Monday, July 19, 2010

Some words for Clutch Magazine.

This article was brought to my attention this morning over on LJ in the Blackfolks community.

Before I take the author to task let me talk about this magazine.

I heard about Clutch a few months ago and read it every now and then. However I'm not really their target audience and it quite frankly does not speak to me.

Let me quote their manifesto:

Our Manifesto

* Smart is always sexy…
* Do it for yourself not someone else…
* Research is the key to a successful purchase…
* A girl should never leave home without her compact…
* Don’t be afraid to mix styles and colors…
* If he’s not into you…good…his loss
* Living and learning are life’s best teachers
* We dig men who recognize a mean shoe game..
* Staying involved in your community is essential…
* Diversity is what makes the world go round…
* Don’t date losers…pass them along to your enemies…
* The library is the hangout…
* Appearance is important…
* We live for good music and online shopping…
* We lead they follow…

Now personally I find a lot of this problematic. This magazine is clearly dug into a very heterosexual, their several mentions of appearance and consumerism are clearly not entirely my cuppa.

But let's focus for the moment on two key points in their manifesto:

* Smart is always sexy…

And

* Diversity is what makes the world go round…

As far as editorial decisions go, putting up this article without a counter point from a Queer point of view or even passing the article by someone queer was a huge mistake.

Now as for the article itself.

First of all I take issue with the way the whole "Down Low" phenomenon is handled in this article. Like all of the rest of the coverage there is all too frequently a not so subtle scare tactic.

(The following line was removed by the editors from the original article but it illustrates my point well.)

osing as ordinary women, not the stripper in the club or private escort on Craigslist who generally identify as “Bi,” DL sistas are all around us in everyday common places. She sits in the cubicle next to you at work, and her daily conversation revolves around men.

Unfortunately all too often in the Black community there is still this Pink Menace kind of attitude, as if the Homos are out to get you, don't catch the gay off of the lesbian next to you.

I have yet to see any coverage of the down low that is aimed at straight people that does not give into this fear mongering culture that prepetuates people being on the down low.

To understand how the manner in which DL relationships/people on the DL perpetuates the phenomena in a dangerous manner you have to understand that in the Black community by and large there is a lot of posturing that whomever is accepted but the truth is much of the time they are not.

As a young person of color in many areas of life in the US you are already a target, you're already an enemy.

For instance if you are a young black man, you are already in many places a person of suspicion and whether people want to believe it or not this is an extremely hard thing to live with on a daily basis.

If you are also a young queer person there are so many homophobic people in the community, what choice do you have realistically speaking?

The rates of homelessness (which I will get to in a second), drug use and suicide among young queer POC is staggering.

I have witnessed a kind of hateful evil in the Black Community where I have seen Mothers who are supposed to be (as children) our last line of defense, say that they wouldn't speak to their openly gay children, that as someone put it their kid could be gay but never EVER speak about their life or relationships to them.

This was not thirty years ago, this has been in the last few years.

Now if you are faced with being ostracized not only by your peers, by your family (both extended and close) what would you do?

The article closes with this statement which after the hateful ignorance spewed within the article I'm frankly shocked at the audacity of the author to have said:

Sistas, don’t let a few minutes of pleasure turn into a lifetime of pain. Dare to be truthful.

Are you kidding me?

Black women do not need further othering.

Unabashedly, these sistas practice deceitful behavior in the same manner as their male counterparts as though it’s acceptable, showing no respect for themselves or anyone else. The misconception that female-on-female action is every man’s fantasy could be a contributing factor but that’s not a valid excuse, as not all men share or will agree with such desires. Some men perceive DL sistas as confused individuals and prefer to date only straight women, steering clear of the unnecessary drama.

Aside from the atrocious overuse of the vernacular "sista", how can this person be doing any service to anyone with this kind of attitude?

If straight people especially in the Black community are so concerned with the more nefarious problems associated with a "down low" lifestyle this is not the way to start to rectify that.

The first thing we need to do as a community is make sure that those people who would in fact cast out anyone queer are admonished. I don't care whether it's a community leader saying it is absolutely wrong to kick out your child for being queer, or if it is a church who says we will not put our children in more danger because we are afraid, or if it's publications like Clutch taking a stand and not printing this kind of homophobic trash.

So let me start okay?

If you are the type of parent who would throw a child out of your house for being queer, you know what you're a shitty parent and a shitty person.

If you have that little compassion for your own children and therefor contribute to the problem of people being terrified to be out of the closet, I expect little of you in terms of being a decent human being.

If you are the type of person who is part of the problem of a DL lifestyle in that you help make it not only dangerous but psychologically difficult to be an out and proud queer person in the Black Community, I question your humanity.

If a publication like Clutch does in fact believe in the tenets put forth in their manifesto, tap into the vast Queer women of color pool and find some information that could actually help someone.

If you insist on publishing an article like this from a heteronormative perspective, try expecting more from your authors. Research, interviews or even some basic human decency.

Readers, whether your a POC or not, straight or queer I encourage you to let Clutch know how you feel about this nonsense.

Contact the editors here:
Editorial-Related Comments & Questions
editors@clutchmagonline.com

Now that I've spent my angry I'm going to make some tea and perhaps update my Homosexual Agenda to include not helping Clutch succeed.

Scuse me.

Homo Out.
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2 comments:

Arielle Loren said...

Shannon,

My name is Arielle Loren and I'm the Sexuality Editor at Zora-Alice.com I am a heterosexual woman and I actually wrote a response post to Clutch today.

http://zora-alice.com/2010/07/a-response-to-clutch-mags-down-low-sista-rant/

In your post, you said that you have yet to see anything about the down low focused at "straight" people. I actually started an online documentary series called The Bi-deology Project (google it) that discusses straight women dating bisexual men and dispelling the stereotypes of the "down low" man.

http://thebi-deologyproject.com

Thought you might enjoy both!

Much love,

Arielle

Joy said...

I find many of their "articles" to be predominantly vanity pieces that rarely goes beyond personal experience. many times I can barely get through the first paragraph without rollin my eyes. There have been more than a few occassions where the commenters have called bullshit on the writers and editor though.

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