Cute as Subversive

(originally posted on my tumblr)
Eline and I have had on and off conversations regarding the cute aesthetic for a couple of months. I was reminded yesterday when my boyfriend jokingly referred to me as tsudere and then it delved into a serious conversation about how cuteness could possibly be a subversive thing depending on what is going on (he tried to argue that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was not subversive, and someone that Jun Togawa would be against, but I argued the opposite).
I think cuteness is a bad thing when its infantilizing. See Hayao’s Miyazaki’s comments on moe and otaku fetishization of cute lady and girl characters in anime/manga/idol culture:
It’s difficult. They immediately become the subjects of lolicon fetishism. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict [such heroines] as if they just want [such girls] as pets, and things are escalating more and more.
In Western culture, it’s a bit different, but of the same thing. Julie Klausner wrote an article on Jezebel that criticized white women who adopted aesthetics associated more with children than adults. Engaging in childhood nostalgia, buying bird necklaces, enjoying rainbows and My Little Pony takes away agency from white women, and positions them in way to be taken less seriously so they can obtain sexual union from white men, who want infantilized white women because they are easier to control/less threatening.
White women who are labeled as infantilized also come with another layer to their identity: they are sexualized. To be an adult white woman who is cute is to also fit into the Lolita fetish: pig tails, messy make-up, a natural nympho offered for white male pleasure to be used and abused (consensually, but in pornographic images, the idea is consensual non-consent: to pretend to not consent to any sexual act/fake rape). Derivatives of this Lolita fetish can include age play, pet play, and the Daddy/daughter deriative of the Dominance and submission dynamic.
So what does cuteness look like if it is subversive? In my opinion, the person who is commanding the aesthetic must own it: they must simply command it – they wear cuteness rather than cuteness wearing them. To be subversive in cuteness, the person mold it into their own being, so when people address them or think of them, they think: “this person is so cute, and they do this,” rather than simply thinking “they are cute.” Cuteness becomes subversive when it is unflattering, ugly, and/or uncontrolled. Although Nicki Minaj is sexualized because she is a black woman, she uses cute aesthetics, but molds it into something uncontrollable, unflattering, or ugly so it cannot simply be stated as cute. It is subversive because it is challenging. Björk is cute, but a challenging form of cuteness because she is not afraid of presenting that cuteness into a form of ugliness, in both her music and style presentation. Subversive cuteness demands self-agency and self-responsibility: those who engage in it do not shy away from being cute; it is owned and becomes something of their own.
Cuteness can be subversive when it is used by those who may not identity as girls or women, are not white, are not small in body size, visibly queer, or are not conventionally attractive. This isn’t to say that those who are most assaulted by unchallenging cuteness (attractive looking skinny white women or young lady adults) cannot be subversive; it is easier to see the subversiveness of cuteness when it is not on their bodies as their bodies are default for cuteness. 
Cuteness may have usefulness in some circumstances. Although brown and black women cannot use the politics of respectability to avoid the stereotypes of being sexually aggressive Jezebels or Sapphires or Spicy women no matter what they do, cuteness may be seen as a weapon to mitigate those attacks: because women of color (excluding East Asian women) are scripted as inherently sexual, it may bring the subject/voyeur (read: society) into a troublesome gaze when they cannot view the objects (brown and black women of color) as sexual because they are non-sexualized when they perform cuteness. As already stated, cuteness may also be useful in distorting the body: so things known as cute, such as bright colors, cartoon characters, certain shapes and cutes, may distort the body into being cute, but also ugly and challenging. For the wearer, it is cute, but for the viewer, the presentation may be bizarre, unsettling/uncomfortable, ugly, or reminiscent of old age (older women fall into the category of being unsexualized because they do have youth as sexual currency). Old women, therefore, can be seen as cute, and can be subversive.
White feminists and those who identify with mainstream feminist movement must rethink the usefulness of cuteness. Although femininity has historically been used as a way to control women and put them into the position of weakness, femininity may also be employed in a useful way to mitigate those social and cultural scripts. Critiques of cuteness often exclude the experiences of women of color, those who aren’t women, queer people, and those who are not skinny. To be critical is to examine with many pairs of glasses, not just those that are expedient.

