#OscarsSoWhite That Even Their Feminism Is Translucent » VSB

Featured, Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

#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

  • Agatha Guilluame

    Reposted because I always forget you can’t say chex on this damn site but you can say fuck.

    ALSO, the most important point of all is that since Sham wrote this post, that means Meridian won’t comment. Ya know, to spite Sham. So I say while the witch is away let’s play. What do y’all wanna talk about? Chex? A VSB chatroom? Dating? The game last night?

    • Rachmo

      As usual, ain’t shyt. Don’t change

    • Hey, I got something vaguely related, and it relates to the O-man’s new gig interviewing Men’s Rights types. I’ll just quote him interviewing RooshV, one of the name-brand pick-up artists, because it’s interesting:

      Q: You’ve also said some pretty pointed things about Feminism, in particular, a
      widely read article you wrote sometime back where you made the case
      that feminists in general were unattractive that garnered a great deal
      of attention and controversy; for the record, could you just briefly
      layout your position on Feminism, what your chief problem with it is,
      and what you see as its effect and impact on society?

      R: Feminism is an ideology that wants to remove all
      accountability and responsibility of women for their actions, no matter
      how immoral, reprehensible, or damaging to society. A feminist society
      is one where nothing a woman does is wrong. This is being proven with
      the latest push to eliminate imprisonment of women for any crime, a viewpoint that was recently pushed by the Washington Post.

      Some bugged out ish. What do you think?

      • I think I might be over handwringing about what people who do not consider themselves proponents of feminism say about Feminism. If feminism was any one thing, then Sham wouldn’t have written this article. As it is, feminists do not even agree what all belongs under the umbrella. And since feminism is a human ideology, it’s not perfect; it can’t be. So there is absolutely the possibility for lack of accountability. I think a “feminist society” is not an ideal. But maybe a society with feminist ideals.

        But what do I know? I just might be a womanist, anyway.

        • Agreed. Anytime I see someone say “Feminism is” and doesn’t follow it up with the most milquetoast statement possible, I give that messenger a major side-eye. That said, there seems to be a wackadoodle movement using the feminist name to say some crazy stuff. It’s like those armed-robber types who were calling themselves Panthers in the 70s.

          In addition, there are people within the broad manosphere circle who use the term feminism to mean “f*cked up ish that more than three women co-signed”. Empowerment isn’t the same as wisdom, and neither of those two necessarily means a movement.

          • I’ve been ID’d as feminist by people who hate feminists. I’m okay with that. One thing I believe they often overlook is that a lot of feminists recognize “traditional” tendencies that harm men: i.e. constriction of manhood, reduction to All Men = promiscuous, ignoring male r@pe, DV, and sexual assault, etc etc.

            I’d much rather agree with individual tenets than wholesale commit to a “movement.” I find that when you parse out ideas with people as opposed to arguing the ideological brand, you get a lot farther.

            Roosh can say all feminists are unattractive women. Cool. “Ugly” women still get wifed. His type of statement does not bear weight unless all men agree to never partner with any self-ID’d feminist. so yawn.

            • I also find his stance interesting in light of his various blogs about how he deals with women. He’s said crazy stuff like he feels like how he has to constantly perform for women to get laid or how they don’t have anything interesting to say to him. My question is that if he doesn’t like women that much, why does he build a business around them? Dude is making decent bank off of chasing women, but he thinks after racking up a few hundred chicks that they’re just going to turn on him in a minute.

              Now dude is a scientist by trade who stumbled onto the game and made some paper. I’m more curious about what he did before he blew up. There’s a Hollywood movie there if anyone is willing to dig.

              • That’s no mystery: plenty of men want chex, but hate women. It’s a terrible position to be in. lol

      • Both of those guys are talking about feminism in the context of the blogosphere or specifically what is referred to as the manosphere, which I’m sure you already know. Their exposure to what is or isn’t feminism is mostly based on social media confrontation. They mostly deal with feminism from a practical standpoint, mostly with people who have an emotional attachment to it, but who are usually lacking in terms of their ability to understand it.

