#OscarsSoWhite That Even Their Feminism Is Translucent » VSB

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#OscarsSoWhite That Even Their Feminism Is Translucent



So, the Oscars were a thing that happened yesterday. I’ll be honest, I turned it off about 30 minutes after the red carpet fashion show – Neil Patrick Harris joked about how white the audience was and everyone laughed at acknowledging their privilege in a way that was too “yes I’m an asshole but at least I know it” for my taste, so I decided to read Issa Rae’s new book instead.

Not to be too out of touch with the social media zeitgeist, however, I woke up this morning and went online to scan the biggest highlights of the evening. I rolled my eyes at Wes Anderson being rewarded for his Wes Anderson-iness, found myself stirred by the performance of “Glory” while simultaneously amused by Common’s newly minted orchestra conductor rap hands (when are we going to admit that besides John Legend’s hook and bridge, this song is just mediocre? Look up the lyrics and get back to me), and started furiously moisturizing my face when pictures of Lupita came across my screen.

I also read Patricia Arquette’s contribution to social justice and groaned out loud.

Patricia Arquette won Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood – a movie which, as far as I can tell, is about that oft-untold story of growing up as a middle class White male in suburban America – and used her acceptance speech to champion equal pay for women, which elicited a church stomp from the audience. And, for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why Arquette’s statement was being viewed as so groundbreaking.

Equal pay for women is not an unacknowledged issue in America. We have a President who consistently acknowledges the wage gap and signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as one of his first acts of his Presidency. The phrase “Lean In” has been sprayed on social media like confetti for the past two years – to the point that Jessica Williams of The Daily Show was forced to defend her statement that she wasn’t qualified to transition into hosting the show post Jon Stewart’s retirement. And frankly, the reason why the wage gap is still so wide is largely due to the disparities for women of color. Black and Hispanic women get 64 and 56 cents on the dollar respectively – but I guess Ms. Arquette didn’t have time to point that part out.

She did have time to elaborate on her statements after the awards ceremony, however, saying the following:

“It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Put down your #BlackLivesMatter t-shirts everyone! The fights for both Black and LGBTQ civil rights are apparently over and it’s White women’s time to shine.

What is it that she thinks Women of Color do, exactly? I don’t assume that Patricia Arquette has read all things Audre Lorde, but she does realize that there are women who are Black and maybe even queer who fight on several of these fronts? Why does she think that Black women have been getting more and more advanced degrees at a higher rate than our male counterparts? They certainly don’t keep us warm at night.

The biggest rub of all is not just her assumption that intersectionality is a nonexistent thing and POCs don’t fight for feminist issues every day; it’s that in 2015 marginalized minority groups are in any position of power to exact change to help the prestigious Hollywood families of the world negotiate more equitable Sony contracts.

The next time someone asks me why Black Feminism and Intersectionality are distinct groups and efforts in the Women’s Rights Movement, I’m just going to refer them to Patricia Arquette’s words. I was unaware that we owed White women for Civil Rights, much less Patricia Arquette, who I’ve never seen utter the words Trayvon or Michael Brown. I understand that Ms. Arquette may identify as a woman first, but to demand that other marginalized communities stand beside you at the expense of their other struggles that pose just as much of an imposition on their day to day life and ability to progress in society is a level of conceit that is as mindboggling as…well, as making a movie a week every year for twelve years just to say you did it.

Shamira Ibrahim

Shamira is a twentysomething New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her in waxing poetically about chicken, Cam'ron, and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at her semi-monthly blog, shamspam.tumblr.com

  • PunchDrunkLove

    I was not impressed by Patricia’s speech. As with ALL THINGS, until and unless white America s affected by it, it’s just black folks complaining. Yeah, she just crawled from under the rock blacks and black women have been standing on.

  • CrayolaGirl

    *nods nead

  • I’m just going to cosign your whole article because I’m too tired being tired with the privileged/ignorant/entitled to put together a comment that adequately outlines everything that is wrong with her speech and her mentality.

  • Jacqueline

    ..and that is all that needs to be said! Thank you!

  • Well Patricia and the Becky Brigade needs me….so enough of this pro blackness its time for white women problems

    White women almost make as little as black men this must be changed
    Susan B Anthony day should be a holiday since MLK got one
    We must stop white face and the preppy white accent
    The President must pass a Lily Ledbetter Act Pt II ft Loon because white women got him into office
    How dare Selma get a Best Picture nod when apparently it had no good acting, direction or script

    • Agatha Guilluame

      There was so much recrimination in that “it’s your turn to fight for us” line. Like she’s domed us off and we had the audacity to try to roll over and go to sleep.

      • Racism is dead, about 48% of the country allows gay marriage…its time to return to whats important. The plight of Suzy Homemaker

  • Agatha Guilluame

    There’s so much to unpack here.

