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Lauren founded this blog in 2001.
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37 Responses

  1. amandaw
    amandaw March 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm |

    Octo’s piece (@ Renee’s) really did make me think. (And kind of led to my latest post, but isn’t really meant as a direct response to it.) Because I do think that issues affecting communities of color, transfolk, pwd, etc. are “a feminist issue.” But what does that MEAN? What are we fighting over when we go back and forth about this?

    Basically, what makes you care about feminism? Why is feminism important to you?

    I think you have to answer those questions before you can answer whether x-y-z is a feminist issue.

    Cuz ya, I think we should be talking about things that affect men with disabilities and lower class men and so forth. And if that isn’t “a feminist issue,” then well, fuck it, I’m still gonna talk about it.

    I understand why people are trying to parse out the definition of “feminist” this way — and I think it is a useful thing to do. But much of its usefulness, really, comes from exposing our underlying biases. And it’s also worthwhile to understand what we mean when we say we are “feminist.” What that identity really is. What that work is really about. But — bringing up this sort of conversation when someone talks about Oscar Grant or Duanna Johnson — I think that is the wrong frame of mind, completely.

  2. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf March 8, 2009 at 1:50 pm |

    Thanks for collecting and summarizing those excellent links, Lauren!

  3. SympatheticAdvocate
    SympatheticAdvocate March 8, 2009 at 3:30 pm |

    I have to take issue with the gun control article. It starts out sensibly enough in pointing out that *illegal* gun sales in the United States do contribute to some (but by no means all) of the fire power of the drug cartels. Strict punishments to gun dealers who break the law by selling to foreign nationals, illegal immigrants, or felons are great. And we should crack down on U.S. citizens who make straw purchases – buying guns and then selling them in turn to somebody who is unable to buy them.

    But the article then derails into a call for broad-based gun control, citing sensational cases like the boy who shot a family member etc. These cases, while tragic, are extremely rare. According to the 2002 National vital Statistics report, 28,000 people were killed by firearms – this is quite low on the list of probable ways to die. This figure includes criminals killed by police officers and self-defense shootings. Since there were only 16,000 murders in general in 2004, you can see that at worst the figure is reduced to 16,000 intentional firearm deaths.
    Accidental firearm deaths are exceedingly rare – about 700 per year according to the vital statistics report. Children have much more to fear from swimming pulls, drug overdoses, post-surgical infections, disease, cars, fires, etc.

    The real truth behind the (admittedly still high) level of gun homicides within the borders of the United States are much more complex than gun control advocates tend to acknowledge. There is a strong racial and class component – more than half of gun homicides are perpetrated by minorities, and more than half of the victims are minorities. This sheds light on why many inner-city minority rights leaders call for gun control, since their communities are (tragically) disproportionately affected. But unfortunately, none of their efforts have succeeded. The most telling example are DC and Chicago, where despite some of the harshest gun control laws in the U.S. homicide rates have continued to rise, and inner city communities are no better off.

    Also telling is the fact that no gun control group purports to cite a single study showing a positive correlation between gun ownership and violent crime. There are some studies that show a negative correlation, and some that show no correlation, but no reputable study has shown a positive. Finland, Switzerland, and Israel provide examples of nations with extremely high handgun and assault rifle ownership and very low homicide rates.
    Assuming the best empirical reality for the gun control advocates (no correlation either way), we should err on the side of liberty and allow law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves, especially in high-crime areas like DC and Chicago. Criminals will never obey a “no gun” rule, so why should law abiding citizens be left unable to defend their families?

    IMO the best way to deal with the cartel violence in border cities is to end the quixotic “war on drugs” That would immediately end the demand for illegal drugs and the cartels would have no incentive to do what they are doing. This is much simpler than attempting a complex scheme of gun control that is unlikely to succeed.

  4. Dan in Denver
    Dan in Denver March 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm |

    Unfortunately the map is also accompanied by one of those class- and gender-dumb articles that asserts men and rich people are “more affected” by the economic crisis than everyone else, which is important because they’re more important.

    The jobs lost are mainly in professions where men dominate. It isn’t that they’re “more important” – it’s that there are more of them. If 100,000 men lose their jobs, and 10,000 women lose theirs, it’s fair to say that men are being harder hit.

