Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We Are The Ones We've Dreaded - Apologies to Alice Walker, Hot Woman of Color

When I was a kid, whenever the news reported about some Puerto Rican guy shooting someone, or we'd hear about a family member in trouble with drugs or the law, my dad would say, "Damn it - sometimes I think we're our own worst enemy!" I know how he felt.

While the queer community makes noise about Prop 8, the Tea Party assholes, DADT, Obama, and a million other injustices, it keeps missing one very important point: sometimes we're our own worst enemy. Sometimes, the bad guy isn't a conservative talk show host or a liberal apologist, a self-righteous straight person, a hospital administrator, or a religious zealot. Sometimes the enemy is the gay boy next door who lacks compassion. Sometimes it's the lesbian who, given the opportunity to make a statement about the way the media portrays us chooses, instead, to perpetuate the myth of lesbians as angry, damaged, co-dependent losers. This week? This week our worst enemy is AfterEllen.com, the website that's supposedly created an online community for lesbians. 

What, besides providing a messy, badly designed, poorly written online place for lesbians to get news, share ideas and chat about The L Word has AfterEllen.com done? I mean, it's an annoying site, but it's fun and harmless, right? Wrong. So wrong. This week AE unveiled their Hot 100 list because - hey, if straight guys get to objectify women, why shouldn't lesbians?  And, really, being a lesbian really is all about women drooling over other women, and not a hell of a lot else. (And, before you send me emails about how the Hot 100 list is chosen based on so much more than looks and sex appeal,  keep in mind the whole thing about the Miss America pageant being a scholarship competition.) 

What's so bad about AE's Hot 100 list, you may ask? What's so bad is that it's not a list, it's lists. Plural. One list consists of out lesbians. One list consists of women over 40. The third list? WOMEN OF COLOR. That's right - there's a separate list of minority Sapphic hotness!  

Why is this offensive, and why does it make me say that AE is our worst enemy this week? Think about it: when you make a list of hotness, and a separate list of ethnic hotness the implication is that one is REGULAR, and the other is, well, OTHER. According to AE, white is right and brown is a fetish. Way to go, AfterEllen.com - George Wallace would be proud of you!

As a "woman of color," I cordially invite the women of AfterEllen.com to kiss my fat, brown ass. 

 © 2010 Lana M. Nieves
Limited Licensing: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lana M. Nieves and for non-commercial purposes only. - Lana M. Nieves


Anonymous said...

You misunderstood the point of the Women of Color list. If you look at the 100 list, you'll find only a handful of women of color.

The 100 list was voted on by AfterEllen readers who showed a bias against women of color. To highlight non-white women, AE created a separate list to give them more representation.

Therefore, the Women of Color list wasn't about segregation. It was an attempt to address bias.

Snapper said...

I misunderstood nothing. As a person of color I don't require a pat on the head and a consolation prize. The Women of Color list is like the Special Olympics of minority lesbians - it's patronizing, insulting, and downright racist, even if it's not meant in that spirit. What it says is that women of color can't and don't cut it when pitted up against white women...so let's give them a category all their own, where they CAN'T lose- poor, little guys. AE can go themselves.

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