She Ain’t My Wonder Woman: The Problematics of White Feminism and Film

Hey Speakerz! Another Monday, with more material. Most recently, there’s been tons of buzz around the DC comic turned film “Wonder Woman“. The film is the first in history to feature a woman superhero as a lead role and while some have fallen madly in love with the idea of a sword wielding woman taking no stuff, others have felt once again left out of the narrative. Why? Well because Wonder Woman in her fullness has always been a white feminist ideal, even from her inception. So before we delve in, let’s take off our hats of fragility, look at the facts and remember that equality should not come one gender, race, or social construct at a time. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Where did Wonder Woman begin and how? Her first appearance was in DC All Star Comics #8 in October of 1941. She was created by two white men by the names of William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. The character modeled after the women suffragists of the turn of the century, namely Margaret Sanger, a white woman who like her peers fought for birth control, the sterilization of black women and refused to see past any other fight than that of white womanhood. Don’t believe me? Ask google. It’s factual. Since her inception, Wonder Woman has been given a more muscular look by yet another male artist, George Perez and declared bi-sexual in an effort to give her a broader span of audience.

Wonder Woman, or Diana Prince, as is her civilian name is an Amazon Princess from Themyscira located on mystical and magical Paradis Island. I’m gonna take a guess and if they call themselves Amazons, then they’re located deep in the Amazon Rainforest which is in South America which has the largest population of Black and Brown people outside of the continent of Africa due to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, but I suppose that in the world of Comics that’s not so.

The thing that makes me question the most isn’t the factual evidence of Wonder Woman as a problematic source. What makes the question is the reaction to her. Are women, specifically white women,  so hungry for representation that they’ll take anything thrown in their way? This leads me back to a post I made a while ago about Nate Parker’s “Birth of a Nation” and the support given to him despite the fact of the one dimensional rape narrative that he presented in more ways that just the film. Being desperate brings about a terrible reality. We will accept anything presented even at the expense of someone else’s humanity. She ain’t my wonder woman because I don’t see any of myself reflected in her but also because she represents everything oppressive that I as a young, black, queer, lower middle class woman has ever known. Even if she isn’t oppressive to you, the fact that I am oppressed and expressing that reality should make a person think twice. If not…why? Why do you not question? Why do you not stand with me in my hurt, even though you will never understand?

Overwhelmingly, the film industry is still run by the rich, white and male. I could say many things about this, but let’s focus on the reality that the male gaze is still in complete control. So no. The film will not feature a complete adherence to all annihilation of privilege. It will have the male gaze because it is still engineered by and for the male gaze even in it’s seeming progressiveness.  What does it look like to completely band with fellow frustrated sisters? It is as though we are all still attempting to get into the “club” that wasn’t made for us in the first place. The “club” exists because someone is on the inside and the outside. It wouldn’t be the “club” if everyone was accepted. What poison do you wish to consume?

I shouldn’t have to convince you of my worth, even if I am well aware of my own self worth in this world. It isn’t this hard. Embrace all of our humanity. Embrace ALL of the Wonder of Women, not just those engineered to satisfy.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

For Sea & Sky. For Time Flies By: On the different ways of finding connection and the importance of grounding

Hey Speakerz! Yet another Monday brings with it another post and another look into topics and life lessons. Today’s topic came about mostly because of the 1991 film, Daughters of the Dust written, produced and directed by Julie Dash as well as so many other experiences. So often this week, I found myself questioning the reality in connection, a moment in time. I also found myself breathing into nature and realizing just how important earth and sea are to my very existence.

Just how many ways are there to connect with other human beings? I found myself asking this question so often and this week received SO many answers. I find that in this society where “connection” is often equated to sex in advertising and everyday life, I’m bored. I want more. So I find myself deep in conversations or just eye gazing, creating new work of art and lots of touch with consent and while this may seem strange, it says just as much but requires a different sensitivity. How often do we actually take the time to truly see another human being? I don’t mean just the beautiful parts, I mean the whole person, warts and all.

Connecting on a deeper level is more than just superficial wonderings and ideals. I often think that people fall deeply in love with the idea of a person and not the actual person. We are so bombarded with ideals of who people are, and so often, I watch people place expectations on others that are of those ideals and then are sorely hurt when that person doesn’t live up to what they wanted them to desperately be. But why did we need to make ideals in the first place? Why weren’t we allowed to see everyone as they are from the beginning? Where did these expecations come from in the first place and why were they seemingly necessary?

