i’ve seen this more times than i can count.
i get that these kinds of quotes can be a “gateway drug” to feminism and/or critical thinking for lots of young folks… but lately i am just so TIRED of seeing and hearing them.
because you know what?
sometimes feminism DOES mean you hate men.
sometimes feminism means you ARE a bitch.
sometimes feminists ARE hairy angry dykes…
and they’re fucking allowed to be. i know that’s not really the message they are trying to presenting but it just feels watered down to me. i know the goal is to challenge the stereotype that only one kind of (lesbian-man-hating-fat-ugly-angry-hairy-butch-dyke) woman can be feminist, and that that idea is problematic and prescriptive… but consistently, when i see young women challenging that, they still tend to have an inherently negative tone about feminists who happen to be hairy. or butch. or angry.
i think that’s why i can’t handle this shit.
i think that’s why i miss the friends i had who would laugh about this shit with me. friends who would create zines like “dirty (un)feminist secrets.” it’s why i still hunt for moments like that online, it’s why i connect with rgr-pop’s and k’s and cassie’s ways of mocking this sanitized version of feminism with their own dark humour or unbridled rage.
perhaps it’s because i’m conscious that even at twenty-six, i’m still unlearning. still unlearning the sexist-racist-homophobic bullshit that i was immersed in on so many occassions as a kid. still unlearning that i don’t need to apologize. i’m pissed that i can still remember the number of times i apologized to men for not wanting to have sex. or for wanting to have too much sex. apologized to women for having slept with men, or vice versa. apologized for getting “too drunk.” or wearing too short of a dress. or for swearing in public. or for my body, my hips, my body hair. for my vulgarity. for being loud. for being angry.
i don’t want anyone to have to apologize for simply learning how to be themselves.
i understand that these quotes are, for some people, their own way of resisting that, and that taking the time (especially when you’re young) to put those frustrations into words, art, zines, and share them with everyone can be cathartic and productive.
but the number of times fellow feminists have asked me to “tone down” my anger? that talking about race is “getting us off topic.” that my suggestion that we use a different chant instead of “stand up fight back” for a less ableist chant is marked as “sidetracking” or “besides the point.” that other queers, activists and critical folks have used my femme presentation as a way to discredit the work i do? successfully?! of course i’m going to be fucking angry.
it’s why i “get” the humour behind memes like “is this feminist” and need to let myself laugh my ass off every once in a while at a movement i often consider myself a part of. it’s why i laugh at almost all of rgr-pop’s response to whoneedsfeminism. i get, to a certain extent, the message that the creators of projects and quotes and zines like this are trying to convey (discrimination/oppression/subjugation based on gender should be challenged) but i can’t handle the simplification of an incredibly complicated interconnected system. no one is challenging white privilege with these statements. no one is talking about how we can fight the good fight together. instead it just feels divisive and glossy. if it were as simple as quotes like this purport the fight to be, we wouldn’t need a century of “capital F” feminism and a million fucking waves and STILL be bringing up the need for intersectional analysis, and STILL be fighting transphobic assholes who actually dare to call themselves radfems, etc. etc.
goddamn. i just feel like everyone wants these guidelines of what is and isn’t feminist so they can simultaneously reward themselves and punish/chastise others (but in the most unproductive of ways).
I’m not going to address the ‘white girls get it too omg’ bullshit because they do, but it’s always different. I’m writing this as a woman of color who’s experienced street harassment more times than I can count.
First off, I think people need to realize that this isn’t just basic misogyny when it comes to women of color. It’s misogyny and whiteness showing both their ugly faces simultaneously. Because misogyny treats white women completely differently.
But whiteness tells US (WOC) some whole other shit, mainly two things:
1. Black and brown women are sexually undesirable (unless of course, they’re light)
2. Black and brown are always sexually available
and that combination of ideas is what’s really so dangerous about street harassment. Because if you believe both, then you believe that Black and brown women SHOULD BE HAPPY when you harass them on the street. You’re not even desirable, you should be fucking flattered. Men who perpetrate street harassment are under the impression that I owe them my time and that their harassment should be taken as a complement because I have brown skin. And that is what makes street harassment genuinely dangerous- the sense of entitlement to ME.