    Also, before you decide that guns are “poison”, talk to some old NAACPers about the era when citizen ownership of firearms was the only thing standing between certain black communities and annihilation. Guns are an equalizer for the downtrodden and those who cannot rely on the state for protection. (Think about it – thugs and criminals can bully and oppress the unarmed weak whether the thugs have guns or not. Widespread ownership of guns gives the weak a fighting chance, and makes it a lot less attractive to be a thug.)

  5. octogalore
    octogalore March 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm |

    Great collection of links as always!

    I must make one observation about the link chosen for the “feminist issue” portion. I think highly of Amp, but his discussion basically removes race and women and tries to claim the REAL reason Sean Bell is a feminist issue is because of men’s rights. I’m not very coherent right now because I’m somewhat in shock, but was this here for comic relief, or what?

  6. Lynn
    Lynn March 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm |

    IMO the best way to deal with the cartel violence in border cities is to end the quixotic “war on drugs” …This is much simpler than attempting a complex scheme of gun control that is unlikely to succeed.

    I agree completely.

  7. Lynn
    Lynn March 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm |

    Sorry, that was not Lynn in comment five, just somebody who uses the same computer, and I wasn’t agreeing with the whole post, just the part I quoted. That ending the war on drugs would be a better and more effective way to combat gun violence than gun control laws.

  8. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 8, 2009 at 6:29 pm |

    @ amandaw and octogalore: I usually don’t get involved with the “X not explicitly Fim-Uh-Nist thing is a feminist issue vs. No It Is Not” conversations, but as I read your comments here, I have a PBS documentary on the Jewish involvement in the early Civil Rights movement going in the background. And literally just as I was looking up from reading your back and forth here, a Rabbi commented that, in being Jewish, reading Torah, understanding the Holocaust and what it meant to be Jewish in the middle of the 21st century, the message was clear that the liberation of all people is equally important, that the central myth of Exodus applies to all people who are oppressed and thus equally of interest to Jewish people of conscience. Which, I think, is an interesting idea wrt the What Is/Is Not A Feminist Issue.

  9. amandaw
    amandaw March 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm |

    Yeah. I don’t think I was clear in my comment that octo’s post really just made me start examining what else I think is going on in these arguments, wasn’t a linear thought process “octo’s thoughts” to “my rebuttal” or something…

    but honestly, opopo, I think that gets down to it in a beautiful way. A movement should be a starting point, not an ending point.

  10. octogalore
    octogalore March 8, 2009 at 7:41 pm |

    Opoponax — I agree that “the liberation of all people is equally important, that the central myth of Exodus applies to all people who are oppressed and thus equally of interest to Jewish people of conscience” is a good analogy to “the liberation of all people is equally important and thus feminists of conscience should be vested in this.”

    Not sure this is really on point to those discussions, however. Caring about something and absorbing all human rights issues (which one should care about and seek out) into one movement, without requiring any demonstration of an intersection, which is populated by people whose interests are already subordinated are two different things, IMO.

    It is confusing to me why a focus within feminism on the women involved either directly or indirectly in a particular issue under discussion (eg, in some of the discussions mentioned here, WOC) is so controversial. I don’t see women being featured in other justice movements without intersections required.

    If this wave’s accepted definition of feminism is all human rights issues without any requirement of a woman’s lens, I need to wait for the next wave, I guess. We’re bit players or extras in other movements’ stories — if we allow ourselves to be cast that way in our own, it’s the same old barefoot and pregnant. Back to the shore to wait for the surf to come in, I guess.

  11. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 8, 2009 at 8:00 pm |

    I wasn’t really adding my comment as a specific answer to “those discussions”, as I don’t usually take part in them and aside from the basic obvious aspects of it really don’t know where “those discussions” are at, these days.

    However, what I found interesting about the documentary I was watching, and the specific words of that Rabbi, was that he wasn’t just saying, “and this is why Jewish people always made sure to read New Yorker articles about the civil rights movement”, or “and this is why Jewish people quietly stood on the sidelines supporting black people as long as nobody kicked up a fuss”. He was talking about why Jewish people saw the civil rights movement as an extension of their own fight. Why Jewish people put their lives on the line to go to the south and fight for the rights of black people.

