Suggested Actions for White Feminist Allies from Katie

On my blog, I had just linked to an excellent and common example by BrownFemiPower of white women getting credit for helping women at large when they’ve actually done a lot of harm to women.

How did they do this harm?

By forgetting to ask themselves whether women in a population group would be disproportionately hurt (compared to men in the same population group) by whatever actions they’re advocating (be they immigration actions, medical funding actions, military funding and policy actions, etc.)

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Today, BrownFemiPower saw another instance of white women getting credit for helping women at large when they have, by forgetting to apply their feminist knowledge to all their advocacy of various policy positions, done a lot of harm to many, many women.

Short summary:

  • White feminists were getting mocked by conservatives for not criticizing misogyny conducted by non-whites against non-whites strongly enough.
  • White feminists wrote a nationally publicized letter saying, “We do too! Hell, we FOUND that misogyny and were the first to tell the non-white perpetrators that they should stop it!”
  • BrownFemiPower retorted (unfortunately, in a venue that isn’t nearly as highly publicized) that
    1. they shouldn’t even worry about whether they’re criticizing misogyny conducted by non-whites against non-whites until they’ve spent a heck of a lot more time criticizing misogyny conducted by whites against non-whites (usually through foreign policy) and
    2. they did NOT find the non-white-on-non-white misogyny mentioned by conservatives and they were NOT the first to tell the perpetrators of that misogyny to stop it–the VICTIMS did both.

Quotes from BFP’s post:

her little list of wrongs that “American feminists” stand against was the most irritating…

Hm. Who could Ms. Pollitt *possibily* be talking about here?…

Do you think it’s the U.S. government that is currently enforcing horrific immigration laws that are degrading and violating women and their families–-IN KATHA’S OWN DAMN COUNTRY?…

Why the particular emphasis on “Muslim countries?” Does Ms. Pollitt think that “Muslim countries” are particularly hostile to women’s rights for some reason?

Even as her own country imprisons 8 year old girls and deports their mothers?

Fact: it’s feminists who first identified atrocities against women around the world–female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, spousal violence, rape– as violations of human rights, not family matters or customs of no state importance.

Actually, Ms. Pollitt–it was the women who *experienced* those actions that first identified the violence being committed against them.

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Please, please, please, please, please–if you’re a white feminist, consider my suggestion for action instead of signing Ms. Pollitt’s letter:
Next time you’re around white feminists who are upset that the right wing is saying, “You don’t do enough to stop non-white violence against non-white women!” STOP them from retorting with a, “Look at all we’re doing!” and, worse yet, a resurgence of interest in taking that kind of action.

Tell your white feminist peers only to tell the right wing commentators, if they must retort at all:

“I’m sorry, but you’re wrong to assume that that is our job. Our job is to stop white violence against white women and white violence against non-white women. And we will work on those issues in the proportion that they exist today.

“Though we may lend time and resources when and to the extent that they are asked of us by non-white women, we refuse to claim that it is our job to ‘stop’ non-white violence against non-white women.

“Thank you for listening, and please follow our bulletin for the amazing work we are doing stopping white violence against white women and white violence against non-white women in the coming months!”

Posted in Abuse, rape, and domestic violence, Classism, Discrimination, Eradicating Divisive Discourse, Feminism, Gender issues, Multiculturalism, Privilege, Privilege in Action, Racism, The Evil -ism's, USA, World | 4 Comments

Male gaze, what male gaze?

I think the video says it all. But, if not, then go read this deconstruction of the site being advertised: Chickipedia. For Guys That Never Get Laid.

Posted in Gender Cultism, Gender issues, Popular Culture, Sex, sexuality, and sexual politics, The Beauty Myth, The Evil -ism's, The Internet is Serious Business | 2 Comments

Happy Day After Blog for Choice Day

Via morchades.

Posted in Carnivals, Blog Against -ism Days, etc., Discrimination, Feminism, Multiculturalism, Reproductive Rights, Sex, sexuality, and sexual politics, The Evil -ism's | Comments Off

Blogging for Choice

Blogging For ChoiceWhen people say “choice” the first thing we tend to think of is abortions. Me, I’m never going to get an abortion — unless the universe really hates me, that is. You see, when I was 23 I got my tubes tied so, unless I’m one of those less than 1% of women whose body naturally reverses the tubal, I’m not going to get pregnant which means I’ll never have to think about getting an abortion.

