On the Topic of Butts (One of Many Feminist Rants)
Disclaimer: I want to preface this rant by saying that these are mostly half-baked musings. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to compile all these thoughts and make a more cohesive argument. But until then, here’s what I have.
Every once in a while I will come across tumblr blogs consisting primarily of pictures of butts. I mean, let’s be honest. What is tumblr even for if not some great butts? Everyone enjoys a good butt. However, some blogs will boast of curating only pristine pictures of butts of women belonging primarily to an ethnic minority group.
Something about a curated blog of ethnic butts just doesn’t sit well with me. First of all, the word “curated” implies a collection of objects or artifacts. With that logic, we are essentially, and very literally, objectifying these butts. Yet, there’s actually a bigger problem with this than just the objectification. This fetishization with certain ethnic groups is demeaning for the minority group. Racial fetishes feed on stereotypes. By posting these butts of ethnic women and relishing on this racial fetishization, these blogs are effectively perpetuating racial stereotypes. They are homogenizing and assigning certain attributes to an entire ethnic group. They are idolizing them and putting them on a pedestal. They are essentially dehumanizing them.
And I don’t even know where to begin with these blogs and their blatant disregard to the hypersexualization that already exists within these certain ethnic groups. Hypersexualization within the black community has endured since slavery. It was constructed as a means to justify the frequent raping of black women slaves by their white male owners. And despite having moved beyond that point, this problem still persists today in a mutilated form. Whereas white women are perceived as pure, black women are degraded to the one-dimensional seductress, whose primary function becomes to satiate man’s lust for sex. Hypersexualization removes a black woman’s agency over her body as she is subconsciously goaded into believing that her identity is dependent on sexual acts. Reinforcing these disparaging archetypes simply reinstates the idea that a black woman’s self worth is entrenched in promiscuity.
If we disregard all the race issues, these blogs are still guilty of reinforcing a very narrow set of beauty standards. These blogs feature the type of butts that our media has glorified for years now. They do not celebrate the multitude of different butts that realistically exist. Instead, they lower the self worth of those whose butts do not live up to the aforementioned standard.
And maybe I’m really starting to spiral here, but let’s not forget that these butts are attached to human beings. Human beings who are more than just their butts. They have thoughts. They have opinions. They have emotions. Why are we, as a society, so obsessed with physical appearance anyways? Is the human race that vain? And why are we so addicted to labeling some people as “hot” and others as “not”? Do we not understand that the idea of beauty is meant to be subjective? Or are we really so brainwashed by the media, who has actually quite successfully warped and manipulated the general public’s perception of beauty with repeated exposure to “beautiful” women.
I understand that physical appearance is important. But maybe we should try changing our vernacular a little bit? Maybe instead of claiming someone is “hot”, we should try, “I’m attracted to this person”. Let’s assume X finds Y to be “hot”. If you look at the make-up of the statement, “Y is hot”, X very much regards Y as an object, especially considering that the statement very literally makes Y the object of the verb. X is not involved at all, even though this is all in X’s mind. By changing his vocabulary to say, “I am attracted to Y”, X alleviates the burden of “being hot” from Y and makes himself the object of the new verb: “attracted”, which is a much more accurate depiction of X’s thought. It also doesn’t put Y in an unrealistic, imaginary pedestal for X. The latter statement does not attach any descriptor related to physical appearance to that person, thereby allowing Y to stay detached to the connotations that come with certain physical descriptors. In fact, the latter statement is euphemistic enough to encompass more than just their “hotness”. And in that sense, I also think the latter statement is more accurate in describing the type of feeling Y evokes in X.
Also, I think it’s important to remember that being “hot” is not an intrinsic property, which is something that I think a lot of people forget when using that word (or similar words). People assert their opinions as if they’re facts. We love the idea of “natural beauty”. Except, we don’t really realize that “natural beauty” is the most vapid, nonexistent thing ever. “Natural beauty” is a construct made up by the media. It is essentially the conformity to media’s image of beauty, which mostly stems from colonization and westernization.
In a society teeming with racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and many other forms of oppression, I think it’s crucial we choose our words carefully, not only to be politically correct but also to avoid reinstating the same stereotypes and issues in subtler ways. That’s not solving the problem. That’s simply finding sly loopholes that do just as much damage if not more since they slip under the radar. And I will confess that it is extremely difficult to point out these inequalities and injustices in a social setting. It’s easy to make a snide comment about it and roll my eyes, but rarely do I directly address the issue for fear of not having my thoughts organized enough to make a logical argument. But, that is not an excuse. I want to be able to educate people in this realm as much as I can, but in order to do so, I need to be sure that I am also not making any rash judgments due to my own biases that may exist. It is also pretty difficult to point these out in a group or in public because no one wants to be a killjoy. And to be honest, many a joke are made at the expense of the victims of these issues, and I am guilty of enjoying some of these jokes. However, I am resolving to make a more conscious effort to try and be more cognizant of these issues. I have friends who try very hard to be aware of the overt sexism and racism that still persist in our society today, but I think it’s understandably easy to overlook the much fainter implications of patriarchy that are equally as lethal. But if we want to strip the system altogether, we need to look at each lingering effect and dismantle it one by one.
So, butts, I am not hating you. But can we please try and be more inclusive of the many different types of butts that exist and not focus on a specific race or gender? And let’s remember that each butt is an extension of a being and, therefore, different in its own way. So, let’s not be selective. Let’s embrace all the butts!