I had a guy tell me once when he scared the shit out of me by following me into a corner store (I was 15) because I freaked and didn’t give him my name, ‘Man I ain’t finna take this shit from no bitch.’
What he meant was, you’re brown. Be happy I just harassed you. Street harassment isn’t just misogyny at work- it’s whiteness telling men how to treat Black and brown women.
When you discuss the wage gap, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Only white women make $0.77 to a man’s dollar.
- Black women make about $0.68 to a man’s dollar.
- Latina women make about $0.58 to a man’s dollar.
And men of color make less than white women.
A message from a commenter:I don’t know if you know this, but Adrienne Rich was a collaborator on “The Transsexual Empire: the making of the she-male,” which was a hugely transphobic book that characterized trans people as men disguising themselves as women to undermine the women’s rights movement…so I have felt a bit uncomfortable with the quotes you’ve been posting in honor of her death.
(I wasn’t sure if you wanted your name on this, because you sent it as fan mail, but I wanted to be transparent here, and I think that this is discussion is worth engaging. Feel free to send another message if you want me to use your name.)
I have heard, since Rich’s death, of her collusion in “The Transsexual Empire.” For those not familiar with the text, here are a number of excerpts that show exactly how fucked up it is (note: rape and transmisogyny abounds). I don’t really want to link to Feministe, but in the comments, there is more discussion of Rich’s involvement in this text, as well as her personal transphobia. Most of it is apologism.
As the commenter says, this book hinges on the idea that trans women are “really” men and (poorly) adopt the guise of womanhood as part of men’s project to dominate culture. If any part of that is not repellent to you, please unfollow, thanks.
This book has been extremely damaging to trans women, not merely invalidating their identities and denying them access to women’s spaces (which are spaces for healing from the sexism all women experience), but by engaging in exactly the kind of dehumanization that allows trans women (especially of color) to be raped and murdered at catastrophic rates, then mocked for their pain.
Honestly, I never know what to do when it turns out that someone I admire espoused dehumanizing views such as these. There is a desire not to align oneself with that thing, of course, but there is also an investiture in the person, in what they represented to you yesterday, and the symbolic culture they were apart of. So one can either decide to throw out this figure that was so influential, or, often, to discredit or decontextualize the critique (“all she did was say something. Raymond might have taken it out of context,” “that was a long time ago,” “I just don’t see her as transphobic”).
I think this second track resonates in part because most voices in the mainstream (EG, privileged voices) have fucked up, often badly and publicly. It is a mark of their privilege that these failures do not mean the end of their public careers, but instead often bolster them. It is a mark also of my privilege that I have the option to consider her collusion in this text as secondary to the positive work she did. I want to resist the impulse to disregard her transphobia, I want to examine how a woman who loved women, who was Jewish and anti-Zionist, anti-prison industrial complex, anti-militarism, who was thoughtful and deliberate about her own whiteness … a woman who was all these things could still harbor transphobia, and how this fact could be largely covered up or considered unimportant for much of her life. Less discussed, too, are the criticisms of many women of color to Rich’s discussions and formulations of whiteness and her “anti-racist” designation.
I am a slow processor. It will take me time to integrate information about Rich’s transphobia. Right now, my heart still hurts at her death, because I have that luxury and privilege to remember the parts of poems that felt like they were for me, felt like she understood me, because, as a queer, white, female-designated-at-birth person, she was probably speaking to me fairly often. There is a lot in her poetry that feels expansive to me, and attempts to integrate the idea, again, that those moments that seemed so open were in fact not is difficult. I’m actually going to quote Rich (“Blood, Bread and Poetry” 1986) here, because I think she says it perfectly, thought perhaps that is a great irony.When someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing.For many marginalized people, every text is like looking in the mirror and seeing nothing, every text a reaffirmation of their bodies as contested ground. So for a woman, a poet, an essayist to understand this and still miss the point… the disequilibrium is astounding.
For right now, I’m going to pause the Adrienne Rich stuff in the queue. I hope other people will share their thoughts on this. Are there possibilities for rehabilitation and re-claiming of Rich’s work, or the work of other racist/sexist/transphobic people? Is that the wrong project altogether, and does it mean instead that we must continue to look for way to invest in alternative representations (the Arkh project comes to mind)? What do you do with the knowledge that someone whose thoughts nurtured you oppressed others?
