Last month I watched German electronic band Mouse on Mars light the crowd on fire at Soho, a posh nightclub in Kolkata, India. A hundred desi girls and boys bounced awkwardly around the tiny dance floor—beer in one hand, cigarette in the other—as the experimental techno screaming from the speakers deafened everyone temporarily. This is not the India you see in Bollywood movies.
"The average age of entry into prostitution today in the Untied States is 13 years old." The stories of some of the girls whose lives bear out this disturbing statistic are told in Very Young Girls, one of three documentaries in recent years that examine the lives of black girls and women.
During the '08 campaign season, I cringed at comments made about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s “hotness” and at the idea of the porno “Nailin’ Sarah Palin”--even though Palin's politics, her demeanor, and pretty much everything about her, made me throw up in my mouth a little. And to be sure, if Palin had become vice president, continued objectification of her and ongoing commentary about her of sexual nature would have bugged me to no end--even as I packed up and headed to Canada. And yet...
When people talk about Madonna as a symbol of female empowerment, I have to ask, "Empowering to whom?" Certainly not to the black and brown people populating her Sex book, her videos, or her film Truth or Dare. It is through this lens of Madonna's messy racial and sexual politics that I viewed her adoption of a child from Malawi three years ago, and her recent, thus-far-unsuccessful effort to adopt a second child there.