When Jill asked me to come on as a regular blogger for Feministe, one question/concern that I had for her was about the type of stuff I could post here. Feministe is, of course, centered around feminism, so I asked whether it’s all right for me to post things that aren’t explicitly related to feminism or women. I think that I asked this more for reassurance than out of any real confusion, since I’ve read (and appreciated) many Feministe posts that don’t focus centrally on feminism. Jill gave me the reassurance that I’d hoped for – that I’m free to post what I’d like – which made me feel more confident about joining the team.
Interestingly, just as I was having this exchange with Jill, some conversations about what is or is not a feminist issue and what should or should not be posted on feminist blogs, specifically with regards to posts about the Sean Bell verdict on Feministing and here on Feministe. I made the mistake of wading somewhat clumsily into the fray and getting told to fuck off within two comments (ah, how I missed the blogosphere…) That wasn’t the most enriching experience, but it did drive home the concern with which I came to this blog.
I’m happy and excited to be joining an explicitly feminist and feminist-centric blog. But I wouldn’t be if my participation was predicated at leaving parts of my self – my identities and my politics – at the door. I live and function in this world in large part a as a woman, but also as a person of color, a Puerto Rican, a queer person, a genderqueer butch. These identities don’t merely intersect; they overlap, and they change each other in the overlapping. As I said over in that ill-fated comments thread, my entire identity is more than the sum of its parts; the overlap creates something new, something intrinsically meshed that can’t just be spliced apart into neat, discrete categories.
Likewise, my politics are interconnected. I can look at my politics and point out some different, distinct threads – “Oh, that’s a feminist politic right there; and that one, that’s anti-racist; and this one here’s trans positive.” But things aren’t always so discrete. I find few issues to be purely feminist, or purely about race or class or anything else. Just as I, as a person, am multi-dimensional and made of many different identities and experiences, my political perspective is a tightly-woven tapestry of the many issues that are important to me. My feminism informs my anti-racism, which informs my anti-classism, which informs my anti-imperialism, which all inform everything else. If I were to try to pull out one pure discrete thread, I think the whole damn thing would start to unravel. Remove one thread and the rest would be incomplete and may not hold together.
I can’t see what would be gained, then, by having me and the other bloggers here set aside all issues that are important to me yet not (obviously, on their face) related to women when blogging at Feministe. Some might argue that it would provide a space more purely and exclusively devoted to feminism; I, however, would argue that it would lop off great big important pieces of what shapes the feminism and larger politics of me and the other writers here.
I also think that if we were made to focus only on what affects women because they’re women, it would be easy to slide into the same traps that drove feminists of color away from second wave feminism, that drove some of them to even separate themselves from the entire term “feminist” and take on a new one, “womanist,” that they could define for themselves. Assertions like apostate’s that feminism must be “race-neutral” eerily echo the sorts of assertions that drove many women of color away from feminism back then, and I think that they’ll only serve to drive many women of color – and other women who refuse to segment themselves or their politics artificially – away now. Check it, y’all – those days aren’t behind us. They’re still here. I’m barely getting clued into the blogosphere again and already I’ve read two women of color talking about how they have already or are considering shedding the label “feminist” (here and here.)
Well, it’s 1:31am and I feel like I’m beginning to ramble. I’d hoped to start my blogging here at Feministe off with something a bit stronger, more cohesive, more focused. But maybe I just needed to get all that off my chest before I could really get down to work here. I hope it’ll at least resonate a bit.
Also, what Latoya said.