Friday, February 19, 2010

Mardi "Gaze"

This past weekend, I visited the cultural phenomenon of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Although I had a great time, I continually said that once I graduate from college, I would never return to the city during the time of celebration. After making this claim numerous times, both men and women’s reactions were all the same. Why? Why would I not return to the party of a lifetime or just a weekend of fun? To be honest, once I am a college graduate (or even a student) I think it would be hard to return to something that entirely taints the perception of women. The whole practice was embarrassing and seemed to fulfill every stereotype women have sought to overcome. I can understand nights here in Memphis or in college where things might get a little out of hand, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with me to say the amount of disgusting degrading actions preformed by women in New Orleans made me ashamed and yet understanding of why our systematic feminist structure is so hard to change. (Disclaimer: I know some of the people in this class may have gone and partaken in certain activities and I’m not trying to pin point specific ones, but as a whole the women representation was less than amusing)

To point out the moment I had had enough, I was walking down Bourbon where I had a man come up to me and yelled in my face “Girl, show me your boobs!” then preceded to smack my butt. The whole scenario reminded me of Fanon’s story in the train car, where the small girl calls him a bad name and instantly Fanon was objectified. Similarly, a man who I am assuming did not graduate from a place like Rhodes objectified me as woman, one willing to undress in the middle of the street and one that would be thrilled by his smacking my butt. It also made me think of male privilege. Like Fanon’s scenario, the little white girl will never undergo the same objectification of the full grown black man just as the man will never undergo the objectification of being yelled at like an object or machine that should be working.

Although I agree that both women and men need to be educated, I feel like women need to make a stand collectively before men will take the group as a whole seriously. From what I saw in New Orleans, it made me wonder how the women that seemed to enjoy the degrading attention of men can somehow find their individual pleasure within themselves as Irigaray would say. A lot of the women are from complete different social structures, families and education systems than what our class is use to and how do we approach this whole new group of women?

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree more with Courtney's post. Mardi Gras is renowned for wild parties, beads, and of course boobs. I would like to know who tagged the "show me your boobs" infamous party line. I'd like to show them a slap in the face. The culture and practice of Mardi Gras is incredible and unique to New Orleans yet I have lost respect for the event because of these oppressive and acceptable practices. Don't get me wrong I like to go out and have a good time but that doesn't involve a few flashes of the girls. This is my third year at Rhodes. As a college student this is the time I should be traveling and experiencing things such as Mardis Gras yet I refrain from that specific event because of the stigma surrounding the treatment of women in the affair. Courtney I apologize for what happened to you.


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