Friday, April 28, 2006

Today, I was called a "cunt"

Today, I was called a "cunt". (scroll down to Gayla's comment) In response, I have to say:

...I've reclaimed it, "cunt". I really like it. "Cunt." Listen to it. "Cunt." C C. Ca Ca, Cavern, cackle, clit, cute, come-closed c-closed inside, inside ca-then u-then cu-then curvy, inviting sharskin u-uniform, under, up, urge, ugh, ugh, ugh, u -- then n then cun -- snug letters fitting perfectly together -- n -- nest, now, nexus, nice, nice, always depth, always round in upper case, cun, cun-n a jagged wicked electrical pulse-n *nnnnnn* then soft n-warm n -- cun, cun, then t -- then sharp certain tangy t -- texture, take, tent, tight, tantalizing, tensing, taste, tendrils, time, tactile, tell me, tell me "Cunt".
I think I'll take it as a compliment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Shaula82, the person whose journal that reply came from. I'm glad you could turn this into an empowering statement. It makes me extremely angry when people use "cunt" as an insult, and I tried explaining this to my friend, "Gavla". I posted the link to your rant on my journal to provoke insightful discussion about cultural appropriation, not this sort of knee-jerk reaction.

Thank you for your thought-provoking blog, I've been a reader of your entries for a while now; I enjoy them, and equally enjoy being challenged by them.

4/28/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

was that a 13 year old boy?

4/28/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

Oh come on.There are ways to respectfully disagree with someone, without caling them extremely insulting words like that.I respect the way you're taking the highroad in this.
I guess you really touched a nerve there to get that type of reaction.

-sorry for the earlier post mix up.

4/28/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger NursePam said...

Oh my! Somehow, I wasn't able to get into her comments section to find the comment in question.

But Go You for responding as you did. Once again you have made me smile and think at the same time.

4/28/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

GORGEOUS!! To read this is to feel the word 'cunt' in a myriad of delicious ways!

LOL ~~

4/28/2006 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

I can applaud your grace under fire, Jenn. However, I'd still like to shatter that person's kneecaps.

Just because.

4/29/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Raini said...

I thought it was just American 20-somethings who were prone to lashing out when their foundations are challenged. There's no such thing as culture? This from a person in New Zealand - you might mention that theory of yours to any of the indigenous people you run into.

If there's no such thing as culture, then whites can't be called on cultural appropriation. It's all "borrowing" and it's all fine because we're all equals and we're all friends. Tee-hee!

Check out the picture s/he chose of Howlin' Wolf. How funny! It makes you think of his penis! Which is hysterical because we all know that Black men are well-hung and sexual creatures!

Gavla is an idiot whose white privilege is blinding, and I doubt s/he will get any wiser anytime soon. I'm glad you were able to reclaim the word, but it would have been nicer for you to tear this Gavla a new one.

4/29/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I chose that picture because I respect him doing something that would have been such a naughty thing to do at the time.
I grew up listening to heavy metal and punk and now I'm into a bit of emo, and to hear Howlin' Wolf, whose music is so intense and, well, heavy, come from such a different time, impressed me so much.
Hard rockers are also known for doing bad behaviour attention seeking things when a camera is on them.
So this photo, to me, helps me find something in common as a musician (well , a music fan) with someone who comes from a very different time place and social place.
I think that the people in the audience when Howlin' wolf did that felt such a similar thing to kids in the nineties when they saw Marilyn Manson belittling their schools and parents. And that means a world to me. That feeling is my life's paydirt.

So, dear culture appropriation patrol:
Am I allowed to feel this connection to someone with a different culture to me?
Am I allowed to express my enthusiasm for this by acting somewhat like my new hero...
When the Strokes' album came out, I bought a skinny tie. There's a few expressions used by the Bluesmen I've been investigating recently. Can I use them in conversations with people? Can I refer to MOJO 'cause I heard it in a Muddy Waters song?
Can I buy a big old hollowbody guitar?

