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45 Responses

  1. Eclectic Radical
    Eclectic Radical September 10, 2008 at 9:03 am |

    This is a damned good post. I agree one hundred percent.

    I was going to write more, but it will take more time than I have before work. Still, I think it’s important to take a holistic and organic approach to social issues. Silly debate does sometimes happen, but it’s better than no debate at all, and the right wing isn’t afraid to be silly. Read L. Brent Bozell III’s ridiculous politicizing of pop culture. There’s a DIRECT link there to things going on in other spheres of life, where the forces of the status quo wish to maintain their power.

  2. Melissa
    Melissa September 10, 2008 at 9:10 am |

    Thank you Latoya.

    There are what, 6 billion people in the world? So, about three billion women? How is it in any way possible to paint giant brushstrokes that deal with the concerns for all those three billion women without dealing with the intersection of oppressions? Straight women’s experience with sexism is different than black women’s experience with sexism is different than a poor women’s experience with sexism.

    People everywhere, and in every minority group, stare at their navel and cry woe over their own oppressed group without thinking of how other groups have suffered. We’re all hypocrites if we can’t get over ourselves and see systems of oppression as a whole, and fight against them for everyone.

  3. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom September 10, 2008 at 9:17 am |

    Excellent post. I agree as well.

  4. Katie
    Katie September 10, 2008 at 9:21 am |


  5. Natmusk
    Natmusk September 10, 2008 at 9:37 am |

    Awesome post. I agree completely, especially in relation to many class issues. One post on feministing in particular struck me because when some women were claiming that not everyone can truly live a vegan lifestyle to due to issues of class and race they were jumped all over and basically told that class had absolutely no impact. I feel that is what happens when we remain solidly one issue, we start taking other, valid viewpoints as attacks instead of the opportunities to expand our ideas that they actually are.

    You’ve convinced me to Post about a Vince Young comment I heard today…even though I write a “feminist” blog

  6. Shinobi
    Shinobi September 10, 2008 at 9:56 am |

    You know a lot of us on this blog are here to read about feminism, not about how some commentors don’t understand that everything is related to feminism because half the population of the world is female. So if we could really stick to the topic? That’d be great.

    I mean, I just don’t see how this pertains to me, I know everything is related to feminism, so why do I have to read you scolding people who don’t.


  7. Renee
    Renee September 10, 2008 at 10:06 am |

    Awesome truth telling LaToya. When people say this is not a feminist issue it is silencing behavior meant to control who has the right to speak in feminist spaces. It is this kind of attitude that has pushed many WOC away from feminism. There is so much lip service intersectionality without real action or belief, I find it sickening.

    When people start up with me, I tell them in no uncertain terms move on if you don’t like this space but I will not be disciplined in this manner. Being a WOC in feminist blogopshere can be tiring because you are constantly fighting racism to get your issues heard. The squeaky wheels have a sense entitlement and feel that they own feminism. They seem to want WOC only when there is support staff work to do, otherwise we are told to be quiet and get inline.

    I just want to add that Sean Bells mother was a woman and I am sure that the death of her son caused her extreme pain and therefore it is a feminist issue.

  8. When did feminism become an idol? « The Bead Shop

    […] 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm · Filed under Pah!, media Latoya Peterson has a great post up at Feministe (stop press) which says a few things I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a […]

  9. OTM
    OTM September 10, 2008 at 10:25 am |

    Latoya, this is brilliant. Thanks for laying out the issue so clearly and persuasively.

  10. oh!press pass
    oh!press pass September 10, 2008 at 10:27 am |

    Maybe someone would say that because they can’t identify with that issue…because of race(ism), class(ism), etc. But…all of these happen simultaneously everywhere and should be concern to anyone who believes in equality.
    oh!press pass

  11. [dave]
    [dave] September 10, 2008 at 10:33 am |

    @Shinobi: Somehow I don’t think you were listening. I mean, maybe there’s a layer of irony in there that I’m not detecting, in which case I apologize. The point isn’t that “50% of everything is feminist,” its that the intersection of feminism with other dimensions of oppression/vulnerability can be a great place to look at things, and it would be really nice to be able to do so in a place that calls itself feminist without being told off for being off topic. Especially since feminism is supposed to lend itself to subjects that are traditionally “not worth examining” because the people interested in them are “just women.” So when the issue is related “just to black women” or “just to disabled women” or “just to femme black gay men,” it would be really nice to have a welcoming space instead of just finding finding more hate, and yes, more snark.

