Just to answer this bit:
(I want to pause here to note three things: 1. Do you realize how fucked up it is that for some reason it is “wrong” for a woman of color to want the same advantages that white women get for doing the same work? 2. Do you realize how much it sucks big fat hairy dog cock that I have written about media justice for two fucking years and there is STILL a whole group of assholes who claim to have been regular readers and can somehow manage to say with a straight face that I want to “own” ideas and/or steal ideas from others? and 3. Do you realize how much it sucks big fat hairy dog ASSHOLE that even when I do my best to state my anger WITH THE FULL RECOGNITION that what I am saying may hurt somebody and thus ACTIVELY work to PROTECT that person while still expressing my anger–I am STILL berated for being angry, mean, judgemental, too harsh–and furthermore–I should EXPECT the attacks that I get? Do you recognize the problems with telling a woman of color that she can not even show anger at *anonymous*?)
...whoever "you" is, my own answer is "hell fucking yes, rage on." Because you know what, there's a lot of that about, point of fact. As Vanessa notes in a different and yet perhaps not totally unrelated context (in comments):
Don't you get it Ren? We're not allowed to be angry.
WOC, transpeople, PWD, sex workers, immigrants, Muslims, gay people, women, whomever is not priveliged in the subject at hand.
We're not allowed to get angry. It breaks the rules.
You know: anger is SCARY and IRRATIONAL and RUDE.
Or, well, no, specifically: -your- anger is scary and irrational and rude. -Mine- is simply a logical, even understated response to the overwhelming injustice that has been committed against Me. (Which may indeed be a collective Me--I'm Every Woman, The State, It Is Me, I Am The Cosmos, Goo Goo Ca Choob). Why can't you selfish people understand this?
No, okay, so, but meanwhile, bfp's final post has prompted a flurry of responses, many mostly expressing unhappiness, again, that she's departing and wishing her well. Some others are starting to engage what means this "feminism" thingie, riffing off of (among other bits of bfp's post):
And so I withdraw myself from this “movement”.
And I reject and rebel at the label “feminist.”
I reject and rebel at the label “feminist” because I reject and rebel against silence and erasure.
Well, it's an interesting question of itself, I suppose, if not--to me-- the most burning one here (we'll get there). Some thoughtful recent posts interrogating the label/identity business as well as its deeper ramifications: naamenblog, AJ Luxton, Octogalore, The Anxious Black Woman, Fire Fly, deanna zandt, Galling Galla, The Angry Black Woman, Sin Vergüenza, Dw3t-Hthr, Sadassa, Sudy (and also here), Lina, (and also here), Aaminah, Jessica Hoffman, and Rebecca Walker.
--oh, and look, here's something refreshingly to the point, -a- key point here anyway:
Dear white feminists, quit goddamn fucking up.
But apart from that...
Well, per the label/identity thing for a sec: my take by me, for whatever it's worth:
as far as I’m concerned, it’s the work by any other name. I call myself a “feminist” same as I always did, because for me, it’s basically just a convenient word, probably not the only one, no, just the one I'm used to, for “concerned with that part of human rights which pertains to womens’ rights.” It’s also inextricable from, well, a number of things, but for me, particularly all the other movements for greater freedom in sexuality, the body politic in general, and gender roles. And that's pretty much it.
And, on the "still concerned with womens' rights, that's pretty much the point" tip, you know, I do understand why, for instance, Astraea takes issue with this column by Elizabeth "I Know I Wasn't Supposed To Lick The Entire Knot Of Toads In One Go, But I Can't Help Myself, And It's Just Part Of My Tragically Waifish Charm, Plus I Can Probably Get An Entire Fucking Epic Saga In Twenty-Three Volumes Out Of The Incident, Can You Pay Me In Advance?" Wurtzel. Wurtzel, see, thinks feminism is a failure because, for instance,
First, the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket alienates everybody who the first woman with a real chance to be president hasn't alienated already. Then we find out that there are prostitutes who are paid $5,500 an hour, and the consolation prize for earning a Harvard law degree is that you get to stand by your husband's side when he resigns from public office in disgrace. Even worse, because Silda Wall Spitzer is accomplished and beautiful, the whole scene serves as a grim reminder that even amazing women become sexually disposable after a certain age.