    This might be neither here nor there in Where The Conversation Is At. I don’t really give a crap Where The Conversation Is At. I kinda just wanted to share a neat idea that occurred to me via the kismet of concentrating on 2 kinds of media at the same time.

  12. Lauren
    Lauren March 8, 2009 at 8:19 pm |

    @octo: I’m incredibly busy tonight so I don’t have time to respond in the manner this deserves. No, it’s not comic relief. I believe gender justice is feminism and feminism is gender justice, and yes, I agree this particular discussion centers men and a male experience in this one example of how gendered stereotypes play out in violence. I think there is more than enough room in feminism for this discussion and this incident and this POV.

  13. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm |

    I don’t see women being featured in other justice movements without intersections required.

    I just thought I’d come back and respond to this (especially after I saw you make a similar point in the blog entry amandaw mentioned).

    Maybe this is pie in the sky of me, but one thing that draws me to leftist politics as opposed to any other sort of ideological pastime is that leftist movements generally aren’t seen as being parochial or quid pro quo. There’s no sense of “you scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours”. It’s about truth and doing what is right. Or, at least, it’s supposed to.

    Is it lame when other movements don’t have our backs? Definitely. Does that justify us wearing little tribal blinders and refusing to consider other causes extensions of our own? No.

    None of this even approaches the intersectional aspects of this stuff, of course.

  14. octogalore
    octogalore March 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm |

    Lauren — understood, and I agree in theory. But in practice, I think Amp would have to lay some statistical foundation before he could argue there’s a gender bias here. Men are more often involved in violence, so one cannot posit that police brutality towards men is in fact because they are men without dealing with that other variable. Without doing that, it becomes an unrigorous exercise that seems to be yet another way of centering justice movements around men.

    Opoponax — it’s not about a quid pro quo, it’s about being careful that underserved groups not get lost — which wouldn’t be as much an issue if they got any focus elsewhere.

    That’s why what appears to be harping on “one incident” is instructive to me — because while in theory feminism is about gender and justice, it seems to me we’re seeing a trend towards moving feminism towards “justice period.” So then anyone who argues for focus is met with “oh, you don’t want justice?” “you’re not interested in intersectionality?” “you’re trying to turn this into a negotiation?” Um, no, just wanting us to center ourselves, poor or rich, all colors and orientations and ability levels: women. Any other movement, that would seem pretty obvious. Why it isn’t here will probably continue to mystify me.

  15. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm |

    it’s about being careful that underserved groups not get lost

    I don’t want to read something here that you didn’t intend, but let me get this straight. You think white, straight, able-bodied, well-off, cissexual/gender-conforming women are “underserved” by feminism? Really? REALLY? Because wow. Hm.

  16. octogalore
    octogalore March 8, 2009 at 10:47 pm |

    Not sure where you got that. If you read my post which Amp links to, you’ll see that I was referring to women of color getting lost in the context of discussions of Sean Bell etc.

    Also, what part of “just wanting us to center ourselves, poor or rich, all colors and orientations and ability levels: women” was unclear?

  17. octogalore
    octogalore March 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm |

    Opopo — maybe this section will be instructive as to where I was going — I’m going to assume you didn’t read the text linked in Amp’s post:

    “[WOC] exist [in the background, mostly unmentioned] in every discussion of Sean Bell. And others question, reasonably, does it matter?

    And I guess to me it does. Because: is existing all they deserve? Is the effect on them, how it affects their communities, the specific issues faced by the fiancée who is left alone to bring up the child in terms of poverty, her future romantic life, the daughter’s questions, what is being done by the government or by private organizations to help them, how someone might get involved to do so in ones own community, etc. – are they all so “given” that they are not worthy of our specific attention and discussion? Doesn’t feminism require that we pay them more than lip service?

    ‘Oh they’re there, right behind the man, we don’t need to elaborate.’

    Isn’t that what feminism asks for – that we elaborate? Don’t black women deserve that as white women do? Why, when the issue is that of a black woman, should she not be at the forefront, or at least mentioned?

    Posts like this make me feel that often the issues of MOC do not necessarily cover the issues of WOC no matter how many female relatives those MOC have. I wonder whether a discussion of a black woman facing discrimination because she is female would be viewed as an anti-racist discussion and featured on an anti-racist-focused blog under an analysis of interlocking oppressions? Because if it would be, maybe I’d have less of an issue here.