I’d like to open up this discussion here, too. I did not know this about Adrienne Rich and it saddens me enormously that this is the case.
Wonderful post from VP.
tw for discussion of racism and hate crimes
Another reason why I never felt like mainstream feminism was for me is because they have no understanding of how gender seperatism/ not going “but what about the men!” is never going to happen for me although I am still a feminist.
White women do not need to think of white men because white men control everything and are the most privileged in society. White men are oppressing everybody else without challenge.
But even though black men perpetuate the system of patriarchy within the black community and are oftentimes complicit with sexist oppression, it is impossible to forget their oppression at the hands of white supremacy.
I guess that’s why black feminism as a whole has never gotten the man-hating rap like mainstream feminism has.
Being a black feminist is a balancing act in a lot of ways. Addressing sexist oppression in the black community/ the problematic nature many black man have in relation to black women… and empowering myself as a woman… and supporting black men who are attacked by society in specific ways.
Black feminists have always balanced. Even today, I will speak up in the end about sexist oppression within the black community but I will never like doing it in front of whites.
Sometimes if I mention black men, I feel white feminists judge me like I have internalized misogyny or something… that I’m not a real feminist because I constantly bring up that black men make less than white women, that black men can experience sexualized racism at the hands of white women, that black men are murdered for looking at/ being in the vicinity of the wrong white women.
Emmett Till is not an isolated incident.
Black men die everyday because of sanctioned white aggression.Whether it’s about a white women or just being deemed “suspicious” or just being around a white person who has always wanted to murder a black man and call it self-defense.
It is impossible to ignore this. Not only because there are black men in my life, but because this is an attack on me too. I remember reading the essay by Angela Davis about the black male rape myth and she explained how that myth is connected to the black women are lascivious myth.
If I ignore white female privilege in connection to black men, then I am hurting myself.
It is always interesting to think of how to resist the pressure of privileging black male issues before black female issues (as the black community has traditionally always done), while still keeping in mind that we need to keep black male issues in mind because their issues, by the mere fact of us being in an oppressed race AND exacerbated by patriarchy, will always affect black women in the end, if not in their very beginning too.
Being reactionary isn’t an option at all. And I don’t think a lot of white feminists get that.
If America thinks every black man looks “suspicious” like someone who needs to be hunted down and murdered then what does America think of me? Black women birth these boys who grow into men.
What happens to me if the man I love is perceived to be a threat? Then who am I? He is oppressed by white America and I along with him. Mostly because I’m a black woman. But also in a small way, because I am perceptibly connected to a black man. It’ll be worst if I ever have children. That connection.
A connection to America’s most dire problem. What does white supremacy do to preserve itself when there are non-white men with patriarchal ambitions? You exterminate them. You mute, rape, and torture me. All in an effort to maintain the status quote. White men first, white women second.
And white feminists play this game.
So I get to see dead bodies that could’ve been my brother or my father or my lover, but thank God not them… although white folks think we all look the same. And seeing this violence directed towards them, reminds me that I am hated just as much.
I keep thinking about these things. And as I think shiftily through what it means to empower myself and the men who oppress me at the same time, more black men become victims to white aggression. More and more.
Black men I won’t even hear of because their murder will be neatly swept away and forgotten by the white people who wanted to see them dead.
I can’t forget that.
The fact is that transgender people—in particular, transgender people of color—have simply not experienced the same strides forward as their lesbian, gay and bisexual brothers and sisters. A landmark new report, ‘Injustice at Every Turn,’ presents undeniable proof. This report, released on Friday, is based on a comprehensive survey of over 6,000 transgender people and the findings are too shocking to ignore, especially when it comes to African-American transgender people.
Our transgender brothers and sisters are far more likely to lack proper medical care, to be unemployed, to live in extreme poverty, and to be HIV-positive—and that’s when compared to their white transgender counterparts, not just the general population. The survey’s respondents were four times more likely than the general population to live in extreme poverty. One in five reported having been refused a home or apartment, another one in five report having been refused health care. More than one in five, 22 percent, reported having been harassed by law enforcement, and nearly half reported fear of seeking assistance from police. African American respondents reported all of this in even higher numbers."
