Friday, 17 April 2015

On The "Rape As Backstory" Trope

A few weeks ago, after I'd (finally) gotten around to finishing season one of Top Of The Lake, I posted some thoughts about the rape as backstory trope, and my distaste for it. I figured that while it could be an instance of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon gone awry, there seemed to be far too many fictional women who'd been raped or sexually assaulted in some way.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Comment/Content Policy: Rules of Engagement for BattyMamzelle

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on January 12, 2014. I have recently discovered that several of my essays have been turning up on other websites without my permission or knowledge, even though my content use policy is very clear that I do not allow the republication of my work. For prevent confusion, I am bumping this post up with a few minor changes that should make any ambiguities in that regard more clear. 

In the last few months, this blog has had gotten a lot more regular traffic, for which I am incredibly grateful. However, it also means that because I often write about feminism and anti-racism, I get a lot of ignorant and uninformed comments from people insisting that I make the same arguments over and over again, tailored to their level of understanding. To that end, I decided to start 2014 off with a clear set of guidelines that I can insist people who engage with me to follow. I am tired of being expected to "prove" my lived experiences, and I won't be doing it anymore. The comment policy will allow me to dismiss unfounded nonsense without having to engage with trolls or the willfully oblivious.

So, without further ado, here is the official BattyMamzelle comment and content policy!

On Comments:
  1. This is my kingdom and I am the Queen. Whatever I say goes. 
  2. Comments are heavily moderated and approved at my discretion. I determine what is and isn't appropriate at any given time.
  3. Because I like discussion and dialogue, 90% of comments will likely make it through, so don't be shy about adding your voice.
  4. Dissenting opinions are allowed and welcome as long as they are respectful, productive and elevate the conversation.
  5. If your comment is racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, derailing, trolling, or any other kind of bigoted that I deem offensive and impermissible, it will be deleted without explanation. Deal with it. This rule includes charges of "reverse racism."

On Content Use:
  1. Cardinal rule: DO NOT STEAL MY WORK. I work very hard on the essays I publish and I deserve to be credited and compensated for my labour. Do not republish anything from this site without express written permission from me. Permission may be sought by emailing me at
  2. Unfortunately, I am not entertaining requests to republish my work at this time. To be clear, this means that I do not wish to be cited in academic works of any kind, or republished anywhere online. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis. Hyperlink citations are allowed and encouraged, however you must explicitly credit me by name and link back to the original piece. I would also love it if you also shot me a quick email to say you were citing me. This is not mandatory, but I do like to know where my ideas end up, and what context they are being referenced in. If you purposely fail to properly cite my work, or cite it for the explicit purpose of mocking/derision, I will not hesitate to name and shame you online. Foul-play is a two way street that I don't often have opportunity to travel.
  3. If you're unsure if what you would like to do with my content constitutes fair or appropriate use, shoot me a quick email and I'll let you know, but a cursory definition of plagiarism should help you figure it out on your own.
  4. Sharing posts via social media is obviously not a problem, and in fact, heavily encouraged.
  5. To that end, if you think that I have used something without proper/adequate citation, let me know and I will fix it. A quick comment on the offending post should suffice, but emails are welcome.
On General Expectations of Civility:
  1. At all times, remember that I write this blog for myself, in my spare time. I am not an educator on feminism or anti-racism. I am also not a voice for all black women everywhere. My opinions are mine and I speak only for myself. The purpose of this blog is not to provide an education, but simply to act as a venue for my opinions. That you might glean something from being here is delightful, but ultimately incidental.
  2. Because I often write about feminist issues as they relate to pop culture, I expect commenters to have a basic level understanding of feminist concepts and definitions. If you do not have this knowledge, know that much of the discussion will not be accessible to you. Think of my writing as a 400-level college course with pre-requisites.
  3. Racism101: Intro To Racism courses can be found at Racism School. Please note the working definition of racism that is used on this blog.
  4. I am not a teacher. I do not get paid to do this. I do not owe anyone my time or attention. Do not demand an explanation, tailored education, or approach my work in a way that indicates you feel entitled to access to me, or you will be ignored and likely banned. Good faith enquiries will entertained as depending on my mood when I find them. Always remember that Professor Google has 24/7 office hours.
  5. If you find yourself unable to comply with these very reasonable rules, then this is not the place for you. Thank you for stopping by.

Accusations of censorship or "suppression of free speech" will be mocked. Remember at all times that this blog is MINE, and I will do with it as I see fit. No one but me is entitled to a voice in this space. If you dislike the way I moderate discussions or disapprove of the way I deal with dissenters, you are welcome to start your own blog. Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr are free and available to the public. 


Naturally this post will eventually be buried in the archives, so always remember that these rules can be accessed in their entirety at all times from the comment policy tab above. The rules of engagement will be strictly enforced. Check back regularly to see that there haven't been changes or additions, as it will be up to you to ensure you haven't broken the rules. Not having read them before commenting will not be considered a valid justification for breaching the rules. That said, I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, 30 January 2015

#ShameOnShonda Is Bullshit: On Black Women, Mental Health And Intersectionality

via IB Times

This morning, there was grumbling on my twitter timeline about the storyline of last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. A hashtag, #ShameOnShonda, had been started in protest of what was perceived as a stigmatization of mothers with post-partum depression, or PPD. In the story, a black woman had driven her two children into a lake, almost killing them, and causing a major traffic accident in which other people were also injured. Many of the doctors of the show speculated about what kind of mother she must be to have tried to harm her kids. One doctor in particular, April Kepner (pictured above), who is heavily pregnant, deeply religious and had just found out her fetus suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease) was especially severe in her condemnation of the mother's actions. In the end, it was revealed that the mother had a tumor of sorts on her pancreas that explained her behaviour and her escalating symptoms before the accident. The mother was neither "crazy" nor evil; she was ill.

To me, the episode was very clearly commentary on the differences between the relationship of black women and white women to mental health and motherhood. (Expertly complemented by the relationships of black and white women to each other on How To Get Away With Murder later that night.) I tweeted about the misinterpretation of the episode earlier today (storify below) but I wanted to expound on some of those thoughts in a longer post.