Friday, November 09, 2007


I've found myself, over the last few days, being in an odd position. Being the one with what must be largely unacknowledged privilege. And from that I have been contemplating a whole slew of things...

The extremely over-done issue of feminism being white-centric.

People care primarily about what matters to them personally, does that mean they don't care about what doesn't?

Trying to come at an issue from a perspective you have absolutely no way to experience.

Having my opinions disregarded as irrelevant.

Struggling with my constant need to have my opinions heard, and realizing how they might indeed be irrelevant.

I don't know how many times I can reiterate what is quickly becoming my philosophy on life... "Strength through diversity." The importance of polarity. I believe firmly in that. It's why I believe many, many of the things that I believe.

As it relates to feminism what this means for me is... Well, kind of the same thing it means for everything else it applies to actually. There's a place for everything. A time for everything. A purpose for every perspective. (Perhaps this is why I try not to discard outright even those commenters here whom I disagree completely with? And why I responded so defensively when my comments were disregarded?) This is why I have sympathy and understanding for the rather infamous "woman only" spaces. For spaces solely for women of color. For safe spaces and strict, no victim blaming spaces.

I think every person, by virtue of their families; politics, money, race, ethnicity, religion, education, social standing, geography and life experience (for a brief list) has a perspective absolutely unique to that person. Thus every single voice in the chorus has something to add. Each perspective brings something different to the party. Connected to this though, is the fact that people will thusly speak out about what matters to THEM, which will leave issues that aren't at the forefront of their minds to others to cover. This can be, and is by some, considered a weakness of the feminist movement (and paganism, actually). This is especially true in the case of race relations within feminism, which began, as we all know, with middle to upper class white women, and thus addressed primarily their concerns. Yet, I don't think this phenomenon is a weakness. Truthfully, I think this is the best way we can go about making a true feminist movement. What is required to make that happen though, is participation from everyone. More on that later...

Isolating your specific group ("women's only" spaces being an example) has it's benefits. It certainly is easier to talk to people when they already share your point of view. Hell, one of the reasons my relationship with my husband works so well is because we almost always know where the other is coming from. It also gives your group a chance to discuss issues you share in a safe space, which is invaluable.

Equally important, although this part is not totally articulated in my brain, is the engaging in public discourse. One way of doing that are these blogs. The public discourse is important because it brings those ideas you've been working on to a larger audience (and often a critical one, which is repetitive, annoying, and frustrating). Public discourse is where those who don't share your experiences are exposed to them, and where they can come to understand them.

Something I see, and have seen with some groups, is the resistance to doing that. That because they feel they have been maligned (which they have, through history, circumstances within and without of the control of those who maligned them) that they are not represented, that they do not belong. And so, they do not address the larger group. And so, the issues continue to go un-addressed in the way they want. And so they continue to be left out, to not feel part of the group, and to thus not engage.

Around and around it goes... I think the cycle is vicious. I think it reinforces the divisions between race, class, geography and all those things that make us unique and different from each other (when we could be drawing strength from these things). I don't see how this cycle serves anyone who engages in it. I see how it happens, I see why, I sympathize with the how's and why's, but it continues on, and how does that help anyone?

Part II: Further Thoughts on Privilege
Part III: The Thinking Continues aka Donna Was Right


  1. hello came over here from amazon's blog.

    I want to say that i'm glad to see you struggling through these issues, that's really sooo important. but i have to say, i think you completely misunderstood amazon's point. having a valid critique of mainstream media representations and understandings of what 'feminism' is does NOT mean that amazon or any of us want to be a part of or otherwise interact with that particular media. we are not limited to two choices: DON"T be a part of it or complain amongst ourselves--we've (along with many other marginalized women) have begun to build and organize our own media organizations that fit our needs and purposes much better than anything any of those bigger blogs, newspapers, etc can or will.

    that doesn't mean that none of us are interacting with those forms of media. There's plenty of women of color that i know of who comment on all the major blogs regularly--so i think it's wrong to assume that just because many of us are forming our own types of media that there aren't crossovers or fractures between all forms of media regardless of who makes it or supports it.

    the bigger point--if YOU want to interact with woc thought--YOU could do some hunting down and discussing. There's no reason why we constantly have to be hunting YOU down and begging YOU ("You" in a general sense) to pay attention to us.

  2. "we've (along with many other marginalized women) have begun to build and organize our own media organizations that fit our needs and purposes much better than anything any of those bigger blogs, newspapers, etc can or will."

    EXACTLY what I'm thinking of when I talked about the power of spaces dedicated to one group. I have definitely seen more and more of this and I think it is awesome and productive. I think there being the possibility of there existing essentially a Feministing for WoC would be an incredible and interesting and generally awesome thing.

