People Are Arguing About This

[Content Note: Racism; minstrelsy; misogyny; implied violence; female genital cutting; appropriation.]

In Sweden, there is "controversy" surrounding video and photos of the minister of culture (and a bunch of other white people) cutting into a cake fashioned into the torso of a minstrelized caricature of a black African woman. Atop a neck covered in gold rings sat the head of a male "performance artist," donning minstrel make-up, who screams every time someone cuts into the part of the cake where the crotch would be, revealing dark red cake. This was allegedly an awareness-raising stunt about female genital cutting.

[Video of scene described above.]

Because the "performance artist" is himself black, there are people (mostly white people, naturally) arguing that the cake/stunt can't possibly be racist. That is, of course, not accurate. Marginalized people internalize the narratives of our oppression as thoroughly as the privileged people who use those narratives to their own advantage, and we are eminently capable of conveying the rhetorical bars of our metaphorical cages.

That is not an answer to the question of whether the above is racist. It is a response to the assertion that it can't be because its creator is black.

I am not an expert in finding the patterns of racism in order that it might be objectively assessed, so I will defer to people who are, who clearly and concisely lay out the case. This is racism.

I am, however, an expert in finding the patterns of misogyny in order that it might be objectively assessed: Appropriation of an almost uniquely female experience, reducing a woman to her disembodied reproductive parts, exhorting the mutilation of a female form for "art," demonstrable lack of concern or understanding for female reactions to appropriated female experiences ostensibly as an "ally" to women... I could go on, but I'm guessing I've made my point. This is misogyny.

And yet there are people arguing about these points, as if this breathtaking display might be something else.

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