S T Y L E showcase ⋅ Fan Bingbing

I don’t believe in disclaimers, and this is not one: I don’t know how to dress well. At least, I’m unaware of established fashion protocol. I have no knowledge of societal style sensibilities beyond the basics of color coordination, patterns on other patterns, and not leaving your house naked.


I do however, have an eye for design, as in communicative design, the umbrella term for graphic design (I’m not fond of the word, as it takes away the artistic nature of the field and presents itself as solely commercial). I find myself using milk cartons, cereal boxes, film title overcasts, and cd designs as inspiration for what I wear, consciously or otherwise. I believe that is what brought me over to Pulp, as their physical presentation go hand-in-hand with their music.

S T Y L E showcase. is my excuse for fawning over ridiculous people and their ridiculous clothes.

Fan Bingbing (范冰冰) is a mainland Chinese actress and singer. She has a lengthy career in film and television, and does roles both in Taiwan and the mainland. I am not familiar with her films, but I do enjoy her style.

Bingbing reminds me of a sophisticated, restricted type of femme style, somewhat in the style of Maggie Cheung, Jacqueline Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. She can dress in an almost alien-sense, be otherworldly, but still be down-to-earth and not cartoonish. Behold:
Her style is something I’d like to emulate: bold, bright colors, in your face, but subtle, make-up, poised posture, and killer looks. It’s my favorite variety of femme: “look, but don’t touch, for I shall touch you first. I’m not an egg-shell, I’m a honed blade.”
More of my favorite Bingbing looks!

Welcome to the Working Week ☁ Sunday, May 6

Image of Ulala from Space Channel 5 found here!

☁ My good friend Kailey has just published her zine, Pistachio! Read it here!
☁ Someone on blogspot posted all of Deee-Lite’s press-kits! Look at all the great style here.
☁ White buffalo sacred to Lakota Sioux found mutilated.
Write letters to CeCe McDonald! She needs our support, kindness, and love.

The nachos I had last Thursday (゚Д゚≡゚Д゚)

☁ An example on the assault of Black Studies grad students by white supremacists without Klan hoods, and how we need to take care of our own.
☁ My Fan Bingbing tag on tumblr. Mad style.
☁ Why you shouldn’t buy Lime Crime lipsticks or their makeup.
☁ Need some millennial boyband pop? Go here for the essentials.
☁ American UC San Diego wrongfully detained, tortured and isolated for five days.

☁ “Get up, look SICKENING, and make them eat it.”
It’s May!
Nicki who? Azealia who?
How, and how not, to improve schools.
☁ Balancing internet time with diy time on Bossy Femme.
PSA on giving proper head to a female-bodied person.
Nancy buying something for her one true love!
GGGGG according to Latrice Royale.
Daily Shirley is so boss.
☁ If you can stomach it and would like to see it for educational purposes rather than mental self-mutilation, watch The Birth of a Nation here on YouTube.
☁ Jessica Luxery writes a much-needed post on White Supremacy in the Fat Acceptance movement.
☁ Roni E. getting it, cat-eyed style!
☁ Sara on self-love and romantic love.

Enjoy your week!


“all i can say is – if this is my time in life…goodbye misery”

yo, FUCK trying to be like these famous writing white girls. you’re gonna be a famous writing brown girl! GO GET SOME NACHOS.

So, Sara basically paraphrased what I said, but I’m flattered by how she captured my upbeatness and empowering vibes behind my statements to her so well.

The context of the quote is in the idea of whitewashing one’s identity in order to become successful in one’s occupation, as whiteness does not value those voices not within whiteness. Rather than be Sara D. the Magnificent Writer, she becomes the Brown Nightmare Brunette or Marie Colloway. The Quirky Black Girl becomes the Black Zooey Deschanel. We never become ourselves when we forget ourselves. We never own ourselves when we sell ourselves, strip ourselves, bleach out our experiences to give whiteness a sanitized version of ourselves.

