Search results for cultural appropriation

In an interesting example of cultural borrowing/appropriation sent in by Catherine H., the Korean all-girl pop band T-ara imitates stereotypes of American Indians in their music video for their (strangely catchy) song, YaYaYa.

It’s difficult (for me) to know how these stereotypes of native North Americans “work” in Korea. It appears to mean something to Koreans, otherwise why use the imagery and narratives, but what? And how should Americans who oppose the stereotyping (and erasing of modern) Native Americans talk about this “borrowing”?

To get some perspective, I turned to James Turnbull.  Turnbull is behind the blog, The Grand Narrative, where he writes about Korean Sociology through the prism of pop culture.  This is what he had to say:

First, please note that T-Ara’s Yayaya is actually just one of several recent Korean music videos that have used Native-American imagery, and by no means the most offensive at that. For a list, see here, which points out that Indian Boy by MC Mong is much more problematic.

Second, so many Korean groups are being formed these days – over 30 new girl-groups in 2011 alone – that their management companies (most well-known Korean groups are completely “manufactured”) are in a constant battle to gain media attention for them. One way to do so is to regularly come up with new “concepts” for the group, of which a “cute” one incorporating Native-American imagery is just one possibility of many.

But thirdly and most importantly, it is no exaggeration to say that Korea is one of the least politically-correct societies out there, particularly in the ways in which non-Koreans are represented in popular-culture.

Often, this is completely innocent, most Koreans being ignorant of the connotations of Blackface for instance, or the passions Nazi imagery arouses in Western countries, to the extent that both are regularly found in popular culture and advertising. Indeed, I was especially struck once by reading of university students performing in Blackface at a festival because they thought Black audiences would like it, and would appreciate the interest in “their culture”. As the person who saw this wrote, this was not “offensive” per se, but it was certainly shocking.

Alternatively however, the ignorance can be willing. For example, last year the the Korean Overseas Information Service (KOIS) part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, produced an expensive “Visit Korea” ad which played on the likes of CNN and BBC World and so on, but which relied so heavily on patronizing stereotypes of non-Koreans that it would likely have put off more potential tourists than attracted them. Non-Koreans in the KOIS were consulted in the making however, and did warn the producers of this, but unfortunately their advice was rejected, either because a) Korean advertisers are notorious for producing things that would appeal primarily to Koreans, despite the actual target audience, and/or b) it didn’t jibe with the advertisers’ perceptions of non-Koreans and their wants or needs. (Both are persistent problems with Korean tourism advertisements.)

Finally, for the source of those perceptions, consider Korea’s extremely exclusionary “bloodline”-based nationalism andextremely homogenous population (less than 3% of Korea’s population are “foreign residents”, a third of which are ethnic Koreans from China). Consequently, Korean society is really only just beginning to grapple with the concept of multiculturalism, albeit with much urgency because of the sudden huge influx of brides from Southeast Asia in the last decade or so, with the populations of many rural communities close to becoming a third or even half non-ethnic Korean. Certainly, a great deal of progress has been made in integrating them and acknowledging what their cultures have to offer, but when Korean school textbooks extolled the virtues of being an ethnically homogenous society until as recently as 2006 (and see here for how Blacks and native-Americans were portrayed in school picture dictionaries at that time), then I’m sure you can appreciate that much still remains to be done to prevent prejudice against them, especially in how non-Koreans and cultures are portrayed in the media.

Which to be fair, nobody outside of Korea was at all concerned with until K-pop became popular!

Thank you, James!

We’re happy to hear your thoughts in the comment threads. The video:

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Before Halloween, I posted a video where Erin Gibson satirizes the way women’s costumes are overwhelmingly a “sexy” version of something…anything. Commenter HP took issue with it, wondering whether it satirized or challenged the topic in a useful way, rather than, in HP’s term, “pinkwashing” it — that is, presumably critiquing sexism but doing so in a way that looks nearly indistinguishable from the cultural trend supposedly being critiqued.

I thought about that when I saw a video my friend Captain Crab posted. The video features actor Graham Greene, a member of the Oneida tribe, and spoofs ads for Lakota, a brand of arthritis pain-relief medications that appropriates Native American imagery:

While it clearly parodies the Lakota brand and ads, I can’t quite decide how showing Greene then trying to sell his own product fits in — does that undermine the message about appropriation of native cultures? I sort of felt like it did, turning it more into laughing at this idea that everyone’s trying to sell you something. After all, Greene’s product refers to him as “Dr.,” so who is he to criticize sketchy marketing methods?

