Lately it seems that my entire world constantly cosmically aligns to center on Gwen Stefani. Not in that shrill thirteen year old "WIND IT UP IS THE BEST SONG EVAR!" way, either. It's as if ever since I started thinking about her and her recent interview in Bust magazine, I've been writing this blog over and over in my mind. This actually has been going on for weeks. Every time I think I know exactly how much of an asshole this woman is, she proves to me that she can be an even bigger piece of shit.
Stefani's recent Bust interview had everything from a retaliatory statement against a comment Margaret Cho made about her "Harajuku" entourage (which seems to be a running gag for her, since she defends herself every where else, too) to a disappointing answer to Bust's staple question "Are you a Feminist?" Her reply to that was "nobody has ever been able to define it for me!" I love it.
Well, Gwen, since apparently you don't have a fucking library card, allow me to help define some things for you. We'll start with an easy one. Feminism. It's not just about some man-hater lesbian who scowls at heterosexual ideals and who clings to some shrouded illusions about how "all will one day see the uselessness of males and they will thusly be stripped of their power and privilege." It's not just about the women and (in some cases) men who have fought and died to bring you many of the freedoms you have today. And it's not just about the women who pioneered in the arts to make it possible for you to have a career today. It's all of these things and more. A feminist is someone who is willing to put their life at stake in order to try to rid our culture of social inequality based on not only gender, but religion, race, sexual orientation and any other aspect of someone's personal identity that may put them into the role of an oppressed group.
Now, before you think too hard about answering that "are you a feminist" question, let's have some more really neat-o social studies lessons. Because it seems to me, Gwen, that you really aren't too savvy on what racism truly is. Racism isn't just throwing a fucking rock at some man in a rice hat and calling him some V.C. gook. That goes a little deeper too. To get to a certain point, Gwen, you're white. I know it's a bitch to be white, I am too. With our Caucasian identities, though, comes a built in ticket to an oppressing class of sons of bitches whether we like it or not. As part of the oppressing racial group we will never know the true experiences of those that are victims of racism every day. But we can try, through listening to stories of the experiences of these individuals, to familiarize ourselves with our own identities and we can try to recognize the inherent racism our society has ingrained in us. This racism includes, but is not limited to grabbing onto your mace a little tighter or locking the car doors when you see a sketchy looking black man approaching you or buying four Asian women dressed in your funky line of apparel to misrepresent an underground Japanese culture. As I explained, you're white. For a white woman to pay four minority women to follow her around and only speak a foreign language (but not directly to her or any one else) as figments of some ridiculous dreamworld is much like say...someone buying new poodles that will follow her everywhere and bark in tones she (hopefully) cannot understand. I fail to see how, as a white woman buying these women based on their race and subjugating a very specific part of a very specific Asian culture, you cannot even recognize that this might be considered a tiny bit racist. You are exploiting these women.
In my research for this article I found a number of comments on a multitude of feminist forum sites that discussed how feminism is about a woman's right to choices and that these women whom Gwen Stefani pays made a choice to be placed into these roles. That they even auditioned for these roles. Well, when you're an Asian trying to make something of yourself in any of the performing arts, there's very little in the way of choices. I mean, you have people like Zhang Ziyi or Michelle Yeoh that luck out because they know martial arts. But if you are an Asian actor/singer/dancer or any other career that requires you have a physical presence on a television screen the choices are extremely limited. I mean, aside from William Hung who was a novelty, can anybody even name an Asian singer that would be played on a top 40 station? Honestly, aside from Yoko Ono and Lea Salonga I don't think I know of very many Asian singers (if any). Let's face it, unless they play the cello, when it comes to the arts Asians are greatly underexposed. Which is another reason why these women are so exploited. In order to get a job in the performing arts, they are required to act either as a geisha, ninja, violinist or a fucking "Harajuku" parade. The biggest kicker is they're not even dressed like something out of Harajuku. They're dressed like Gwen's little toy pets.
So, Gwen, to help you answer the question of "are you a feminist?" Since you do tend to exploit minority women and subvert their cultures I'd call that a big fucking "No." And that's fine. You're not a feminist. Just a waste of space. But don't make yourself into a bigger asshole on top of it all with claims of not being racist. Ignorance is no excuse from the law. Just because you didn't know you were an asshole does not give you the right to chide other people when they try to educate you on the fact that you are a piece of racist trash.
But what bothers me the most about this situation is not Gwen Stefani. It's the part of our society that loves her. Gwen Stefani is a role model. Not just to little girls, but to women. I know women in their 20s and 30s who love Gwen and can identify with her on more than just one level (motherhood, girlhood, weird style whatever). This is severely disheartening. These girls and women not only look up to her in these areas, but also they too have no idea what it means to be either racist or feminist. This is disgusting to me. These people that are so inside their own selves that they refuse to open their eyes to the world around them and to help someone else in need. This is what Gwen Stefani embodies in our culture. But the worst part is that she is lauded by most for her ability to complete her heterosexual duties and her career at the same time. She is seen as "girl power" which is just a bull-shit way of pulling the rug out from under real feminism. It's a way to disguise these Hollywood Housewives as real feminists so that young girls will make the right decisions when it comes to fulfilling their own hetero-normative family duties.
So, Gwen Stefani, I know you didn't cause these social problems...but when I look at you they are all I see.