        The driving force of feminism is in the actual theory of it, which is far less interesting, but much more of a solid foundation for understanding it and in which direction it necessarily leads. The reason why feminism has no solid meaning to ground it down to reality, has to do with the thing that doesn’t go away which is “postmodernism”, basically since there is no such thing as absolute truth, there is no such thing as an absolute definition or identity of an ideology, thus feminism shifts based on your perception of it: feminism to a minority, is different than feminism to a majority, and the divisions continue from there based on your class, religion, ethnicity, nationality, politics etc. The only thing that remains is that it exists to criticize whatever the status quo is “perceived” to be.

        • Well written. The problem is that online discussions of feminism (pro AND con) only have a tangential relationship to actual gender studies. There are a lot of different philosophical takes, from the Frankfurt School to the Marxist theorist to post-modernist like Foucault even to classical liberal types like Sarte. Even if you don’t agree, at least they’re interesting to read. These people online haven’t read anything serious about feminism except that it’s a useful bludgeon for their feelings, both pro and con.

          I had a convo about my eldest niece about how she’s a warrior for social justice and fighting for the rights of women. I just asked her if she had heard of Audre Lorde. I mind as well have asked her about Jesus Christ Our Lord. Suffice to say she got a nice copy of Sister Outisder from Amazon on her doorstep the next day. And it goes to show that feminist knowledge isn’t common among the people repping it.

          • Good point.

            Another thing I’ll add is this: postmodernim, is pretty much the philosophical version of a first world problem: “Since we’re the only superpower and we dominate the world, we don’t need to invest our minds in building our culture or society up (for what purpose), but rather in tearing it down and exposing all it’s hypocrisies and contradictions.” Which works yes, but it doesn’t help when you have nothing to replace it with and think that such answers will just take care of itself.

            People who are at war, do not have time to read, they are too busy fighting, and the stakes are too high,to see their enemies as human beings who think and may see something that they did not see, which would bring them closer to the truth. Such people as you said don’t read, or only read what their leaders tell them to read, since it’s only the leaders in such situations who have any idea where anything is going. I mean who has time to read all those books that capture the French and German’s never-ending intellectual love for contradictions and paradoxes between consciousness and reality, when your enemies are sending you death threats on twitter?

            • I am curious as to what the end game is. It seems to me that a lot of people are projecting their psychsocial dramas onto the world at large with the hope that shutting up someone online is revenge for their horrible parents.

              • I think there is no end game.

                It’s a symbiotic relationship.

                “You hate: I find meaning and vice versa.” The worse thing that can happen is that the other person actually does shut up.

                People who replace their emotion or feelings for the pursuit of truth, need strong emotions to make them feel like they are achieving or working towards something, even if that thing doesn’t really exist. What’s more likely to spark those emotions than a “big other” who controls them and prevents them from being who they want to be?

                And no, not even the world of empirical data is exempt from this either. There’s a ton of “data quoting” and reference to expert research that makes up all that beef too, unfortunately most of these people have not read “How to Lie with Statistics” or are ignorant of the fact, that especially in the realm of social sciences, numbers are weapons, not objective facts of reality. But hey, who cares about reality, when all you want is ammunition.

            • Wild Cougar

              Postmodernism. Interesting. That sounds like what I’ve called these young folks new religion: non-judgmentalism. The belief that the only immoral act is judging an act as immoral. I try to tell them that means they don’t actually believe anything but they don’t wanna hear it.

        • esa

          where do we go after Postmodernism tho ? i ask as there is a natural arc to these things. Modernism gave birth to Postmodernism, and just as the Renaissance paved the way to the Baroque. naturally something will supplant Postmodernism tho, something either incredibly Rococo or NeoClassical.

          ultimately, that may be a question for the Academy, since they drive the discourse and filter the lens of contemporary thought. but i was curious to know if you have any insights on where this Postmodernist philosophy is leading us ..

          • Freebird

            “naturally something will supplant Postmodernism tho, something either incredibly Rococo or NeoClassical.”

            maybe art deco

          • If there is no absolute truth, the answer is nowhere.

            What has driven philosophy and all it’s other subcategories from the humanities, science, humanities, law etc not only in the west, but also in the east and everywhere else, is the identification of what is absolutely true. That is at the root of every debate and argument, that has caused people to think and see the world anew, it has also led to wars when argumentation was no longer a preferred method of solving conflicts of idea. Yet, In postmodernism, everything is about politics, and since politics is only about power and it’s distribution, reality becomes a war game.

