Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Women's History Month blog carnival: Response to Anonymous

In response to my post, Jaded, about the 2008 presidential election's affect on me, an anonymous commenter said:

[Quoting Tami] "But the imprint of what transpired during the 2008 elections is firmly stamped on the way I view the feminist movement and progressive causes."

Yeah, and the imprint of what transpired last year is firmly stamped on the way I view the anti-racist movment and progressive causes.
March 23, 2009 5:25 PM

It's funny, I didn't have the visceral reaction to the comment above that Heart did. I read the quote from Anonymous and recognized it as a bit of a dig-- a way of perhaps calling B.S. on my discussion of racism in the presidential election. I've had these discussions about the battle for the Dem nomination elsewhere in the femisphere. It was all about sexism; there was no racism. It was all about racism; there was no sexism. In truth, there was a whole lot of both. I felt both, but the racism more keenly. But as I said in my post yesterday, I'm done preaching to the converted and trying to change cemented opinions. I read the anonymous comment (I understand that some folks don't wish to go to the trouble of signing up with Google to post under a name, so I give the commenter a pass on that.), sighed, rolled my eyes a bit and approved it, because it's instructive to realize that these schisms exist (and maybe because I felt it proved my point about hostility toward anti-racism within feminism, though Heart is right, I don't know that Anon is a feminist.).
But what just struck me just now, is that I may not have been so dispassionate about the comment above 12 months ago. Evidence of my jadedness? Probably. I simply no longer feel the need to be understood by those who don't care to understand me. Is that evidence of progress?


Anonymous said...

I didn't write the quoted annoymous post, and have never mastered the art of google sign ups. Give us slow boat techno-strugglers a break!

Somehow, I wasn't even offended by the "annoymous" post to begin with, it just seemed like an honest summation of sexism vs. racism, and how one feels one or the other or both.

But I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. If you are black, you will feel racism first. If you are a white woman, you'll feel sexism first, and perceive racism only if you are very observant.

I pointed out how racism reared its head in the movie "Milk" for example, and ALL my white friends never picked up on ANY of it. They just couldn't hear the racism of the white gay men in the movie.
Most men don't hear their own sexist comments coming out of their mouths, nor do they want to shut up. They just are stupid and won't change. That's a given for me.

Not everyone writes annoymous out of some nefarious purpose, it's just easy to type something and not go through all the google hoopla. I've done google sign up attempts a lot of times, and couldn't get it to work.

I found it odd that people wouldn't understand that each person writes out of her experience, and that there are many women who don't want to vote for men anymore. Just as there are black people who are sick of voting for white candidates if they have an honest choice. If you had two candidates and both were very good on the issues, why, if you were black, would you EVER vote for a white candidate? Makes no sense at all. Again, all things being "supposedly" equal.

I personally think the white male patriarchy was really messing with all of us during the 2008 election.

Each woman's loyalty is based on experience. I don't want to work with men ever. They bore me. And if white women and black women wanted to really work together, and this happens all over the place, it will be easier to do in person than through the artificial world of blog commentary.


P.S. I personally find it refreshing to hear what women really think, and how they duke it out online, because I feel women are very afraid to even engage in a knock down political fight in real life. It is a refreshing change that women have very aggressive opinions, and I speak as a knock down drag out old school radical dyke. The mean kind of feminist, not the nice kind, to paraphrase Dworkin.

Tami said...

Yeah, Satsuma. I knew that Anon wasn't you. I've come to recognize your writing, so you may be anonymous but you're not anonymous to me. :)

At some point during the past year, I was thisclose to getting on board with the "primary injury" philosophy, but I still don't agree. The implication is that black women don't feel sexism as much as white women. I just don't think elements of our being, such as race and gender, can be split so cleanly.

As a lesbian, do you feel that you feel sexism or homophobia more keenly? Or do both "isms" impact you equally? Or is sometimes one stronger than the other? Or sometimes does the fact that you are gay sometimes impact the kind of sexism you suffer? I don't want to assume your answers on this, but for me, as a black woman, the answer to all of the above is "sometimes" and "yes," "yes" and "yes."