So, if that were my case, would I be sophisticated enough to be allowed to do the natural thing and imitate those I admire?
Just like a child imitating the adults around it, which is surely how most behaviour (and indeed CULTURE) is allowed

Sure, if I travelled in time and tried it out, the delta blues community would think I was a big dork and not very sophisticated, but since I don't imagine they have the seething rage that the author of this blog seems to posess, they would be nice to me and, If I kept it up, I hope I'd eventually understand something.

Because, as much as the author and her followers would love someone to read every single book about a subject from cover to cover a million times (These being the types of people who express carefully formulated opinions on the internet) from her own place of well considered privelage (I didn't go to no university, so forgive me from coming from a less privelaged place) there are people around the world everywhere who actually feel the need to give it a go and jump in.
And their bumbling infuriates them.
But a child never learned to walk without falling over.
And when Howlin' wolf first picked up the guitar, he couldn't make a sound with it.

And thank god Charley Patton had more patience than miss Jenn, or there'd be no SPOONFUL' and my week would have been a lot less enjoyable.

But the seeds of hapiness and progress are patientce and understanding and compassion for those who don't have it as good as you, and I think that the people who buy into the 'Fuck You Angliphole' argument are taking an easy way out.
And fair enough, it's an utterly baffling and infurating task ahead
So what to do?
Buddha would have understood.
But don't ask me too hard about him, 'cause I've still got a lot to learn.

5/02/2006 03:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but since I don't imagine they have the seething rage that the author of this blog seems to posess, they would be nice to me and, If I kept it up, I hope I'd eventually understand something.

The fact that this person could make this comment just illustrates how much they are relying on their imagination, rather than any real life awareness of Black people.

5/02/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Fire Fly said...


I'm fire_fly on LiveJournal. I also happen to be (a) South Asian, and (b) Gavla's girlfriend.

We've been having something of a heated debate since the OP was posted, and let me tell you, it hasn't been easy.

On the one side, I've got Gavla and his white, male friends arguing that I'm being unfair to them by demanding that they're more conscientious about acts of cultural appropriation and their own privilege. One the other side I have a rather shrill batch of peers -- other radical "women of colour" -- ranting at them and making my position rather more uncomfortable.

I'm not asking anyone to curb their expressions of justifiable anger. You have feelings, you have a right to express them.

I'm just asking, amongst all that anger, do you have any suggestions for someone in a position like mine -- of having to be some kind of mediator between an angry and disenfranchised group of people, who I belong to, and a group of privileged but clueless people, who I'm friends with? Do you have any appreciation of how hard that is?

Because, as a migrant "woman of colour" living in a white-majority settler society, and having significant contact with people like the Asiaphiles you've been taking to task -- because it's not like you can help mingling -- not wanting to constantly fight people is still something of a priority for me.

Stuck in the middle, feeling put upon,
-Fire Fly

5/02/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've come into contact with a lot of different peoples in my time in this city, and I've made certain guesses, and they may not come as study in the form that's acceptable to the academics here, but they're nonetheless educated guesses about humans and, in particular, the people associated with a school of music. I reckon that so long as you were willing to really do the blues thing, you'd have a place.

5/02/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...


First of all, I greatly appreciate your posting here and am sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I missed your comment (stupid latest comments script hasn't been able to handle this level of traffic!!) and was only told about this comment until this morning.

Having gotten the gist of your position earlier, your predicament has given me lots of food for thought all day.

As Gavla's girlfriend, you are certainly in a position of being in the middle, and everything else I write here is under the assumption that you feel you are in a relationship of mutual respect and caring, that certainly extends beyond this issue (thus, you'll get no "dump his ass" from me -- I hardly think that's appropriate from me or indeed a wise choice).

As (I am guessing) a more or less politicized South Asian, it seems you are more than aware of the situation at hand, and how Gavla and friends' attitude towards cultural appropriation strikes you on a level that he may not fully comprehend.