            So, some people might come up with a new philosophical outlook: there’s already a post-postmodernism, but in essence it’s still the exact same thing. It’s a downward trend that is rooted in a nation in decline intellectually. The Greeks had the sophists, we have the postmodernists, they are all the same, this is just a matter of remixes, there’s nothing really new here.

      • There’s an article about MRA-types in this month’s GQ…bruh.

        • MRA is the movement for this year. I’m not sure what that’s about, but it seems to be blowing up something serious. I will say that it’s capturing the zeitgeist for good or ill. Hate or not, no one is making up those page views, and it’s something outside of what we know of today.

          • It’s akin to nut job conservatism. Someone is listening, watching, or reading it for better or worse.

            • I’m not quite ready to brush it off so easily, particularly since it doesn’t really jibe with standard right-wing stuff. I think a lot of social trends involving men, particularly Millenial men and working-class types, have come to a head. Plus I think there’s a realization that no one really figured out what to do with the guys now that women are getting more opportunities. It’ll get sorted out eventually, but in the meanwhile, it’s great entertainment.

              • Yeah, they are different. I was linking the two in the way that people scoff at the existence or ideas of the movements but can’t explain the consumption of the ideologies. Both groups seem to be composed of dudes who have trouble adapting to change.

                • Eh…I can see what you mean with that last sentence. I will say that social change is causing more drama for those in the MRA movement than your typical right-winger. Sharing power and giving up a bit of your 6 figure bank account is less painful than being stuck in your mama’s basement working a crummy job playing video games all day because XBox was your only friend while your mama was drunk all day. The social networks linking up dudes are more frayed than before, and no one is quite sure how to replace them. The MRAs are G-ing off on that.

                  • I’ll concede that point. Lindsay Graham has half-jokingly said the right is running out of angry white guys but the MRA’s keep restocking their numbers.

                  • Epsilonicus

                    Talk a little about the lack of people of color too. Thoughts on why Black men haven’t grown too attached to the movement in larger droves?

                    • There’s a subtle but strong attachment to the Right within MRA circles broadly construed. There’s also a bit of the same issues that happen within White feminism with focusing on elite causes, like father’s rights and divorce reform. I’m not sure POC are against is as much as there isn’t anything FOR them.

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      “Thoughts on why Black men haven’t grown too attached to the movement in larger droves?”

                      The MRA movement is largely a pity and jealously fest. If you check out many of the message boards associated with those sites common themes of misogyny and bigotry always surface.

                      Not to say that some of the issues aren’t real. But as i once told uncle O, issues with the changing dynamics of male/ female relations as well as tackling unfair practices against men deserve better than the current incarnation of MRA’s and its PUA cousin.

                    • Nicholas Peters

                      A lot of MRA’s are recaist because the only thing they can look at in the mirror and like about their life is that they are white

                    • The question is why does this concept develop more respectable representatives. There is a clear opportunity. I’m restraining my cynicism because perhaps it isn’t clear how bad it actually is. Hmmm…

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      “The question is why does this concept develop more respectable representatives”

                      People get behind wrong headed/ ultimately inadequate solutions to real problems all of the time. Republicanism anyone? lol

                    • But there’s still a Democratic Party, Libertarians, Greens, etc., compared to the Republicans. That there’s some obvious issues out there and no one has bothered to pay lip service is interesting indeed.

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      No one’s paid any lip service?(other then the PUA’s and MRA’s, i assume) Not totally sure i agree. I think these wheels are just squeaking the loudest. I know of at least one dating advice guy who has a more nuanced view. 3 if i include a couple of smart brothas.

              • Wild Cougar

                If I’m being honest in a non-snarky way, I’d have to say that I’m perplexed at a lot of men’s inability to simply adapt. It’s as if their personhood is dependent on their superior position with regard to women. Like, they can’t find a place to stand if its not on the head of women. Just look down at your feet and put them on the ground for Chrissake. It’s not that hard. Time is moving along and men are getting left behind thrashing about refusing to forge an independent identity. What’s wrong with them? I really want to know.

                • There are two things going on. One is that not a lot of people are sure what’s going on. Two is that societal structures tend to involve moving parts, some of which include women. Pretending that it’s easy for anyone to adapt to change is a touch daft.