How is it possible to not second guess? When you’ve found a deep connection, how can we move aside our ego and simply be so present and not over-think and fill the future moments with wonderings of self and season? How much does self love play a part in staying present? Have you ever stared deeply into someone’s eyes and seen their deepest soul in all of its wholeness and somehow there you also see yourself? As scary as it is, it’s invigorating and incredibly awakening. I’ve always loved looking in someones’ eyes, eye gazing as it’s called, but recently I had an experience that left me unsettled in many ways. It left me deconstructing my own sense of self and maybe that’s selfish but maybe it’s also the self love journey in itself.

I’ve always had this deep fear of dark blue water. Strange, considering that I learned to swim at a very early age and would’ve lived in pools and ocean water if my mother had let me, but nonetheless true. I’ve always had this reality or inner knowing that there would come a day when I would walk into the ocean and never walk out. In the film “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash, the setting is the early 1900s on the South Carolina gullah coast of Igbo’s Landing, the site of a time in history when, enslaved Igbo people arrived to that very island and rather than be enslaved, they turned and walked chained into the ocean in mass suicide. I don’t know if maybe that’s me remembering a past life or just an inner knowing of my own, but that story has always lived in my body.

This week, I spent a good amount of time in the ocean. I live about a 20 minute walk from the beach, and the water has always been home to me. But also, parks and greenery. I feel the difference in my sense of self when I surround myself with the world of nature. Although I can appreciate the beauty in social interactions, how often is it that I need the balance of personage and nature dwelling, solitude and aloneness? Most recently, I’ve been called to collect crystals and stones. They all require some sort of charging to cleanse and then incorporate my own personal vibration. Some I’ve cleansed in the ocean with me, some I’ve put lavender oil on and cleansed in the grass to soak up some sun. All of it, goes back to grounding and restoration of that sense of self that I so treasure.

To treasure, sweetness, and more realization,

 

Damali Speaks Xx

 

Hello, Goodbye, Is it a Forever Thing?: Meditations on Human Existence & Saying Farewell

Hey Speakerz! So this week, I was surrounded indirectly with a lot of death. I personally am not as much scared of death as intrigued by it. When I scrolled through the news, there was so much of what seemed to be death and despair, but what I was most drawn to was the fact of human frailty. Today’s topic is on the human existence, death and rebirth.

From the time human beings are born, we’re forced to say both hello and goodbye to so many things in our lives. We say hello to our immediate family members when we’re born and then goodbye when they pass on. We say hello to our friends and as we grow and change, sometimes we leave them behind and move forward and new people come into our lives and stay or go. Every day, we wake up and say hello to a new day and the new possibilities that it brings in its wake. You’d think that we would’ve perfected the art of death and rebirth already. But maybe the question is, how does humanity embrace death and rebirth instead of perfecting it?

We live in a world that strives for perfection, yet human beings are undeniably flawed and that’s what’s so beautiful about us. We make mistakes. We breathe, we reason, we find meaning in each season. Yes, I know, I rhymed purposefully. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with striving for the best that there is. That’s realistic. It leads me to question how it is that we set goals and then set out to achieve them. How is being intentional with all that you do important in creating balance?

I always set “impossible goals” for myself. This summers’ impossible goal is a short film and believe it or not, it’s actually unfolding, mostly through sheer will and determination. My point is that what seems to be an “impossible goal” can actually be very possible. It’s the challenge that matters. The striving toward and not the completion of a job perfectly done. Why is it that we strive toward the end result? It isn’t just the “hello” and “goodbye” that matter as much as the life in between.

With the end of friendships and relationships, come lessons. When people walk out of my life, it’s generally through no ones’ fault, but just that it’s time to move on. It’s the journey that matters more than anything. When I watch a film, I don’t want to watch just the begging and the end, I want to see the arch. 

I went to Barnes & Nobles the other day and saw so many books on getting through missing a person. I thought it was strange and so I set about the dig for what it all meant. Then, I sat down to speak with a friend and they talked about how hard it is to end things or to let someone go. Does it all come back to self worth? Do I have to love myself enough to choose me every time? How much growth is in each goodbye? Literal death forces us to let go and begin a grieving process, but what about the walk away? How do we handle each goodbye no matter how or when with grace and acceptance?

I never did resonate with “Goodbye” but instead leaned toward “Farewell”, the idea that though our journey together ends here, I hope that on your journey as it continues, you fare well with home in yourself, completeness, and a self worthy of all that you are. 