What do you think? An effective commentary on use of elements of Native American cultures in marketing?

Adrienne K., who posts at Native Appropriations, let us know about the book Make It Work! North American Indians: The Hands-On Approach to History. Her friend Katie found it in the 4th-grade classroom library at the school where she teaches on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota:


As posted on Native Appropriations, Katie said,

The book purports to give a history of Native Americans and a guide to Native crafts, but what it ends up being is a veritable handbook for white kids to “play Indian.”  All the photos are of white kids dressed up as Indians!  I can’t find one picture (other than the historical ones, of course) of a Native American child.  Even more disturbingly, the descriptions make it sound as if these white kids are authentic representations of Indian clothing, etc.

Katie found it particularly odd that this book was in a classroom on a Sioux reservation. Some pages from the book:



The information is often rather vague. For instance, on one page a description of the Seminole tribe says, “The Seminole were a group formed by Creek Indians and other people from different areas.” Um, ok…that’s less than helpful.

In this image, Adrienne points out that children dressed up as a Seminole and a “Plains Warrior” (?) are playing stickball, as though the game was played by all American Indian groups (rather than mostly confined to the Southeastern region of the U.S.):


As Adrienne mentions, throughout the book, only the past tense is used, as though Native Americans are relics of the past, no longer in existence (or at least, no longer interesting).

I have seen lots of books like this. In fact, I was once given a book like this when I was a kid. At the time I thought it was awesome. The books all seem to have a common theme: American Indians are part of history in the same way that, say, the ancient Greeks [note: several readers object that ancient Greeks aren’t gone, either, since there are still Greek people around–see below] are — something to study that is interesting but no longer exists. Native cultures are presented as neat art projects for non-Native kids to create, all under the guise of learning about the history of Native Americans. But as we see here, any educational benefit the books might aim at is undermined by the conflation of many different groups and cultural features into one or two generalized “Indians” who end up combining elements of Native societies that were separated geographically and temporally.

And almost all of these books present the “Plains Warrior,” as though there was a single Plains culture made up entirely of war-lovers decked out in feather headdresses. Even as a kid I wondered what a Plains Indian was, since I’d never heard of a tribe called the Plains.

Part of what is going on here is the romanticization of Native Americans as courageous, noble, but ultimately tragic figures of the past. Modern Native Americans, those living now and wearing blue-jeans and t-shirts and perhaps eating Wonder Bread as often as homemade fry bread, just aren’t interesting. They don’t fit into our romanticized narrative. They aren’t authentic. Authentic American Indians were culturally distinct…and disappeared about the time Geronimo became a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. And that makes the cultural appropriation acceptable, because it’s referring to people in the past. Creating a “Plains outfit” with burlap and a stapler is no more problematic than using a sheet to create a Roman toga.

UPDATE: As I said above, a number of commenters have asked how it’s any different to dress up like Native Americans than it is to dress up like ancient Greeks, seeing as how there are still Greeks around. I think there is a distinction. When people think about ancient Greek civilization, no one is then making Greeks who live today invisible. We do not imply that Greeks disappeared because a particular Greek society waned in influence. And we certainly don’t imply that ancient Greeks were the same as every other European civilization, with a few sartorial differences here or there. We also don’t suggest that anyone living in Greece today who doesn’t, say, worship Zeus is inauthentic, not a “real” Greek. People living in Greece aren’t stuck in time the way many people who romanticize American Indians see them.

NEW (Apr. ’10)!  Jessica S. and Lucia M.M. sent in examples of “teepees” sold for fun.

First, from Jessica, a teepee by Land of Nod (a sister company of Crate and Barrell).  The copy reads: “Our roomy teepee is the perfect place for peewees to powwow.”

Second, from Lucia, a teepee sold by Design Within Reach:


Related posts: racist mascots, Canada’s “indigenous Olympics“, ice skaters dress up like aborigines, indigenous cultures in Avatar (spoiler alert), Halloween costumes, defining “Indian art”, “my skin is dark but my heart is white“, anachronistic images of Native Americans, “My Indian name is…“, the sports mascot Chief Illini, Playmobil’s Native American family, Howe Nissan dealership statue, the “crying Indian” anti-littering PSA, Italian political party uses images of American Indians to oppose immigration, and a Native American toy set.

For centuries, nations have expanded geographically and economically by taking land and labor from indigenous people. One of the narratives used to justify this colonialist expansion portrays indigenous land and space as empty, simply there for others to occupy. This narrative is known as indigenous absence.

