I hate the song Hey Mama (David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack). I have literally spent all summer thinking about why I hate this song, and I think I’ve finally got my finger on it with a little help from my friend, Sociology.
The nation is reeling in the wake of this most recent mass shooting, a racially-motivated terrorist attack on the black community of Charleston, SC. Nine lives taken, among them an elected political official, and countless others left devastated by the actions of a young, white man named Dylann Roof. They were family members, community members—four ministers, a librarian, a recent graduate, a grandmother, a bible study teacher, a retiree. And they are gone because of racism. Before I say more, here are their names, because in our rage against a killer, we are too often forgetful of those he has taken: Clementa Pinckney, Daniel Simmons Sr., Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, and Ethel Lance. Their lives add to a growing list of black lives taken and black bodies assaulted this year. Dylann Roof is yet another white man engaging in the kind of racist violence made possible (even permissible) in a system that devalues and denigrates blackness.While there are a few out there trying to distract from Roof’s obvious racial motives (like pundits at Fox News who are scrambling to describe this as a hate crime against Christians), most of us recognize that this was indeed a hate crime. Roof himself made it clear, both in word and action. He targeted a church that has suffered racist attacks throughout its nearly 200 year history in Charleston. He targeted a sacred space, a supposedly safe space, for Charleston’s African-American community. He was known for making racist jokes, hoping for a race war, and wearing racist garb. And, as if that wasn’t proof enough, he admitted to his victims that he was there to kill them because of their skin color, because blacks “rape our women and you’re taking over our country.”
The commercialized romance tour industry provides American men interested in meeting a foreign bride with the network and connections to make this ‘dream’ a reality. American men involved in this industry desire a foreign woman who possesses traits associated with white femininity from the 1950’s. The image of this femininity is captured in the television character of June Cleaver, as she exemplifies the stereotype of 1950’s suburban, middle-class femininity. Her work is the work of the home, and she is always dressed in a feminine manner, cooking dinner in her pearls and high heels. White, middle class women are no longer at the top of the desire hierarchy for a certain section of American men, since they are no longer feminine enough and have become too ‘masculinized’ by feminist ideas of gender equality. These men are seeking women that still possess the stereotypical 1950’s idealized ‘traditional’ white, middle class femininity, and the emotional labor ‘good’ wives provided men back then (beyond just housework). These American men construct foreign women from certain geographic regions (Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia) as ‘exotic’ women that still possess this nostalgic vision of 1950’s femininity that they desire. Latin American, as well Eastern European and Southeast Asian women, are naturalized in the romance tour market as having the proper cultural grooming that has made them more traditional, feminine, docile and better mothers (Schaeffer-Grabiel 2006).