and lust, or will it just be another kid’s film?

 

LakeKholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible!

 

 

 

Protesting: An Act of Privilege

Mariam

Anti-protest rhetoric in a country that places one of their crowning achievements on throwing a bunch of tea into a harbor has always been baffling to me. With the social and political climate divisive and, frankly, frightening, the art of the protest has emerged more prominently as an act that only privileged groups (for the purpose of this article, White Americans) can participate in with little to no consequence.

The most recent example of this is the rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA, on August 12th, 2017. A group of individuals aligning themselves with a political stance called ‘The Alt-Right’ rallied in Charlottesville, torches in hand, shouting chants and sporting symbols that evoke racist and Nazi-like images . Police presence at this event was meager at best, scarce at worst.

Witnesses of the rally recount what they noticed about the attitude of Virginia law enforcement during the rally. The general feeling gathered by the public seemed to be disappointment in the individuals tasked with the safety and security of the people. The apparent police protection of individuals aligned with white supremacist ideologies isn’t something new.

In December of 2016, Richard Spencer, the leader of the White Nationalist Movement, spoke at Texas A&M University. While he stood in the hall and said phrases such as, “At the end of the day, America belongs to white men”, many students and faculty stood outside in protest of the event. In front of them, on the steps of the hall, police in riot gear stood at the ready, protecting Spencer and, by extension, his hateful rhetoric.

This lukewarm response to the violence that took place contrasts rather starkly to the way the police have reacted to the protests of people of color, for example, Black Lives Matter and the Native American protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Civil Rights group, Black Lives Matter (BLM), who stage protests against issues such as police brutality (with the murders of Michael Brown, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, etc.) and the prison system (which incarcerates a disproportionate amount of black men), has been demonized for what their critics call ‘violent’ and ‘disruptive’ behavior.

Police response to BLM protests has almost always been with aggression. They meet most rallies with riot gear, and it isn’t rare to see an altercation between police and protesters. Even more baffling, forces deployed to the site of the #NODAPL protests infamously doused protesters with water and tear gas.

Let that sink in.

Indigenous Americans protesting a pipeline crossing into their land and endangering their drinking supply, were met with more fire and fury than literal White Supremacists.

The trend that appears is that protesting is only acceptable and not seen as inconvenient or a threat in the eyes of the police if you’re white, no matter how disturbing the ideology. But protesting against unjust systems is as American as apple pie, and BLM, the #NODAPL protesters, any Person of Color standing up for rights not given them are just as American as the Sons of Liberty.

(For a more in-depth discussion on the rationale behind protests staged by people of color, check out this video on BLM and this personal account of the #NODAPL protest)


Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.

Muslim Girls Read Too

Hello, America!  Come a little closer, I have quite the secret for you.  This might sound odd.  A little strange.  You might just have an actual mind warp from what I’m about to tell you, but I think I’m just going to take the plunge.

 

Muslim girls read.  Like, actually.  Be calm!  Are your foundations shaken?  Has the end of times come near? 

 

Muslim. Girls. Read. 

 

This ideology that Muslim women are not educated, not literate, not smart enough to fit into the frame of educated women needs to stop. The stereotype that’s settled deeply into this society needs to be eradicated.

 

Islam has often had fingers and accusations thrown at it in regards to education and educating the women under the Islamic sphere.  Often, I hear that Islam only enforces the foundation for men and completely dis-acknowledges women. 

 

The argument that generally comes up in regards to educated Muslim women is that they are the exception.  That they broke free of the ‘misogynic’ holds of Islam and have went against the grain of what Islam has prohibited.  One story that I can’t ever seem to forget had to do with a statement from a girl I was chatting with early on in my freshman year of college.  I don’t remember her name and I don’t even quite recall if she was in one of my classes but she was speaking about wonderful it was to be following what I wanted to do and how amazing it was that my father was allowing me to go to college.

 

Allowing me?  My father and mother aren’t allowing me to go to college.  They pushed me to seek a higher education. It was never just me being the exception but instead, they were telling me by seeking a college degree after high school, I was fulfilling my duty as a Muslim.  It’s not just a college degree, though, that pertains to Muslim seeking knowledge.

 

It can be anything as long as we further our depth as individuals and flick away our ignorance.