Since I'm sure he has feelings for you that encompass respect and appreciation for you as a person, your identity, and perhaps even your heritage, I have some ideas on how to approach the situation.

First of all, it seems like you know how you feel about the whole thing. You seem to sympathize with aspects of both sides of the argument -- don't let anyone change that. Your opinion is your opinion, and it's okay if you and Gavla disagree about this -- he is (from his pictures) not a South Asian and you are. As part of being in an IR, there are certain issues that you guys will always clash upon, and don't expect there to be any real consensus. My bf (an African American) and I frequently disagree on issues similar to these, based on our different racial, economic and national backgrounds, and neither of us ultimately try to disrespect or disregard one another's opinion. Make sure you remember that your opinion is worthy of respect as much as Gavla's.

Also, you need to tell both Gavla and the radical WOCs that they are putting you in a tough spot. You might agree with some things the WOCs are saying, but that doesn't mean you should have to put up with them trash-talking you or your bf -- you are with him for a reason, and that's not going to change. Similarly, Gavla needs to recognize that you are a WOC, and that he needs to respect your opinion (sorta what I said earlier). Ultimately, if Gavla's ranting at you about this, and the radical WOCs are as well, you need to tell them both to shut the hell up and speak to one another, rather than assume that you are a willing earpiece and messenger pigeon.

But still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be vocal about your opinion. Unlike your radical WOC friends, you have a position of more sway with Gavla. You can at least present a clear, rational opposite point of view, that he will hopefully consider more seriously because it's coming from you than from your radical WOC friends. Hopefully, you can encourage Gavla to at least consider a more balanced perspective of the issue, even if it doesn't change his mind.

Which sorta leads me back to the first point, but in more detail -- sometimes, in any relationship, you have to be okay with the fact that you won't change your S.O.'s opinion. You're not a doormat, and neither is he. Ultimately, with blogging and issues like these, it's not about changing anyone's mind -- I've met enough Asiaphiles in my lifetime to recognize that there's nothing you can do change their defensiveness towards appropriating Asian culture (not to suggest Gavla is an Asiaphile... I don't know him and wouldn't resort to ad hominem's). Discussions like these is about getting differing, conflicting perspectives out in the open and discussing them -- after all this, how many "otaku" might think I'm a "cunt" but might at least now be aware that there is this anger in the APIA community against their actions? It's all about making people think a little harder about their opinions, and be more aware of people who aren't like them.

I'm not asking anyone to curb their expressions of justifiable anger. You have feelings, you have a right to express them.

Thank you, as do we all. The White privileged people also have a right to express their rebuttals as well -- I only wish it were a little more... uhm... intellectually substantial.

I'm just asking, amongst all that anger, do you have any suggestions for someone in a position like mine -- of having to be some kind of mediator between an angry and disenfranchised group of people, who I belong to, and a group of privileged but clueless people, who I'm friends with? Do you have any appreciation of how hard that is?

Absolutely. I've always been a part of a mixed group, and especially now that I'm in Arizona, I find myself more than ever associating with people who are just, for lack of a better word, cluelessly White. And yet, there's great pressure to not rock the boat, to be diplomatic, and to ensure that I don't screw up my plans for eventual dissertation work by being "too political". It's a tough spot to be in, and I think the only way to address situations like these is to calmly, rationally and diplomatically tell both the politicized friends and the apolitical friends exactly how you feel about the issue (e.g., express your anger, rage, or pain) but do so in a way that is more about opening dialogue rather than just verbally beating the snot out of them. Just don't become a racial teacher -- encourage your apolitical friends to read some books about your history, and your political friends to remember that you have friendships that transcend these sorts of issues.

Stuck in the middle, feeling put upon,

For what it's worth, I apologize to you that the previous rant led to you being put in this position. It certainly is troubling to hear that, and I feel really bad that this has been happening.

I know that stuff like this sure can start consuming all your waking hours. I wouldn't wish this kind of blog drama on my worst enemy.

I hope things work out and I would love to hear back from you!


5/03/2006 05:45:00 PM  
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