                  • TheOtherJerome

                    I up voted everything except for this part

                    “Pretending that it’s easy for anyone to adapt to change is a touch daft.”

                    Not sure if it’s “daft” when there may not be a consensus on what the problem actually is.

                • TheOtherJerome

                  ” I’d have to say that I’m perplexed at a lot of men’s inability to simply adapt.”

                  Easier said then done. Adapt how? Humans are basically higher evolved animals. Whats the blueprint? Where’s the example? Usually such adaptations involve an actual dying out.

                  And adapt, what? Have we truly defined the problem? For example, i think Todd and i may have a slightly different take on what the problem actually is.

        • Val

          So, it looks like good news about S.C. State and possible bad news about North Carolina Central.


          • There were rumblings of this deal since Friday but I had no idea about NC Central.

            • Val

              In NC it’s the Republicans again trying to shut down a division of NCCU.


              • Wow, that’s not shocking considering the basis of the program they want to shut down.

                • Val

                  True. They’re trying to shut down voter’s rights all over the country.

                  • According to them voter fraud is widespread but they can’t prove it. If I remember correctly Colin Powell called NC Republicans on that specifically.

            • I was reading a bit about SCSU’s drama. Say what you will about the Republican Party, but the administration there sucks big time. How do you misplace $50 million for capital expenses with nothing to show for it? Even if the school is underfunded, I’m not sure if you could fund the place in good faith. If they can’t handle what’s been given to them, why would you throw good money after bad?

              • If you look back to our initial conversations last week you can see that I’m not letting anyone off the hook here. There is a leadership problem for sure.

  • Val

    If she was really pro-women and not simply pro-White women she would have called out the Academy for not nominating Ava Duvernay in the Best Director category.

    Also, her statement after the awards show made it seem as though White women were the default women and all the rest of us are afterthoughts. Which is probably the case in her mind.

    Great post , Shamira.

    • RagingNatural

      “…her statement after the awards show made it seem as though White women were the default women and all the rest of us are afterthoughts. Which is probably the case in her mind.”

      My thoughts exactly. Her speech basically insinuates that feminism is for hetero white women.

      • Jaleela

        Where did she imply “White women”? Women does not automatically mean “White women”

    • “…Academy for not nominating Ava Duvernay in the Best Director category.”

      Plenty folk didn’t think Ava deserved the nom.

      • Val

        Welp, if the film is nominated in the Best Film category, I ask, how’d that happen? The director usually gets credit for making that happen, except in Ava’s case. Please explain.

        • AlwaysCC

          did all the films in the best film category have a nomination in the best director category? i’ve never noticed a correlation and i don’t feel like googling lol

          • Val

            Well, last night Birdman won for Best Film and its directer won for Best Directer. From what I remember most of the time when a film gets a Best Film nomination its directer gets a Best Directer nod. Not sure of the percentages.

          • niksmit

            No, they now allow more nominations for best picture than best director, so it doesn’t match up anymore. I think I also read that best picture is considered the producer’s award.

            • AlwaysCC

              i thought i’d heard/seen something about it being more aligned with the producer, but i wasn’t sure. i’ve stayed out of the whole snub discussion because i don’t really have any idea how these things are chosen. they always seem so random to me.

  • Freebird

    That Selma song sucks. Thanks Shamira for putting it into the air.

    • Agatha Guilluame

      Sham’s a natural born hater tho…it was up against “Everything is Awesome” for Godsakes…in that light “Glory” was transcendent.

      • Val


      • Freebird

        well damn….

    • Rachmo


    • I concur.

    • Val

      One day I’m going to actually hear that song. I usually only watch about 2% of any awards show so I have always missed them performing it, as I did last night.

      • Rachmo

        You’re good without it.

      • BeautifullyHuman

        Don’t feel bad. I finally decided to queue it up on Spotify this morning. It’s meh, but I’m happy it won. John Legend’s voice grates my nerves.

        • BreezyX2

          His mannerisms and walk grates my nerves.

  • Shabaz

    yall haten on a white woman she was in touched by an angel and gave a black woman a job Della Reese made bank before all yall and Della was on Oprah before Dr Phil. cant say that Dr Phil dont care about black people hes got niggaz on his show all the time

  • Lisa Harris

    I remain unimpressed by the discussion about the wage gap because no one really wants to solve it. Start by asking why occupations that are dominated by women are so woefully underpaid and you get close to the solution. Imagine what raising the base pay for teachers and nurses and nursing assistants would do for the wage gap. Think about the fact that according to 2009 stats Asian men made more than white men (slightly). Why is that? It’s the jobs and the types of jobs that people are herded into.