For me, there is no primary injury. The pain from my equal injuries ebbs and flows. It's like having bursitis in my knee and arthritis in my shoulder. Sometimes one hurts. Sometimes the other. Sometimes both.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tami,

Yes, I should have referred to my theory of "primary injury." Your ideas are more subtle. I'm one of those reviled black and white thinkers; I can't even adjust the heat in my car-- it's either on or off :-)

But more seriously, I do think we feel injury more in some places and less in others. How to explain this? It actually might depend on how good your memory is. I am blessed or cursed with an almost "photographic ear" and can hear everything, and remember it all as well. My clients love me for this, but I often feel injured just by good memory. I can't ever forget anything! Remember forgive and forget... might be a saying that a person who really does easily forget invented.

So while I feel out of place everywhere because of my radical lesbian bomb throwing self, I feel an intense anger at any sexist statement by any idiot man I hear.
I hate this to such a degree that I find men annoying at best, and at worst worthy of putting a gag order on forever.

We can feel more racism in one place or more sexism in another. It can be subtle, but in my book, what will cause you to throw a punch? What will cause you to explode with anger and want to kill? I don't mean to use the word "kill" literally, but I do mean that throwing a punch is perfectly acceptable in Amazon women who are strong, and who do want to defeat men in battle. This I do mean literally.

Primary injury -- for me it will always be sexism. I'm such a driven obvious sterotypical dyke out in the world, that it's easy to find allies. People just flat out love or hate me. But the real insults that hurt are the sexist insults, which I can never forget.
Remember Obama calling a woman reporter "sweetie"-- Roooaaarrr, growllll, anger.... You can probably remember a really awful racist thing that Clinton said, and that is going to push your growlll button till the end of time.

Maybe my obvious out there lesbian self, three piece suited late 19th century lesbian style will weed out the homophobes, but women are insulted 24/7 and called bitch by all men!

It's why the presidential race of 2008 was such an angry blow up between many groups, who all wanted the big prize.

Or as I recall a visiting professor from Uganda telling shocked little naieve midwestern me in 1975 "Idi Amin is a bastard, but at least he is a black bastard." I never ever forgot that comment, because I believe it uncovered a truth about how all the colonized and excluded want their champion to win Tami.

Unfortunately, in wanting our champions to get the top job, we got selfish and weren't conscious of all the other isms out there.

This may be why you don't want to use the word "feminist" and prefer "womanist." And it's why feminism to me means uncompromising in your face lesbian. In the phrase lesbian feminism is the word feminism, and in my kooky black and white reasoning ability, feminist = lesbian in my mind. It's kooky, I know, but I don't pass, I am bigger and stronger, and if men get in my way, well... My anger is loud, proud and I'm a very sore loser. Not good to admit this, but it is REALLY true! I wanted the women to win damnit Janet, and I'm not over it. And again, I had nothing against the brilliant Obama, he's fine, but he's a man and a radical lesbian feminist like me just hates all men in power. I just do!

So this was part of the impass, it was part of the whole thing. I still believe in primary injury, but I think certain isms hurt more than others depending who you are.

I'd like to think that Obama and Clinton going for the gold actually created the world that got one of them elected and not the white man. Now that's a thought. I'll take credit as a lesbian feminist by saying Hillary was out there first, and Barak figured out that Hillary will be a damn good person at State.

The primary injuries of 2008 will stay with us. Yikes, this is too long a post... give me a good old dyke shot of Old Bushmells!

Heart said...

Satsuma, I knew that wasn't you. :) You have a very distinctive voice and I hear you loud and clear when you comment!

I get it that people can't figure out or don't want to deal with signing up for whatever just to comment! This is why I just about never comment to anybody's livejournal blog, no matter how much I feel like it (and even though I did create a livejournal account just to comment somewhere!). I don't take people to task for that ordinarily.

This comment got to me because I'm over the top angry over the dynamics it represents among women, stuff I've seen way too much of over the last year and a half, where women are just willing to go off on one another because they don't like who someone voted for in the Presidential election, inveighing that act with all sorts of meaning it plain doesn't have. There are women who will fracking HATE another woman because she voted for Obama. What is that about? And I believe that is probably what was going on in that comment, somebody taking an opportunity to get one more lick in, something like, well, you won this time because Obama got elected, but just watch, we're going to get you back. So foolish and childish and incredibly short-sighted but there has been *so much* of that around this election and it is so discouraging to me.

I think at the very least, if someone is going to comment to one of our Women's History Month threads, she could engage the issue. Instead of getting one more dig in -- anonymously! At least don't be a coward, sign your name! You can post anonymously and still sign your name at the bottom of the comment. It's like solidarity among women, trying to talk to women across differences in the interests *of* solidarity, means nothing. Yet without that solidarity, women are hardly going to move forward *as* women.