 

Teaching and seeking of knowledge is mentioned in the direct scripture of the Quran.  There is absolutely no distinction between men and women.  The quote I’m going to provide is from the Quran and it is important to note that the Quran was a revelation to Muhammad PBUH.  It is as if he is spoken to but it encompasses men and women.

“(O Beloved!) Read (commencing) with the Name of Allah, Who has created (everything). He created man from a hanging mass (clinging) like a leech (to the mother’s womb). Read, and your Lord is Most Generous, Who taught man (reading and writing) by the pen, Who (besides that) taught man (all that) which he did not know. [al-‘Alaq, 96:1–5.]”

 

Knowledge is actively being told to us to seek it and to continue seeking it.  We read because we want to. We learn because it is required.  Muslim women know this and will continue to know this.  It is not exclusive to most Western Muslim women.  We are not being chained to our homes and into a world where education is held on a string and taunted to us.  It is readily available to defend our rights from the cultures that try so hard to stall us.

 

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It is also important to create a distinction between the culture and the religion.  The two are incredibly different and they are not one in the same.  A culture can have a main religion be in its practices but the culture itself does not dictate the religion.

 

Malala Yousafzai is a prime example of the blurred line between culture and religion.  She was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan while she was on the bus because of her growing activism and voice that continued to grow to fight against the closing of female schools in Pakistan.  It is not her religion that tightened its seal onto her voice.

 

The violent culture that surrounded her has tried to eradicate her strength but it is her reasoning that allowed her to continue to be one the most powerful female figures to stand for female education in the Muslim world. 

 

One of my favorite and powerful quotes by her Islam tells us every girl and boy should be educated. I don’t know why the Taliban have forgotten it.”

 

 Malala

She clearly states that Islam is not the shackles to the illiteracy of Islam but it is the culture that is often dangerous to silencing women.  It is crucial to think about it from an intersectional feminist stand point.  It’s not just a culture that taints a Muslim women’s chances at education but it is so many other factors that stand in the way.  War, violence, poverty, and the underlying factor of simply not having the resources to actively seek out education in the western and eastern world. 

 

But if we just step back and look at it from a western stand point, it is important to lay a distinction between both spheres of the world.  There is not a difference between education in regards to wanting it. Both spheres have Muslim women who are ready to do what it takes to achieve their education and practices of the Quran, they will do it.  Western Muslims and eastern Muslims have different factors that play in their lives but one thing is clear.

 

Muslim girls read too.

 


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Kholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world. She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible. 

 

 

 

Free to be Me: Growing Up Multiracial in America

“What are you exactly?”

Ahh. The all too familiar question I receive either from complete strangers or from friends who finally feel like they’ve known me long enough to ask. To answer that exact question, I’m just like everyone else. I’m human! But I’ve learned that when someone asks me this, I should assume they are asking about my ethnic background. And even though most don’t mean anything offensive by that poor choice of wording, it still makes me feel like I’m the other or that they’re trying to fit me in one box. To answer the intended question, my mom is part Mexican and part Spaniard while my dad is Khmer (Cambodian) and Chinese.

As if growing up wasn’t confusing enough, I was also constantly battling how I identified myself. There would be phases of my childhood when I was ashamed to be Hispanic and fully embraced my Asian side. Then there were times when I despised the Asian side of me and claimed only the Hispanic part. It’s alright feeling like you identify as one more than the other(s), but that wasn’t my problem. My problem was that I was always hating part of who I knew I already was.  As someone who moved to a small town in Minnesota with a predominantly white population from a diverse area of Houston, Texas, I faced different challenges depending on where I was.

When growing up in Houston, it was always the struggle of being enough of my ethnicities. I was either not a real Mexican because I wasn’t a full one or because I didn’t speak Spanish. I would go home and watch a lot of Mexican novelas on Univision just so I could fit in and prove I was Mexican to my classmates. And sometimes I was told I wasn’t Asian enough because I didn’t speak Khmer or get the top grade in math. No matter where I was or who I was with, I was an outsider.

When I moved with my mother and older sister to rural Minnesota, it was a different situation. This time instead of trying to be enough Hispanic or enough Asian, I was spending all my energy to abandon both identities and be white. In my mind, to be white in small town, Minnesota was to be accepted. It seemed to be working because I was getting invited to sleepovers, parties, and people were even coming to mybirthday parties. But it was still there. The racial remarks were still there. Although not directed at me, they could sometimes tell that it made me uncomfortable. They would then turn to me and say “Oh, but you’re not a fullAsian (or Hispanic), so it doesn’t apply to you!”