Kleinman and Kleinman write that this kind of erasure is also applied to indigenous communities and families through the lens of health and suffering. For example, as in this Pulitzer prize-winning photo taken by Kevin Carter for The New York Times, the media often portrays indigenous communities as if they are in a state of constant helpless suffering, leaving any local action, support or voices out of the narrative. This implies that indigenous communities and families cannot adequately help themselves and require outside intervention from a supposedly more qualified source. Colonizers then use this logic to pursue their goals under the guise of providing help.

Chris Sanders’ Lilo & Stitch illustrates the narrative of indigenous absence through its portrayals of Lilo’s family, while using the presence of aliens (and a social worker) to advance this narrative and represent a justified state intervention.

Check out an extended video version of this post by Lena Denbroeder here!

When we first meet Lilo, she is swimming alone in the ocean, without any supervision. We then learn that Lilo and her older sister Nani’s parents have recently died in a car crash, leaving Nani to care for Lilo. While the film shows their local community in the beginning, this community is absent when it comes to caring for Lilo or Nani.  Nani is also repeatedly portrayed as an incredibly incompetent guardian. Because of this, the family’s biggest threat and the most major plot device is the presence of an evil social worker, who could take Lilo away. Thus, the very premise of the plot depends on the absence of a competent guardian for Lilo, and the fact that her household and community are inadequate and have failed her, creating a supposedly dire need for state intervention– so dire that the social worker identifies himself as “a special classification” that they bring in when “something has gone wrong.”

When Stitch joins the family, he creates chaos and jeopardizes Nani’s job search, all of which make the household appear even more unsuitable for Lilo. Stitch is thus used as a plot point that furthers the narrative of indigenous absence by exacerbating Nani’s caretaking challenges. At the same time, however, we see that Stitch fits in well with the family and is a valuable friend for Lilo when she has no one else. Both Lilo and Stitch are portrayed as unruly and badly behaved. In fact, Lilo fits in so poorly with the white community around her, that the only creature she can befriend is an alien. By choosing not to give Lilo anyone from her own community that she can relate to, the film furthers the notion that the indigenous community is absent and is a space for others to fill. Furthermore, the fact that she is portrayed as so deranged that she can only be expected to befriend an alien emphasizes Lilo’s otherness and implies that Lilo requires correction by an external force.

The most iconic phrase from the film is “Ohana means family,” and it’s marketed as a wholesome Hawaiian phrase. However, for Lilo, “Ohana” is policed and threatened by outsiders throughout the movie—both by a social worker and an invading alien military force; in fact, Lilo can only keep Stitch at the end by invoking state law.

This mirrors a history of state violence against indigenous children in the form of residential schools and forced adoptions, which were justified by the same narratives of safety and health that are used to question Nani’s competence as a guardian. Social workers and child welfare professionals participated in and often facilitated these colonial efforts. Frantz Fanon, referring to health and medicine, explains, “colonization sought a justification for its existence and the legitimization of its persistence….” Thus, the plot of Lilo and Stitch can be viewed as a microcosm of colonialism.

Lena Denbroeder is a recent graduate of Barnard College where she studied economics. Her professional interests include working towards health and housing equity, and approaching healthcare and health policy through a social justice lens.

For More:

Fanon, Frantz. 1982. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press..

Kleinman, Arthur, and Joan Kleinman.
1996. “The Appeal of Experience; The Dismay of Images: Cultural Appropriations
of Suffering in Our Times.” Daedalus
125 (1): 1–23.

Sanders, Chris. 2002. Lilo & Stitch. Walt Disney Pictures.

The first nice weekend after a long, cold winter in the Twin Cities is serious business. A few years ago some local diners joined the celebration with a serious indulgence: the boozy milkshake.

When talking with a friend of mine from the Deep South about these milkshakes, she replied, “oh, a bushwhacker! We had those all the time in college.” This wasn’t the first time she had dropped southern slang that was new to me, so off to Google I went.

According to Merriam-Webster, “to bushwhack” means to attack suddenly and unexpectedly, as one would expect the alcohol in a milkshake to sneak up on you. The cocktail is a Nashville staple, but the origins trace back to the Virgin Islands in the 1970s.

Photo Credit: Beebe Bourque, Flickr CC

Photo Credit: Like_the_Grand_Canyon, Flickr CC

Here’s the part where the history takes a sordid turn: “Bushwhacker” was apparently also the nickname for guerrilla fighters in the Confederacy during the Civil War who would carry out attacks in rural areas (see, for example, the Lawrence Massacre). To be clear, I don’t know and don’t mean to suggest this had a direct influence in the naming of the cocktail. Still, the coincidence reminded me of the famous, and famously offensive, drinking reference to conflict in Northern Ireland.

