Las week Mamamia chose to blog about Miley Cyrus twerking, but I know you’ll be surprised to know that they didn’t touch on the racial aspect at all. Or will you be surprised? Maybe you didn’t notice the racial aspect yourself. We’re Australian, right? How can we be expected to know the nuances of USAmerican Feminism’s racism if it’s silent about its racism?
This is a valid question! How CAN we, Australians of an intersectional nature, be expected to know about the nuances of racism in feminism? Uh, by learning it, my friends. By recognising our own and how it’s reflected in our media. By recognising that USAmerican feminism and social justice is an imperfect fit for Australia in so many ways, not least of all because of its racism and its USCentrism.
Betty Mamzelle has written an excellent article on the racial implications of Miley’s twerking, covering all sorts of aspects including expected knowledge, commodification of black bodies, representation and sexuality. Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of her VMA Performance. It is very USA, obviously, and it is an illuminating read in many ways if you are unaware of how racial sexualism and its politics works. And the theories within it are applicable to Australian racial politics!
As Australians I don’t think we need to be experts in the racial politics of other countries; but as Australians heavily influenced by USA media and more importantly heavily influenced by USA social justice blogging and articles, I think it behooves us to understand exactly what it is that we’re consuming. It also behooves us to more critically examine why it is that we are consuming it. (there are three links in that sentence for your further reading)
Remember when the Jackson Jive thing happened on Hey Hey It’s Saturday? A totally racist thing of blackface, for sure, and then dismissed as a USA thing that we couldn’t have known. Aside from the massive prevalence of US narratives in Australia from the period in which blackface was a huge thing, blackface is an Australian thing, too, something Australian history chooses to forget as it picks and chooses and copies from White American Feminism. I recommend reading White Australia has a blackface history by Maxine Clarke at Overland for some backgrounding; it was an important piece to me in 2009 and is still an important piece to me now on this issue.
Look, there is a limit to the USAmerican-ness of our Australian Feminism. Did you know that Australian intersectional commentators (myself included) were also expected to know that Jackson Jive = a shuck and jive reference = intentional reference to shucking and jiving? We were. And how could we? There is only so much USCentrism we can suck down. And this is not new. The Amazing Chally has long been at the forefront (for me) of Australia is not the USA and we don’t need their White Lady Feminism
By the way if you missed #solidarityisforwhitewomen on twitter, well, I’m sorry, I meant to post about it but it just didn’t happen. At some point I’d like to talk about how this applies to Australia and the ways in which it doesn’t, but for now you can read (USA narratives) Why “solidarity” is bullshit at Bitch and Solidarity is for white women (but it doesn’t have to be) by Betty Mamzelle.
- On being black and not existing (2011) by LJ User little_seahorses, on being Indigenous and growing up in a racist country where academics assert they don’t exist.
- Nowhere near good enough (2009) by Chally on the continuing removal of Indigenous children from their families, and how this continuation of the Stolen Generation is Australia’s ongoing racism at work.
- When racism becomes a white person’s issue (2013) by Ruby Hamad on how one step for one is a step for all, but only when that one is a white lady (with reference to USAmerican TV)
- On Femen, action, Mia Freedman, and seeing racism (2013) by Megan Clement-Couzner
- I’ll keep it brief Mia – Australian Blackface (2013) by 1deadlynation on Australian Blackface