    When she said that I felt like how you feel when you’re trying to make a point to someone about something important to you but the whole time you’re speaking they have their hand raised. And when you finish up with “and that’s why slavery has had a lasting effect on the American psyche” and you turn to her to finally let her speak she says “but what about the Orca’s?”

    *face palm*

  • Dumb question time: is that 64 and 56 cents relative to White men or White women? If it’s for the latter, it’s definitely a call for intersectionality talk. It’s easier to go to school to get a better job when your pops has a job instead of working for scraps because of racism or a drug charge.

    Still, I’m with it. These White women are pretty much at parity with their White man brethen, yet they’re talmbout how they’re oppressed. Um, no you ain’t, particularly if you’re straight. Not that there aren’t issues women don’t deal with (Hello r@pe!) but there are other battles out there they could help with.

    • You know, I was actually kind of transfixed about the whole moment, then I remembered reading Edward Jay Epstein’s book and his talk about how these Award shows only serve two purpose a. Market celebrities, directors, producers etc and b. Continue to provide the illusion that Hollywood cares about movie making, when all the money and business is in the licensing of films and DVDs to other corporations.

      Patricia comments were self serving, because the entire structure of the award show is based off self-selling and an escape from reality.

      • Shouts to you mentioning Edward Jay Epstein. So clutch about that movie life. That DVD business and Netflix is what pays the bills so often. That’s why a film can lose money in the box office, yet be so profitable.

        • Hollywood, like Wall Street, Academia, Politics, Journalism and all of the remaining major American institutions all are symbols of the disease that infects American culture: Perception Overload.

          The guy who founded Maxim, was talking about how he once came to America to build up a company which went public, he was shocked to find the moment it went public that no one in the company, including the stockholders, shareholders, even the employees care about actually making profit, all they cared about was the perception they would be profitable in the future. He sold out his shares as soon as he could and ran back to England to the comfort of his privately-owned company!

          It’s kind of the long term consequences of postmodernism and how it’s been absorbed throughout a society which takes as an absolute truth that perception is the barometer of what is real or fake, eventually what occurs is that reality becomes so inaccessible that it affects the people who play a major part in it’s manufacturing, which is where Ms. Arquette comes in: she’s so far removed from reality, that she cannot see that white women, make up the largest number of political voters in the U.S, and unlike white men, they are not perceived to be the oppressors-in-charge. If anything, no other group gained more from the Civil Rights movement than white women.

          • Freebird

            you go hard against post-modernism. you are right.

            • Well, it’s kind of hard not too, when you realize that postmodernism is nothing more than modern-day sophistry. Only a spoiled nation that is no longer interested in doing the hard work needed to grow and build itself can tolerate it.

              And yet our politics and everything else is driven by it: liberals are the manifestation of postmodernism, conservatives are the manifestation of the reaction to postmodernism: traditionalism. Truth is no where to be found either way, and isn’t worth pursuing, unless you worship the past, where times were simpler.

  • Freebird

    – My mother is 72. Patricia’s grandma had the right to vote at least 20 years before my mother AND father were even born. It would take another 20 years before they could vote ….only 3 years before Patricia herself was born with the privilege secured. Just an FYI.

    – Her a ss was showing when she said: “We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.”

    – I wonder…. with my male privy….if I stand to make more money that Patricia or her daughter…or her daughter’s daughter?

    – I can only stand to listen to women of color/poor women talk to me about inequality. Anyone else I side eye, especially wealthy white women with a long family history in show business that dates back 100 years. I always feel like wealthy white women are complaining to me about things they should be taking up with their fathers and brothers.

    – Well done Shamira. Great read and very thoughtful.

    • Agatha Guilluame

      YO! Brava n shyt. She brought it to our doorstep when it’s really an in-house problem.

      And I just want to say…that the Civil Rights Movement and the consequent laws enacted were NOT for black people only. All races, minorities, genders, sexes, etc. benefitted. So ma’am we already helped YEW. Get off my neck.

      • Freebird

        “that the Civil Rights Movement and the consequent laws enacted were NOT for black people only. ”

        folks like to forget this….like we aint did nothing for folks but sing spirituals and produce kanye.

        • Rachmo

          Okay? Acting like we all wouldn’t be in the same boat. Tuh I say.

          • Freebird

            “N@#$%^ Please”
            – Ol’ Dirty

      • Rachmo

        Okay so this is one of my biggest pet peeves when I talk to other minorities about racism and they make the issue a “Black thing.” Like these issues are only a “Black thing.” But wayment back in the day when no minorities could do anything ya’ll got progress off the strength of Black civil rights leaders but EYE AM SLEEP!.

        • Hello 1965 Immigration Act! A lot of people talking smack wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that, and the Civil Rights Movement made it happen.

          • Rachmo

            LISSEN my pressure is going up and I can’t even get into this without freaking out.

  • Rachmo

    I too was unaware that I as a Black woman could focus on only one fight at at a time. There are so many levels of wrong that I’m overwhelmed.

  • Agatha Guilluame


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