Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Women's History Month blog carnival: Letter from a blogsister

Hi Tami--

I know my behind is late with this, but I honestly had to realize that the 2008 election really didn't change anything intrinsically for me.  I watched many feminists of color (FoCs) walk away from the feminism that sustained them because one too many white feminists made it abundantly clear that WoCs and our issues weren't "real" feminism.

I watched that fallout be met by WoCs who couldn't be bothered with feminism because they saw it as a "white girl thing" greet the defecting WoCs with a chorus of "I told you so." Then with hugs and hammers, ready to re/build their own spaces to converse.

I watched the white feminists who lost the respect of those feminists of color get defensive, then confused, then olive-branch offering, then tentatively meeting partway by some FoCs, then huddling. The question fueling these reactions: "What the hell happened?"

I watched "sisterhood" once again become a hollow word. (This happened in the Feminist Second Wave, too. Quite a few feminists of color "read" Robin Morgan's Sisterhood Is Powerful anthology as meaningless because no women of color were in it, which they said, was indicative of the movement in general--who gets the mic, who gets the book contracts, who gets to dictate what is feminism in the media. Sounds familiar, right?) 

I watched. And I hugged.

And I still call myself a feminist.  Because, at the core of it, I still believe that my Black female self deserves to exist and express my very humanity on this earth, especially in a society that tells me otherwise. Out of that, I believe that my Black female self being able to do this is linked with everyone else being able to do the same. 

But what this linkage means is coalescing and collaborating with folks, meaning we work together for a common goal of people being able to live in a just world, without, to borrow a phrase from a song, -Ism Schisms. What it doesnt mean is my needing to be everyone's "sister" or even "sistah" beforehand to accomplish this.

What the linkage means is understanding that people are going to tackle this activism in their own way: some will march in the streets, some will sign a petition, some will write a blog post, some will donate money. What it doesn't mean is thinking people need to declare to agree all the way down with my agenda before I consider them down enough to do the work.

What the linkage means is I don't need to judge any of this work as "radical" or "revolutionary." Because common sense and common courtesy are neither one of these.  Because, that's what feminism is to me--common sense and common courtesy.  An ethic of civility.  Especially in a society that tells me otherwise.

--Abrazos,
AJ
 
AJ Plaid writes at the brilliant blog, The Cruel Secretary. She is also a contributor to Racialicious.
 

35 comments:

Color Online said...

"What it doesnt mean is my needing to be everyone's "sister" or even "sistah" beforehand to accomplish this.
What the linkage means is understanding that people are going to tackle this activism in their own way... What it doesn't mean is thinking people need to declare to agree all the way down with my agenda before I consider them down enough to do the work."

The writer articulates how I feel. She says what I would say if I wrote as well.

Thanks for sharing her letter.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to figure out why women have this expectation that we are all "sisters." I get annoyed at this. The homophobes out there are just as likely to be heterosexual women. They annoy the heck out of me, and I don't have time for them.

You get older, you have less patience I think. Do I really want to waste time with women who are clueless?

So let's just be honest. There will be women who can see a bigger picture, there will women who really will act like sisters, and then there will be a whole large group of women who are time wasters.

I like to focus on radical feminism, and that's what is interesting to me. I like a lesbian-centric environment, I don't like the straight world or its social customs. So that's what works for me.

The sooner we all figure out how well we work with what truly motivates and interests us all, the better off women will be.

For centuries women have been expected to mold their personalities to other's needs. Yuck and triple yuck to that.

Let's have an adult women's politics that doesn't have to pretend anything! And let someone else do the childcare please!

-Satsuma

Anonymous said...

I think what the point is that tolerance is still needed. Especially among women, we will never agree on everything, each woman is an individual and will have individual needs and wants. The question is if we will be able to put aside what is basically a small bickering to fight the larger battles. We don't have to get along, we don't have to even like each other, but when all is said, are we as women able to join together and protect ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, and our friends, and yes, those women we often want to strangle. Because our rights are the rights of all human kind.

I just wanted to say that I am still watching some repair work among my own ethnically mixed "family" from this election.

Heart said...

Because, that's what feminism is to me--common sense and common courtesy. An ethic of civility. Especially in a society that tells me otherwise.

Now there's a thought. An ethic of civility! Common courtesy and common sense!

Why oh why do these things seem to be so rare?! On the internet, at least. Not only that, women mistreating women is often cast as feminist! There's a meme that regularly circulates (unofficially) around the white feminist intertoobs that goes something like (after a woman or six have trashed another woman or six for whatever reason), well, your problem is, you're just too white middle class, or, you're just too white middle class wanna be, or you're just too into stereotypical femininity, that's why you're all about kindness and politeness and niceness, snort. If you were REAL feminists, you'd be jerks and assholes like us! :/ I've thought about that a lot and thought, you know, I'm sorry, I don't really care how great a feminist you think you are, I don't care if your posts shine so brilliantly people have to turn the lights off to read, if you're consistently a jerk towards other women, I'm not really going to be impressed with your feminism, in part, because I'm not going to read you. :/

I don't view women I don't have a sisterhood relationship with as sisters, but I try to view all women as at least potentially my sisters, something like, we're sisters, we just don't know it yet. I don't like all women, then again, as the saying goes, I don't have to like a woman to want her to be free. I think whether I like someone or don't, whether we have a sisterhood relationship or not, whether a woman is a jerk or the greatest person ever to be around, though, so far as feminism goes, women do have to have solidarity. But you know, I've been thinking about it, and in a way, we really do. There are some things ALL women agree to. There is some common ground. We all think women who do the same work men do should be paid the same (excepting extremist fundamentalist types, I'm not talking about them.) We all oppose violence against women. We all oppose rape. We all oppose emotional, physical and sexual abuse in relationships. We all want women to have opportunities. We can have solidarity as women as to these things and many more.

Well, anyway. Thanks for your post, A.J. Plaid, much appreciated.

Heart

Anonymous said...

And I watched the supposed anti-racist and progressive and civil rights communities and movements engage in and excuse horrifying sexism against a woman and her female supporters simply because they were white.

AJ Plaid said...

Hey there!

I really appreciate your responses to my post, everyone.

Let me clarify something I glibly said: The 2nd Feminist Wave didn't fall apart solely due to the fallout over Robin Morgan's Sisterhood Is Powerful,. The Second Wave--like the First and now the Third Waves--fell apart mainly on the faultline of unaddressed racism. Quite a few of the 1st Wave leaders flipped when Black men became--on paper, at least--voters before them. Then Sojourner Truth had to put that wave's racism on blast with her "Ain't I a Woman" speech. Ida B. Wells exposed the myth of white womanhood as a major--and lethal-- reason for black folks getting lynched back then.