Farewell until next time,

Damali Speaks Xx

 

Power, Pleasure & Patriarchy: Meditations on the Power in Silence & Speaking

My Dearest Speakerz! Another week has gone by and with it incredible changes and challenges in life’s ever revolving wheel. This week, among so many other things, I began to think most intensely on what it is to be a free spirit and just how essential it is to constantly and consistently deconstruct the programming of what we’re taught to reach the expansiveness of self. Let’s dive in!

I’ve always been a listener. I don’t prefer to talk on the phone much and if I answer the phone for you or pick it up to call you, count yourself lucky. I much prefer silence and reading much more than just what a person says with words.  When I listen, I try to do so with my whole self. How often do we listen to others? How much do we take in information from the words they say, to the language that their bodies speak, to the stories that their aura’s tell, etc. Once we take in their story, just how do we love them? Maybe the real question is, how do we listen to and love ourselves on the many levels that there are and love so deep that we see that self mirrored in others?

Most recently, I’ve had many conversations with beautiful, intellectual, strong men and in most of the conversations, I’ve shut up and just listened and let people show and tell me who they are. They’ve been incredibly breathtaking, heart-warming, soul-clenching experiences and yet within these conversations has been much patriarchy present. I hate to admit it, but I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t.

Patriarchy:

a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.
  • a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
  • a society or community organized on patriarchal lines.

Where men hold power most simply in a conversation is that their voices are louder, their rib cages wider, their diaphragms more power- filled. They can speak over everyone so that they are heard with almost no strain on their vocal chords. This oftentimes leads to silencing for women. Processing active silencing is something that has been with me since college and before to my early days of living. Having a loud and deeper toned voice allowed me to burst through many a space, but still, what hurt lives in my diaphragm from having to exert that extra push?

As a woman, and more specifically as a black queer woman, I face so much of the patriarchy on a very regular level. I’m only recently learning, with a phase of being more attracted to men than women at the moment, how to really love, admire and uplift men, specifically men of color, through the patriarchy. With this, has come less of a need to fight and stand up for myself immediately with my vocal chords. I realize that my actions say so much and so I’ve learned to truly listen deeper than I ever have before. Many times, listening is perceived as submission, but really it can be a place of firm strength. Within my silence is great power. There’s mystery that you can only uncover with my permission. Learning to build rather than to just take over is something that I’ve learned is hard for men dealing with issues of patriarchy. There’s so much to unpack and unlearn dealing with masculinity (hyper/hypo) that it affects the very core of who we are as human beings in learning how to build.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to dance in various styles and spaces. While dancing, I was constantly told by men, “Let me lead!” And I thought, whoops, did I just take over? Then I questioned further. Shouldn’t the dance of life be a constant give and take? Why can’t I lead when I know the way? When the music moves me, shouldn’t I move? What is it to follow not from submission, but from assuredness? If gendered norms did not exist, would this moment?

I’ve spoken about this before, but both of my sexual assaults were perpetrated by black men that I trusted. So many black women that I share space with have similar stories. I truly believe that the only people that should speak about the experiences of black women being sexually abused, should be black women. Now hold on, I don’t mean that only black women should acknowledge the presence that sexual assault plays in the black community. I mean that the experience of being assaulted, molested, etc. that is distinctly hers, should be able to spring from her mouth without fear of retribution. We should be free to tell our stories as we wish. At the same time, there shouldn’t be an expectation that I have to share. Some women want the mic and they should be allowed to have it. Some women don’t and they shouldn’t feel shamed for that.  Everyone else, shut the hell up. It’s not your experience. Black womens’ wombs belong to them and not to you. We have been policed for far too long. Our sexual autonomy is our own. How to help? Active listening and unlearning of the patriarchy.  How do we allow women the space to heal and men the space to process? How do we process love?

When it comes to pleasure, what are the ways in which men and women assert themselves without permission? In my world, consent is key. There is nothing sexier than asking me if you can kiss me or touch me in certain places. How have we programmed men to take what they want without regard? In what ways have we programmed young women to hate sex when in reality, sex is a big part of who we are and should be embraced in whatever form be it heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous, asexual, etc. Something that I find isn’t often spoken about are ” Emotional Triggers”.

Emotional Trigger:

An Emotional Trigger is a response to a. person, situation, event, dialogue, reading, film, or other content providing entity, that. provokes a strong emotional reaction. Often. we are not self aware when we are triggered, and fall into reacting prior to sifting through. our strong emotional response.

With this understanding of what is is to be “triggered” in a moment comes with it a freedom. We can move past and through our triggers when we understand what they are, how they affect us and that we are not victims to the system. We human beings make up the system and it’s time for listening, shifts in power and pleasure and much more love.

So here’s to pleasure, a firm grasp on power dynamics and well, self love.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx