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Sexing Up Female Atheletes

15 May

The following is a throwback post (#tbp) from 2008 when I was a content writer for Youthnoise.org (now Mobilize.org).

jenny adams

With all the hoopla (like this and this) surrounding the 2008 Olympic games, how could I not add my own little one-cent to the blogosphere hoopla as sort of a week ending round up.

TGIF!!

Okay, so Gawker dedicated a post this week to the top 25 Olympic Hotties ranging from U.S. swimmer Amanda Beard to U.S. wrestler TC Dantzler.  Profiling “hot” Olympic athletes in mainstream media is nothing new, it’s actually great for sponsorship and yep, it’s great for business.

In 2004, my fellow track and field teammate at the University of Houston, Jenny Adams, was featured on the cover of FHM’s Olympic Special Issue (incidentally, Jenny didn’t qualify for the Olympics that year which sucked because I was rooting for her hardcore).

Jenny-Adams_2

Jenny Adams (hey girl!)

Seeing as how most Olympic athletes aren’t necessarily rolling in the NBA or MLB dough, arguably these athletes have to take advantage of what they can during the Olympic season.

Although, I’m not quite sure how I feel about (what appears to be) the objectification of fe/male bodies in mainstream media.  (Yes, I’m putting that MA degree in Women’s Studies to use!).  I wouldn’t be “socially conscious” if I didn’t consider the potentially damaging image these athletes are portraying, or rather the image we, the folks, are buying into.

Am I over reacting?

Before answering, consider this question: what does Amanda Beard’s boobs have to do with her impressive seven Olympic medal performances? 

I don’t necessarily have an issue with homegirl covering FHM (she’s a grown woman so more power to her), but I wonder if sexualizing Olympic athletes is the way to go right now, especially with so many controversies surrounding human rights’ issues in Bejing, etc. And honestly, do we really need our top world athletes contributing to a sexually obsessed, and repressed, society???

Granted, escapism, in the form of Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie six pack, is refreshing especially during a time when everything else from the economy to foreign policy is in the dumps.  And don’t get me wrong; I’m down for the eye-candy once in awhile.  I can also get down with sex-positive feminism, but I just wonder what are we actually celebrating with these images: human agility and athletic performance or an athlete’s butt-cheeks in the foreground of photograph with the phrase ‘Golden Girls’ hanging below?

You get the point.

I remember growing up idolizing Florence Griffith Joyner in all her flamboyant outfits and long-neon-colored fingernails. I never understood Flo Jo’s image as ‘sexualized’ in any way (maybe that’s because I didn’t know what sexualized meant at the ripe old age of ten).  I was too focused on her superhuman ability to run a 100-meter dash in those eclectic outfits she wore.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m not going to get into the steroid controversy right now).

Point is, I understand that sexing-up athletes is nothing new, and the images of these “hotties” pales in comparison to some of the other sexualized images we see everyday via idiot box.

But I still can’t help but wonder what’s the point.

Headed No Where Fast. Wanna Come With?

13 Jul

Right now, at this very moment, I feel like Diane Lane’s character in Under The Tuscan Sun.

Picture 1

Yep.  Just like that.

Continue reading

On Being A Writer: The Jezebel Epiphany

18 Jun

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Now we reflect.

One of the most important things I ever learned in graduate school was that a sistah always needs to reflect, if not only for herself, but for our collective consciousness and for our worlds around us.  Call it the Humanity Sustainability Project, if you will.

A few days ago I sent a personal email to the Senior Editor of Jezebel.com about a recent post, Tracie Egan, a Jezebel blogger wrote entitled “Why Is Mary J. Blige Working With Chris Brown?”  This was the first time I ever felt the need to email a website Editor expressing my concern about one of their posts.  Needless to say, the Senior Editor never wrote back but the author and her Managing Editor did (although, I’m inclined to believe that the Senior Editor was certainly privy to all of the “intense” correspondences).

If you’re on Facebook, then you can read all about the drama HERE, along with some incredibly insightful responses from friends and readers.

Without rehashing the entire scenario, what basically happened was I called out Tracie’s last few sentences of her post because I felt she, along with others at Jezebel, put themselves in a dangerous position by perpetuating (and therefore enabling) incendiary rhetoric created by crappy websites that rely heavily upon speculative rumors simply for “clicks.” Basically, Jezebel gave credence to a website who’s in the business of starting shit so there will be shit.  Good for some, but in my opinion, not a good look for Jezebel.

Needless to say, Tracie said she was “offended and hurt” by my complaints (even though I never directly accused her of being culturally naive about African-Americans like she said in the email) but I did apologize for writing to her Senior Editor instead of her, first.  The Managing Editor, with her fine word-smithing, basically thanked me for the email but ended up giving me the virtual and subtle talk-to-the-hand motion and moved on.

Remember people are at different places.

If anything, I hoped to open a dialogue, despite feeling admittedly defensive at first.  Hoped that at least the gals over at Jezebel would’ve updated (not erased or deleted) the original post by including links to other perspectives, or inserted qualifying language so that those of us who felt slighted by the borderline dangerous assumption could in the very least appreciate Tracie’s intent.

Remember people are at different places.

Now that all of the internal screaming has simmered (because, like it or not, I chose this battle), I’ve had time to do some reflecting.

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

And in reflecting about this ordeal, I learned a few things – even if no one else did.

I learned that I’m a helluva nit picky reader.

I learned that as careful a reader I am I have to be even more careful as a writer.

I learned that it’s so important to cite, not just accurately, but responsibly.

I learned that while others assume, so do I.