Battle of Lawrence, Wikimedia Commons

When sociologists talk about concepts like “cultural appropriation,” we often jump to clear examples with a direct connection to inequality and oppression like racist halloween costumes or ripoff products—cases where it is pretty easy to look at the object in question and ask, “didn’t they think about this for more than thirty seconds?”

Cases like the bushwhacker raise different, more complicated questions about how societies remember history. Even if the cocktail today had nothing to do with the Confederacy, the weight of that history starts to haunt the name once you know it. I think many people would be put off by such playful references to modern insurgent groups like ISIS. Then again, as Joseph Gusfield shows, drinking is a morally charged activity in American society. It is interesting to see how the deviance of drinking dovetails with bawdy, irreverent, or offensive references to other historical and social events. Can you think of other drinks with similar sordid references? It’s not all sex on the beach!Evan Stewart is an assistant professor of sociology at University of Massachusetts Boston. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo via Oli (Flickr CC)

Whether you’re taking a long flight, taking some time on the treadmill, or just taking a break over the holidays, ’tis the season to catch up on podcasts. Between long-running hits and some strong newcomers this year, there has never been a better time to dive into the world of social science podcasts. While we bring the sociological images, do your ears a favor and check these out.

Also, this list is far from comprehensive. If you have tips for podcasts I missed, drop a note in the comments!

New in 2017

If you’re new to sociology, or want a more “SOC 101” flavor, The Social Breakdown is perfect for you. Hosts Penn, Ellen, and Omar take a core sociological concept in each episode and break it down, offering great examples both old and new (and plenty of sass). Check out “Buddha Heads and Crosses” for a primer on cultural appropriation from Bourdieu to Notorious B.I.G.

Want to dive deeper? The Annex is at the cutting edge of sociology podcasting. Professors Joseph Cohen, Leslie Hinkson, and Gabriel Rossman banter about the news of the day and bring you interviews and commentary on big ideas in sociology. Check out the episode on Conspiracy Theories and Dover’s Greek Homosexuality for—I kid you not—a really entertaining look at research methods.

Favorite Shows Still Going Strong

In The Society Pages’ network, Office Hours brings you interviews with leading sociologists on new books and groundbreaking research. Check out their favorite episode of 2017: Lisa Wade on American Hookup!

Felling wonky? The Scholars Strategy Network’s No Jargon podcast is a must-listen for the latest public policy talk…without jargon. Check out recent episodes on the political rumor mill and who college affirmative action policies really serve.

I was a latecomer to The Measure of Everyday Life this year, finding it from a tip on No Jargon, but I’m looking forward to catching up on their wide range of fascinating topics. So far, conversations with Kieran Healy on what we should do with nuance and the resurrection of typewriters have been wonderful listens.

And, of course, we can’t forget NPR’s Hidden Brain. Tucked away in their latest episode on fame is a deep dive into inconspicuous consumption and the new, subtle ways of wealth in America.Evan Stewart is an assistant professor of sociology at University of Massachusetts Boston. You can follow him on Twitter.

TSP_Assigned_pbk_978-0-393-28445-4Assigned: Life with Gender is a new anthology featuring blog posts by a wide range of sociologists writing at The Society Pages and elsewhere. To celebrate, we’re re-posting four of the essays as this month’s “flashback Fridays.” Enjoy! And to learn more about this anthology, a companion to Wade and Ferree’s Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, please click here.


When Your Brown Body is a White Wonderland, by Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD

This may meander.

Miley Cyrus made news this week with a carnival-like stage performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that included life-size teddy bears, flesh-colored underwear, and plenty of quivering brown buttocks. Almost immediately after the performance many black women challenged Cyrus’ appropriation of black dance (“twerking”). Many white feminists defended Cyrus’ right to be a sexual woman without being slut-shamed. Yet many others wondered why Cyrus’ sad attempt at twerking was news when the U.S. is planning military action in Syria.

I immediately thought of a summer I spent at UNC Chapel Hill. My partner at the time fancied himself a revolutionary born too late for all the good protests. At a Franklin Street pub one night we were the only black couple at a happy hour. It is one of those college places where concoctions of the bar’s finest bottom shelf liquor is served in huge fishbowls for pennies on the alcohol proof dollar. I saw a few white couples imbibing and beginning some version of bodily grooving to the DJ. I told my partner that one of them would be offering me free liquor and trying to feel my breasts within the hour.

