This rant was inspired by a comment waiting in moderation.
Now, this comment doesn’t *technically* violate any rules, so another mod may very well come and approve it while I type this post. But as far as I am concerned that comment can rot in hell!
I don’t think there is any kind of shit that pisses me off more than “Is this really a feminist issue?”
We’re writing. On a feminist site. About issues that affect and impact our readership. And issues that impact women. You might not personally see the direct impact but that does not mean it is not a feminist issue, nor does it mean that that issue will not impact women who call themselves feminists on a broad scale.
Now, let’s take feminism out from the equation for a second.
I run an anti-racist blog. I’m black. The publisher and founder is mixed white and asian. My contributors are black (various mixes – self identification is black), mixed white and asian, and mixed white and Irani. We have relationships with regular contributors who are asian-american, latino/a, south asian, and indigenous. We represent a whole lot of people.
And each of these people brings their own experiences to the table. So rarely are we ever talking about race qua race. We’re talking about how certain religions experience prejudice in a racialized way. We’re talking about the issues overlapping in cross generational politics. We’re talking about the issues faced by homosexual students at some historically black universities. We’re talking about the issues of race, class, and xenophobia in the animal rights movement. We’re talking about how race and class intersect. We’re talking about the representations of Muslim women in comics. We’re talking about race, hip-hop, and homosexuality.
And each day, people ask for more. They want to talk more about sexism, more about xenophobia, more about what is happening to illegal immigrants, more about the experiences of being an atheist of color, more about sex, more about conservative politics, more about privilege and power, more about global economics and class, more about race and disability. Why?
Because they want to know. My readers want to see their experiences up on that homepage, they want to see their issues discussed in a forum that holds meaning for them. And you know what? Everything they propose isn’t about race and pop culture. Much of what they want to discuss starts straying far afield, like how we seem to have very lively discussions on Sarah Palin even though we aren’t a political blog, and we aren’t necessarily a feminist blog. Why?
Because the readers of my blog 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.
Sometimes, we want to talk about the IMF. Sometimes, we want to talk about Keanu Reeves and China Chow. And sometimes, on a POC centered blog, we talk about white people! Horrors!
But you know what? Talking about something that isn’t 110% on topic won’t kill you. This is how you discover intersections where you didn’t see them before, make connections you may not have made otherwise, and just grow a greater understanding about your world. And I have yet to find a time where I’ve thought “well, gosh, I really want *less* knowledge. I prefer to keep my view of the world nice and narrow.” If you really don’t like that topic, click through to the next one.
But here’s the issue I see many different feminist organizations/feminist websites. (Even here, from time to time!) There is a reason why whenever I bring up feminism on my site, there is a very vocal contingent of women who are like “fuck that shit!” Feminism loves to pretend to be all encompassing when they are trying to recruit women to the cause and then fall back on those claims when we ask you to think about issues in a different way.
Holly’s post here on Sean Bell caused all fucking manner of controversy. (I know, Cara said you covered this, but I’m going to bring it up one more time. Bear with me.) Why? Because she said Sean Bell’s murder was a feminist issue. And a lot of people disagreed with that. And maybe Sean Bell’s murder is not a strict, by the definition “feminist issue.” But paying attention to and deconstructing the facts around Sean Bell’s murder is vital, as it brings up the conversations like:
*Why communities of color may not look to police prevention as a way of stopping violence in their communities (or, also known as, why do women not call the police on aggressive catcallers?)
*How does institutionalized and internalized racism impact communities of color. (See dnA’s post)
*The struggles of single parenting, poverty, class, and race
This is one of the reasons why we still have segregated conversations. Because there are too many people trying to velvet rope the damn door. I am not going to come to a feminist blog to have a conversation about Michelle Obama. Am I going to get a real conversation, or am I going to get racist hedging? I am not going to come to a feminist blog to have a discussion about Dunbar Village. It’s not even on most of the major sites radar. I am not going to come to the feminist blogosphere and expect a good discussion on 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.
Apparently, we have too many issues to be women qua women.
And therefore, what we are discussing just aren’t feminist issues.
Which is bullshit, because these issues impact women – whether you call them feminist or not is irrelevant.
Now, I often hear something to the extent of “But other movements get to just focus on their issue! Why does feminism have to be everything to anyone?”
Now, I can only speak to my limited experience. But running a blog in the anti-racist sphere, we are always getting calls to add more diversity to our site. Yes, more diversity on an anti-racist site. Our readers genuinely want to read perspectives that discuss more about the struggles nonwhites face in every aspect of their lives. What issues do homosexual first nations people face? What happens to scary black man stereotypes when said scary black man is in a wheelchair? How do our trade policies affect other brown people abroad? The ideas are endless.
I also am in the market for a new project. And I’ve been in talks with an organization that works heavily with the environment. One of their major goals is to introduce serious discussions of race and class into their existing environment, because they feel (and I agree) that the movement as it stands only appeals to a certain core demographic, and can be off-putting to people who don’t come from that background.
Even in a movement like veg*ism, there are increased calls for diversity of thought and understanding the unique struggles of other communities. One of the blogs I love is the Vegans of Color blog because they dig deep into the other issues impacting veg*ism, like race, class, animal liberation and racism, and colonialism. Today’s post is on children of color and meat processing.
But why do the Vegans of Color bother posting about these other issues, instead of talking about veg*ism qua veg*ism? They state it in their tagline: Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue.
So here are my requests:
1. If you are genuinely confused about how an issue relates to women, ask.
2. If you are asking a question that is really making a statement that you don’t think this kind of an issue is appropriate for a feminist blog, would you please kindly shut the fuck up? There’s content fresh daily, if a topic doesn’t interest you, doesn’t speak to your experience, and doesn’t affect the women you know than click off into the sunset and we’ll see you tomorrow. I run a blog and I have posts that I’m not interested in submitted often. I don’t watch Heroes – yet, every season, someone is doing a show by show recap. Guess what? I suck it up, post on Heroes, and go read something else. Not that difficult.
3. If you consider yourself an ally, or are interested in anti-oppression tactics, please call this bullshit out where you see it. I don’t have any problems with chiding people to stay on task, or to focus specifically on the topic raised in a certain discussion. But being obnoxious trying to preserve your one true vision of feminism? That shit should not be tolerated.
- The New Feminism by Jill July 16, 2007
- Shorter Dawn Eden: Chill out, ladies, you’ve got all the silly rights you need! by Jill October 4, 2006
- Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better… by Jill November 25, 2009
- You can be my black Kate Moss tonight by Jill December 8, 2007
- Wherein Ann Althouse Shoots Any Credibility She Had Left by Jill September 15, 2006