Always Be Deconstructing – The words that drive my life, my personality and the way others see me. The media and our reaction to its content is incredibly telling to the state of race and gender politics, equality of voices, acceptability of human practices and our culture and its relationship to the rest of the world. Of course it is much more complicated than a list of 4 phenomena. But these are the major themes that have struck me as most provocative in our society.
This blog exists as both a feminist deconstruction of highly provocative politics and an outlet for me to reflect upon current events and what they mean. For example, categorization of the self is important to constructing one’s identity, and identity is really all we have. I can categorize myself as a mixed race, atheistic, pansexual woman, but still have an identity crisis at almost 25. One that has been stewing since my first realization that I was different than my peers. A difference I wouldn’t be able to reconcile with until I was in college.
When some people turn on their TV, choose something to watch on Netflix, or browse their library of downloaded content, they are being exposed to the media, which is a helluva drug. The media is both shaped by us and shapes us. We reinforce already existing ideas and beliefs using platforms that- although we claim we don’t believe represent real life- structures our real-life experiences.
Deconstruction is about understanding why a show called Modern Family is one of the most whitewashed shows on TV, while proclaiming to be, well, a representation of a “modern family”. Deconstruction is looking between the lines, then looking even further between the lines of the fine print. You could theoretically never stop deconstructing a piece of media, as a lot of it is up to interpretation, although most of it is not.
Signs and Signifiers. A sign is skin color, sex or gender characteristics, a tattoo, a nice suit. A signifier is what those things mean in context. Admit it or not, but a certain set of ideas pop into your head when you see someone of a certain color or ethnicity. It does not make you a racist and it isn’t necessarily your fault. It is the effect that media has on our ability to understand people we do not come into contact with every day (or even people we do come into contact with every day). When the same signs and signifiers are repeated over and over to millions of viewers, readers and listeners, they become a “believed truth”. That’s where the ABDs come into play. Deconstructing widely held beliefs about certain ethnicity groups, people of a certain sexuality or gender, people in any minority group specifically, is not an easy task. Without a formal education or direct experience as a person in one of those groups, it can be hard to remember that your experiences are not the same as theirs and you might quickly dismiss their complaints as “trivial”, “unimportant”, “inappropriate” or even the dreaded “reverse-racist”. All of these things (and much, much more) will be addressed in future posts when I feel particularly hyper about a certain topic that day. It happens a lot.
Like I mentioned earlier, this blog is a way for me to express and reflect. This means I also want to learn from people who belong to the groups I will be talking about. I do not know better than a trans woman of color about their own thoughts, feelings and experiences. So there will be no cisplaining over here. Nor will there be any whitesplaining (I don’t have a good word for light-skinned-mixed-person-splaining, please suggest one if you know of a good term). This is also a safe space, so if I am called out for any cisexism or any sort of privileged BS, I will take it seriously and try to understand as best I can. This is also a learning experience for me.
Having said that, here are a few rules for discussion:
- MRAs will be banned/deleted.
- Mansplaining will be deleted.
- Whitesplaining will be deleted.
- Cisplaining will be deleted.
- Straightsplaining will be deleted.
I will go into further detail about what these terms mean in my next post, but for right now a quick explanation will have to do.
No MRAs. Pretty self-explanatory.
Mansplaining- hijacking a discussion to explain something “as a man”, or to discredit or trivialize a (trans or cis) woman’s experience.
Whitesplaining- very similar to mansplaining, but “as a white person”.
Cisplaining- also similar to man/whitesplaining, but attempting to override a trans or gender non-binary person’s feelings or experiences with cis experiences.
Straightsplaining- you get the pattern… don’t tell anyone of the LGBTQPIA community how to be/feel/experience.