That jaded feeling you have, Tami-- that's how I feel about men. They can say whatever they want, really horrible stuff, it doesn't phase me, I just think, well, what, I expected something different? Heck no. I don't think that's progress in myself, I think it's survival and not being able or willing to continue to throw good energy after bad. I really don't want to feel that way about women though. I want to stay open to them if there's any way I can. When they (sorry to again be vulgar but it's such an apt term) piss on that, act like they just don't care about me, about women, about what we're trying to do to come together, that really hurts me, and you're right, I do respond viscerally.

Satsuma, I don't mind duking it out with women honestly

postpostracial said...

I simply no longer feel the need to be understood by those who don't care to understand me. Is that evidence of progress?

Yes, IMO--if by "progress" you mean the developing ability to focus on self-care prior to engaging in anti-racist, feminist, progressive, etc. discussion. I recently created a tongue-in-cheek flow chart for deciding when to respond to racism and self-care was a big part of it. The chart was a joke but has its roots in very real, very serious business.

For a very very long time the onus on race-related conversation--beginning it, continuing it, making sure other folks' feelings were not hurt, etc--has been on POC. At some point that responsibility must shift. Not--"we'll meet you half-way." But, "sometimes we will not engage, and it's on you to continue to talk/learn/etc. if you see fit."

There are many within-group POC conversations that need to go on and that are sometimes hampered when we must always play Professor in Racism 101 to classrooms full of resistant students.

To be clear--I am not saying we should stop having these conversations. I am saying we should relieve ourselves of some of the burden for when they don't happen or don't happen productively.

Anonymous said...

This has a little more clarity to me, both Tami's comments and Heart's. Also the comments in the most recent report on the election.

I don't see why we can't be annoyed at our personal interpretation of the election, but I can't imagine not wanting to work with or care about women just because they voted for someone else. I'm rather amazed that some woman would call another woman "note a real feminist" just because she voted for Obama! Hey, a kid in college loves that "hope" stuff. Me being a "second wave" feminist just won't get it. Gen X doesn't get us either, so what.

Heck, I have friends who voted for Ralph Nader, I had friends who voted Free Soil, Green party, McCaine... you name it.

I didn't think this had anything to do with the fact that women are together, and that we get the need to be strong together. That seems kind of odd to me.

To us old guard types, we have a certain boring consistency. Born a feminist, lived like one, still am one... born a lesbian, live like one (a "real one" :-), will always be one. Pretty simple. My standards are simply way out there. To me living with men is horrific, but so what, women want to live with men... what's an "I told you so lesbian" to do? :-)

Everyone else has their personal interpretations, but we must all remember that blogland is relatively new. I don't believe I heard as much honesty ever, until I started reading ALL the blogs out there. I liked the confrontation, I most certainly never took people's anger personally, nor did I much care who was talking. To me, the point of view was valuable.

I don't know who in the heck everyone is out there, because I haven't personally had dinner with them. It's writing out in blogland, but has a certain epistolary 18th century quality about it.

I liked it that so many women were speaking up!! Wow, that was great!!
Many of you know how silent women are IRL (in real life). You've all been places where women sit in silence and never ever get really really mad as hell! So I like women's anger, and I just assume that my opinions and life experience doesn't coincide with most women on earth. It ain'ta gonna happen.

If women are speaking up more bluntly on the Internet,perhaps we are so used to the silent boring niceness of women (think white middle class would never use the N-word polite racist types)... we should rejoice in the confrontation over this election.

Politics, by its very nature, is about confrontation. Lesbian feminism is about in your face take no prisoners anger-- that is what I like about radical lesbians to begin with. If I want the tame Suzies out there, I could watch Larry King :-)

We are more real now, and a new generation has come up that is comfortable with all kinds of language that would freak me out -- the "F" word thrown around, the "s" word... vulgar, yuck... it's a new group. So we can all learn about the struggles, and learn what the different voices are all about.

Things that seem perfectly ordinary to me and "obvious" can make women madder than heck. We learn this by blogging. IRL, I say all kinds of things, women are silent, women are "nice" but on a blog, you do get some tough push back, and to me, who hates niceness, who hates polite straight hypocracy, well I just like the anger, the back and forth, the passion.



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