    But I haven’t seen this kind of discussion. If WOC are not at the forefront in the antiracist movement and it’s also OK for them to remain in the background in feminism, where will they appear as subjects rather than objects of the discussion?”

    So whether or not you agree with me, please don’t tell me what I meant by “underserved.” Next time you have a concern, just ask. Not that difficult.

  18. octogalore
    octogalore March 9, 2009 at 6:35 am |

    Not sure where you got that. If you read my post which Amp links to, you’ll see that I was referring to women of color getting lost in the context of discussions of Sean Bell etc.

    Also, what part of “just wanting us to center ourselves, poor or rich, all colors and orientations and ability levels: women” was unclear?
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  19. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 9, 2009 at 6:36 am |

    Not sure where you got that.

    You said that your problem with seeing other social justice issues as an extension of the goals of feminism is that you worry that someone more deserving is getting lost in the cracks. The only two categories of “someone” I can come up with are either feminists who are not personally affected by intersectional issues, or feminists who are potentially personally affected by intersectional issues. And I’m having a damn hard time coming up with a scenario where (for example) a black man is shot by the police and has absolutely no connection to any woman, at all, period. Or where some issue affects members of a different social justice movement but doesn’t affect any members of any group which overlaps more obviously with feminism. So, via deduction, I wondered if you weren’t talking about white (etc) women as that “someone” whose needs are being drowned out.

    Which brings me back to my general lack of comfort with making feminism some kind of parochial cause, where we’re willing to get outraged when a woman is brutalized by the police, but not when a man is. And how much of that is us merely giving lip service to police brutality as a cause (because I don’t know of any workable way to really make headway on this if we’re ONLY going to kick up a fuss when it happens to a woman).

  20. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 9, 2009 at 6:50 am |

    I think highly of Amp, but his discussion basically removes race and women and tries to claim the REAL reason Sean Bell is a feminist issue is because of men’s rights.

    I think he was saying that *one* reason (not the real reason, but one reason) that gendered violence against men of color is a feminist issue is because… it’s gendered violence.

    You can read that in the intuitive way in which it disadvantages men (i.e. they have violence perpetrated against them in these situations, not good) or you can read it in the way of considering why women are sheltered from some of those kinds of violence (e.g. we’re considered “harmless” because we are part of the victim class and not endowed with power). And of course, just as someone very brilliant (I apologize for not remembering the SN) was saying on this blog recently, women experience racialized sexism (e.g. black women, via racialized sexism, are considered unrapeable by white men), here we have racialized injustices inflected with gender. That combination makes a feminist lens of analysis salient, and hopefully useful.

    Either way, there is a gendered aspect to the violence, and I think Ampersand would say that’s wrong.

    Here I’m speaking for him, because I know he doesn’t come into comments sections often, and we chat a lot, so I expect I sort of know what he meant. But I could always be incorrect.

  21. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos March 9, 2009 at 8:22 am |

    The article on Lawrence King was very, very good. In the last year I’ve seen too much uncritical acceptance of the Defense’s line repeated via Time, The Advocate and others that King was too aggressive in asserting his sexual identity and sexually harassed McInerney, so it’s nice to have another perspective.

  22. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 9, 2009 at 9:00 am |

    Octo – [heeee! at the idea of “Octo” and “Opo” having a chat…) I just want to follow up since another post of yours has been let out of moderation. Yes, I did read your post as linked by Amp. That’s part of why I came back and replied more towards what you were writing, as opposed to my somewhat out-of-nowhere thoughts from earlier.

    I guess I just don’t see where, in any of this, WOC are “invisible”. I’ve seen plenty of blog posts about the effects of police brutality on women of color, both in a direct victim capacity as well as in a corollary “community” capacity. I also feel that you would have to be really, really dense to see feminists taking interest in cases like Sean Bell’s and assume that it’s because feminists are just all about the black men at the expense of black women. Hell, Holly’s original post on this specifically mentioned the women Bell’s murder left behind.