I learned that apologies are necessary because as we know from the David Letterman/Sarah Palin fiasco, Letterman’s apology said more about our country’s consciousness than it worked to ignite Sarah Palin’s seemingly calculated defensiveness.  It helped the Cause for a more ‘just’ society than Palin’s misguided faux feminism shtick ever would.  It indicated what progress perhaps looks like.  As in maybe our culture is graduating from lame 12-year-old “ya motha’s a slut, ya dawta’s a whore” jokes – and has actually developed a more sophisticated sense of humor and appreciation for irony.  See, I was hoping that the Jezzies, like Dave, would understand that acknowledging your errors is characteristic of progress.  No, it’s not a cop out, no it doesn’t make you look foolish, and no it doesn’t mean you lose your feminist-leaning-cool-liberal-website card because you got called out on your own assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  It just means you’re wrong, but being wrong can be orgasmic if you let it.

I learned that being empowered is a pretty awesome feeling, even if it means showing my balls (or my ovaries?) when calling out another female blogger with whom I like for the most part.

I learned that I’m pretty lucky to have all this time on my hands to complain, write, and then think about what I just complained and wrote about.  Imagine if we, the Manys, had more time to develop our minds, rhetoric, and visions.  I think that in our little worlds, we’d single-handedly save ourselves from ourselves.

I learned that dialogue works much better than defensiveness.  After posting what happened on my Facebook page, I found the comments from women of all colors and backgrounds were profoundly helpful in that it made me understand what developing perspective is all about.  This is what I was hoping for when I requested that the Jezebel writers update the post about Chris Brown and the “other woman.”  The pot of ideas flow when people with all type of perspectives and experiences find that their words are acknowledged in a public space.

In that same vein, I learned this, with the help of Arvind, Aura, Melissa, Patricia, Brenda, Carla, Courtney, Necole, and Leopold:

Being a thoughtful and visionary writer is not simply about being a mindful spell checker, or fact checker, or even word smith.  It’s about being able to express yourself with a developed brevity that relies upon always rethinking our assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  Because in the end, we must always remember that people are at different places.

Hopefully the Jezebel gals agree.

(The italicized words aren’t my own but from Aura, Courtney, and Patricia.  Thank you, ladies, and all the other FB commenters for helping me develop my on-going and ballsy perspectives).

‘Tis The Season For My Rollercoaster Life

19 Mar

rollercoaster1

It’s that time again kiddies!

I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that, at least for now, my life is like that roller coaster we all were geeked about riding when we were fifteen, but now in our former years, feel completely exhausted just looking at the damn thing while standing in line for 3 hours.

I move, and move, and move, and move while my head and heart spin topsy-turvy in sublime.

Nonetheless, I’m excited about this next chapter in my so-called life (ha! remember that show? Angela is me. I am Angela.)

It’s amazing how much my life doesn’t really seem like my life anymore especially since my dad passed away in December. I’m treading along in an incredibly awkward space right now, basically re-learning how to live.

While I continue to figure stuff out, life continues on and change inevitably happens. I guess I’m ready to move forward since, quite honestly, I’ve got nothing else to lose.

So, here’s to the next chapter and all the abrupt arbitrariness that will most likely follow!

Announcement coming soon . . .

The Life and Times of a Blogger

11 Oct

I blog.  I actually blog for a living – well, partially for a living.  I’m a part-time freelance writer occupying that intangible space of virtual reality.

Hip folks like to call it “new media” (as if there’s some sort of archaic media, I’m thinking 8-track, maybe?)

I’m a writer who writes in a space of Gmails, Facebooks, “Digg Its”, and Huffington Posts. I’m also a spokesperson for young social activists and non-profit organizations.

So, I’m kinda like a virtual-social-activist-woman-writer-who-likes-to-Google-news-stories, and then of course, write about ‘em.

Got it?

In the world of journalism, the bloggers are at the bottom of the press heap. No, we’re not columnists or fancy-dancy staff writers.  We don’t follow an APA format style of writing.  Hell, some of us don’t even answer to an editor.

Who we are is exactly who you see when you meet us.

We write like we talk; with our “[sigh]” and our “[blank stare].”

We are twenty-first century writers who fuse commentary, diary, screenplay, and narrative writing all-in-one.  We talk through the written word as if it’s something to be experienced, not simply consumed.

Our love affairs aren’t just with our computers or notebooks.  Hell, we work that Google search engine like it ain’t nobody’s business.  What ever it is we need, Google always provides. Google is our pimp daddy on the real.

We are information hoarders.  And with that information we develop our ideas.  At times we get lost in the labyrinth of our thoughts when consumed.  Sometimes we become innocent bystanders in the speed zone of disseminated information.

[See, bloggers can make metaphors too].

But don’t think we care less about the way we articulate our words.  We appreciate personification (see above).  We deplore unwitting and tacky commentary.  We obsess over spelling and grammar (thanka jebus for that embedded spell check).

And we do more than any average copywriter could ever do; we hyperlink.

We stay up late at night hunched over our words like I’m sure other writers do.

As far our audiences; oh, they range from smart-ass teenagers to smart-ass golden-agers.  And the cool thing that brings us all together?

Commenting.

It’s like we sit around the dinner table waiting for our chance to “reply.”  

But in the virtual word, you and I experience each other through written symbols.  (Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?)

I don’t have to write to be the next great american novelist.  I have to write to stay in touch with the rest of the world.  One-on-one physical communication isn’t necessarily my strong suite.  But I guarantee if you ever receive an e-mail or letter from me, you’ll know who I am.

Because I am of the generation where technology reigns supreme, I relish in the idea that I can write knowing my words will be transmitted in nano-seconds.  It’s invigorating to know that I can communicate with someone I’ve never met before just because I posted some funky blog about meeting Flava Flav.

I am a blogger, and proud of it.  I conduct my life as any other writer would, and work hard at what I do.  Though the times we live in requires a different kind of style writing, one thing is for certain; a writer, whoever s/he is, is nothing without the word.