Fast forward to the Second Wave. And again, the faultline of unaddressed racism appeared. Mind you, some of the rhetoric coming out of some feminist quarters sounds a bit hostile to the Civil Rights Movement even while linking the struggle for women's rights to it: Blacks are getting their rights, "we women" gotta get ours. Once again, quite a few white feminists tried to present their particular agenda and activism as Teh Agenda and Activism for Women, from abortion to lesbian separtism, and mostly FoCs pushed back and put the racism and the other -isms and -phobias on blast: that's where the concept of womanism came out of, the Combahee River Collective, and the thinkers we know as the foremothers of Third Wave feminism, such as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Paula Gunn Allen, Ana Castillo, Joy Harjo, Pat Parker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Mitsuye Yamada, Helen Zia, among many, many others--came out of. When Shirley Chisolm ran for president, quite a few white feminists either gave lip service and failed to back it up (most famous example: Gloria Steinem) or got hostile (again) and simply didn't support her or spoke out against her and her run. This time, FoCs got more book deals and more access to to various media to get their viewpoints across,even to a few more folks.

Now, here we are in the 3rd Wave/No Wave/latest incarnation feminism. White feminists in this movement feeling like, "Yeah, we've got PoCs for friends, we read some bell hooks, we're nowhere near as racist as the other feminists and those other waves." And--*sigh*--once again, the unaddressed racism from the last two waves rears up again. From the fallout with Feministing and blac(k)ademic, the fallout from Amanda Marcotte, Seal Press, and feminist bloggers of color....the election simply widened the faultline into a (even) bigger chasm. A chasm that got even wider with the latest fallout around the Professor What If post. A chasm that, frankly, I don't see getting bridged on any over any time soon. Maybe for good, maybe for ill..I'm not sure.

Which brings me to your point, Anonymous #3: which white female and her white supporters are you talking about? And which "anti-racist and progressive and civil rights communities and movements" are you talking about ? And what I mean by "which" is "I want specific names and, if possible,specific examples."

--AJ

Anonymous said...

Hey AJ, I'll supply MY specifics after you supply YOUR specifics.

"because one too many white feminists made it abundantly clear that WoCs and our issues weren't "real" feminism."

M'kay? You don't get to make these accusations without specifics and then bust on me for not being any more specific than you.

Renee said...

I identify as a womanist because I don't feel that feminism makes room equally for all women. Until I can see myself reflected I don't think that I can own the label of feminists without feeling some sort of racial betrayal. For WOC we are always walking the line between support and defending our gender and standing in solidarity when it comes to racial issues. It is a delicate balancing act and I try hard not to judge how another woman chooses to do it.

Tami said...

Here's one specific that made me feel alienated from white feminists:

Hillary Clinton embraced BET founder Robert Johnson as a campaign surrogate to no outcry from anyone but feminists of color.

Johnson made his billions denigrating women--specifically black women and their bodies. His legacy is a generation of young men, raised on misogyny in heavy rotation, who see black women as nothing but sexual objects--disembodied jiggling asses. As if we weren't already laboring under the weight of the Sapphire and Jezebel stereotypes.

Would Clinton have welcomed Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame into her campaign? Would feminists have been silent about it? I think not. And I think it is because Francis preys on young, white women, whereas Johnson largely confines his female hatred to black women.

AJ Plaid said...

@Anonymous #3--I give you a couple of recent examples:

1) Gloria Steinem very famous op-ed piece about how sexism is more important than racism during the presidential election, which FoCs and others argued down because it created a false dichotomy for WoCs. And, if I'm not mistaken, Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell challenged Steinem on Democracy Now.

2) the recent Feministing comment thread on the Lovelle Mixon case. In fact, quite a few threads on Feministing that discuss race. If you follow those threads, very quickly the conversation will turn to how race muddies up "real" feminism.

And, Anonymous #3, Tami gave you a third example. In fact, Tami wrote an entire post on why she ceased calling herself a feminist. She gives even more specifics in that post. Thanks for the back-up, Tami!

@Renee--I guess, for myself, there are so many forms of feminism that, if I'm not mistaken, there's a book called "Feminisms." Womanism, to me, is a form of feminism. To me, Xicanisma is a form of feminism--which, actually, was a reaction to both white feminism and womanism. (Ana Castillo addresses this in her book, Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma.) Perhaps I fall into the Bell Hooks School of Feminist Thinking, which is feminism is a hell of a lot bigger than a bunch of white women and what they think about what would make the world a just place for women and just people in general. And that's why I feel comfortable still calling myself a feminist.

But hey, Renee. If calling yourself a womanist gives you a focus and a philosophy for doing what you do, then, as Black folks in the US say, do you. As I say in the original post, on some points we may work together or have a similar opinion and other points we may vehemently disagree or don't find points for collaborating or coalescing. There's enough work--and ways to work--for those of us working for justice for women (and everyone else) to do.

--AJ

Anonymous said...

All below are excellent examples.
The BET example was excellent, and I often wondered why the magazine and TV shows were so awful in terms of representation of black women. But then I hate most representation of women in all male owned media Hillary's embrace of Johnson was an excellent illustration, and no I never heard a thing about it.

Gloria Steinem was a very strong supporter of Shirley Chisholm, so she gets a bum rap on that one. I was very much in favor of Chisolm as well back then, and noticed how black male civil rights big whigs dissed her back then. She herself says this in a film documentary about her life, so I am quoting her observation about all men.

I don't think black women were ever thrilled that they were excluded from the vote that black men got, and many articles and magazines were published in the 19th century pointing this out.

While people were disturbed by the blunt confrontational nature of feminists writing on the Internet, I was actually impressed that women were FINALLY getting bloody mad and going for it. I find the niceness of women oppressive and false-- it's something I view as straight women's default secretly anti-lesbian agenda, so when women are tough, I simply think it is finally truthful.

We all have different standards of civility. I find swear words an indicator of bad character, but most out there use them. The "F" word is a male rape word, and particularly horrifying to read in feminist blogs, for example.

Just as I liked it when Hillary said she hated baking cookies, and I just finally-- say you hate that damn stuff!! Be honest about what you really really dislike women! IRL-in real life, I get to see the doormats all day long for goddess sake, let's get that women's anger going and say it is a path to freedom. Women aren't angry enough in my opinion!! It's a lesbian thing.

But I do agree that there is incivility, and overall, we live in a degraded and vulgar society. I'm not enthralled by most feminist ideas out there, because I tend to be rather narrow in my focus, and I got sick of fighting everyone else's battles.

Maybe it's age, but so much of "women's issues" remain a kind of distant thing that incite no interest or passion within me... the usual stuff. Blah blah we all have a boredom don't give a damn about list! :-(

We can all agree that there are a list of things for women to agree with and work together on. And we're doing that. But we have to be honest that there are things that are quite different, there are things that make us different from majorities in many ways.

