Queer People of Color in Sausage Party

theresaBy Carlie Gustafson

One of the issues that came up quickly while watching Sausage Party was the depiction of Teresa (the taco) as an intensely sexualized woman of color. But while I continued watching the movie, this depiction became only part of the issue, as her character simultaneously perpetuated the idea of queer aggression while reducing her character to simple heterosexual eroticism of lesbian relationships. In this way, it remains clear that queer people of color are threatening to the straight while male culture, which is why they are often reduced to a fetish.

The idea of eroticizing women of color is not new. In “Racialized and Colonial Bodies,” Margo DeMello writes, “Even today, non-white women are often thought to be more sexual, erotic, and exotic than white women” (87). Teresa is clearly depicted in a much more sexualized way than Brenda (the bun). For example, Teresa is initially introduced as a sexy character, but once her sexual desire for Brenda was revealed, it became her defining characteristic, whereas the other characters have more depth. As described by Devon W. Carbado in “Privilege,” her “homosexuality signifies ‘difference’ – more specifically, sexual identity distinctiveness” (142). This distinction is enough to define her character, whereas heteronormative characters are afforded something more to describe them.

On top of the fact that she is eroticized and reduced to a mere sexual orientation, she also perpetuates an idea of queer aggression. White men have been threatened by men of color stealing their women, as illustrated when DeMello writes, “For many whites, African Americans are still considered to be threatening” (83). Sausage Party depicts a similar pattern in being threatened by queer women. Teresa is very forward and aggressive in her pursuit of Brenda. It really isn’t mutual at all. Brenda remains the prize and Teresa must compete with Frank and other men to “win” her. In this way, she presents a threat of beating Frank and stealing Brenda from him. There is no conversation about Brenda’s sexual orientation she is simply a body to be fought over.

It seems odd to think about the fact that a queer woman of color would be depicted in a film clearly created for male hegemonic audience until you actually see the movie and realize that she has been totally skewed and simply put there to entertain the male gaze. Her relationship with Brenda is not a hopeful representation of lesbian relationships in mainstream media. Instead it plays into the idea that lesbians relationships are for the pleasure of the male viewer. Much like lesbian porn clearly created to viewed by straight men instead of actual queer women. Teresa’s character is not helpful to the community she represents as she is shown in a very shallow way that does nothing but perpetuate negative stereotypes.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.

Sausage Party: A Lazy Portrayal of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

lavash-and-bagelBy Maitreyi A. Menon

Sausage Party capitalized on the humor of stereotypes, and some critics hailed the movie for “making fun of everybody.” However, the damages of these supposedly equal actions are definitely not equal. As such, I shall examine the pantomime of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was created by the characterization of the Bagel and the Lavash through a transnational feminist lens. Bagel was armored with racial stereotypes of Jews, particularly his nature of always whining or complaining and having a noticeably large nose. Lavash, too, met us with an exaggerated accent, thick, bushy eyebrows, a supposedly iconic beard, an obsession with “extra-virgin” olive oil, and über-conservative, oppressive values about women. The primary source of their mutual hatred stemmed from having to “share the isle” – an obvious allusion to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conflict itself is extremely complex, however, and any attempts to simplify it will render it inaccurate. As Aili Mari Tripp argues in “Challenges in Transnational Feminist Mobilization,” “When outsiders do not take the time to learn about or attend to the particulars of a situation, their efforts can backfire” (107). When Frank the sausage tells Bagel and Lavash that he can’t understand their dispute because the isle seems big enough for the both of them, audiences are intended find humor in such a simple idea not occurring to them earlier, whereas the real humor lies in these audiences often failing to understand how these conflict came about, as well as their crucial involvement in it.

When the U.N. (arguably orchestrated by the U.S. and other Western superpowers) decided to intervene and “save” by diving up the land, a majority of the land went to the Jews, despite being the under-represented population. Since Sausage Party caters largely to American and other English-speaking audiences, a space rampant with Islamophobia, it is more damaging to Palestine by offering a space to legitimize their occupation and oppression. The stereotype of the oppressive Muslim Palestinian (Lavash) only re-emphasized existing essentialisms such as oppression of women by Muslim men, which serves to legitimize the detrimental interventions of the US or others. As Lila Abu-Lughod writes in “The Muslim Woman: The Power of Images and the Danger of Pity,” “One of the most dangerous functions of these [stereotypical] images of Middle Eastern or Muslim women is to enable many of us to imagine that these women need rescuing by us or by our governments” (50). Moreover, the U.S. has funded Israel more than any other country in the world, a tool very important in Israel’s violent repression of the Palestinians. As Judith Lorber claims in Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics, so-called western ideals “are also the source of universal human rights, which can be used to fight subordinating cultural practices” (113). These rights are very often not universal and are also tailored to fit individualistic societies; hence, they too provide a justification for Western powers to intervene to suit their benefit. Hence, the portrayal of an over-simplified fight over the isle fails to take into consideration the involvement of many other factors of the source of conflict and the role other parties (such as the US) had to play in it.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.

