Teen Feminist Revolution will be Internet-ized

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braless

Credit: Courtesy of MTV

Laci Green in MTV's Braless

(WOMENSENEWS)–I’m watching the latest segment of MTV’s new YouTube series, Braless. Like any other YouTube channel trawl, I’m unconsciously clicking on the link to watch the next episode–even before the first one is finished. That’s a testament to Laci Green’s compelling presentation. She’s smiley and warm and you get the sense that this is a woman who has fun: her delivery of feminist thought is crackling with the perfect combination of energy, dry wit and speed; perfect for the post-millennials.So what is MTV Braless? Well, it’s MTV’s first YouTube channel with original programming for a start. Hosted by one of YouTube’s most popular sex-educators, Laci Green, Braless will post a new segment weekly on gender and sexuality in pop culture. No doubt the channel will be hoping to tap into the popularity of Green’s own channel, Sex+, with its impressive 1.1 million subscribers and artfully-named videos such as, “Clit-Ical Thinking” and “50 Shades of WTF.”

The 25-year-old self-described “sexuality geek” hosts shows for everyone from the Discovery Channel to Planned Parenthood. Colin Helms, senior vice president of MTV’s Connected Content, say the channel is based around Green’s “smart, funny way” of presenting. Yet Green also courts some controversy. A Tumblr post on the subject of “why laci green sucks [sic]” has over 5,000 reblogs and likes, and well-known blog “Your Fave Is Problematic” cites Green’s comments on Islam and bisexuality (amongst other topics) as woefully offensive.

MTV Braless has posted four videos so far. In its channel trailer, characteristically exuberant Laci Green introduces the series as “a new web-series about… how would you describe it? Feminism!” With pop-up graphics, memes and frequent references to Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, this is a show with its target audience carefully in mind: people like my 13-year-old sister, for example.

A recent episode, “Is Twerking Sexist?” tackles the drama around the dance in just over three minutes: history of twerking, the link between criticism of the dance and the sexualization of black women’s bodies and a welcome reminder of the vital distinction between sexual subjectification and sexual objectification. No second is wasted; this may be feminist thought for a younger audience, but this sure isn’t watered down. Nor should it be.

While watching “Why Is Zero a Size Tho?” I couldn’t help thinking that Braless is what I needed three years ago. Thirteen was the year of feminist awakening but it wasn’t an easy epiphany to have, and there were certainly no household name corporations like MTV to high five me that my politics were well-founded and fun.

But what kind of problems does Braless face? Well, I am all in favor of bringing feminism to a wider audience, but I do have slight qualms about boiling feminist issues down to three or four minute portions. The racism tied up in the public view of twerking, for example, isn’t something that can or should be explained in under five minutes. It’s a topic that needs and deserves more careful and nuanced thought. That isn’t to say that looking at something in a pop culture context is to denigrate it–dissecting music videos and deconstructing song lyrics are often vehicles by which we can consider the bigger picture, because they reflect a wider, societally held belief–but maybe that the fundamental problem with Braless is we need more time. Ten minutes of careful discussion may be a safer, and more representative, bet.

Furthermore, all bets are on if Braless remains true to its promise to discuss LGBTQ+ issues and not fall into that prevalent trap of heteronormativity.

It’s too early to call the success of Braless. But even only after a few weeks live, it has over 64,000 subscribers. That underscores something at the heart of growing teenage activism: the (new, feminist) revolution will be internet-ized. Just take a look at the tremendous outpouring of love for sites like rookiemag.com, an online publication aimed at teenage girls which discusses feminist issues and intersectionality as well as posting pieces like “Slumber Party Games: A Taxonomy.” If there’s one thing I know for sure, scrolling through my Twitter feed and my Facebook homepage, it’s this: In a world voraciously in demand of gender equality and with younger people increasingly more engaged in activism, episodes of Braless are going to have girls–and boys–the world over sharing their links.

— Georgia Luckhurst

What or Who is a Feminist?

I don’t have a problem with the f-word, it’s just that being a proponent of equal rights is so much a part of me I never felt the need to label it.

A firm believer in girl power, I strongly believe women are just as capable as men to do, well, anything, so I’ve always considered myself a proponent of equal rights. But like me, girls all over the country are realizing they, too, are feminists.

MTV’s video blogger Laci Green talks a lot about this at her new YouTube channel, Braless. The show aims to reach girls who are just beginning to understand what feminism really is and uses Taylor Swift’s recent “feminist awakening” as a tool to hook her audience.

After hearing Green discuss the definition, I had to look up the word for myself.

Obviously, a lot of stigma around feminism occurs over lack of understanding of what it means to be a feminist. For example, Time magazine included “feminist” on its annual word banishment poll along with OMG, YOLO and twerk. Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs apologized later when reader backlash ensued: “While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.”

Some extreme assumptions stem from the word itself. One could easily conclude that a feminist is someone who is all about women: women’s voices, women’s rights, women’s freedom. And from that it could be assumed that only a woman could be a feminist. And this is where the crazed, men-hating stereotypes come from. But according to MTV’s Green (and Webster’s definition) feminism isn’t as one-sided as it seems. Actually, it is about impartiality on both ends of the gender spectrum. And there are different kinds of feminism, according to scholars, such as those at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who have created specialized categories, such as radical, eco and cultural.

Even pop singer Bruno Mars considers himself feminist. These New York high school boys, across the racial and ethnic spectrum, went on the record, declaring themselves feminist.

MTV has again presented the world with yet another thought-provoking show testing the views of society. Hopefully it will be an eye opener into the doctrines of feminism and what it really means to be a feminist. As Green keeps presenting us with the growing influence of feminism in modern times, maybe more girls will notice their inner feminist and more boys will hop on the bandwagon as well. When you boil it all down, all it means is women have equal pay, jobs and access to all sectors of society. Since we’re more than half the population, who could argue with that?

Robin Morgan, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center, used to insist on being called a “women’s liberationist” she wrote in Time: “I had no clue that feminists had been a major (or leading) presence in every social-justice movement in the U.S. timeline: the revolutionary war, the campaigns to abolish slavery, debtors’ prisons and sweatshops; mobilizations for suffrage, prison reform, equal credit; fights to establish social security, unions, universal childhood education, halfway houses, free libraries; plus the environmentalism, antiwar and peace movements. And more. By 1970, I was a feminist.”

Who knows, maybe one day we will step away from the seemingly isolated “feminist” terminology and be called “gender-equalitists.” Better yet, maybe we’ll just be people, sharing the rights, responsibilities and, importantly, benefits of being simply being human.

— Erin Nwachukwu

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