Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Who gave Jim Sensenbrenner the idea that it was okay to comment on Michelle Obama’s ass? Oh, wait, I know, patriarchy.

http://swampland.time.com/2011/12/22/rep-sensenbrenner-says-michelle-obama-has-a-big-butt-really/

I’m not going to take the blame away from Jim Sensenbrenner, he’s being an ass himself, but the system of patriarchy allows this behavior. Aren’t I stretching this issue a little? I don’t think so.

Women and our bodies have been objectified in a way that makes them free for comment by the world, and why not a racist Republican senator. Now, Jimbo may not have been aware he was being racist or sexist. He may have thought he was just making fun of her because she is fighting childhood obesity, but intent is different than impact. Sorry big-guy.

So, you can get on board with it being sexist, but racist? Under patriarchy, it’s all related.

It’s a stereotype that African American women have large butts. White people started stereotyping Black people long ago to keep their power and control over Black people.

Back in the day, when Eurpoeans went to Africa, saw women in less clothing than they were accustomed to in their own culture, they used what they saw as evidence for their rationalizations to enslave Africans. African women were seen as lusty, horny, creatures and those stereotypes of big butts and breasts were used to sexualize African women and promote the idea that African women wanted to have sex and be raped. But rape wasn’t seen as something that could be done to a slave because slaves were property.

Check out the following article on the horrors of slavery for African women and the formation of the sexual Jezebel woman:

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/jezebel/

In case you didn’t check out the article, I’m going to quote and paraphrase some of it.                                   “The portrayal of Black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype.”

This inclination toward lustfulness is a stereotype still perpetrated today and pumping up the belief that all black women have large butts and breasts sexualizes black women even more. The comments about Michelle Obama’s butt are just that- racist sexualization of women.

“Historically, White women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty – even sexual purity, but Black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory.”

“The belief that Blacks are sexually lewd predates the institution of slavery in America. European travelers to Africa found scantily clad natives. This semi nudity was misinterpreted as lustfulness. White Europeans, locked into the racial ethnocentrism of the 17th century, saw African polygamy and tribal dances as proof of the African’s uncontrolled sexual lust.”

The sexualized African woman who was lusty and horny was used during slavery as a rationalization for sexual relations between White men and Black women, especially sexual unions involving slavers and slaves. African women were depicted as having insatiable appetites for sex and as not being satisfied with Black men. It was claimed that slavery-era African women desired sexual relations with White men; therefore, White men did not have to rape them.

“A slave who refused the sexual advances of her slaver risked being sold, beaten, raped, and having her “husband” or children sold. Many slave women conceded to sexual relations with Whites, thereby reinforcing the belief that Black women were lustful and available.”

When Africans were put on the auction block to be sold as slaves, they were often stripped naked. For women, this added to the contrast between the clothed virtuous white women and the promiscuous Africans. How degrading! And objectifying! And dehumanizing! Plus, it allowed for any poking or prodding, which for women and men was sexual assault (even if they weren’t physically touched).
So Jim Sensenbrenner is not only being inappropriate when he is commenting on Obama’s “posterior,” but he is being sexist and racist as well. He has put Michelle Obama up on the auction block and begun commenting with his buddies on her butt. She should be commended for what she is doing with childhood obesity and respected for her work as the First Lady.
Women’s bodies are often subjects of scrutiny or examination because we are women and the patricarchal system has encouraged that. It also encourages the structure of some people having power over other people and traditionally that has been men over women and white people over people of color.
So stop with the racist and sexist remarks. No- just stop with the racism and sexism!
P.S.- Jim, an apology really isn’t enough. Get some education about your privilege!
Advertisements