Twi-hards against FKA Twigs: racism and sexism, together
Over the last weeks, pictures of singer FKA Twigs holding hands with actor Robert Pattinson surfaced, leading to speculation that the pair is dating. Apparently, the Twilight-fans on Twitter only caught wind of the news last week, and responded with furious tweets (as expected, since many of these fans still held hopes that Pattinson would get back together with his former co-star, Kristen Stewart).
This is not the first time that a teen-fantasy-boy’s girlfriend gets some nasty tweets: in the beginning of her relationship with Justin Bieber, for instance, Selena Gomez was accused of being a “pedophile” (because she’s a couple of years older than him) and threatened multiple times online. But FKA Twigs’ case went differently. Mostly, because she is black.
And this is where the story gets really ugly. As news spread, the number of racist tweets aimed at FKA Twigs multiplied. Almost every one of them highlighted the singer's physical appearence in an offensive way, often comparing her to a “monkey” or saying it was “gross” that Pattinson made physical contact with her at all.
Don’t believe me? Here are is a small sample of some of the tweets:
This small bit of Twitter-hate-speech was enough to show us two things: (1) most of the tweets imply that being a person of color is the same thing as being ugly (or dirty/gross); (2) they also imply that being black means she's not "good enough" for Pattinson.
By the way, just in case you don’t know her and are wondering who is FKA Twigs, here she is:
It must also be said that FKA Twigs is an inventive and very talented singer, an artist in her own right, and that she was entitled to recognition way before her relationship with Pattinson. She's been in the public eye at least since 2012, and has been broadly recognized in the musical scene for her innovative R&B music and trademark dancing moves.
The racism in the tweets is both disturbing and really obvious. Aside from their clearly offensive intent, the messages imply that being black means being ugly, and that black girls shouldn’t date handsome, white men.
Some of the Twi-hard fans have argued that they weren't being racist, but were objectively pointing out that Twigs – the individual, not the race – supposedly looks like a "monkey". Here, there are two different facts that need to be pointed out to them.
First of all, it's hard to argue that you didn't mean to be racist if, when criticising someone on their appearance, you are unable to stop talking about their skin color, or using the comparison to a "monkey" (which has been a way to offend and discriminate people of color for centuries).
Secondly, pointing out that a woman is ugly and therefore not entitled to someone's love takes me to the another point – that there is a great amount of sexism in the tweets, as well, although it's less shocking and more subtle than the racism.
To start things off, it should be noted that these fans are considering Twigs only in relation to Robert Pattinson, and not as a individual. From a creative singer and woman, she has been reduced to "Pattinson's black girlfriend". It's interesting to note that most of the Twi-hard fans ranting on Twitter don't seem to have at least Googled her name to find out who she is; they only found out what she looked like.
Which leads us to another point: all os these people slamming FKA Twigs are doing so based solely on her appearance. There are basically no comments on her career, personality or any other characteristic – the only reason fans mention for disapproving the relationship is that she is "ugly".
In other words, these fans seem to imply that the only trait a woman must have to insure a fulfilling, mature relationship is her appearance. And therefore, an "ugly" black woman is never "worthy" of a handsome young white male.
And that way, once again one of the most marginalized figure of Western society – the black female – is put in a degrading position. What these people suggest is that, as a woman, her main role is to be beautiful; and as a black woman, she will never be able to fulfil it, and is therefore "worth" less than other people.
And if all of this isn't disturbing enough, we have to remember who are the people writing these tweets: mostly, young women. These are girls in their teens that think it is okay to write racist tweets in the name of a celebrity-obsession – a shocking wake-up call about our society, and the things we are teaching kids to value the most.