If we want to work on this stuff we will. And we'll have to be more mindful in how women's power gets co-opted and diverted, otherwise we would have towns, countries and large areas completely run by women. We're not there yet, but we do need to create these places on a grander scale.

I am shocked at how conservative women are attacked, that bugged me. Every woman is a feminist or womanist in her own way, and no two feminisms or womanisms will be the same. It's why I take delight in Amy's Brain and Margaret Jamison, because I like the femanist separatists and always will. To me, they are MY heroines, and I love 'em to pieces.
So we all have what we love the most, and I believe we should celebrate why we have our ideological loves sometimes.

And maybe why this ideological love grew or what it meant to us.
Hard again to describe in blog form, but there you have it.

-Satsuma ---oops almost forgot the name again...oy

Heart said...

I feel completely alienated by this:

Any time I have dared to post anything at all positive about Obama, or approved comments about Obama that were positive, or linked to something pro-Obama, I could count on it that a certain number of feminist women -- including, for the love of all that is holy, women who had been my friends for a long time, including women I have met in real life, women I really cared about -- would come onto my blog and attack my commenters or me for DARING to say a positive word about Obama or Michelle Obama. It was fracking preposterous. I still am dumfounded by it. If I hadn't closed down comments on my blog, it would still be happening! One thing that makes it preposterous is, I didn't even vote for Obama! I have been consistently outspoken about policies, statements, acts of the Obama campaign, administration, Obama himself, that I thought were anti-feminist, anti-woman, not progressive. Still, let me even ATTEMPT a discussion that includes ANYTHING positive about Obama, or even if I just let pro-Obama people comment to my blog, and boom, here come the really mean-spirited, nasty attacks. By my FRIENDS! Because they supported Hillary Clinton and I never did and wouldn't today and never will! Again, even though I don't support Obama! And in short order, just about every time this happened, the attempted comments (because I didn't approve them), became progressively RACIST. This is feminists I thought were conscious, making statements that were unbelievable to me, this was feminists *I HAVE DEFENDED* in the past when they were accused of racism, feminists I had consistently given the benefit of the doubt to and thought the best of, given a pass, said, oh well, that's not really what they meant, they were just mad, they were just spouting off. Then when I attempted to engage them over what they were saying, they dug their heels in and defended their racist commentary.

That up there is the most exclamation points I've used in a long time, but I have found what I described staggeringly disappointing and extremely alienating and it has completely changed my perspectives and politics in significant ways.

Heart

AJ Plaid said...

@Satsuma--A couple of points:

1) Perhaps I should have been clearer about which 1st wave feminists I was referring: with some exceptions, quite a few *white* feminists weren't feeling Black men getting the vote before them (If I'm not mistaken, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of those saying that.) The rhetoric employed by that movement----and the white privilege from which the rhetoric came--is what Sojourner Truth addressed...to the protest of quite a few white feminists at the Seneca Falls Convention who felt she had no right to speak. So, yes, Satsuma, Black women weren't thrilled by not getting the vote, either...but they also weren't thrilled by the racist nastiness they ecountered from white feminists like Stanton, either, with whom they, because they were disenfranchised as well, thought they could work with to gain the right to vote for women. And, as I said, writers like Ida B. Wells critiqued the fatal meaning of white womanhood for Black people during that time period.

I'm not sure which documentary on Shirley Chisolm you saw, but the one I saw--Shirley Chisolm: Unbought and Unbossed--clearly stated--by Chisolm herself, no less--that Steinem did support her...and then, she failed to do so, for whatever reason that Chisolm herself stated she couldn't fathom. A bum wrap, perhaps, but Steinem's own actions caused her to earn that rep.

As for the fighting online: I get to what you're saying about the "nicey-nicey" from some feminist conversations. But I have to disagree with you on it being a straight female thing. I think that attitude stems from a class thing, actually: being "nice" is seen in this society as a middle- and upper-class "virtue." (Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy dissects how "niceness" became a "virtue" in Europe and how the Europeans spread that idea.) Now, with that said, that "nicey-nicey" rhetoric was, from my observation, for a very specific reason when it came to WoCs and FoC in particular: to shut down what we had to say about race and other related issues--and Then, our "anger" was clouding the "real" issues of feminism...even though our comments may not have been angry or upset or even annoyed. And I've seen and heard conversations among non-straight white folks employ very similar rhetoric with QoCs.

Now, let me clarify what I mean by "civility." Actually, I'm going to let a great thinker do it for me because zie did it so succinctly. Jesus said, "Do to others as you would have them to you." No matter what I feel about Christianity (the teaching of Paul, popes, ministers, the Bible, what-have-you), what *he* said really gets to the point for me. (And, no, I'm not a Christian, either.) And, to me, that's a great baseline and plumline for civility and for social justice.

--AJ

Anonymous said...

Let's see...

Jesse Jackson, Jr., Obama's campaign manager, comparing the Obama/Clinton race to OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson.

Obama talking about Clinton "periodically" feeling down and putting her "claws" out.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in Obama's church, denigrating Clinton specifically as a white woman.

Rev. Michael Pfleger, in Rev. Wright's and Obama's church, denigrating Clinton specifically as a white woman.

DKos and other "progressive" blogs like Democratic Underground denigrating Clinton supporters as the "dry pussy" brigade, among other sexist and ageist epithets.

Obama's campaign dismissing Clinton's experience as "having tea".

Michelle Obama publicly blaming Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton's infidelity and saying it made her unfit to be President and recieving applause from her audience of African American women.

Obama's campaign consistently painting Clinton with anti-feminist tropes, like she's too ambitious.

Obama's campaign falsely characterizing Clinton's remarks about LBJ and MLK as racist when they were no such thing.

The memo from the Obama campaign urging its spokespersons to push certain comments -- like the LBJ and MLK comment and the "fairytale" -- as racist when they were not.

Donna Brazile (the incompetent ass who utterly mis-managed Gore's campaign) presenting herself as a "neutral" commentator on the race when she was anything but and using her media pulpit to lie about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, including the lie that Bill Clinton called Obama's campaign a "fairytale" and then ginning that up into a racial controversy.

The repeated accuations that Clinton voters were simply racists who would never vote for a Black man.

Harris-Lacewell accusing Clinton of having some "mammy" complex.

The very way Obama "won" the nomination by gaming the caucuses and with the DNC's thumb on the scale through the whole process, culminating in the farce of the RBC meeting on May 31 where they ACTUALLY TOOK VOTES FROM CLINTON AND GAVE THEM TO OBAMA. People who had voted for Clinton had their votes taken away and given to Obama, for the sole purpose of gaming the delegate count for Obama.

Obama's main speechwriter groping a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton.

All of this, and much more, with NO outcry from the "anti-racist" or "progressive" or "civil rights" movements. And, when anybody dared to bring any of it up, especially when white women brought it up, they were drowned out by accusations that they were racists who just didn't want to vote for a Black man.