    I just re-read what you wrote and I honestly can’t tell if you are joking, and for all I know you have a proven track record of as much or greater inclusive feminist support than I do, so maybe this shouldn’t be directed at you, but I feel like it can still contribute so I’ll let it stand.

  12. miwome
    miwome September 10, 2008 at 10:40 am |

    Hell to the yeah.

  13. tanglad
    tanglad September 10, 2008 at 10:40 am |

    I thought I was going to hurt my neck from all the vigorous nodding you made me do.

    I am trying to be patient with the “you’re diluting feminism and putting women last again” crowd, really. But it’s hard not to get angry because I do expect a lot from people who identify as feminists, who profess some understanding of institutionalized marginalization. So it’s still a shock to me when supposed allies dismiss issues like globalization, immigration, or police brutality as “not feminist issues.”

  14. Ico
    Ico September 10, 2008 at 10:57 am |

    Beautiful post! Thanks for this.

  15. fireeyedgirl
    fireeyedgirl September 10, 2008 at 11:26 am |

    amazing post. i would definitely forward this to people who’ve said things like ‘why would we talk about a general approach to anti-oppression in an intro to feminism workshop? what does that have to do with anything?’

  16. Ways to End the World › Here here.
    Ways to End the World › Here here. September 10, 2008 at 11:51 am |

    […] has a good post up at Feministe on the maddening tendency of feminist commenters/bloggers to insist that everyone […]

  17. Keely
    Keely September 10, 2008 at 11:54 am |

    Thank you for this brilliant take-down of single-issue feminists. Without naming names, there was quite recently a post on Huffpo that actually managed to blame the fact that Sarah Palin has been misidentified as a “feminist” on intersectional feminism. (Because, you know, if feminists embrace discussions of things like race and class, well then just anyone could call themselves a feminist!)
    Anyway. Thanks.

  18. jill
    jill September 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm |

    Just wanted to say how great that was. Thanks, Latoya.

  19. Erin
    Erin September 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm |

    spot on, as usual. you need a book deal. seriously.

  20. CTD
    CTD September 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm |

    Why communities of color may not look to police prevention as a way of stopping violence in their communities

    It’s foolish for anyone, of any color, in any community to believe that the police will protect them. At their best, police are a reactionary force. They come in afterward and clean up the mess. At their worst, they they are the cause of the mess to begin with

  21. veronica
    veronica September 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

    I am sooooo happy that I have the ability to actually HEAR you speak this since we’ve spoken in person. I can feel your vibe, see your gestures…everything.

    Thanks for this. Ditto to Keely’s comment.

  22. octogalore
    octogalore September 10, 2008 at 12:35 pm |

    I agree that “readers of [Racialicious] expect to talk about a wide variety of issues through the lens of race. So it’s doesn’t matter if I’m following the official how-to-run-a-race-blog playbook or not” and that the same is true for a feminist site regarding the lens of feminism.

    I think discussion of Michelle Obama and issues she faces as a woman of color, Dunbar Village, “the issues women face advocating for reproductive justice while brown, or discussions of the women who find themselves disappeared for advocating for their rights, or women negotiating the space between religion, culture and feminism” are ALL feminist issues.

    IMO, though, the post conflates these kinds of issues with discussions like that of Sean Bell.

    My opinion remains that Sean Bell is NOT a feminist issue.

    It’s an important issue, and as you point out, it highlights important topics like role/ineffectiveness of police in communities of color and how institutionalized racism affects such communities.

    However, because a man may have a wife, a mother, or daughters, all his issues do not therefore become feminist issues. I do not think all my issues are MRA issues. That kind of stretch is not what is meant by intersectionality, IMO. Otherwise all issues would be feminist issues because most people have female relatives, all issues would be anti-racist issues because many of us (myself included) have relatives of color in our immediate families, all issues would be environmental, animal-rights, anti-poverty issues for similar reasons. Certainly we can’t have too much knowledge, but to really build up an understanding and focus in an area, there must be just that: focus.