So I resorted to smiling and laughing along with them. I chose not to make a scene out of fear of rejection and I just took it. I felt the intense need to fit in. And it wasn’t long until being multiracial was used against me. When I got the top score in the grade for the state writing test, I was told that an Asian must have graded my paper. I was laughed at when I brought homemade salsa and fresh tamales to a potluck because my “Hispanic side was coming out.” No matter how hard I tried to be white, I was always reminded that I wasn’t. I was different. In a small school with the majority being white, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Soon enough, I started getting tired of hiding who I was. I realized that I was only fooling myself and I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I started taking pride in standing out. I am different and that is a good thing. Sure, I won’t always have the most pleasant experience when my race is brought up in conversations, but that’s not my problem. Other times people are just genuinely curious and want to learn more about something they’ve never known about before. Instead of trying to cover who I am or putting too much effort in being something instead of the other, I’ve learned to embrace who I am and share it with other people – regardless of how they choose to take it.

As I was discovering my inner feminist during junior year of high school, I was also finding joy in myself and the importance of intersectionality in feminism. The moment I chose to embrace every aspect of myself, I felt free. I’m not some quiet, submissive Asian you heard about on TV or lazy Hispanic. I’m not a pile of stereotypes. I’m unique.  I no longer felt the need to hide the fact that I am Asian or Hispanic. I finally felt free to watch anime without being ashamed, eat tamales every Christmas, talk Spanglish at random times, grab the chopsticks instead of a fork, listen to Marco Antonio Solis or RBD, get good grades, talk obnoxiously loud, not be ashamed whenever my mom is talking in Spanish in public (or dad talking in Khmer), and let my dark, thick, curly hair flow freely. I’m grateful because I am free to be me. I was always free to be me.

Photo: http://aas340olspring2013.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-identity-crisis-of-multiracial.html 

Mardon Ellen SoMardon Ellen So is a third year undergraduate student. She is majoring in Sociology and is on a Pre-Physical Therapy track. Mardon enjoys talking about social justice, intersectional feminism, health, running, and life itself. When she’s not studying or working Mardon can be found running, listening to music, singing confidently bad in the shower, reading articles and books, volunteering, or eating. She’s essentially a human being just being. 

Taking a Look at Trump’s Anti-Woman Cabinet

Anyone breathing knows that the current administration has already and is poised to continue to work against the safety, well-being, and interests of many marginalized groups, including women.

Today we would like to highlight a small number of examples when the members of this cabinet have acted against women in the past as a way to anticipate their actions during the next four years, in this article. Here is a small quote:

The Violence Against Women Act, which protects women from domestic and sexual violence, passed with bipartisan support in 1994 and was reauthorized with bipartisan support several times since. Yet four Trump nominees who served in Congress when it was reauthorized in 2013 voted against it. Several of these men are slated to lead agencies charged with helping enforce or implement this essential law.

This conversation covers topics central to many women’s lives including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reproductive rights, workplace fairness, and sexual violence. It is by no means a complete analysis of the many issues touched by these lawmaker’s and enforcer’s decisions, nor an in-depth conversation about these four issues themselves.

It is, however, a great place to begin a conversation about what is at stake. We must have these conversations together and learn the many ways we are each affected by the actions of this administration.

Have anything to say? Comment below!

On Queering Valentine’s Day

Our staff found this Feministing.com article today.  It is critically important to think about how holidays affect people who are marginalized within society.

Tell us what you think about Katie Barnes’ idea that Valentines Day is “super heteronormative and kinda sexist.”

What other kinds of holidays do you see following these same patterns?

 

Open Letter

By Jo Benson

Mom,

You were right.

Those words are a big moment for you and me. You told me when I was four, five, eight, twelve and three times when I was eighteen, that one day I would know what you meant, and I would say, “You were right.”

I’m lucky to have the opportunity to have you as a mother and mentor who teaches not through lessons, but by example.         Patience is one of the many things you’ve taught me. Patience has allowed me to take time to reflect and understand our relationship. It has allowed me to see you as a human being, even though you might not be ready for that yet.

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