The Problem with Firewater

firewaterBy Judy Fisher

In Sausage Party, Firewater is a bottle of liquor taking on the stereotypical characteristics of a Native person. I will be analyzing this character through the framework of theories of representation or re-presentation, as discussed by Ann Braithwaite and Catherine M. Orr in Everyday Women’s and Gender Studies: Introductory Concepts. This concept emphasizes and analyzes the gap between “re” and “presentation,” and focuses on the negotiation and production of meanings (303). Native people are often stereotyped in the media as either drunks, uncivilized savages, or submissive “Indian princesses.” Firewater exemplifies the stereotype of the drunken, peyote smoking Chief. Since re-presentation in the media is about meaning making as a process of negotiation among many possible meanings, the inclusiveness of Firewater falls short in terms of accurate representation (308).

The re-presentation of Native people in Sausage Party failed to take into account the harmful consequences that these images have for Native people. For example, the disproportionate amount of alcoholism and poverty among Natives are real issues that many portrayals of Natives in the mainstream media fail to account for and in turn perpetuate or make fun of. The portrayal of Natives in stereotypical ways like the portrayal of Firewater in Sausage Party refuses to take into account the real life experiences and traumas that Native people face.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.

Keep Your Douche to Yourself: An Analysis of Rape in Sausage Party

doucheBy Nan L. Elpers

In Sausage Party, when Douche realizes he’s been wounded and is leaking, he rapes and murders Juice Box, using his juice as fuel. Later in the movie, he tries to rape Brenda the hot-dog bun in an attempt to take revenge on her sausage boyfriend Frank, who accidentally pushed Douche out of the shopping cart, causing him to twist his handle. Analyzed through the perspective of feminist studies of men, the Douche’s assaults and motivation for rape reveal the dangers of hegemonic masculinity and the use of rape as a means to punish and assert authority. When Douche rapes Juice Box, he feminizes his victim in a way that reduces Juice Box to a state of female vulnerability. In “‘Guys are just homophobic’: Rethinking Adolescent Homophobia and Heterosexuality,” C.J. Pascoe explains that “the constraint and touching of female bodies gets translated as masculinity, embedding sexualized meanings in which heterosexual flirting is coded as female helplessness and male bodily dominance” (114). Though Juice Box is male, the scene likens him to a female rape victim in the way that Douche appears to be delivering cunnilingus while sucking out his insides. The graphic, sexually violent imagery emasculates Juice Box, allowing the rape scene to mirror a man-on-woman assault. Douche asserts his masculinity through this power structure, as dominance directly correlates to masculinity. And because Juice Box effectively stands in for a female victim, that masculinity is not compromised by any homosexual connotations of weakness or vulnerability.

It is important that Douche feminize Juice Box so that he prove himself more masculine.  In “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept,” Raewyn Connell explains that “hegemonic masculinity was distinguished from other masculinities, especially subordinated masculinities” (256). Hegemonic masculinity describes those men at the top of the social food chain. This hierarchy necessitates the subordination of not only women, but other men as well.  The way that Douche emasculated Juice Box through rape made him, crudely, more like a woman.  In doing so, Douche both took power from Juice Box and amped his social status on the masculine ladder by forcibly putting yet another person beneath him. In the scene, Douche literally grows in size and strength as he sucks the life force from Juice Box, illustrating his rise to power.

Douche employs the age-old military technique of sexually violating a woman to punish her tribe.  In “’National Security’ and the Violation of Women,” Sylvanna Falcón asserts that “rapes occur because sexual assault is in the arsenal of military strategies; it is a weapon of war, used to dominate women and psychologically debilitate people viewed as the ‘enemy’” (228).  Although raping Brenda will do no physical harm to her boyfriend Frank, Douche understands that in debasing her he will cause Frank psychological harm.  In fact, Douche appears not to care about Brenda at all, against whom he holds no grudge other than for her tie to Frank, taking advantage of her status as Frank’s belonging.  Because we charge women with guarding their purity and in doing so maintaining a people or a couple’s morality, Douche’s rape of Brenda directly attacks Frank’s image and morale.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.