    It does a disservice to those of us making these arguments to mash our issues with why discussion of men is a feminist issue with some supposed disinclination towards intersectionality. It’s quite clear, for example, that issues highlighted by BFP and others about struggles of female immigrants are at the intersection of feminism and immigration and also at the intersection of feminism and anti-racism. There is a clear overlap. These issues deserve significant attention on major feminist blogs. Tossing in issues where there is no such overlap to either anti-racist-focused discussions (which I notice, by the way, that Racialicious never does – all your pieces, it seems to me, DO include a clear intersection with race) or feminism does neither movement any favors. Sure, one can skip to the next post. But if the subject is important, and underserved elsewhere, it deserves that focus.

  23. Rachelle
    Rachelle September 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm |

    Feminism =EQUALITY for all human beings

  24. Lemur
    Lemur September 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm |

    Yes. Thank you for this post. I mean, feminism is about equality, justice, and fairness, yeah? So… when did that get defined as *just* for (white, cis, ablebodied, middleclass, educated) women? We don’t have the luxury of thinking about one narrow facet of the issue. As far as I’m concerned, we’re trying to change the frakkin’ world; why would we do it half-assed?


    Thanks, LaToya, and everyone else who commented.

  25. Ico
    Ico September 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm |

    But the comment I wrote this rant to was responding to Renee’s post, essentially saying that the reframing the conversation wasn’t helpful because sweatshops were not a feminist issue.

    OMG, I knew it. When I read your post I thought to myself — the sweatshop issue. That’s gotta be where it’s coming from.

    I mean Jesus H. Christ, if sweatshops aren’t a feminist issue, what is? How many women have to be in sweatshops before it becomes a feminist issue? The vast majority of sweatshop workers, particularly garment workers, are women! Will it only matter when they are white and middle class U.S. citizens? Is that what “woman” means?

    Sorry for the mini-rant — but my goodness.

  26. Kristen
    Kristen September 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm |

    Arggg, this is one of many reasons “feminism” is giving me heart burn. To me…my “feminist” agenda is End Oppression. Full Stop. In my mind, all oppression is tied together with concepts of othering and assigning moral hierarchies to people (rather than actions that cause harm). No form of oppression can end until we stop treating each other as morally different from one another.

    But feminism isn’t a theory, it isn’t a philosophy, it isn’t a single view point. It’s basically looking at the universe through a lens focused on how actions impact women. There are people who call themselves feminists that engage in racist, ablist, ageist, homophobic, transphobic, misandric and misogynistic (to name a few) activities.

    But I share a label with these people with whom I vehemently disagree on a most fundamental level.

  27. Elena Perez
    Elena Perez September 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    Thank you so much for this post, and @ Keely, I saw that HuffPo article too, and it drove me nuts! Equality has to cover issues like race, class, sexual orientation, etc. And those issues touch on lots of others (economics, the environment, you name it) and therefore those are all feminist issues to me.

  28. Holly
    Holly September 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm |

    If you haven’t seen me posting as much in recent months, it’s largely because I’m annoyed and tired of this kind of thing coming up over and over. Especially since I started that Sean Bell post largely because I wanted to explore how and why feminist discussion and analysis ought to be and needs to be aware of the many other issues that intersect and affect innumerable women’s lives. I think reading my original post makes that clear. And for the record, police brutality is NOT an issue that only affects men or which only collaterally affects women who are related to men. Just go read INCITE!’s material on the subject if there’s any doubt about that. Whole communties are targeted by police violence. Women are targeted and hurt directly. It’s part of a phenomenon, and Sean Bell, male or not, was another victim of that same phenomenon. All of this came up in that discussion, and it pains me to have to go back there again like there’s some doubt about it.

    It’s not like Feministe is asking readers to go out and contribute huge chunks of their time and money to organizations that don’t center women and focus on women’s isssues, INSTEAD of devoting their limited time and energy to feminist work. This stuff is about reading and discussing, developing ideas and hashing analysis — about having a well-rounded diet of awareness that includes and crosses feminist analysis with a lot of other things, instead of creating silos of political monoculture that we consume in isolation.

