dealing with microaggression

When I was a kid, I love, love, love comic books. Being feminine and gay, I worshipped Wonder Woman and Catwoman and Poison Ivy and Shadow Cat and Supergirl and BlackCat and Sorceress and the likes. As I grew older, the feminist in me learned that comic books are sexist. Now, I can’t even watch Justice League without being appalled. Also, I’m going to shout out a big fuck you to Jim Balent for destroying Catwoman by overly sexualizing her. May a homosexual bite your cock off.

The same thing goes for Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I used to like it, but then I realized that the Rromani people in the movie are depicted as thieves and con artists. I can’t say that all Rromanis are saintly, but surely not all of them are bad.

Nowadays, there are people, like the owner of this Tumblr, who take time singling out people who use the term “gypsy” on Tumblr to reblog their “gypsy”-tagged post and set the record straight (that “gypsy” is actually a derogatory term, much like “fag” and “retard” and “nigger” and that “gypsies” don’t wear long skirts or live freely in moving houses, that “gypsies” are actually still largely thought of as thieves and therefore persecuted). I don’t know how I feel about this Tumblr blog. I mean, I’m pretty sure the owner is doing a service to Rromani people, yet I feel like her approach is sometimes very subjective. For example, the Tumblr blog started out as a site that called out what is and isn’t belly dance (hence the name), and the owner apparently thinks this is belly dance. So in my eyes, the blog has lost credibility.

Yet, like a freak accident or a horror movie, I still check it from time to time, if only just to see how stupid people can get. One thing led to another, and I found this Tumblr. Hoo, boy. Talk about microaggression.

First of all, using Tumblr to do long blog posts bug the glitter out of me. I mean, really. Tumblr is meant as a microblogging platform, to reblog quotes, reblog pictures. This blogging and reblogging and adding stuff on the reblogging and how the entries become truncated or look like a long chain of Re: Re: RE: re: RE: Re e-mails, they’re just not easy on my eyes (and brain).

I don’t really care when you call people out to show them they’re using derogatory terms, hopefully out of ignorance, and not because their purpose is to troll. It’s a good thing. Even if you think you’re God’s (or whoever deity’s) gift to enlighten people. Until you’re tired and think that no one listens. Good for you. Heck, if it were up to me, I’d punch the daylight out of people who use the term “fag” or “retard”.

I don’t even care when you show that everyone is against you. Because, hey, no good deed goes unpunished, right?

But I take offence when you start bullying people. Correct me if I’m wrong here, and I’m chalking the (probable) mistake to my dislike for Tumblr’s reblog/reply lay-out, but here’s the gist (the original blog post was deleted):

A Tumblr blogger wrote that (the eras) 40’s and 50’s were so cute and then another blogger replied, “Not for black people”. And well, you can read what MyJourneyMyThoughts’ reply is (it’s the one in white).

I wanted to scream. There’s a great line from Devil Wears Prada (the movie) when Andrea is freaking out and Emily says, “You know, I rarely say this to people who… aren’t me, but you have got to calm down. Bloody hell.”

Bloody hell indeed. Okay I need to calm down.

Okay, I’m calm (and very turned on). Thank you, Stanley Tucci.

Now, there’s microaggression and then there’s totally missing the point (which is a logical fallacy).

I wear Indian jewelry. I wear Pakistani jewelry. I’m from Indonesia and I wear Indonesian jewelry and the famous Indonesian Batik. I love the Egyptian assuit. All of these countries are famous for the persecution of homosexuals, extreme and fanatic muslims, and the raping of women. I’m gay and a feminist. Do I go around trolling every goddamn Indian/Pakistani/Indonesian/Egyptian jewelry/fabric website and remind them about the atrocity the people of said countries have done to women and gays? Nope.

Do I go trolling around comic book forums bashing Stan Lee and calling him sexist for creating Stripperella?

Do I feel compelled to do those things? Sometimes. But I sure as hell wouldn’t because I’d be missing the point and doing (puny) cyberbullying.

Like another poster said, I doubt that the original Tumblr post was meant to describe the time when black people were still being persecuted and murdered in the US. I mean, the 1920s was such a good era for fashion, but the Nazi was also going around killing people. 

There’s also a post on said Tumblr of Kurt Cobain’s photo with a kitten on his thigh. The caption says: “Kurt Cobain + cats = perfection”. I love cats and probably end up living (or dying) in a house full of cats, but I’m restraining myself from commenting on that post that Kurt Cobain was a heroin addict and committed suicide (so he’s not exactly your definition of “perfection”, although when cats are involved…).

As a belly dancer, specifically a Tribal belly dancer, I know I’m doing what some call cultural appropriation. This term “cultural appropriator” is somewhat derogatory to people. Well, at least to me. I equate it with ignorance, with not knowing any better, and not wanting to learn. In the belly dance world, there is another word that’s also derogatory and yet still being thrown around. That word is “gypsy”. There are many dance troupes out there, whom I sincerely respect, that use the word as part of their troupe name.

Let me be honest. I never cared about the word “gypsy”. I never associated it with free spirit, not even with belly dance. Sure, there’s the “Gypsy Skirt“, and I help perpetuate the stereotype that the Rromanis (that’s the official, non-derogatory term for people widely described as gypsies) women wear that kind of skirt. You know, the flowy, circlular, multi-layered, 10 to 25 yard skirts.

Since we’re defending the Rromanis, people should know that Rroma culture is homophobic. Although, again, probably there are some Rromanis who are more tolerant, but still. Oh, and the Tumblr blogger is a self-professed queer woman.

My point is, if you scrutinize and find a fault in every single little thing (thus being microaggressive), then you won’t find beauty, and your life will just be horrible.