    So I guess I just don’t really know what you mean when you worry about feminist involvement in other social justice issues that don’t, by their very definition, have to do with women and only women. Because I don’t see how we’re going to accomplish much if we say, “oooh, sorry, we can’t be bothered with this particular police brutality case because the victim was a d00d…” or “oooh, sorry, we can’t be bothered to come out against sodomy laws; that’s a d00d thing…” or “we’re willing to work on this immigration policy that ONLY affects women, but not those policies that affect everyone”. In the end, it just becomes an excuse not to get involved.

  23. octogalore
    octogalore March 9, 2009 at 9:52 am |

    Opo, I think we are talking past each other.

    You seem to be reading me as linking describing something as a feminist analysis and getting involved in it as a feminist. In fact, my biggest public interest focus right now does not really center women, it has to do with unequal access to education and for whatever reason a majority of the people I’ve been working with are boys.

    I don’t, therefore, “worry about feminist involvement in other social justice issues.” I do worry about feminism, the movement, absorbing everything else in an echo of how women do all shifts IRL. If the discussions about other social justice issues were not termed “feminist issues” where they don’t discuss women, and if feminism did center women (all women) predominantly, I’d have no issues.

    I’d also be careful on your part to speak for WOC. You may have noticed my post was on the site of a WOC, which may not but also may mean something regarding ideas as to giving WOC more than a “mention” in “feminist” discussions.

    I’ve read your comments and think highly of your thought process. I am wondering here why you are taking so much liberty with mine.

  24. octogalore
    octogalore March 9, 2009 at 9:54 am |

    Mandolin — thanks. I commented at Amp’s site at the gap in reasoning regarding whether it’s gendered.

  25. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 9, 2009 at 11:04 am |

    Octo – I’m back to thinking, then, that it’s really just a semantic issue. Or you get to a point where it just doesn’t matter, because both sides are talking about the exact same thing and actually agree. Which is why I’ve generally stayed out of the “X is/is not a feminist issue” debate. It doesn’t matter to me how we phrase it, it matters what we do about it.

    I’m curious, though, at what you mean when you suggest that I “be careful on [my] part to speak for WOC.” I didn’t intend to do so in any of my posts here. In fact, I thought I was being pretty careful to speak from my position as a white woman and talk about the role of white feminists in dealing with POC issues. In the past I feel like I’ve erred on the side of “not speaking for people of color” in my decision not to get too involved with WOC issues within feminism. Which is something that I’m starting to think I’ve been wrong about. There’s a point where white people refusing to talk about race or get involved with issues specific to women of color turns into ghettoizing those issues, or reduces to total inaction.

    Also, I fully “respect your thought processes” as well. I guess I just don’t understand what you mean, or in trying to find meaning in your posts have interpreted your words in a way you don’t like. I feel like I’ve been nothing but respectful of your intent, and have pretty much filled my responses to you with phrases like “I might be misreading you”, “maybe I’m misunderstanding this”, and the like. This is how textual discourse works — you put your words out there for others to read and, in doing so, invite interpretation and debate.

  26. octogalore
    octogalore March 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm |

    Opo, what I meant by your speaking for WOC is that in all this discussion of how I’m misguided and they are indeed well served by posts mentioning them as a by-the-way in a “feminist” discussion of police brutality, I believe there are WOC who would not agree with the latter. So while it may be presumptuous of me to argue they aren’t well served and therefore deserve more (as do all women from our movement), it seems even more presumptuous to claim they don’t.

    I too have seen blog posts about the effects of police brutality on women of color — many coming forward after this controversy surfaced –“both in a direct victim capacity as well as in a corollary ‘community’ capacity”. As I’ve noted elsewhere, those are indeed feminist discussions, and kudos to those who did bring the women out of the extra roles.

    It may be worthwhile to just agree this is getting into semantics. I believe that instead of “in trying to find meaning in [my] posts [you] have interpreted [my]words in a way [I] don’t like,” you’ve instead reached for polarizing extremes that are not remotely reasonable interpretations of what I said. That’s not a path I want to continue to follow.

  27. Radfem
    Radfem March 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm |

    This is from Yahoo:

    The next batch of newspapers to go under or go digital.

    The Seattle Press-Intelligencer which is probably going out of print did some great series on police brutality and misconduct.