    Anyway, I hope it’s clear where most of us at Feministe stand on this stuff. Like I said recently, I’d rather change the name of the blog to something like “Feministe and the E means we’re not really a capital-F Feminist Blog OK thx” than change how we include subject matter (wildly and in a free-roaming way), and I’m pretty sure many of my co-bloggers agree with the spirit of that joke. Thanks for writing this, Latoya — maybe we can just refer everyone to this post whenever “is this really a feminist issue” comes up. Again.

  29. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl September 10, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

    We get this all the time over at Feminist Gamers. Because you know — nothing undermines feminism like feminists having resources and communities that respect them.

  30. Don't Get It
    Don't Get It September 10, 2008 at 3:47 pm |

    I don’t have much to add except to just say that it hurts, literally hurts, that some feminists don’t consider “sean bell” (ie. black men violently stereotyped by police) as an issue affecting feminism. When someone is killed, hated or feared because of their blackness that negatively affects everyone who is black. Including me, a woman. I don’t understand how the denigration of certain racial identities could be anything but really, really important to feminism. If my blackness isn’t really important to feminism then I can’t be either.

  31. Radfem
    Radfem September 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm |

    Holly, I thought your post on Sean Bell was very good. It’s frustrating that people don’t view it as a feminist issue but then again, the death of Tyisha Miller wasn’t viewed as a feminist either. Her gender didn’t change that so did her race get in the way? But she and Bell were killed by the same thing thousands of miles and nearly a decade apart.

    LaToya, great posting.

  32. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom September 10, 2008 at 4:39 pm |

    Holly, I too thought your post on Sean Bell was very good, and I don’t understand how state-sanctioned violence against people of color and police brutality–here at home and worldwide–could *not* be understood to be a feminist issue.

    Analyzing, discussing, and advocating against police brutality and calling attention to state sanctioned violence against any person of color helps the women who are also its victims. It also calls attention to a very real problem in many communities with access to any sort of protection from sexualized and intimate violence within the community. If you don’t understand why a girl would be reluctant to call the cops on her boyfriend–because, you know, she wants him to stop beating her, not to be killed, and she doesn’t want to be responsible for bring the police into the community where they are not and cannot be trusted–you cannot begin to understand the types of outreach and services that girl could take advantage of, that could help her right then and there.

    State-sanctioned violence is a tool of oppression, and it is a patriarchal tool. It is a barrier to any sort of progressive movement, including feminist movements.

  33. Butch Fatale
    Butch Fatale September 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm |

    I just wanted to add my voice to those glad to see this post. I have really been enjoying your posts, Latoya. Not to say that I don’t enjoy the posts of other bloggers here on whose posts I haven’t commented, but every time I read your work — at racialicious, in Bitch!, here, I am gratified and excited to hear what you have to say. You, among others here and elsewhere, both bring up the things I want to hear said and speak important truths I haven’t taken enough time to consider. I don’t know to what extent that is your goal, but I certainly appreciate your work and I know that I benefit from it (as, I hope, do the folks around me who are spared having to smack sense into me when I’m able to avoid being that dumb white person at least once in a while).

    I’ve been meaning to say it for awhile: I love reading your work, and am glad I get to do so regularly.

  34. nancy
    nancy September 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm |

    Great post & some good comments. But it’s not feminism that pretends to be all inclusive and then backs away. It’s certain feminists, privileged white women, I venture to say. Feminism itself simply calls for women to be treated equally and given equal opportunity.

  35. Ico
    Ico September 10, 2008 at 6:20 pm |

    But it’s not feminism that pretends to be all inclusive and then backs away. It’s certain feminists, privileged white women, I venture to say. Feminism itself simply calls for women to be treated equally and given equal opportunity.

    Yeah, but this is significantly complicated by the fact that it is often those privileged white women who get publishing contracts and interviews and whatnot — in short, who get to be the face of feminism to “mainstream” culture — and therefore shape feminist discourse in big ways.

  36. Fatemeh
    Fatemeh September 10, 2008 at 6:37 pm |

    “Which is bullshit, because these issues impact women – whether you call them feminist or not is irrelevant.” Hells YEAH!

    And Renee’s “When people say this is not a feminist issue it is silencing behavior meant to control who has the right to speak in feminist spaces.” is RIGHT ON.

    Rachelle: Feminism = Equality for ALL people. More nodding on this point!

