There are always going to be some people who will be jealous of the fact that she has been picked to represent the world of feminist blogging by writing a book or who will be angered that she is the one whose views on feminism are published in the mainstream media (and that the article is so very simplistic, but that’s another story). In short, people are people. Maybe that was why some of the “big bloggers” got it so wrong - they were expecting a backlash from people who wanted some of that limelight for themselves.
And yet that’s not what this was about…
The furore over whether Valenti’s book was inclusive of women of colour (apologies to fellow Brits - we just don’t use that phrase here, but I’ll use it rather than any of the Brit alternatives) wasn’t about jealousy over not getting a book deal, personal issues with the author or the rest. It was about an accusation that has been made about feminism since the very beginning: that feminism is largely a movement for well-off white women talking amongst themselves and that issues of importance to non-white women are systematically marginalised. This is a HUGE issue, and the response from many of the WoC bloggers out there shows that it is one that strikes a chord with them. Saying that it’s not important is simply not an option when there are so many many women out there telling you that it is.
As feminists we hate it when left-wing men tell us to suck it up about our issues because talking about them is “divisive”. Why can’t we white feminists get that it’s just as patronising and just as wrong...to ask non-white feminists to shut up about their issues?
...Chris Clarke wrote a great post for Pandagon back in April as a guide for men (written in response to the Kathy Sierra online harassment situation and the way in which it was dismissed by Kos, one of the big liberal blogs). I can’t imagine a single feminist who won’t have read it and nodded along...
...You know what, everyone? Shut the fuck up. Listen to what fellow feminist bloggers are telling you. They feel marginalised and ignored in a movement whose goal is equality and whose members are quite able to spot a man exercising his privilege at a thousand paces, yet somehow can’t see how a white feminist could be doing the same thing.
It’s hard not to put on the blinkers when a friend is being criticised. It’s even harder when it seems like you are being criticised. But we ask men to do this all the time. We say “it’s not about you - you don’t have to identify with the people who happen to have the same chromosomes as you but who act like assholes“. So take off the blinkers, listen and learn. If we can’t do this for our friends and allies amongst non-white women, how can we expect men to do it either? We owe it to ourselves but, most of all, we owe it to the women around us.
on edit: also see:
You are not the default at tiny cat pants.