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