Is this the world that feminism hath wrought?
...My Sunday night summer viewing, which once consisted of the slumber-party gab of "Sex and the City," is now the lad-happy cool of "Entourage." I really do love that show, but most of the women -- girls -- in it cannot even kindly be called sex objects: They are simply sockets. And this portrayal of prop whore-things is OK by everybody; it seems to go largely unnoticed and uncommented on because life is like this now.
And, I suppose, the casual feminist reader might see someone--anyone--well, any woman--reject the term "feminism" and wince and start to argue because they automatically associate such a rejection with, well, shit like this. Or, worse, you know, "ew, hairy legged manhaters," or Phyllis Schlafly, even.
But the thing of it is, is, vapid tripe like that is so far away from critique like this that it might as well be on another planet:
The thing is—I thought that those who were a part of a “feminist community” were held to the same sort of standards. That when a woman of color says that she will not be published thus the white women who are published need to spend more time than they feel comfortable talking about the needs of women of color—THEY WOULD DO IT. That they would say “It’s the least I can do” or “What else can I do” rather than JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT. Because we are all in a community together and we all are working to create something that challenges and dismantles gendered violence and inequality, right? And if it takes writing a book that does not assume all women are staying away from feminism because they are white and privileged and just don’t get it—well, ending gendered violence and inequality is worth it, right? Working together towards a common goal, right?
It just took reading Hugo’s response for me to realize that I was fucked up wrong. That feminism’s goals and my goals are completly and totally opposite of each other. That in feminism’s eyes “dismantling” gendered violence= “shifting” gendered violence.
...I support and honor the several women of color who’ve posted that the answer is not to leave, but to fight harder, with lawyers if necessary. I support and honor those women because they are fighting, they refuse to back down, they are organizing, they are sharing their strategies of not backing down with other black women and women of color alike.
But for me—a person who believes in media justice–the point was never to say I own this fucking material—but to say we must build a movement because the only way I and my community will ever have peace is if there is a movement. Those women of color who say they will not back down because they own the material—they are building a movement, just in a way that is different than I what I am doing. It may be different, but it’s not directly conflicting with what I am doing. And if they choose to call themselves feminists–well, I have a mouth and eyes that I can use to find out what they mean.
“Feminists,” on the other hand, are not movement building, they are actively destroying women and blaming those women for the destruction. They are saying the point of feminism is “equality with men” without even thinking to acknowledge that “equality with women” is just as admirable of a goal and maybe even possibly the first step to achieving the goal of equality with men. They are saying, Just do it, just do it, JUST FUCKING DO IT.
Feminism as Nike ad. *nods*
Two things about this. One, me, I'm not inclined to argue with the woman right now even if I did want to quibble about how she phrases this or that, her ideas about this or that, my own selfish need to make her come back, please come back, we can fix this. Partly because, well, first of all, like I said, I'm not so very invested in the damn word.
And then I thought: well, but of course it's never just about the word, is it? Even besides the "dear white feminists, quit goddamn fucking up" aspect.
I look at this passionate screed by bfp, goddamit apparently the last we're going to have from her, and I think: in a way, this is what they mean by "losing your religion," isn't it? Maybe part of the reason I don't feel the need to do all that soul-searching about "feminism"--and make no mistake, I've seen any number of women, white, too, go through a similar process of disillusionment these last couple of years, is because, well, I was always kind of an agnostic to begin with. I was never on fire for the Movement. I never thought this was the vehicle that would save me, would save us all. I just thought: seems like a good idea to me, "feminism." Yay women. Viva women. Viva "not being oppressed on the basis of sex or gender." The rest is commentary.