He balked, thinking I was joking.

I then explained to him my long, storied, documented history of being accosted by drunk white men and women in atmospheres just like these. Women asking to feel my breasts in the ladies’ restroom. Men asking me for a threesome as his drunk girlfriend or wife looks on smiling. Frat boys offering me cash to “motorboat” my cleavage. Country boys in cowboy hats attempting to impress his buddies by grinding on my ass to an Outkast music set. It’s almost legend among my friends who have witnessed it countless times.

My partner could not believe it until not 30 minutes later, with half the fishbowl gone, the white woman bumps and grinds up to our table and laughing tells me that her boyfriend would love to see us dance. “C’mon girl! I know you can daaaaannnce,” she said. To sweeten the pot they bought our table our own fishbowl.

My partner was stunned. That summer we visited lots of similar happy hours. By the third time this scene played out my partner had taken to standing guard while I danced, stonily staring down every white couple that looked my way. We were kicked out of a few bars when he challenged some white guy to a fight about it. I hate such scenes but I gave my partner a break. He was a man and not used to this. He didn’t have the vocabulary borne of black breasts that sprouted before bodies have cleared statutory rape guidelines. He didn’t know the words so he did all he knew how to do to tell me he was sorry this was my experience in life: he tried to kick every white guy’s ass in Chapel Hill.

I am not beautiful. I phenotypically exist in a space where I am not usually offensive looking enough to have it be an issue for my mobility but neither am I a threat to anyone’s beauty market. There is no reason for me to assume this pattern of behavior is a compliment. What I saw in Cyrus’ performance was not just a clueless, culturally insensitive attempt to assert her sexuality or a simple act of cultural appropriation at the expense of black bodies. Instead I saw what kinds of black bodies were on that stage with Cyrus.

Cyrus’ dancers look more like me than they do Rihanna or Beyonce or Halle Berry. The difference is instructive.

Fat non-normative black female bodies are kith and kin with historical caricatures of black women as work sites, production units,  subjects of victimless sexual crimes, and embodied deviance. As I said in my analysis of hip-hop and country music cross-overs, playing the desirability of black female bodies as a “wink-wink” joke is a way of lifting up our deviant sexuality without lifting up black women as equally desirable to white women. Cyrus did not just have black women gyrating behind her. She had particularly rotund black women. She gleefully slaps the ass of one dancer like she intends to eat it on a cracker. She is playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself  while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact.  It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially.

The performance works as spectacle precisely because the background dancers embody a specific kind of black female body. That spectacle unfolds against a long history of how capitalism is a gendered enterprise and subsequently how gendered beauty norms are resisted and embraced to protect the dominant beauty ideal of a certain type of white female beauty.

Being desirable is a commodity. Capital and capitalism are gendered systems. The very form that money takes — paper and not goods — is rooted in a historical enterprise of controlling the development of an economic sphere where women might amass wealth. As wealth is a means of power in a capitalistic society, controlling this means of acceptable monies was a way of controlling the accumulation, distribution and ownership of capital.

For black women, that form of money was embodied by the very nature of how we came to be in America.

Our bodies were literally production units. As living cost centers we not only produced labor as in work but we produced actual labor through labor, i.e. we birthed more cost centers. The legendary “one drop” rule of determining blackness was legally codified not just out of ideological purity of white supremacy but to control the inheritance of property. The sexual predilections of our nation’s great men threatened to transfer the wealth of white male rapists to the children born of their crimes through black female bodies.

Today much has changed and much has not. The strict legal restriction of inheritable black deviance has been disrupted but there still exists a racialized, material value of sexual relationships. The family unit is considered the basic unit for society not just because some god decreed it but because the inheritance of accumulated privilege maintains our social order.

Thus, who we marry at the individual level may be about love but at the group level it is also about wealth and power and privilege.

Black feminists have critiqued the material advantage that accrues to white women as a function of their elevated status as the normative cultural beauty ideal. As far as privileges go it is certainly a complicated one but that does not negate its utility. Being suitably marriageable privileges white women’s relation to white male wealth and power.

The cultural dominance of a few acceptable brown female beauty ideals is a threat to that privilege. Cyrus acts out her faux bisexual performance for the white male gaze against a backdrop of dark, fat black female bodies and not slightly more normative cafe au lait slim bodies because the juxtaposition of her sexuality with theirs is meant to highlight Cyrus, not challenge her supremacy. Consider it the racialized pop culture version of a bride insisting that all of her bridesmaids be hideously clothed as to enhance the bride’s supremacy on her wedding day.