I always come back to this James Cone quote, whenever I’m feeling frustrated or small:

Now if you know that you have a humanity that nobody can take away from you, they make lock you up, they may lynch you, but they don’t win.

The greats did not become greats, even as marginalized people, by shedding themselves into shape for the dominant culture; their dignity and experiences were much more important. Our stories need to be told, and the dominant culture will not tell them for us, even as they beg you to trust them.

Forget being someone else’s racial counterpart. They will be singing my praises as a black woman.

Domesticity: Björk’s “Debut”

Björk has said on occasion that her album Vespertine is about being domestic, and going inwards towards oneself. Vespertine, which was originally titled Domestika, was “all about trying to create a paradise in your own home, a very introverted euphoria, a quiet ecstatic state, in that you’re self-sufficient with your heaven. You don’t need stimuli from the outside world. All you need is imagination and human spirit, and faith to want to get there.” Although, when I think of Vespertine, sex comes to mine, not particularly domesticity. When I need feelings of homeliness and familiarity, Debut comes to mind.

Debut reminds me of being one’s own friend, leaving the rural life for an urban existence. It reminds me of drinking straight from the bottle of life, being solely in the present. Notwithstanding the sepia feel of the album cover, I always imagine the colors of the songs to be of a strong, prismic variety (like the base colors for Adobe Suite icons). Debut reminds us to be silly and grounded in ourselves, pleasantly selfish!

When I did “Debut” I thought, ‘OK, I’ve pleased enough people, I’m gonna get really selfish.’ And I never sold as many records as with “Debut”. So, I don’t know, it seems the more selfish I am, the more generous I am. I m not going to pretend I know the formula. I can only please myself.

It’s very hard to say just what it’s about. I’d like it to be a statement of individuality. But I’ve still got a long way to go, so I’m a bit confused, because I just know I can do so much better than this record… 

If you went out somewhere and had a really good time, you don’t wake up the next morning and try to figure out why you did. It’s not because of anything. It’s just the atmosphere, the people, the chemistry of friends, your mood, what happened before, what will happen after. And you can’t explain it, and I don’t understand why you should. And it’s the same with songs. 

“The Origin of An Aries: The Study of Damon Albarn,” Journal of Compact Fuku. University of California Press; Berkeley, California, USA. 23 March, 2012. Print.

Disclaimer: Following in the footsteps of the previous blahg post, I shall examine the origins of snarkiness, typical traits of my astrological sign, Aries. Interestingly enough, the ultimate Aries has a birthday today. This post shall fancy him.

Bestial signs are those traditionally symbolized by four-footed animals. Also called quadrupedian (four-footed), these signs can lack in social graces and are reputed to display an animalistic reaction to their emotions, sometimes indicating courseness and a poor appreciation of polite manners. They can also be a little inarticulate.

STUDY OF AN ARIES: DAMON ALBARN
March 23, 1968 Whitechapel, London, UK

Aries personalities are independent. Being the first of the zodiac signs, they venture out and are go-getters, often leading the way. Their upbeat and magnetic personality often entices others to follow their lead because Aries personalities bring excitement into others lives.

“I have discipline,” he counters. “When I say I’m going to do something I’ll do it, for good or for bad. If you don’t have that inner strength about stuff you’re fucked, but I just generally believe I can get better, and I need to believe that, that I can keep going forward so I push myself and those around me to get the best we possibly can. That’s what motivates me, this belief in going forward.“The world is not full of cunts; we have a collective responsibility not to slag people off and instead try to understand them.

“There is this kind of perverse satisfaction of not being understood. It’s a reason to get up in the morning and to try even harder. I think it’s a quite good thing that people don’t get what I’m really trying to say.”

 Aries are good friends, they always look out for their friends with caring and generosity and will protect them should the need arise and encourage them with their natural optimism. If confronted, Aries can turn to be quite childish, they will fight back with their aggressive nature and are known to have temper tantrums should they not get their way. 

“I only had one mate ten years ago, and that was Graham. And he’s still my only mate.”