I grew up in a world where my right to bodily sovereignty was considered a basic right (though that way of thinking is slowly being eroded). Roe v. Wade pioneered the way for that kind of thinking, and so it’s in part responsible for my ability to get my tubes tied without kids, without a husband, and without being nearly post-menopausal. Roe v. Wade made it possible for me to never have to be faced with the decision to have an abortion.

So, yes, that decision gave countless women access to safe medical abortions, but that’s not all it did. It also was a major step in the direction of giving women control over their sexual lives and their bodies; it helped to give women access to birth control methods and family planning that otherwise would not have been available to them. It said that, yes, women do have the ability and right to make their own decisions regarding whether or not they want children.

When I think about “choice” I don’t just think about the abortion debate; I think about how thankful I am that I was allowed to make a choice that enriched my life. We need to create a society that allows more women to make such choices, not less.

Posted in Carnivals, Blog Against -ism Days, etc., Childfree Issues, Feminism, Reproductive Rights | 3 Comments

Who's the butt of the joke?

On the over-the-top offensiveness of God Hand (the game the above clip comes from), pat of Token Minorities says:

I don’t think this is accidental. I think this says something about us, as the kinds of people who enjoyed and got used to playing games like Final Fight, where we fed the machine quarters and yelled “Oh yeah?! I’m going to beat your ass!” during every boss fight and punched punk stripper transsexuals all day and didn’t give a fuck. God Hand is laughing at you because you love it, because it has translated all the gendered and racialized images of our games of yesteryear into actual goddamn dialogue and you still don’t really notice it. It’s bringing us back to the Old School, complete with everything that was kind of messed up about the Old School, and so I propose that perhaps God Hand’s inclusion of blatantly Bad Things is actually so pronounced and over-the-top that it actually has a point, a thought-provoking point, and not merely gratuitous, sensational stupidity. Maybe it’s gotten a few people to idly ponder the games they played when they were young, and what they learned from it. It’s messed up, but it’s closer to the Chappelle’s Show end of the spectrum (thought-provoking and possibly educational) than Indigo Prophecy (which is basically ignorant) or Border Patrol (which is actively messed up).

I’m not sure that I agree with him (and would have to play the game to fully form an opinion), but it’s something to think about.

Posted in Popular Culture, Queer Issues, The Evil -ism's, Video Games | Comments Off

The problem with feminism lite

I apologize for rehashing an old debate, but I came across a Facebook cause yesterday called Forward Feminism. Their tagline states “Bring back the true values of Feminism” and they say that they are “[b]ased off the book Full Frontal Feminism”.

Full Frontal Feminism is what I’m going to call “feminism lite” (BetaCandy calls it Spice Girls Feminism). To my knowledge, the book is aimed at being a non-threatening introduction to feminism for those “I’m not a feminist, but” types. I can understand the logic and I can’t say that I wholly disagree. But at the same time this feminism lite gets marketed as the feminism (not always intentionally, but often through poor wording choices or just because the book becomes popular).

This is especially problematic when the rhetoric is targeted at highly privileged audiences, like FFF was. Many aspects of this have already been covered, especially the white and class privilege aspects (link roundup), but I’d like to address the underlying culture of privilege that feminism lite is a part of and perpetuates, using the Facebook cause that started this post off. Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Privilege, Queer Issues, The Evil -ism's | 11 Comments

Debunking a "female privilege" list

Over on her LJ, Rachel Edidin debunks purported “female privileges” one by one:

Let’s take a closer look at some of these “female privileges”:

1. I am physically able to give birth to another human being, and then do my best to mold her or him into the kind of person I choose.

My sexual choices are more likely than a biological man’s to have life-altering consequences. As a result, the responsibility for birth control is tacitly mine. However, I am less likely to retain custody in the event of a divorce.

2. I am not automatically expected to be the family breadwinner.

If I am not contributing financially to my household, is assumed that I will be a parasite, or, at best, confined to the domestic sphere. In exchange for financial support, I will be assumed to “owe”

3. I feel free to wear a wide variety of clothes, from jeans to skimpy shorts to dresses as appropriate, without fear of ridicule.

