Lily Allen’s new song?

So I know I’m like two weeks late with this, but that’s because I’ve been avoiding Lily Allen’s new song and the whole discussion around it because I’m not a fan. Never been a fan. She’s alright. I don’t hate her, but in general I just find her a bit too brash and untalented to be impressed by. I just feel “Meh” about her. The same way I also feel “Meh” about Jessie J for example. Which is fine, there are a lot of very untalented mediocre people in the entertainment industry and at least Lily Allen is standing up for some pretty sound ideals and has some decent social criticisms generally speaking…compared to the likes of for example the Kardashians she is an eternal fountain of talent, skill, profound intelligence, social awareness and a role model for young girls. So she’s alright.

Anyway, her new song is supposed to be a feminist statement and a comment on the current state of the music and entertainment business and the objectification of women, coming off the back of Miley’s Wrecking Ball disaster etc etc.

The song is quite catchy actually, in an average chart pop kind of way, which is a good thing because more people will listen to what is actually a decent message and social commentary. We all know the general public has no interest in anything that might potentially seem remotely intelligent, so all intelligent things needs to be redressed in digestible bites disguised as dumb recognisable trends and something cool. Lily Allen has done this pretty well, so kudos to her for achieving that and taking her feminist message to a wider audience by doing so.

The whole shebang about the video being racist? No idea. I have no knowledge of her history or background as being a racist – if any of that is true or not. AND even if it is unconsciously or sub-consciously racist – is that really such a bad thing? Does that not draw attention to another big subject we need to work on and get over (regardless of whether this was intentional or not as far this video is concerned).

Skin Colour Confusion

Earlier this month, the infamous Miss America beauty pageant crowned as Miss America 2014 a New York born and raised 24 year old beauty Nina Davuluri – born of Indian descent. This is the first time the pageant has crowned a beauty queen of Indian origin. Huzzah, a step forward…for some.

miss new york nina davuluri miss america 2014

To be honest, most of the time I couldn’t care less who is voted or chosen as Miss America. Why should I? So why am I paying attention this time? Because of all the negativity – the racism surrounding this crowning of a talented young woman whose parents come from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh – which borders the South Indian state of Karnataka where I was born and raised.

Nina Davuluri was born in Syracuse, New York. She then moved with her family to Oklahoma and Michigan become coming back home to New York where she was crowned Miss New York which took her to the Miss America platform. Sounds pretty all-American to me.

Why the controversy then? Basically the lethal combination of her Indian origin combined with the general public’s severe lack of general knowledge, cultural backwardness, racism and stupidity. In a nutshell.

As soon as she was crowned Miss America 2014, the uneducated general public took to Twitter to express their well-founded and completely unbiased opinions such as dutifully captured by buzzfeed:

BUT what is (to me at least) equally if not even more fascinating is the discussion this crowning has sparked in the Indian and South Asian community both in the US as well as worldwide (again from buzzfeed):

Would Nina Davuluri have had any chance of such a win in India?

Many say no, a very definite no even – because she is too dark skinned. Here are the top 3 contestants from the past 5 years of the Miss India pagaent for a quick comparison:

femina miss india 2008 winners femina miss india 2009 winners

miss india 2012 top 3 miss india 2013 top 3

miss india east 2009 miss india winner 2010

And that brings me to a point that is of personal fascination – the role of skin colour in India and the Indian community worldwide and specifically the role of skin colour in peoples’ expectations of your/ their nationality.

Being half-Caucasian myself I was constantly questioned about my “whiteness” in India as a  child – people just refused to believe me when I said I was Indian and born and raised there and considered myself local – how was I to know any better? I was 7-8 years old and entirely lacking any capacity to fully comprehend what was being asked. Then moving to Germany and The Netherlands I was constantly questioned about why I was so dark and told I couldn’t be European “really” because – “but what language do you speak at home?” or “what passport do you have?”. If I was visibly annoyed about this questioning (as by now I was a bit older) it was explained to me that these questions were not out of any form of racism but out of “sincere and genuine curiosity” about my “beautiful exotic looks”. Hmmm, I really wish you weren’t so curious. Now I live in London, the first place I have lived where I feel like no one gives a fuck about my skin colour – I do not stand out in any way with my skin colour and am truly anonymous, YEESSS!!

However more often than not my skin colour has time and again helped keep me confined within the fluid boundaries of a confused no-man’s land my entire life. That place where you are “not one of us”.

So in 2013 in the UK and in the US – how much of our identity is our skin colour? How much of that is defined by other people and the ways in which they may or may not perceive us solely based on the colour of our skin?

How long is it going to take for people to stop questioning your nationality based on your skin colour?!

Saudi Arabia’s First Ever Anti-Domestic Abuse Ad

Wow. If I may say so. Wow. I think I’m actually impressed. Courtesy of Jezebel – this image from Saudi Arabia’s campaign against domestic violence. Progress? I am tempted to think so.

“Saudi Arabia is currently ranked 131 out of 148 in terms of gender parity. Most domestic abuse isn’t reported, but violence against women as well as female children is believed to occur in disturbingly high numbers.” – Jezebel

Of course, this is only just the very beginning of a very very long fight, but baby steps, Rome wasn’t built in a day right? This is the first ever campaign of it’s type in the country and that alone is an achievement in itself. So kudos to that.

This ad apparently a part of King Khalid Foundation’s No More Abuse campaign – and the website for the organisation says:

“The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface. It is a phenomenon found in the dark. We want to achieve justice for all women and children exposed to abuse in all parts of the Kingdom.”

saudi arabia domestic abuse campaign poster