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9 thoughts on “dealing with microaggression

  1. I was born with the name Gypsy. My mother gave it to me when I was born, and although, when I was adopted 6 years later and they changed my name legally, I somehow always had that name in heart. I grew into it even though I didn’t know it was my real name (funny how that works, huh?). My legal name feels harsh on my tongue (always has been), and anyone I tell that that is my real name, they just don’t see it. I decided to do away with that name, and the memories it brought. So, when I turned 18 and moved into a homeless shelter instead of living at my adoptive house. I decided to go back to my birth name, Gypsy. Unfortunately, it is not legalized, but that is still how people know me. I read posts like one of those that you linked, http://myjourneymythoughts.tumblr.com/post/18929758502/to-all-you-hipsters-in-the-gypsy-tag, and it literally almost made me cry. Like, there are people out there whose main thought on the singular word ‘Gypsy’, which is MY NAME, is hatred, violence, rape and so much more negative things. I thought about changing my name for a moment. I mean, I know that there are stereotypes of Gypsies being thieves and robbers and whatnot, but, I thought I was a Superhero, in a way. Be the light in the darkness, be the statue that made the difference, be the one thing that turns those stereotypes around, even if it meant only one heart at a time, it would be one less heart that vied against Gypsies. You know what I mean? I have a Gypsy heart, I long for the road in that respect, and I still plan on doing that, I still plan on meeting people, making a difference, inspiring people, and changing hearts. It has always been that dream that has propelled me to do what I have done of past. And you know what? I don’t regret any of it. And, I may not know too much of the Rromani heritage (I’ve also seen the term Roma [which, I currently work at a restaurant named that]), but I know what is in my heart. I know love, I know peace, I know truth. I know I will come across hate, and I know I will come across people that see me as nothing but a low life, but that’s exactly what I hope to change. Thank you, for your post 🙂

    • Hello, Gypsy! Thank you for your comment.

      I’m not sure I know how to respond to it, but let me put it this way: for a while now I’ve been trying to use the word “gay” (in “that’s so gay”) in a more favorable way (like instead of it being negative, it actually means something that’s fabulous).

      Is that what you’re trying to do with Gypsy?

      Also, I think as a name, “Gypsy” is beautiful and you can use it, like you said, as a symbol of power, and hopefully help actual Rromani people. I know this sounds a bit far-fetched, but never underestimate the power of one.

      • Yes, that’s what I was trying to get at. 🙂 And thank you for the vote of confidence. That’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say 🙂

      • I think it’s a great idea. To be honest, at least now that we’re not ignorant about the plight of the Rromani people, we can start using that word as something empowering.

        On the other hand, and I’m being the devil’s advocate here, I feel I’m entitled to say “gay” and actually making it positive because I’m gay. I can even push it forward and say “fag” as a term of endearment, not a slur.

        However, since I’m not black, I can’t say the N word without making it sound like a racial slur.

        My point is, we’re both not Rromani, so I can see how some people may feel uncomfortable (to say the least) about you trying to empower that word.

        However, if you identify yourself with the Rromani people (and therefore the “Gypsies”), then use this as your defense.

        Gee, now I wish my name was Gypsy.

      • It is a power granted only to a few people, to have one’s name as ‘Gypsy’ … LOL … jk, no, but really.
        I think those are some great points there. On the other hand, sometimes it takes an outsider to break down the walls, if you know what I mean. Lincoln helped blacks out from slavery, but he was not black himself. Sure, his motives were more political than anything, but he still made it possible for blacks to be where they are now. I think if we, as a human race, subject any peoples to a stereotype, i.e. non-Gypsies to Gypsies as thieves, and Gypsies to non-Gypsies as hateful, vengeful, erratically violent people, then we lose an opportunity to cultivate our cultures and stories with each other. If we open our hearts to Everyone, we might find that we have more in common than not, and maybe that will help to alleviate that which we found so threatening before.
        I actually find myself very attracted to the Rromani peoples and their way (especially in creativity and the like), but I also have a very strong Celtic background, and have a Celtic cross tattooed on my chest to symbolize that connection. I realize there are Celtic Gypsies, but I have not delved too far into their culture, as Rromani are much more prevalent these days 😛

      • Oh that’s true about Lincoln! Well, for whatever reason, I think liberating a people is a noble cause.

        Although black people still suffer from prejudice and stereotypes that are also perpetuated by themselves (eg: rap music).

      • Yes, that is one thing I can seem to understand. Why would one, knowing there is prejudice against you, knowingly spread that same prejudice that is already there? But I guess one of my mama’s said it this way, “People used to ask me why I would choose the pipe when there was a belt in the choice, I said, if I’m gonna get beat, I better get BEAT, ain’t no going half way about it. It’s gonna happen, better make it the best he got.” Or something like that, anyway. I think they do that because they realize that there is still racism out there, and people don’t realize this, so they spread their own racism against themselves to help others identify that there is still racism. But I think it bites them in the butt, as it is not too hard to use that against them. That’s all i got, and if that ain’t it, well I just don’t understand it at all then. 😛

  2. Another great article. When I was a child I also loved comic books. My favorite vigilante being catwoman, villain being Mystique from Marvel Comics and superhero Storm. now that I am older I look at some comics differently myself. Such as why does Halle Berry plays storm when the character storm is dark skin, more curvy and tone and is potrayed taller than Halle Berry who is light skin and petite at only 5’5″ but that is another subject all together. Also don’t get why fairytales always potray women as helpless damsels in distress which is also why I also like Wonder Woman who portrays a strong empowering amazon.

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