“The straight American “white girl” serves as the normative gender performance, the femininity from which all femininity deviates, through which all women of color are otherized. As the default, heteronormative white femininity must provide the ultimate foil to patriarchal masculinity. The “white girl” is vulnerable, trivial, and self-involved. Above all she is mainstream, either by consumer habits or design. Any resemblance to real-life white girls doesn’t matter; all exceptions are exempt from consideration. For every witchy, androgynous Rooney Mara, there’s a Taylor Swift, a Zooey Deschanel, and a Miley Cyrus. At least, there used to be a Miley Cyrus.”
“For all its black performers, the rap industry has been run by the white establishment and caters to the white consumer. The commercial success of gangsta rap wouldn’t be possible without North America’s largest demographic buying in. The commercial demand for sexually aggressive and violent rap is appreciably shaped by white teens in the suburbs looking to live out their fantasies via imagined black bodies. And in guiding the market, white consumers dictate the available imagery of blackness.”
“Like most dress-up games, racial drag is an exercise in fantasy, one that can exist only when femininity is constructed around whiteness, which in turn is constructed around purity. A desire to rebel against such a buttoned-up ethos leaves the white girl desperate for an identity through which to distinguish herself. To this end, white Americans have always been able to use black people.
Black women’s sexuality has been historically presented as deviant and exaggerated, somehow more “primitive.” The thrill of appropriation lies in accessing the perceived authenticity of black sexuality, the success of appropriation lies in abandoning its natural form. Transfer to a white body elevates the action. It’s no longer primitive because while nonwhite culture is assumed to be rooted in instinct, white culture is one of intent. Elaborate nail art, like the kind Miley wears now, appears stylish on a white girl but described as “ghetto” on a black girl because on the white girl, it’s an aesthetic choice whereas black girls just don’t know any better. White people clamoring to up their cred by appropriating nonwhite culture do so hoping to be rewarded for choices that are falsely seen as inherent in people of color. It’s this savvy that Miley wants us to be convinced of.”
Read on: Can the White Girl Twerk? | The New Inquiry