If I am harassed or assaulted, it is likely that I will be blamed because of my choice of attire and/or adornment. My culture perceives many styles of dress as inviting extremely invasive and/or personal commentary by strangers, and the style of my dress will have a much more profound affect on my personal and professional opportunities.

Read the rest of the 25 point list here: When I Say “Check Your Privilege”…

Posted in Gender Cultism, Privilege | 13 Comments

Was the pill all that revolutionary?

My dad loves, and I mean loves, to talk about how the pill is what enabled women to become equal. He talks about it as if it’s the end-all-be-all of contraceptive and that something like women having a pill that they can take to prevent pregnancy was the deciding moment in the struggle for equality. Now, I think he presents it this way mostly because my family tends to talk in hyperbole, but I do think that it’s a reflection of the common way of thinking of the pill as freedom for women.

Now, obviously the pill has done some great things for some women. I’m not disputing that. But I would like to highlight a post by BetaCandy, How the pill revolutionized sex… for men, where she questions the conventional wisdom that the pill was some miraculous discovery for women everywhere:

We already had the solution to women’s freedom to have sex without worries about pregnancy: condoms. So why did we need a pill to market the concept that women could now have sex as they pleased?

Because men didn’t like condoms, and this “sexual freedom” women were being granted took place within a framework of having to sexually appeal to men and their preferences. I realize there were other apparent advantages to the pill: it was more convenient, it didn’t interrupt the moment, and for a lot of women it made periods more manageable (which sounds trivial to those who’ve never experienced grossly difficult or irregular periods, but trust me: it seems like a godsend at the time). But it wasn’t marketed as “convenient”; it was marketed as “freedom”, when condoms already provided that very freedom, plus STD protection, without side effects.

And I think that’s something that’s important to think about because so many things that are packaged in our society as “freedom” for women really translate into some freedom for women, but much more freedom for men. I feel like the rhetoric of the pill as revolutionary is symptomatic of the way women’s needs and wants are subsumed by greater narratives that, ultimately, cater more towards the needs of others rather than the needs of ourselves.

Posted in Feminism, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health | 22 Comments

Just because it's cool

A Low Impact Woodland Home
A Low Impact Woodland Home

Check out this low impact woodland home.

Posted in Just plain cool | 2 Comments

Two posts feminists should read

First up is a post at AllyWork on the qualities of an ally. It’s an anti-racist focused version of a paper from the Gay and Lesbian Action Council called “Qualities of a GLBT Ally.” On the list of what makes a person a good ally to people of colour are being someone who: works to develop an understanding of issues facing people of color; understands how racism and other patterns of oppression operate; works to be an ally to all oppressed people; and chooses to align with people of color and represent their needs, especially when they are unable to safely do so themselves. The rest of the 12 point list is a must-read for… well, anyone who doesn’t want to be seen as racist, really.

The other post is by Donna at The Silence of Our Friends, More on Full Frontal Feminism and really speaks to one of the repeated themes of this blog, which is that feminists can’t just be in this just for ourselves we have to be committed to ending oppression for everyone.

Here’s what struck the deepest chord with me in that post:

There are very few white allies who are trustworthy, who will do the right thing when it is at odds with their own wants, needs, goals. I am convinced that most of the major white feminists, including bloggers, have no intention of dismantling the patriarchal system, they want to join the power structure, have power over other people, and have a higher position in the hierarchy. That’s why they only wink and nod when it comes to issues involving other oppressed groups then tell us to shut up while they go about their important business of getting the things that are only to their advantage, and eventually (*wink nod* never) they will get around to our “pet issues”. Paying lip service to anti-racism is always to their advantage, gives them the warm fuzzies, and leads their readers to believe they are actually progressive instead of as selfish and self serving as conservatives.

The problem of paying lip service to equality isn’t confined to any one movement, but feminism is my movement and we have the tools, and the knowledge, to be better than this, damnit. Perhaps feminism that caters to privileged women (white, cisgendered, straight, etc) is easier to grasp and less challenging to follow in some ways, but it’s just as Donna said: you can’t dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools.

Posted in Feminism, Privilege, Racism | 2 Comments