Mandy Carter, Still No Freedom Rainbow for Transgender People of Color (COLORLINES)
If you haven’t already, I recommend taking a look at that report. The race statistics are sobering, and too important to ignore.
Intersectionality is not optional. It is not something you can take off and put back on again at will, when you feel like it. An intersectional lens should inform any critical evaluation of a subject, because these connections are key to understanding the web of oppression that weighs down on us all. These interconnections, too, are very weblike in their nature, because when you tweak one string, all the rest vibrate with it. There is no way to separate these things out from each other.
People complain that people keep dragging ‘side issues’ into ‘their movement’ and they don’t understand that these issues are the movement. Because a movement that commits oppression in the name of liberation is not a good movement, to put it bluntly. We are more vocal about these issues because we have learned the cost of shutting up, because we constantly have to remind people, because the minute we stop, everything returns to the way it was, the status quo is reestablished, and the real structural and institutional problems that create inequality go, once again, uninterrogated.
This is all connected. To misquote Patrick Henry for a moment, give me intersectionality, or give me death. This is not hyperbole: The current system, as it stands, is killing me. It is killing my people. It is killing the people I work in solidarity with. It is killing you. If you do not give me intersectionality, if you will not commit to being intersectional in your deeds, your thinking, your doing, all the time, no matter how you identify your politics, you are killing me."
so—the question: why would he call himself this instead of “hispanic” or (god forbid) latino or “country of origin”-american?
honestly, when i very first saw the picture, my breath was gone, this guy looks like half of my damn latino family. i immediately thought he’s ‘hispanic’—but now i qualify it and say—*if* he doesn’t identify as white.
but—the response of white folks to it being announced he’s a “spanish speaking minority” has been so infuriating—because they honestly can’t see that what they are saying and how they are saying it is invisibilizing THEIR OWN VIOLENCE—but also that in distancing themselves (IT WASN’T US), they are *protecting* white supremacy—they are using the strategy of making the “problem” be about out of control animals fighting amongst themselves—rather than *white supremacy*, *white nationalism*, *white heteropatriarchy*.
and you see this in the possible reason that Zimmerman would *choose* to call himself “spanish speaking minority.”
he is sitting on the crux of his *own* prison pipeline, in the form of ICE built detention centers—his lawyers must surely KNOW this. they need him to be white *enough*—such that the (white supremacist) state of florida does not divest itself from protecting him.
and why would it divest itself? think of florida’s thriving reputation as a resting spot for *tired white northern liberals* who need a place to retire. florida has its *economy* tied up in being that resting spot—and if things start to get messy—if white people start to feel uncomfortable—where if they say “i’m living in florida now” to their friends and they no longer get sighs of envy, but standoffish questions (why on *earth* would you settle there?)—white people will economically divest themselves from Florida. And Florida’s economy will not be pretty. Florida *depends* on appealing to white liberal reformists—but as infuriating as they are—white liberal reformists *can* actually see the connections between KKK lynching of yesteryear and the modern day form its shaped into.
So—if Zimmerman *becomes hispanic*—where there is already a pipeline built to get him easily out of the way—*florida will do it*—and they’ll have the added benefit of doing it to the applause of outraged white liberal reformists. Florida doesn’t need the problem he is creating. individuals are *always* easily sacrificed to protect “the greater good.”
so zimmerman’s lawyers *need* him to be white—but not quite. they *also* need him to not be a racist. because what’s worse than being a murderer (as we’ve seen, even right here on tumblr)? being called a racist. if he’s a racist, it won’t matter if he’s white. liberal white reformists can spot hateful racists too. they can’t see those racists when they’re wrapped up in a business suit, but they sure the fuck can see them if they have tattoos and have confederate flags and whsiper fucking **** at a kid before they shoot him.