    But the problem I felt like I was seeing was... A lack of common ground, I suppose? That there is a lot of shit, apparently, that needs to be gone through for white feminists and feminists of color to talk through before we can begin to relate on the level we do with people who are "like us." So, at some point in the process Feministing and the WoC Feministing would have to sit down together and has those things out for progress to be made. Otherwise... I was just reading this post and at some points in the discussion that happened at BA's blog I very much felt like the WoC in that post's scenario. Without the sitting and hashing out, when will that ever end?

    I have to go to work. I hope that made sense. I feel like there are a lot of things going into this and I don't want to skip over anything.

  3. What BFP is saying was already said in the posts linked right here too. It's the IBTP post that quotes Dizzy, where she says that these men can't imagine that women wouldn't be interested in what they have to say. It's true about us too, many of us have decided that our feminism has so little to do with white feminism and vice versa that we must do our work on our own and that we don't really care what the white feminists are working on.

    Why do you say this: The extremely over-done issue of feminism being white-centric.

    Who says it's over done? I'd like to see where white feminists are discussing this at all. They aren't, like all the other things we discuss they sweep it under the carpet. Ignore it and maybe it will go away. From my perspective this issue is under done, I'd have some hope that we could get together with white feminists and find some common ground if they would take up this topic.

    I'll give you some examples of our different perspectives, Bill Clinton met with some bloggers in Harlem, where they had lunch, soul food. Not one blogger in attendance was black, it was a complete white out. You can bet that POC bloggers noticed this and discussed this on their sites. There was mostly silence from the white sites, until pushed by POC bloggers/commenters, then they made excuses and accused POC of being jealous. know what did explode all over the white-o-sphere? Jessica Valenti's boobs. They all jumped in to discuss that, and the horrible mean conservative white woman who made fun of Jessica's boobs. They we're relieved to have a distraction from confronting their own racism. No, they didn't make the guest list, but the fact that they didn't even notice a white out in Harlem says alot, the fact that it didn't bother them one bit.

    Then there is the Bedford raids. Women were rounded up and whisked out of state, imprisoned, without attorneys and legal recourse, without notifying their families, children left at daycare and nursing babies separated from their mothers, some had to be hospitalized from dehydration. Only one of the major feminist blogs covered this, Pandagon, and that one only by sheer luck of having Sheelzebub and Ilyka posting there, you can bet Amanda herself wasn't giving a shit about those women. To the white women, what does immigration have to do with feminism? But if it was white women being rounded up, separated from their children, imprisoned, you can bet your ass it would suddenly be a feminist issue.

    Then there is the Jena 6, POC bloggers were covering it since March, the white women bloggers might have had a single blurb about it sometime in the summer, but more likely ignored it...until CNN and other media started covering it. They like to say they are the new media or newsmakers, but they aren't or they would have hit these stories hard from the beginning, instead of waiting for NBC to tell them it's important. White people set the agenda, they decide what is important and when. That boy spent months in prison before they even noticed and even then half of them couldn't be arsed to find out what the details of the story are. They can find out every burp and fart from Scooter Libby, but injustice for regular POC folks? Nah, not important.

  4. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent, by the way. LOL I don't want it to appear that I am taking you to task, I'm only taking advantage of the opportunity you are offering to give our side of the story. This has been building up for a long time.

    We have had so many problems with the big white feminist blogs. Including the ones with a WOC blogger or two. The WOC bloggers on these large blogs have to be careful what they say and they do not set the agenda. When the shit hits the fan, the white owners of these blogs do NOT back up the WOC blogger or any WOC commenters. They let the racist white women commenters get away with full on disrespect and dismissal of our point of views. These are not safe spaces for women of color, and the WOC co-bloggers tend to be window dressing, or tokens. They say what the white women want to hear, or only talk about general issues and rarely about race. Go check for yourself how often Pam at Pandagon or Samhita at Feministing actually raises these issues, it will probably surprise you to find out they are more likely posting about something else more general interest than anything directly involving women of color. Although it's been awhile since I've visited either site, so there may have been some change, but I sincerely doubt it.

  5. Welcome Donna :) I don't think you're taking me to task, I think you're doing exactly what you said, and I greatly appreciate the effort to enlighten me. You're not going to get any argument from me that the big white blogs don't cover race issues as well as they could.

    To your question on one of my thoughts...For ME that topic is overdone. In my one women's studies class I've taken so far, we talked at length about the issue of race in feminism. And I've heard it over and over and over again. Feminism is white-centric, it ignores issues of economy and race. That doesn't mean that's true for all feminists, but for me, growing up in the politically conscious family I did, and going to the schools I have, it's been done. I recognize there are shortcomings in mainstream feminism. As I said on BA's blog I think it comes down to more than simply "those white girls are racist" (which is how I've seen it get broken down before in real life discussions). But, that doesn't excuse it.

    I actually did hear about the Clinton in Harlem thing, and had to shake my head and the absurdity of his doing such a thing.

    The raids you're talking about I didn't hear about, it's true. And I didn't find out about Jena 6 until I heard about it on the news either.


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