Only, rather than an ugly dress, fat black female bodies are wedded to their flesh. We cannot take it off when we desire the spotlight for ourselves or when we’d rather not be in the spotlight at all.

This political economy of specific types of black female bodies as a white amusement park was ignored by many, mostly because to critique it we have to critique ourselves.

When I moved to Atlanta I was made aware of a peculiar pastime of the city’s white frat boy elite. They apparently enjoy getting drunk and visiting one of the city’s many legendary black strip clubs rather than the white strip clubs. The fun part of this ritual seems to be rooted in the peculiarity of black female bodies, their athleticism and how hard they are willing to work for less money as opposed to the more normative white strippers who expect higher wages in exchange for just looking pretty naked. There are similar racialized patterns in porn actresses’ pay and, I suspect, all manner of sex workers. The black strip clubs are a bargain good time because the value of black sexuality is discounted relative to the acceptability of black women as legitimate partners.

There is no risk of falling in love with a stripper when you’re a white guy at the black strip club. Just as country music artists strip “badonkadonk” from black beauty ideals to make it palatable for to their white audiences, these frat boys visit the black body wonderland as an oddity to protect the supremacy of white women as the embodiment of more and better capital.

My mentor likes to joke that interracial marriage is only a solution to racial wealth gaps if all white men suddenly were to marry up with poor black women. It’s funny because it is so ridiculous to even imagine. Sex is one thing. Marrying confers status and wealth. Slaveholders knew that. Our law reflects their knowing this. The de rigueur delineation of this difference may have faded but cultural ideology remains.

Cyrus’ choice of the kind of black bodies to foreground her white female sexuality was remarkable for how consistent it is with these historical patterns. We could consider that a coincidence just as we could consider my innumerable experiences with white men and women after a few drinks an anomaly. But, I believe there is something common to the bodies that are made invisible that Cyrus might be the most visible to our cultural denigration of bodies like mine as inferior, non-threatening spaces where white women can play at being “dirty” without risking her sexual appeal.

I am no real threat to white women’s desirability. Thus, white women have no problem cheering their husbands and boyfriends as they touch me on the dance floor. I am never seriously a contender for acceptable partner and mate for the white men who ask if their buddy can put his face in my cleavage. I am the thrill of a roller coaster with safety bars: all adrenaline but never any risk of falling to the ground.

I am not surprised that so many overlooked this particular performance of brown bodies as white amusement parks in Cyrus’ performance. The whole point is that those round black female bodies are hyper-visible en masse but individually invisible to white men who were, I suspect, Cyrus’ intended audience.

No, it’s not Syria but it is still worth commenting upon when in the pop culture circus the white woman is the ringleader and the women who look like you are the dancing elephants.

Tressie McMillan Cottom is a professor in the sociology department at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the author of Lower Ed: How For-Profit Colleges Deepen Inequality in America. This essay first appeared at her blog, Some of Us Are Brave, in 2013. You can follow her on twitter at @tressiemc.

SocImages News:

Sociological Images’ post on Kim Kardashian and the patriarchal bargain is mentioned in Peggy Orenstein’s forthcoming book, Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. What a wonderful surprise!


Also this month, we featured a guest post by sociology graduate student Nicole Bedera. Her criticism of the latest viral Barbie ad prompted NPR to do a story. Listen to hear Nicole and Barbie-scholar Ann DuCille comment on about how far the doll has, or hasn’t, come.

Finally, I had the opportunity to contribute to a smart analysis of energy drink marketing at the New Yorker and a really nice discussion of “love your body”-type marketing at The Establishment.

You like!  Here are our most appreciated posts this month:

Thanks everybody!

Editor’s pick:

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Upcoming Lectures and Appearances:

Hey folks, I’m all booked up for February and March, but might be able to squeeze something in later in the semester. Happy to talk about hookup culture (that’s the favorite) or to offer some of the other talks I’ve worked up on American thinking about genital cutting, the science of sex differences, feminism and friendship, public sociology, and more!

Social Media ‘n’ Stuff:

Finally, this is your monthly reminder that SocImages is on TwitterFacebookTumblrGoogle+, and Pinterest.  I’m on Facebook and Instagram and most of the team is on Twitter: @lisawade@gwensharpnv@familyunequal, and @jaylivingston.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.