As for Steinem, there are different ways to reasonably read that piece -- one of them being that she did not privilege sex over race. Moreover, after Obama was nominated, Steinem came out full-bore for him.

Heart said...

Thanks for that info re Shirley Chisholm, AJ Plaid, I'm going to put her book on my list. Having said that, Gloria Steinem headed up Carol Moseley Braun's campaign a few years back. AND having said that, I was very disappointed when Steinem and other Second Wave white feminist heroes of mine, like Robin Morgan, came out so forcefully in support of Obama when they could have instead given their support to Cynthia McKinney. I was, once again, dumfounded by that, especially with respect to Robin Morgan. When you get right down to it, Gloria Steinem has pretty much been a Democrat, but Morgan? No way. Both Steinem's and Morgan's attacks on Sarah Palin likewise floored me. I don't agree with Sarah Palin on very many things, but she did not in any way, shape or form -- in my opinion -- deserve what Steinem, Morgan, and other feminists I've admired in the past, dished out. The treatment Palin received from so many feminists and just women, period, made me ill.

You know, AJ Plaid, I'd take issue with a lot of the history you recited there if I was in a taking-issue mood. It's not enough, I don't think, to talk about Ida Wells' critiqueing the fatal role of white womanhood without also recognizing that that same white womanhood, led by women like Jesse Daniel Ames, doggedly fought the fatal role into which white women were being cast *by white men*. That is one inspiring story of the way white women and black women worked together. Essentially black women challenged white women to deal with their men, and white women rose to the occasion. There were missteps and it wasn't perfect, as nothing ever is, still, this is an amazing story and parts of it can be found here:

http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/aswpl/doclist.htm

Having said all of that, at this particular moment given things as they are, I don't really care in the way I used to about who is wrong and who is right about our history as white women and black women. I always felt compelled in the past to try to straighten everything out at length or defend the honor of feminist women from the past. (That's actually how Tami and I "met" online!) I don't care about that so much now. What I see is alienation: broad and vast and really deep, and I feel alienated myself in a way I haven't before. In the end, the question becomes a very simple one: can we help one another? How do we help one another? If we can answer that one, I think the rest would get sorted out in time.

I like what you said about civility. It reminds me of the big fights we used to have years ago when feminists posted to a man's blog that at the time presented itself as feminist. The blogger was constantly telling feminist women, in so many words, to calm down, be civil, like he and the other men on the boards were being (he thought), to the point that he banned various feminist women from his blog and consistently moderated their posts, especially when they challenged *him*, all the while allowing conservative, sexist men to post away because they were being "civil" and "courteous" about their misogyny! Well, it's easy for a man to be civil and courteous about issues that don't directly affect him; not so easy for women to be. More on point, in the name of civility and courtesy, feminist women were being routinely silenced. So your point there is very well taken.

Heart said...

I think I know who you are now, most recent Anonymous. You've been my friend for a long time, but I've witnessed your tendency to move the goal posts when it comes to these particular issues. So, beyond this one comment, I'm not going to engage you. If you aren't who I think you are, then obviously, this won't make sense to you, and my apologies.

You said this up thread a ways: And I watched the supposed anti-racist and progressive and civil rights communities and movements engage in and excuse horrifying sexism against a woman and her female supporters simply because they were white.

You were asked by AJ Plaid, "which white female and her white supporters are you talking about? And which 'anti-racist and progressive and civil rights communities and movements' are you talking about?"

I don't see in the examples you gave that Clinton and her female supporters were singled out because they were "white." If white men (like Daily Kos, et al, who I agree is a sexist ass) singled out Clinton "because she was white", they're being misogynist assholes pointing the finger at a woman to keep it off their sorry white male supremacist butts, nothing new there. If persons of color singled out Clinton or her supporters because they were white, again, so what? As you know (and as you have demonstrated you know for years and years, until the election campaigns, when suddenly it seemed like you didn't know it anymore), we live in a white supremacist society and white people are the power elites compared with persons of color. It's to be expected that persons of color are going to talk a lot about the racism of white people, both men and women and are going to see racism that white people, ourselves, do not see. Yeah, sometimes that's going to be a handy weapon to use in a sexist way against a white woman, and white progressive male assholes do that all the time because it benefits them to pit white women against persons of color, but you know what? We can deconstruct that. We can get to that, sort that out. And we should. What we shouldn't do is fling around all this bullshit rhetoric about engaging in sexism against white women "because they're white." They're engaging in sexism against white women because white women are women and they are sexists. Using charges of racism to do this sucks, but it doesn't change the fact that this is just plain ol' garden variety sexism and should be confronted as such. Anything else sounds perilously close to charges of "reverse racism," which doesn't fly, and in the past, you have acknowledged that it doesn't. If, that is, you are who I think you are.

funnie said...

Anonymous' list is too long to address all of its inaccuracies, but because she, in particular, does not deserve to have her thoughts reduced and oversimplified to the point of no recognition, let me point out that if:

"Harris-Lacewell accusing Clinton of having some "mammy" complex."

refers to this essay:

http://www.theroot.com/views/hillarys-scarlett-ohara-act

it's not true. MHL's essay is primarily about black women, and not about Hillary Clinton herself, despite the fact that it does refer, matter-of-factly, to HRC's "Scarlett O'Hara act."

Interestingly, the actual *thrust* of the essay that so offends Anonymous is entirely lost on her (presuming, as I do, that she is a white woman).

Repeating some of the essay's most on-topic points:

"Some pundits automatically concluded that 'race trumped gender' among black women. I hate this analysis because it relegates black women to junior-partner status in political struggles."

"Black feminist politics is not simple identity politics. It is not about letting brothers handle the race stuff, or about letting white women dominate the gender stuff. The black woman's fight is on all fronts."

MHL's essay attempts to explain why -- for reasons NOT having to do with preferencing "race over gender" in the primary election (as many many white women, including alleged feminists, have matter-of-factly stated) -- some black women responded negatively to Clinton's campaign as compared to Obama's.

(Like many others on Anonymous' list) I don't think Harris-Lacewell deserves to be discussed as she has. I think the reason her remarks are considered offensive is the same reason that Anonymous has posted "and so's your old man" responses on this blog.

When a woman of color says she has, or had, "x" problem with feminism, the response is "yeah, and" [I have a problem with blah blah blah civil rights movement/anti-racism etc].

But these are not -- NOT -- parallels. Black women have a claim to feminism, as agenda-setters and leaders.

Melissa Harriss-Lacewell does. Tami does. AJ Plaid does.

What these "yeah and blah blah anti-racism let ME DOWN (as a white woman)" responses say, very loudly, is that you view feminism as yours, and hold women of color responsible for the way people in the civil rights movement -- including men, and even including WHITE men in the case of Pfleger -- have offended you.