    Change comes from going after the jobs where you don’t see anyone who looks like you. We have to stop waiting for “government” to make things right, and right this ship ourselves.

    • while this makes sense, it really isn’t true.
      –Signed a Female Engineer

      • Lisa Harris

        It won’t make everything equal – because nothing is really equal. But we can do better by getting the younger generation to seek out careers that have better earning potential. Any profession that is dominated by women is going to be low paying by comparison. Even though you are probably not making what your white male counterparts are making, you are probably doing better than black women who are teaching public school. And if you are not, then none of us can do better. which may be true. I just hope it isn’t.

  • Pinks

    *grasps pearls*

    How you not like Glory, doe?

    But yes, to sideye-ing the heck out of snaggletooth and her assumption that black women/POC need to do anything for white women, as if the majority of them have ever given two dambs about anything that relates specifically to women with melanin.

    Because you feel comfortable in your yoga pants and kale chip glory to stand from a place of privilege doesn’t mean our fight is over, heffa.

    • Damon Young

      “How you not like Glory, doe?”

      Because it’s not a rap song. It’s an afterschool special.

      Aisha Harris at Slate put it well:


      “By the time the closing credits began to roll at the end of Selma, I was moving toward tears. After two hours watching Ava DuVernay’s dramatic retelling of the events that led up to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I felt disturbed, saddened, and invigorated all at once. But then, I heard Common’s “Glory.”

      John Legend hammered weightily at the piano while wailing the gospel-tinged chorus. Common began rapping in that way he so often does (which is to say, preaching) about Rosa Parks refusing to sit on the bus and men and women becoming legends. The effect of the movie was still with me, but it began to sour as I experienced an unwelcome jolt to the senses. “Glory” is everything Selma is not: Deifying, ham-fisted, and blaring at you with its own sense of self-importance.”

      • I like it…not as a “song,” but a theme song. Think, Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to the zero…The Power is YOURS type of thing. “Glory” isn’t an activist song I would likely play in my own home, like “Inner City Blues.”

        • Rachmo

          LOL wow this makes all the sense

        • Freebird

          this was so damn good i am reconsidering. that says more about the power of you than that song.

          • :) I couldn’t articulate it before just then. But yeah. It would play great as the opening theme to a TV show called Glory. lol.

      • Pinks

        I saw/heard none of that in Glory, but everyone has their opinion.

        For the lyrics alone, I was touched. But John’s church sanging juxtaposed against Common’s rapping brings it home for me every time. I love it! But then again, I love the Yeezus album, so heartell I can’t be trusted.

  • BreezyX2

    *sings Glory with the surprise 1990’s black choir behind me*

    Sham you is kind you is smart you is important.

    • girl, that choir was so delightfully Sounds of Blackness

      • BreezyX2

        It twas!!!

  • uNk

    There were so many “but ma’am” moments in all she was saying!

    Its statements like the one she is making that make it difficult for for women of color and those of the LBGTQ community to even be a apart of the mainstream feminism movement. Almost every single speech at least that I have come across always happen to exclude all other priorities except women’s rights, and all that does is make people think you are only in it for Becky’s rights.

    I’m all for the equal rights of ALL women, but she can’t sit here and act like black people and people within LGBTQ just all of a sudden got equal because umm last time i checked?

  • pls

    white folks acting like the world revolves around them? again?


    • RewindingtonMaximus

      You know that’s an every day privilege, like breathing, farting after drinking beet juice and Botox injections

  • I don’t know why everyone is so upset. Arquette is right, we all know that Women of Color fighting for Women’s Rights is a new thing and we all need her to tell us what we should fight for. She didn’t March on Washington for us to forget it. We have to pay it back, that’s the least we can do. (Please note the sarcasm).


    • thanks for sharing that clip, it’s got me all up in my feelings.

    • Charlisia Nwachukwu

      You need a Nobel Peace Prize… I wanted to fight… and write 100 angry blog posts.

    • Animate

      Boehner looking like “well ish…”

More Like This