Friday, April 18, 2008

Wherefore art thou feminist?

So, I figure I'll make a post about the whole internet "debacle" surrounding the deletion of brownfemipower's blog and the associated fuckery of certain white feminists.

It makes me sad to see the growing rift between white feminists and women of color who once were feminists but are, one by one, rejecting the label. I guess I'm not sure how to react when WoC bloggers are not only rejecting the label of feminism, they seem to be rejecting feminism itself. I understand their reasons, and I empathize. And I'm angry, but I'm not angry at WoC bloggers, I'm angry at the white feminists who get to keep the flag of feminism no matter how much they have shat on it.

Is it time for a new movement? (I don't mean, "is it time to start a new movement," I mean, "is it time to throw our old ways in the trash and re-learn how to listen to our sisters who have been trying to speak to us for decades?")

It makes me sad that feminist is a dirty word, for so many reasons. There's the people who will say, "I'm not a feminist but..." or "I'm not a feminist, I'm an equalist"; those are apologists who have basic notions of justice and equality but do not want to offend the patriarchy because they are somehow benefiting from privilege. And then there's the people who see that feminism has historically been a white movement that has ignored (or even sometimes outright discriminated against) communities of color and the needs and basic realities of WoC, and thus they reject feminism because it does not seek equality for all women, just white women.

I suppose that I'm torn. I understand fully why any WoC, trans women, kinky women and sex workers, women with disabilities, and/or any other group that is severely under-represented and/or even openly reviled by mainstream white feminism, would want to reject feminism. But I don't know if I'm ready to reject it, because the patriarchy is still alive and well and breathing down my neck every day, and I don't know how I'd cope otherwise.

But the actions and words of some of my fellow white feminists are embarrassing at best. It hurts to see well-known white feminists engaging in silencing of WoC. I hurt in sympathy for the WoC who have been harmed (whether it be by the theft of ideas, or refusal to accept book proposals, denial of experiences, charges of hostility, the list goes on...) And I hurt, selfishly, because I am white and I am a feminist and the stupidity of other white feminists makes me feel that it is even harder to be an ally to WoC because of all this bullshit. (Whether it actually is harder or not, that is my selfish worry. I won't pretend that I'm perfect and I won't pretend that I don't have white privilege and that I wasn't socialized into this culture of white supremacy.) I don't mean it's harder because I feel scared of oh noes teh big mean WoC, I mean, I just don't want to seem like Just Another White Feminist. But I suppose my privilege has made distrust-based-on-skin-color a New Thing to me. :|

And it's nothing new. Nothing I have to say is anything new. I'm just saying it, because I feel like I need to.

The thing that makes me feel awful is that, before bfp deleted her blog I never really read it that often. Neither did I read very many other blogs by WoC. I didn't read very many non-livejournal blogs at all, regardless, but that's no excuse whatsoever. I kind of feel like LJ is this little bubble that can so easily turn into a space of confinement. With this blog I'm trying to break out of the bubble, expand my horizons. The world outside of my LJ friends page isn't that scary after all.

[edit] I guess what I'm trying to get at, is: how is "feminism" defined? Is it defined by a set of ideals (that would be, equality for all people regardless of gender or sex)? Or is it defined by those who identify as feminists? Maybe more on this later; now it is dinner time...!

[edit, part 2: THE REVENGE OF THE EDIT] I don't have much more of my own self to add, I'm kind of tired. :P But here's a couple links with some useful discussion: a couple posts at
Alas, a blog and Diary of an Anxious Black Woman.

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