    Just throw me on the pile of Latoya-lovers here. You’re doing a bang-up job!

  37. Lauren
    Lauren September 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm |

    I have nothing additionally productive to add, but Latoya? ***swoon***

  38. cedarcrow
    cedarcrow September 10, 2008 at 9:24 pm |

    To me, “intersectional feminism” means looking at power and privilege, and how they are used to create and maintain oppression. Any and all examples of power and privilege, and any and all folks oppressed are fair game.

    Sometimes it’s women who are oppressed, sometimes it’s poor white guys, sometimes it’s a well-to-do family of colour who “only got there because of affirmative action” (i.e. didn’t really earn it). Sometimes, it’s looking at how [insert marginalised group here] is oppressed in some situations, but experiences privilege in others. Sometimes it’s looking at lateral oppression in marginalised communities.

    Because you know what? *NONE* of us are “single issue.” We have family members, and friends, and lovers, and children, and bosses, employees, or co-workers who all bring us into one intersection or another. And the more conversations we have and the greater the diversity of issues under consideration, the more we realise that things we thought were “isolated incidents” actually exist as part of a pattern – the matrix of institutionalised oppression.

    None of us is free until all of us are free. Rock on, Latoya.

  39. ripley
    ripley September 10, 2008 at 10:46 pm |

    so, so true, Latoya. I don’t have much to add. but thank you. I find the policing of feminism to leave out the experience of so many women to be extra-frustrating. And I’m happy to see someone call it out publicly in a post on this site.

  40. lilacsigil
    lilacsigil September 10, 2008 at 11:48 pm |

    @Latoya. I’m probably missing the point of this whole post, but your quote from Joan Morgan is probably the most enlightening thing I’ve ever read about hip-hop culture. Seriously, I feel like my brain has been turned inside out and exposed to the light.

  41. octogalore
    octogalore September 11, 2008 at 12:44 am |

    Thanks for the great response, Latoya. You’re right, this is how we met and I’m grateful that we have continued to chat and to agree and disagree so eloquently (at least in your case!)

    I appreciate what you have done at Racialicious to provide an open environment for Hillary supporters. I’m sorry about the email you got, I don’t know the background to that or who wrote it, but IMO, it’s not deserved critique.

    I read Joan Morgan as well (on your recommendation in fact). I understand her analysis of the loyalty of black women to black men. I also understand how an analysis of the Sean Bell matter which centers the black women in his life and their issues as black women is a feminist analysis.

    However, most of the posts I saw about Sean Bell did not center or even focus any energy on the black women in his life and their perspective. So without that perspective, how is it a feminist issue? If a post were “Sean Bell: A Feminist Analysis” and talked about exactly the issues you mention, there could be no reasonable critique along these lines, IMO.

    Most issues can be looked at through a feminist lens. But without that lens they’re not necessarily feminist. Just as looking at music in itself isn’t an anti-racist issue, but your treatment of music at Racialicious is an anti-racist treatment.

    “I could be having a conversation with a white feminist who works with a major site, bring up Dunbar Village, and have her have no idea what I’m talking about. But why, Octo? Why is that? Why do we have to keep so many conversations segregated?”

    I don’t know. I don’t think these conversations should be segregated. I don’t agree with deciding when an issue that implicates both race and gender is “more about” one or the other. It’s not Olympics.

    My only concern is this. Some white feminists have demonstrated a disinclination towards intersectionality. That’s a problem. Some white feminists (hi) have said that issues about men are not feminist issues in and of themselves. Those two groups aren’t the same, and the post appeared (to me) to put them in the same category, of being disinterested in intersectionality. On the contrary, I think it is critical that feminism not only understand but engage directly with issues that affect ALL women, including police brutality. I’d just like to see those discussions actually TALK about the affect on women.

  42. shah8
    shah8 September 11, 2008 at 12:53 am |

    The comment was ignorant and should be moderated out. Sweatshops are a *really* bad example of an issue that’s not feminist. Everything that they are, is about directly exploiting women, and many part of our labor rights infrastructure was a reaction to the abuses of sweatshops in the US–directly on women and children.

  43. Another linkage catch up post. « Small-Town Elitist

    […] has an excellent post on certain feminists’ unwillingness to include considerations of race and class in their discussions of […]

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