Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One Last Side Note on Feminist Elitism and Sex Baiting

In all my ranting and raving about R Mildred and the Feminist Sex Police, I missed a couple of links:

As is the usual, K at Bitch Lab is having a blast deconstructiong RM's slipshod analysis; you may feel free to check out her rebuttals here.

Also, on a related but slightly different angle; Bint Alshamsa of My Private Casbah has posted a very long but very succinct essay on her personal struggles with feminist arrogance, elitism, and snobbery; but of a slightly different kind than Teh Sex Wars. (She is more interested in how "establishment" White feminism tends to silence, coopt, and thusly silence and intimidate women of color; she channels all the grief that Nubian (of Blac(k)ademic took for defending her right to maintain a private space for feminist women of color, and how the ensuing firestorm of pettiness from some White feminist bloggers ultimately drove her (Nubian) out of the blogosphere. An excerpt to feed your brain:


Though they won't admit it, many white feminists resented the fact that women of color, poor women, and disabled women refused to settle for second-class membership in the mainstream feminist movement. After all, mainstream feminists weren't women who had just recently arrived from outer space; These were women who lived in a country that was only able to form and flourish thanks to the long-term subjugation of people of color. If they could obtain the rights that they wanted without having to give up their privileged status as white people, then that made their mission even easier to accomplish and left them with all of the perks that traditionally came with being able to stand on the backs of people of color. This option proved to be too tempting for some white feminists to forego.

If you fast forward to today, this situation has not disappeared and the blogosphere reflects that. There aren't many women of color who have feminism-centered blogs, so when people of color look for feminist writings that they can relate to and they find such a blog, it's a lot like finally reaching an oasis in the desert. Having sites like blac (k) ademic on the internet means that people don't have to settle for whatever bones white feminists are willing to throw at them. Some of us don't think that whether a woman keeps her maiden name or wears makeup matters nearly as much as figuring out how to navigate public assistance programs when you're working two jobs but still don't earn enough to make ends meet. To me, it seems like such a simple thing. Mainstream feminists can keep doing what makes them comfortable and people of color feminists can just write about and work towards solving the problems that we face. However, I've come to see that things aren't that simple.

Every time a non-mainstream feminist like Nubian dares to write about her reality, it challenges the notion that mainstream feminism is what all women need to subscribe to in order to fix the world. That's a problem because mainstream feminism is really faltering. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's a complete flop. The reproductive justice that mainstream feminists thought they had won now needs to be fought for all over again thanks in no small part to their complacency. Their justification for imperialism (e.g. We need to go and rescue those poor third-world women and bring them freedom) meets with increasing opposition from women that have their own ideas about liberation and see no reason to adopt American customs in order to feel free.


There's plenty more where that came from at Bint's is more than worth a visit.

1 comment:

bint alshamsa said...

Thank you so much for your support, SmackDog! It's getting really hard to find people who are willing to try and understand the individual behind the labels. I felt pretty immune to the pseudo-feminist degradation of other women but now I'm just getting more and more pissed off by it.