Today's Brown Bag was a part of SORT's Africana Women's Week and was on the hypersexualization of women of color. The brown bag was led by a panel of different women on campus, all from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Each of them had a short presentation of their specific racial/ethnic identities sexual role in the media.
I appreciate that this this brown bag was purposely titled for all women of all colors because too often we see things as black and white when there are so many areas of grey (or in this case maybe brown?) in between. One of the women on the panel is Indian. She admitted to being very naive about the sexualized image of Indian women, even saying that she had no idea what Kama Sutra was or that it had anything to do with India.
There were some very good discussion points raised in both the presentation and in the comments afterwards. Several of the presenters mentioned that while there are many actresses in Hollywood of Hispanic descent, only a select few get to play Hispanic women. Many of them either look "too white" or "too black" to believable as Latinas in films. Cameron Diaz and Christina Milian are two actresses who respectively represent those two extremes. Catherine Zeta Jones, however, is often portrayed as a Hispanic character when she has no Hispanic origin.
The main issue, I think, is truly one of color. White women in the media are always allowed to be dynamic and multi-faceted sexually, while women of color are rarely portrayed as such. They are too often static and one dimensional.The conversation, inevitably, led back to a discussion of sexuality and control in our patriarchal society. We talked about women portrayed as sexual objects in music videos and if that really is degrading. On one hand, there are many artists who treat the women in their songs and their music videos as nothing more than an sex object. On the other hand, these women made choices to be in these videos. They took control over their sexuality in a way that I never could. I think there's a huge level of respect that these women deserve for being willing to put their reputations on the line in a society that never does seem to look too kindly on girls in music videos...
- Renyelle Jimenez