what to do? what to do? what to do? zimmerman is the physical emobiement of what it means to exist in multiple categories in this country. even as light skinned as he is, people are SURE he has physical characteristics that mark him as “really” non-white. zimmerman has a “choice” in how he identifies, but that choice just in this conversation alone is constantly taken away, talked over, not respected, or assumed. the “choice” he has is also structurally enforced—he doesn’t get the choice to *NOT* make a choice. he *has* to be *something*—because if he wants resources, *that choice is how he’s going to get them*. but if even as he thinks he has a choice to “make the right choice”—to side with white supremacy—White supremacy has *already dumped him*. Even after white supremacy promised him—if you assimilate, we won’t *care* where you came from or who you are. If you’re legal and you do it the right way, we don’t *care*.
but white supremacy is showing its face—it really *does* care, and it never stopped noticing the way his skin was *exactly* white and it never stopped noticing who his mother was and it never stopped noticing his black hair or the way his tongue rolled in spite of itself.
Which means, fellow Latin@s, Chican@s, Mexican@s, and even “hispanics”…that right now, the point is NOT “don’t let them divide us.”
the point is to understand *properly* how white supremacy works, and the multiple complicated ways it enacts itself on our bodies, lives and communities. The point is to ask ourselves—why *would* an assimilated man (whether he identifies as hispanic or as white or *whatever*—he *became* what he is through assimilation) regard a 17 year old black boy as a *threat*? why *would* he hunt down that child and murder him in cold blood? what does what he did have to do with assimilation? What *is* it that assimilation thing is asking of us? and what does trayvon’s murder have to do with angie zapata’s murder? was it *really* just that “hispanic” bad apple men decided today was the day to kill somebody? Or is there something going on with this weird mix of liberal white reformists, deeply white supremacists states depending on travel economies and white liberal vacation fantasies, ambiguously white but not quite cis men, and assimilation?
why is it acceptable to even *imagine* a mestizaje with no black/afro roots? why is ambiguity centered on the experiences of ambiguously white but not quite? what are the different ways we use ambiguity within the process of assimilation and white supremacy? what benefits do white but not white folks get within white supremacist systems? what violent trade off are we all forced to negotiate? what is it that allows men to use that ambiguity for protection, when most of us, that ambiguity exists as a space of violent attack?
what does it mean to be black in our countries of origin? what does it mean to be white? what does it mean to be *no longer white* in the US?
There are a LOT of questions our communities need to be asking ourselves right now. and sitting with and honestly working through. false calls for “unity” are false because oh, woah—a hispanic may have just murdered a black boy. proving that *unity never existed to begin with*.
so instead of trying to impose positivity on a relationship that has violence laced all through it—(or, existed within very specific communities that made *concious* decisions to work together and negotiate relationships together), we could be brave. and start asking the right questions.
Intersectionalism is one of the most important words in our time. Intersectionalism is more than a word. It is a paradigm, a belief construction through which one must orient one’s actions. Race-, gender-, able-, ethnic-, etc-equality movements must work together in order to meet a single one of their individual goals. It is our duty as those struggling for equality to strive for the equality of all. If we deny the advancement of another valid group for the sake of our own, then we are no better than the oppressors. We will have used our freedom movement to perpetuate the bondage of another. That is a sin we cannot commit if we are to remain honest about who we are and what we want.
(Totally inspired by this post, btw)
OK so there’s this thing that regularly goes around certain Tumblr circles where everyone complains about people that ever dislike (deliberate word choice: dislike, not hate) any female characters ever, with the idea being that because female characters are so marginalized by fandoms (they are, btw, and if you disagree go away please) then when you come across a woman with a (in your opinion) badly-constructed narrative or whatever, instead of disliking them you should extensively headcanon and so on and ‘find their story’ until you do like them.
Which, you know, is my personal approach? Seriously, I have some female characters I don’t personally click with or care much about but I am drawn very heavily to female narratives so yeah, I like almost every lady I find in fiction at least a bit, and I mostly do so by building on their canon presence. (I seriously cannot recall the last time I actively disliked a female character? I mean… I disliked Miranda in Mass Effect for like an hour and then I liked her, does that count?)
But um can we please stop saying people are obligated to do this because it’s obnoxious as fuck
This is really good. Reminds me of a similar post (I think by leatherpumpkin?) about intersectionality and how not everyone can or should reclaim every female character.