That offends ME.

Who do you think you are, defining my movement like that?

AJ Plaid said...

@Heart--I appreciate your co-hosting this carnival with Tami.

With that said, I feel like this: you may take whatever issue that you want as far as the feminist history I presented and defend what you know about that very same history. And, yes, we can go back and forth about who's right and who's wrong about that history--and present the books and the articles and the websites. But I think what we'll both find out is we both right about some things and both wrong about some others. For every Jesse Daniels...well, there is Cady Stanton. Unfortunately--and I'll modify that with the fact that I was taught feminist history in the 90s (I'll be 40 next month)--the 1st Wave rote herstory was Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and Seneca Falls Convention--not Jesse Daniels. When I took an African American Women Studies course (and did more reading on my own), that's when Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth came up in the hisstory. But I would seem to me that, if we're talking about the history, all of these names need to be included in that *rote* knowledge, not left to special electives. Though, nowadays, I hear Truth's name when 1st Wave feminism is bandied about moreso than Cady Stanton's or Susan B. Anthony. The lenses of time, I suppose.

As for Ms. Steinem: just because she supported Mosley Braun and President Obama doesn't negate--or erase--her failed support of Chisolm or her piece in NYT about sexism being more important for women to fight against than racism. Now, why did she support Obama over McKinney, if she's supposed to be so down for women? ::shrug:: Perhaps she'll write another book/op-ed/what-have-you explaining her political choice. What I will say is, looking at her choices, I'd say she has a really knotty engagement with regards to race and gender. And that's where I have to place her in my mind.

In the meantime--and not to derail this thread any further...

Civility. After living on this earth going on 40 years as of April, I, to paraphrase the Los Lobos song, got really tired of raising my fist so high for revolution. So I had to look over what I believed in, what these beliefs had in common, and how to consolidate all that to a simple idea that doen't expend a lot of energy. (That adage about not having the same amount of energy when you get older? For me, that's becoming truer and truer. And it's a good thing!) And "civility"--in that Golden Rule sense--is what I came up with. What does that mean in terms of what's going with feminism? I'm not even sure at this point.

Thoughts?

--AJ

Anonymous said...

This actually is all very enlightening. I was surprised that people didn't see the overall progress of the election. I don't know why Steinem and Morgan didn't support McKinney, but I suspect that it is the same reason Steinem defended Bill Clinton against Monica Lewinsky, which sent me through the roof at the time.

It was in that moment, that I realized Steinem sold out to the Democratic party. That's when I knew for sure that Steinem style feminism was more about being an insider, than being on the margins.

This is not an over-diss (a new word I invented :-) of Steinem per se, just an observation of what happens when feminists gain "power" or anyone gains "power." I can even see the sell out styles of the "LGBT" elites out there, very weird to watch, but this happened because the lesbian and gay movement was once rooted in leftist politics. Now that port of entry, so to speak, doesn't exist, and young people don't have the political mentors of the "old left."

I love Steinem, I love my feminist heroines. They may be very flawed, but I still love my heroines, and am loyal to them!! Loyalty over the long term is very important to me.

I still say that Steinem supported Chisolm and Mosley-Braun-- people accused Steinem of NOT supporting Mosley-Braun, and I believe Heart had to have links to correct that error way back in the day...

Since feminism doesn't get its due in herstorical coverage, people don't know the herstory, and haven't done the reading. How many TV shows go into detail about the feminist movement? It's why people didn't know that Steinem DID support Chisolm and Mosley-Braun.

Someone on this "thread" mentioned "niceness" as being a middle class ethic. I think it may be a WASP trait, but it is certainly not a Jewish trait. Since I'm half Jewish, my argumentative nature is well accepted in Jewish women's groups, for example. I often feel stiffled and suppressed in WASP women's environments.

And, black women seem to like my duking it out nature-- some cultural affinity there, that mystifies all of us.

Civility... although I was very disappointed that ALL women didn't support Hillary. I know, I'm kind of single-minded and Jane Van Winkelish here... but even though I can never fathom what it is that women do to prevent other women from getting the top job, I didn't think Obama was bad, nor did I believe Obama people were totally sexist. Obama did some things that no men ever do -- like publically say they are sorry to a woman they made a sexist comment to, for example. He gets big points for that in my book.

I don't hate Obama supporters, and IRL (in real life) even black men respected my support of Hillary, and politely argued back about Obama's virtues. This actually happened with real conversations I had about town with real people, and I felt rather uplifted by them actually.

So a lot of this weirdness that Heart talks about is about the Internet being such a big part of the campaign... bigger than it was in 2004 I think.

I am actually very optimistic these days, and am happy to have Hillary at State... I was dancing over that and happy over that. I'm happy that Obama is appointing out lesbians in his administration.

I'm still upset at how mean women were to Palin. Yikes, THAT really shocked the hell out of me. But then again, abortion has never been an issue with me. I actually admired Palin for having the disabled child; to me it meant she really did support a right to life when it came to HER life. I admire people who live their beliefs, and actually found Palin quite likeable and inspiring. This didn't go over well with feminist friends, they got mad.

But my admiration for people doesn't fit into neat boxes. There's something about conservative women that I admire, and they aren't me.

I have to realize that I am different, and that I can't expect a lot of women to really get this.
So I connect with people in odd ways, and I'm out talking to people all the time.

The anger of women is useful to see in print. I was beginning to wonder what happened to radical feminism until I bumped into Heart's blog in 2007. Her blog made me realize that I have become an irrelevant fossil, but even fossils are quite passionate about our outdated ideas.

We like the ideas that moved us forward, and radical lesbian feminism was my personal engine of passion and achievement in the world. It has been my pride in myself as a lesbian out in a very hostile world before everyone came out. It is the kind of pride one has when one has gone it alone with no community at all other than the power of ideas.

So in my single-minded way, I support all women for the top jobs.
I am disappointed that women as half the world have yet to rule the whole thing.

And, when you're an out lesbian who really LOOKS like a lesbian, you learn to not take people's overt hatred personally. I often think that while I love feminism, feminism doesn't know what to do with me.

At any rate, racism or sexism is what is directed directly at you. If it hits you in the face, then you know its sting.

Online feminist commentary deals I think with the inner truth of women, which is ugly, blunt and angry. IF feminism was often white or middle class, this is what middle class women are like on the inside. And they are no longer nice.

I'll never know why women didn't take the White House when it could have been ours, but hey, I know women are afraid to close the deal.
And being a later baby boomer, I wasn't all that enthrauled with radical leftist politics, because it was the radical lesbian pioneers who most spoke to me, not "leftist male stuff."

I know this is a long post, but I think it's a very good one. (All the other posts I mean) I like what everyone had to say, and we all interpret the world based on what we read and remember.