But, that's just me, and I am coming from, as they say, a rather markedly different standpoint from that of bfp or any number of women who've gotten so thoroughly soul-sick that they simply can't do anything but make a clean break. And, those Christian feminists who've struggled with both identities as well as the playing of one against the other can tell me if I'm way off on this analogy, but this whole thing makes me think of, for example, a woman who's so burned by the abuse and patronizing and exploitation she’s gone through at the hands of some uber-para-church, which was all about hustling and tithing and smarmy reactionary preachers and politicking and very little to do with the spirit of the message. and, unlike other people in a similar position who made their peace by finding another, smaller church to join, or simply going their own way while continuing to call themselves “Christian,” become so allergic to this identity, this community, this doctrine more or less, that they just can’t be associated with it at all anymore.
And the thing is, if you’re too busy wringing your hands about losing a member because it makes the numbers go down and makes the -institution-, much less the current leaders, look bad? Because it makes you lose -power-, without stopping to think about what you actually wanted to -do- with that power? Then the problem is, indeed, with you; and it’s no fucking wonder you’ve lost these people, and it’s your loss as well as the institution’s.
As for my own personal belief system:
If I believe what I believe about boundaries, about the "personal being the political" not meaning MY personal is EVERYONE'S political, I have to respect these womens' personal journey toward whatever political vehicle they ultimately see fit to carry them toward their goal. And, rather than worry about what we're all calling ourselves, ask, if and when it's appropriate,
"Going my way?"
or really, vice-versa. And if we are, well, hey, maybe we can travel together for a while. Maybe not. But at least, as bfp seems to be saying here, at minimum, let's not get IN each other's way.
And, and this is the key point: if one finds oneself repeatedly being crossed by certain people? Then perhaps they were never going in one's direction to begin with.
Because, see, I look at this post by bfp, and what leaps out at me is not the business about "feminism" but the emphasis on community. Specifically, 1) she's got her own, she doesn't NEED a little corner office in the big bland white edifice, no matter how generous it thinks it's being, 2) the overwhelming evidence that as much as certain people might give lip service to the idea, in fact, they were never about community at all. They were about self-aggrandizement, and that's pretty much it. And the only reason they care about, for instance, "feminism," (or gay rights--hi, Andrew Sullivan! hi! or what you will) is because they see whatever-it-is as getting in the way of their rightful ascendancy to the top. Gimme my piece of the pie, OUR piece, OUR pie, excuse me, and make it a big one. What else matters?
And the stickier part of this is--we live in a culture, a world that rewards this attitude. And, as I've probably made pretty clear by now, I don't actually blame the Patriarchy as the root cause of this state of affairs (although, yes, I use that lens sometimes). Primarily, I blame the Assholes.
More seriously? Probably worth a separate post or twelve, this. Yeah, it's an individualistic approach on its surface, this emphasis on o let's call it character; and the whole problem here is precisely individualism run amok. The fact that this whole thing has become about someone's relentless squawking about zomg her CAREER and not, say, as bfp was originally trying to say (via here):
I don’t give a shit about being published, I don’t give a shit about the interviews or the jobs or the fame–I DO give a shit that a Chicano is reading a white feminist talking about immigration and politely distancing himself from a gendered analysis of immigration because the author exhibits no historical or contextual awareness of women of color led feminist interventions into immigration.
I give a shit about that because not only does this erase the work that women of color are doing within racist white dominant structures, but it erases the work we are doing within our own communities. It makes it ok for men of color to dismiss the need for feminist interventions into our communities–AND it makes it ok for white women to continue beating up women of color with the idea that showing any concern for what happens to men in our communities is ridiculous, because, see, they don’t approve of feminism!
Poof! Just like that, feminists of color are made invisible even as we are the ones laying our bodies down for the foundation of the communication between men of color and white women.