“It’s annoying that Graham is re-writing history. He’s talking quite a lot of bullshit about this. All I’ve got to say is that I love him, whatever he says. I cannot believe we won’t record with him again. I just can’t. He grew up as part of my family from the age of 12, for fuck’s sake. Maybe I’m wrong but I see it as a sabbatical.”

“We’ve fallen out so many times before, this isn’t anything new, y’know ? It used to be weeks and weeks we’d go without talking to each other and now it’s just been a year. But all I can say is it was very nice at [Alex’s] wedding and confirmed the feeling we all have deep down that we’re lifelong friends. It probably isn’t the right record for Graham to work on but it certainly doesn’t mean that once we’re in the right space again, all of us, we won’t be able to make another record together. I don’t expect anything but I look forward to it.”

“Ecstasy embarrassed me because I was far too nice to everyone and I don’t believe in being nice for no reason.”

“Before Blur pack up interviews for the day, Albarn refuses to choose his favourite video clips for the German satellite station Viva. “We don’t do that on our fifth album,” he says. Coxon is happy to choose Ash and Prodigy. He likes their youth and exuberance. “You fancy them,” says Albarn, draped over a piano like Marlene Dietrich. I was young and exuberant once. You used to fancy me.”

Twenty minutes later, they’re still at it. “You just hate me,” Damon complains. “You hate me and you hate what I do.”
“That’s right, mate,” says Street with a grin.
“I bet you weren’t like this with Morrissey. I bet you had a bit more fucking respect.”

Aries are activists. If a business idea comes their way, they tend to plunge right in. Aries are more then willing to take a gamble and follow their dreams and goals. However, if success is not immediate, they tend to lose interest and give up easily. Aries are notorious for not finishing what they have begun. This is due to the low tolerance for boredom and lack of patience. If the excitement is gone from their business idea, they go off and search for it elsewhere. 

“Each individual has their own opinions about whether war is an answer to any problems.” He explained to Sky News, “Personally I think it’s a waste of time, but I think more importantly, that it’s is an issue that we haven’t had any say in. That’s why I feel so strongly about it.
“I don’t feel like we’ve really been given any choice in this matter. I think if you had a referendum tomorrow, Tony Blair would have no choice but to call off the war.”

Independence is key to Aries astrology, they do not like to take orders from others and enjoy getting their way. They can get childish or moody should they be given orders that they do not like. Aries easily take offense to comments made. Aries are self-involved and can be self-centered, if they do not pay attention to the feelings of others, Aries can easily become spoiled and resented by others. In order to get their way, Aries will tell a lie if it seems advantageous to do so. They are however, not very good liars and other people can usually see through them.

 

Underneath the strong, independent surface may lie insecurity. This is due to the intense drive to succeed and Aries put too much pressure on themselves, thus resulting in self-doubt however, the natural optimism and enthusiasm overtakes this and the underlying insecurity may never be known to others.

“Damon is a nervous chap a lot of the time, by no means strong. I know he’s much more aggressive than the rest of us, wanting to prove himself in certain ways.”

“I don’t think he likes being disliked. But that’s a funny charm of his; if you don’t know him he can be quite offensive. He can seem a bit weird in that sometimes he seems to try too hard. And people take that as an opportunity to knock him down.

You have to be very careful when you write very personal records. I’ve seen a lot of people just decide to be totally open and I think what they’re left with is a real confusion about who they are. Because they’ve got nothing to preserve for themselves. It can really fuck you up.

Aries is the first of the zodiac signs. Aries is the sign of the self, people born under this sign strongly project their personalities onto others and can be very self-oriented. Aries tend to venture out into the world and leave impressions on others that they are exciting, vibrant and talkative. Aries tend to live adventurous lives and like to be the center of attention, but rightly so since they are natural, confident leaders. Aries are enthusiastic about their goals and enjoy the thrill of the hunt, “wanting is always better then getting” is a good way to sum it up. Aries are very impulsive and usually do not think before they act – or speak. Too often Aries will say whatever pops into their head and usually end up regretting it later.