The world changed for the better for me because of Proposition 8, and how my neighbors supported gay and lesbian marriage. They put signs out in yards that I interpreted as "I visibly support lesbians!" That's what it meant to me. Just as Hillary Clinton meant, I vote for women, I want women to win. I am a woman, I will back a winner. Simple I know, but I'm tired of the door prize!

So while lesbian marriage is not my number one issue, I still like seeing the OVERT support of lesbians on the front lawns of my neighbors. I think if an African woman drove into a neighborhood with signs that all read "We Love Smart Black Women" I think this would be moving.. in a white neighborhood no less. It's what majorities can do, they need to put out a sign that says "Yes" to the outcast groups.
-Satsuma

Anonymous said...

And what all these broad brush lies about the "bad white feminists" do is put the onus on white women to ignore the misogyny fomented against us in order to show our loyalty or sisterhood to Black women when they choose to ignore the misogyny used by a Black man against a white woman, and very often in race specific ways.

And, yeah, it's also offensive to see Hillary Clinton being specifically denigrated as a white woman by Obama supporters such as Pflegler, Wright, and Lacewell-Harris as well as the incredible internet vitriol heaped on Clinton's assumedly white supporters as racist. And so, yeah, that's exactly about attacking white people because they're white. After all, all white people are racist and the only reason they could be voting for Clinton is because their racists. Let's not fucking pretend here: it was all over the news media and the internet for months. Fucking months.

And Scarlett O'Hara? Really? And who was the only candidate who went to Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union conference? Hillary Clinton, that's who. But, again, attacking Hillary Clinton as a white woman with the stereotype of the racist white woman oblivious to her own privilege gets a lot of ground regardless of the actual facts. Scarlett O'Hara is just as much of a race stererotype as Mammy.

And it's YOUR attitude that white women "own" feminim, not mine. I DON'T own feminism so it's not up to me to make feminism all comfy for you or make a place for you in feminism. It's up to you. If you don't want to do that, if you want to be all about womanism because you don't want to be around white women and YOU think feminism is all about white women, then fine. But own it.

It's not up to any white woman to give you an ownership stake in feminism exactly because white women don't own feminism. If you don't want an ownership interest in it, fine. Take your ball and go home. But that's not up to me. It's up to you.

Tami said...

First, I want to say how happy I am that this carnival has sparked some discussion surrounding racism and sexism.

Second, Anonymous these comments…

Obama's campaign falsely characterizing Clinton's remarks about LBJ and MLK as racist when they were no such thing.

The memo from the Obama campaign urging its spokespersons to push certain comments -- like the LBJ and MLK comment and the "fairytale" -- as racist when they were not.

Donna Brazile (the incompetent ass who utterly mis-managed Gore's campaign) presenting herself as a "neutral" commentator on the race when she was anything but and using her media pulpit to lie about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, including the lie that Bill Clinton called Obama's campaign a "fairytale" and then ginning that up into a racial controversy.

The repeated accuations that Clinton voters were simply racists who would never vote for a Black man.

Harris-Lacewell accusing Clinton of having some "mammy" complex.

…sound like so much unexamined privilege. It reminds me of the men who dismissed charges of sexism against Hillary Clinton. It is always rich when one who is the “oppressor” makes judgments about whether charges of an “ism” are legitimate or not. If you can imagine the reception that a man would receive in a feminist forum, proclaiming through his position of power, that charges of sexism against Hillary Clinton were “false” and “ginned up,” then you should understand why the comments above are so offensive. The arrogance of privilege says “I decide when I have wronged you,” “I decide what is justice and what is not,” “I decide what is offensive and what is not.”

Those who could not see both sexism and racism in the 2008 presidential campaign were being willfully blind. That both of these “isms” would appear shouldn’t surprise. We are a sexist, racist, ablist, classist and homophobic society. These are the biases that are ingrained in us all to varying degrees. That you express such outrage at the notion of white Americans holding racial prejudices in a society based on white supremacy, is as inexplicable to me as a man expressing outrage at the notion of men holding gender prejudices in a society that is based on male supremacy. I supported Barack Obama, but I KNOW he must have some gender biases. (He proved it during the “sweetie” incident.) He is a man in the United States of America. For me to argue otherwise is foolish—as foolish as the contortions to prove Hillary Clinton above reproach when it comes to racial bias.

That is why some FOC are angry at some of our white counterparts. It is because we know you know better. You understand kyriarchy. You know our society’s power hierarchy. But your arguments often are purposefully obtuse.

Anonymous said...

It's how it looks to the offended party that is the point. Power or privilege makes the beneficiaries of it obtuse. (Tami's word, but I like it too). That's its incideous quality.

So we all have a chance to hear it from many horses mouths.

We know Hillary Clinton is racist, just as we know Barak Obama is sexist. We know all of this. We should know our own biases, and challenge ourselves to see how this can be out in the world.

We have to decide as women what it is that drives and inspires us. To my heterosexual sisters, feminism may be about white women. But to me, it is not only "feminism" per se but it is also the culture of lesbians, so I look on it as my natural cultural as well as a political ideology.

Talk to most lesbian separatists or lesbian feminists, and you'll get the culture as well as the ideology.

The only analogy I can think of is that the black church is the culture as well as a Christian institution. Culture can be imbued in ideology, and this may be a key to understanding the fanatic passion for one candidate or another.

We knew naievely that when our candidate won, we would win. Naievely, because we know nothing changes from the top ever. We know that, and yet we still want this feeling of having won the symbol of America.

-Satsuma

Anonymous said...

P.S. And maybe some of us wanted that feeling that if our candidate won, we would never have to know that behind closed doors they would make an anti-woman statement.
Or behind closed door the president would never use the N word, and our only assurance of this would be if a woman like Hillary was sitting behind the big desk or a man like Barak was sitting behind the big desk.

In my mind, sexism would end, because no man would ever be able to call women b---- behind closed doors in an all male oval office again, ever!

Heart said...

The arrogance of privilege says “I decide when I have wronged you,” “I decide what is justice and what is not,” “I decide what is offensive and what is not.”

What you describe is also, of course, classic abuser behavior. As women, most of us know what that's about. You're right, the arguments do often seem purposely obtuse. I'm reminded of something one of my daughters wrote to me in an e-mail (I have five adult daughters, ages 18-33.):

Something I realized about every single PUMA-esque person I know is this, which is all I needed to realize- and so simple: I continually accepted and validated their anger at the sexism in the campaign - but never once did they accept or validate my anger at racism - in fact they undermined, insulted and abused me over it. Seriously fuck them. They are abusers and the stereotype of non-black privilege. "May God bless and keep them far away from me " in the words of the Fiddler on the Roof rabbi. That is how I feel about them.

It makes me sick because she's right, I saw it too. I am so disappointed and feel so incredibly disillusioned.

funnie said...