I had thought at one time that feminism was about justice for women. I had thought it was about centering the needs of women, and creating action in the name of, by and for women. I had thought that feminism has its problems but it’s worth fighting for, worth sacrificing and sweating and crying and breaking down for.
It was all worth it to me, because it meant that I existed and my daughter existed and the women I love existed and we had the right to demand the violence committed against us ends.
I see now that feminism is nothing more than erasure. A conversation between white women and men. A commitment to the safety and well being of people who are never women of color.
I have more to say, too, about the bit wherein "appropriation" doesn't just mean "put some blonde hair on the same ideas that have been around for ages and make a fortune off it while the people who did most of the work go unrecognized and even scorned," but also means "subtly altering the content so that it reframes the white/straight/mainstream appropriator as central." Not now, though.
Just to wrap up, then: here's the bottom line as far as I'm concerned. It's not whether Eve Earnest calls herself "feminist" or "womanist" or "humanist" or "R2D2." (although precisely why someone decides she prefers "womanist" or "mujerista" is bloody relevant, yes).
It's about the fact that our community, such as it is, this weird phenomenon that is "online feminism," just lost one of its finest voices, and it's our loss.
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
And, rather than honor the best--meaning, not just brilliant at putting words together but with SOUL, with integrity-- when they make an all-too-rare appearance, -do- have conviction, -do- have passionate intensity...
we sit back and watch while they beat their head against a brick wall until they burn out. Silenced, yes.
And meanwhile, superficial, status-seeking, solipsistic mediocrities drone on and on, prating about hitcounters and book deals and the precise degree of Patriarchy left in their navel, thoroughly alienating anyone left who's able to tell the difference and accomplishing precisely nothing besides securing their own fifteen minutes in the limelight, because that's all they were ever really interested in to begin with.
And the whole thing just really fucking blows.
And that is my feminist analysis from the blue, blue sky.
and by the way? I'm sorry, but I'm already a "fucking mean bully" according to the lady in question, perhaps understandably; anyway, it's petty and sad and no doubt wrong to call further attention to this bit of it, but I can't resist: seriously, some kind of "your brain's not even connected to your typing fingers, is it?" award for this:
Amanda Marcotte Writes:
April 17th, 2008 at 5:50 pm
I 100% agree that feminists should not try to destroy each others’
careers. Which is why this entire dust-up was fucked up—and renaming
me “X” (I’m sure that Malcolm X would have appreciated that bit of
history erasing)—doesn’t erase the attempts to pin the word
“plagiarist” to my career in hopes that it could end it.
For the love of Moses and little plastic baubles, Mary. Step. Away. From. The Shovel.
or, no, actually, The Angry Black Woman puts it best, bless her:
angry black woman Writes:
April 17th, 2008 at 8:09 pm
Really now. Really. You need to just stop. Everything you say on this
topic is just flat out wrong. Whining that everyone is out to get you
because you’re so popular? We left the third grade a while ago,
attempt to catch up. Sad that people are calling you a plagiarist?
Setting aside the person most affected by this whole thing actually
did NOT, the fact is that your behavior through all this has been less
than stellar and to try and whine that it’s so horrible to be called
something terrible that you’re not, well, all I can say is, hand me
the world’s tiniest violin so I can play it while you talk.
What you DID do is bad enough. Even if we lay aside that nasty P word,
there’s still appropriation, utter asshattery, and self-righteousness.
Oh, and I forgot, white women’s syndrome. Put the back of your hand to
your forehead, woman! And don’t forget to ask for smelling salts!
In the end, we’re just plain tired of your bull. You did wrong, you
refuse to admit you did wrong, you tried to explain away your wrong
and, when that wouldn’t work, you attacked other people’s wrong and
still didn’t address your own. Guess what? No one else’s wrong, minor
though it may be, cancels out YOUR wrong! get over it, get over
yourself, and hush.