"Scarlett O'Hara is just as much of a race stererotype as Mammy."

No.

You can say it's sexist, stereotypical, whatever. Fine. Knock yourself out. Who knows why you feel compelled to do it. Who knows why you're so unbelievably offended. But go ahead, take umbrage.

But -- get this, now -- your offense at someone attacking whiteness (not womanhood, whiteness) is NOT and will never be "just as much" of a "stereotype" as being on the other side of slavery.

You think other white women, who are not offended by what you're supposedly so offended by, are stifling their resistance to misogyny in order to demonstrate alliance with black women?

Yeah, maybe. Or maybe you're underselling everyone but your own self. Maybe it's just that the majority of white feminists, clueless about race as any of us are, AT LEAST understand that no, hell no, Scarlett and Mammy aren't equally stereotyped on the basis of race.

It's crazy talk. Really.

Heart said...

Scarlett O'Hara is just as much of a race stererotype as Mammy.

Kind of like Rhett Butler is just as much a race stereotype as Rastus.

Anonymous said...

The majority doesn't sterotype its own self. It can parody its own self, but parody is about the court jester not the slave in the field. If you wanted to use the analogy of Scarlett O'Hara and Mammy, the two people aren't equal in social position.

When I first saw Gone With The Wind in 1979, I thought all the characters seemed fake and weird, for what that's worth. But I damn well knew that Mammy was a blatant racial sterotype.

You could say that you find Scarlett annoying, or phoney, or just a product of 1939 male Hollywood imagination. But you could not call her a racial sterotype.

I think in speech class there was a word for a false counter argument, a kind of logical fallesy. Someone here will know the technical term that dates back to the ancient Greeks.

It's the same thing about the false concept of "reverse racism." Again, racism is directed at a minority, it is a group chosen by the majority to scape goat and use to protect the wealthy of any given country. White land owners want to make sure that white peasants have someone to kick around, so they won't rebell against the white land owners-- that's part of the game!

Every country in the world creates "race" or an outcast group.
When you're born into a kind of racism in one country, it's actually very hard to see. It becomes truly absurd once you see it in another land! That's when you know how hard it is to detect.

It's far easier for me as a white woman to detect sexism than racism.
And I can see anti-semitism a mile away. Since it is uncomfortable for majorities to ever admit that racism even exists, you have this denial button.

WOC got really mad at the double standards in the election, just as white feminists got mad at them as well. This perfect storm is what made the whole election so emotionally draining.

If we don't admit this dynamic exists, or if we can't even know the difference between Scarlett and Mammy, well, holy cow bat woman, we're in big trouble!!

Incidently, herstorical note here: when Hattie McDaniel won the academy award for her role as Mammy, she was not allowed to eat with her colleagues at the academy banquet because she was black. None of the other cast members protested this, or boycotted the banquet in solidarity with her. That was 1939.

My Dad noticed in the 1950s, that black sailors always had mess duty or menial duty on board his ship. He thought it was wrong, but did nothing to protest it. That was in 1953 or so.

We can know things are wrong, but we have to take action, and I don't think it's easy.
- Satsuma

Anonymous said...

P.S. Wow, 26 comments on this post!! Is it world record here?

Tami said...

Anon,

I think it may be!

Anonymous said...

Scarlett O'Hara is just as much of a race stererotype as Mammy."

No.


Actually, yes. I should probably have said race-based stereotype, insofar as it's based on the color of their skin. Because she's white, Scarlett O'Hara is X. Because she's Black, Mammy is X.

Equally racist? I think not. Because, of course, being white, Scarlett O'Hara occupies a very different position in white supremacy. And so there's plenty of room to argue that it's really an argument about where O'Hara is in that system, i.e. privilege on the basis of the color of her skin, than it is about her race per se. I get that. But I don't think that was the argument being made during the primary, except by virtue of some very assiduous fan-wanking of what went down.

But it is a race- and sex-based, i.e. white woman, stereotype. And has become moreso, and is used that way by Lacewell-Harris in that Lacewell-Harris does not bother to bolster her arguments with facts about Clinton or the Black women who supported her, but bases them entirely on stereotypes, i.e. O'Hara and Mammy.

Throughout the campaign, Clinton was treated as the sterotypical white woman oblivious to her own privilege, i.e. Scarlett O'Hara, regardless of any facts on the ground, i.e. attending Smiley's State of the Black union. Indeed, "facts" were created to support the sterotype, including the LBJ/MLK comments and the "fairytale" comments. And facts were attributed to her, Ferraro, which had nothing to do with her or her behavior.

Further, the Mammy/Scarlett O'Hara stereotypes have parallel race-based stereotypes in other areas. For example, the frigid white bitch stereotype (used by Michelle Obama against Clinton) is the other side of the coin of the Jezebel stereotype. In both cases the stereotypes are used to demean women based on their race AND sex. But in the primary race, only one stereotype got play by Democrats, the frigid white bitch. That is as much about race as it is sex exactly because sexism is so often race specific. The inability to see it as such vis-a-vis white women is a problem. A problem of racism? I don't think so, not as racism against white women, anyway.

But I do think it's a problem for anti-racist and progressive movements and adherents, including Jesse Jackson, Jr., to foment those sex- and race-based stereotypes against white women because they are white women rather than on demonstrated behavior. (Tell me, what behavior by Clinton justifies the comment that she cried about her appearance but not Katrina or the comment that the primary race was like OJ Simpson/Nicole Brown Simpson?)

I'm not offended by people "attacking whiteness", I'm offended by how attacks against a white woman as a white woman are being sold as "attacks on whiteness" when, in fact, they were attacks on a white woman based on race- and sex-based stereotypes of white women created and used by patriarchy in order to oppress Black AND white women. Hillary's a frigid white bitch? Oh great, that justifies Bill seeking sexual excitement somewhere else especially if he does so with those hot-blooded Jezebels. Have you SEEN "Primary Colors"? That's EXACTLY what it was.

If it was about "attacking whiteness" -- which it wasn't because those white guys who supported Obama got continual blow jobs about how they weren't racist DESPITE THEIR WHITENESS -- that's one thing. It wasn't. It was about attacking a white woman using hateful stereotypes about white women as white women.

And, frankly, your efforts to put thoughts and words in my mouth -- "you think X" -- are bullshit. You know what? I don't think "X". You lying about what I think just makes it easier to not engage with what I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

Also, AJ, you're fundamentally wrong about Sojourner Truth's speech "Ain't I a Woman". It wasn't, as you posited, a response to white women in the 1st wave. As the very text of the speech makes clear, it was a response to white men's assertions that women and African Americans didn't need and shouldn't have rights.

Here's the text of the speech, http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/sojour.htm

And here's some relevant bits:

I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?


Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.


So, you know, whatev.

Anonymous said...

31st comment, and still going for a new record!
-Satsuma

funnie said...

I'm not putting words in anyone's mouth.

And so, yeah, that's exactly about attacking white people because they're white. After all, all white people are racist and the only reason they could be voting for Clinton is because their racists. Let's not fucking pretend here: it was all over the news media and the internet for months. Fucking months.

White PEOPLE, there, gender-neutral, attacked on the basis of race, not sex or race-and-sex. "Attacking white people because they're white."

Not white WOMEN "because they're WOMEN."

Not even white WOMEN "because they're WHITE WOMEN."

And certainly not "white WOMEN, in a way that uses race-based stereotypes of the feminine to degrade both white WOMEN and Black WOMEN."

You clearly complained about attacks on white PEOPLE because they're WHITE.

See?

White people. So WHAT?! Who cares.

Given comments like that, no, I simply don't buy that you're "not offended by people 'attacking whiteness'" -- that it's really all about the WOMEN (except for when it's about Bill Clinton and unfair smears) -- not when you so clearly indicate otherwise.

Which brings us back to: Who cares?

Why should anyone care about possible race-based "attacks" on white "people"?

Tell you what, I don't. This election caused me actual wounds as a woman, and as a supporter of antiracism, feminism, womanism, civil rights, and so forth.

It made me angry and frustrated as an opponent of war, imperialism and colonization, neoliberalism, global capitalism and related economic exploitation. Though on these fronts, the election really wasn't worse than any other.

As a white person? No damage to report. I somehow managed to flee Sherman's burning of Atlanta entirely unsinged.

Did I sometimes feel misunderstood? Sure. Because I'm white? Ha. Maybe, but add that to the bottom of the list, behind all of the reasons I feel misunderstood about why I vote 3rd party to begin with. See: the ways in which radicalism and third-party are class indicators and the ways in which people (gender-neutral, race-neutral, PEOPLE) associated with that class are typecast as persnickety overeducated members of the elite who can afford not to deal with pragmatic realities.

But being WHITE? No problem. Whiteness intact and unassailed.

You know, during the last-year-plus, every single occasion in which I felt uncomfortable as a white person falls easily into one of two categories (or both):

1. some person of color being genuinely hurt by something a white person (me or someone else) said or did;

2. some white person doing or saying something so awful I cringed about the possibility of #1 being the next step.

Is there any other reason, ever, to feel bad about being white? I can't possibly fathom one. Other than the danger of oppressing other people, being insensitive to them, ramming your culture down their throats, there doesn't seem to be a real downside to being white.

So what does a whiteness-based "attack" even look like?

How, exactly, does it wound?

I'm not sure what "attacking" gender-neutral "people" because they're "white" looks like. But I know what it doesn't look like. It doesn't look like any of those examples you gave.

Even taking those statements at face value (which I do not), not a single one is an "attack" on "white people."

But even if they WERE -- why is this something feminists should care about? I don't, and I don't see a decent reason to do so -- you can't seem to make one. So, instead, you say you don't care about whiteness being attacked...it's attacks on WOMEN that are the problem, while white men are getting their dicks sucked -- and -- return to the top, insert another coin, pull the lever and start again. Maybe someone will get caught up in the logic-loop and buy it the next time around.

Meanwhile, the sizeable racist wing of the fauxgressive-moderate-conservative coalition that supposedly rallied behind Clinton and Palin stopped critiquing Liberal White Dudes almost entirely quite a while ago, choosing instead to lay the bulk of its ire at the door of the "civil rights movement," including many of the media-trashed persons you put on your list, while overtly trading upon race as currency, (one small example, the constant potshots at ACORN).

In fact, the race-baiting and race-hating is so thorough and consistent and takes up such a big part of the supposed "agenda," it seems that the only way a Racist, Misogynist Liberal White Dude can get the airtime to get criticized by some folks anymore is by actually getting in the way - standing in between the haters and the President, his family, other people of color, or women who don't do what they're supposed to. But those white men who don't directly represent the President are getting passes that come freer and freer as time goes on. SSDD.

Given that? Given the fact that the alleged sole renegade critic wing, supposedly the ONLY people who meaningfully (how meaningfully?) protested the campaign's sexism, has basically stopped calling out your average white man (to whatever extent it ever actually did), choosing instead to make racist comments about the President smoking pot and never working, or to take Marie Antoinette jibes at Michelle Obama?

I don't want to hear about how white guys got "blow jobs" for supporting Obama. Because in THIS context, it sure as shit looks like you're accusing the women who disagree with your particular viewpoint -- which is almost everyone not engaging in the racist cracks themselves at this point, isn't it? but that doesn't signify anything, I'm sure -- of being the blow-ers.

Which is funny, considering you named exactly one "progressive" white man on your Shitlist of Unfortunate Events...and even then, it was Pfleger you chose to complain about -- a white man with strong ties to the black community (in fact, the only white man involved in misogynist remarks this campaign season who is remotely associated with actual black people), one who is hardly representative of the White Liberal Men you're supposedly critiquing, including getting blow jobs from someone else out there...a "someone else" that sure doesn't sound like a white man.

funnie said...

Back to the original post, because I've been mulling it over since AJ posted it -- I'm really glad about and encouraged by it.

I think every woman should make the most life-affirming choices for herself, regarding what she wants to spend her time trying to fix and what she considers throwing good energy after bad.

Tami's post "Jaded" made a lot of sense to me. I sense that there's a lot of truth in it. I suspect she's right about feminism being a coalition of feminisms, and I'm sure she's right about not expecting women to be perfect because they're women, and about women working in their own communities.

But her vision also still feels incomplete, to me, like we're giving up on the ability to synthesize what women need as the 3-D women they are into one feminist umbrella. I certainly understand why women think that project falls into the throwing-away-good-energy category, and support that.

But I am also so appreciative of AJ's mesage, in a time when women seem to be either angry about, resigned to, or oblivious of the things that went on during the last year and a half, and as a result are largely lashing out, shutting off, or marching through as usual. In contrast, AJ's message seems to shout: I am here, I am paying attention, I may be angry, but please note -- I shall not be moved.

I really like that. Every successful movement needs both its external, single-interest-focused pressure groups AND its staunch, rock-ribbed reformers who insist that those interests be addressed by the mainstream entity.

I'm not giving up on feminism; I just think it needs to fundamentally change, in order to do what it's supposed to do. I want to be one of those reformers myself, but without women like AJ inside of it, bringing to bear the influence of community-focused women like Tami, I wouldn't have any hope that such change could happen.

So, here's to both approaches! Thank you both so much for your essays.

Anonymous said...

Why should anyone care about possible race-based "attacks" on white "people"?

Maybe they shouldn't. But, as usual, you pick and choose and take out of context what you respond to. And your fundamental dishonesty isn't worth engaging.

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