    Also, before you decide that guns are “poison”, talk to some old NAACPers about the era when citizen ownership of firearms was the only thing standing between certain black communities and annihilation. Guns are an equalizer for the downtrodden and those who cannot rely on the state for protection. (Think about it – thugs and criminals can bully and oppress the unarmed weak whether the thugs have guns or not. Widespread ownership of guns gives the weak a fighting chance, and makes it a lot less attractive to be a thug.)

    Except police don’t look at Whites carrying guns for self-protection and African-Americans, male or female, in the same way. Tyisha Miller had a gun in a car to protect herself while waiting alone in it and she was shot by police at least 24 times even while passed out or unconscious. Kathryn Johnston had a small gun given by her family to protect her from criminals because she was an elderly women living alone and she was shot about 30 times by narcotics officers breaking into her house in Atlanta.

    Cops in my town at least used to look the other way when White women bought guns for self-protection without getting permits.

    I didn’t think that Amp left out race at all. He talked about how race intersected with gender in a different way. And yes, men may be involved more with violent crimes (although in some categories women’s involvement might be increasing). But White men are involved in violent crimes and it’s not open season on them by police because they are White, they are individuals not a group and thus anyones who commit violent crimes are considered aberrations to the race whereas Black men racially are defined by White society as being inherently violent (and if you don’t believe that, watch the new, entertainment, etc.) Are homicide rates high for Black men? Yes. But people conflate this type of violence with state violence and say that because one is higher, it should get all the attention mostly as a deflection to avoid talking about state violence.

    Both matter. Because when men of color (and sometimes women) get killed by gang violence for example, which is increasing in my city, it’s often distrust of the police that keeps people from reporting on eye witness accounts or testifying in court. Because perhaps if they trusted the police to watch their backs in these situations, then that might override the fear of gang retaliation. I know one family that needs one witness to testify for an arrest of the death of their children. But people in that neighborhood don’t trust the police. And forget another potential group of eyewitnesses which are undocumented who b/c of a recent deal brokered between my city’s police and Border Patrol (which is currently under investigation in my city by ICE for illegal quotas which led to some unprecedented raids to fill). And immigration rights is in danger of qualifying under the same dissidence from feminists because it impacts in some areas, mostly men looking for construction work.

    It might make me cringe to read a post asking feminists who advocate for women’s rights to deal with men’s issues (especially when a lot of men themselves can’t be bothered) except that for one thing, separating out police abuse as an issue by gender is very problematic which you will notice when you see your first fatal officer-involved shooting of a Black or Latino man in particular up close. No, not reading about it in the newspaper or even blogs but up close. Not to be dismissive but what’s often lost in coverage (and mostly by mainstream media) is the role of women in these cases and how it impacts them. Mostly mothers, but often sisters and girlfriends too.

    But anyway, I’ve learned more than once in 10 years that you can’t deal with police abuse of women unless you deal with police abuse of men. Police abuse of straights doesn’t get dealt with unless you deal with police abuse of gays, lesbians and transgenders. That’s just the way it works. You’re not dealing with the persecution and deaths of different groups. You’re dealing with one institution which is structured to be involved in all of it. And one of the problems with addressing this issue is the fragmentation of any movements to different racial groups addressing shootings impacting their racial groups (and that’s often seen at protests in many cities) though there are exceptions to this usually because of coalition building between critical incidents like Sean Bell, Margaret Mitchell or Oscar Grant.

    I hope Feminism ™ gets it straight or figured out one of these days that this is an important issue and starts reading the posts on this issue by Renee, bfp and other women including here who may or may not call themselves feminist to figure it out. I’m not a feminist and this is one reason why.

  28. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm |

    in all this discussion of how I’m misguided and they are indeed well served by posts mentioning them as a by-the-way in a “feminist” discussion of police brutality, I believe there are WOC who would not agree with the latter.

    I wasn’t trying to speak for women of color there, at all, and it would be an extreme reach to suggest otherwise.

    I also in no way meant to suggest that you’re misguided – we just have different opinions on what, apparently, is ultimately an issue of semantics. And that’s OK.

    I’m also not sure that I was “insisting” that women of color are “well served” by a feminist discussion of police brutality. I really am not in a place to decide who is well-served by what. I merely noted that there had been a pretty good number of posts on the subject in this corner of the feminist blogosphere, which kind of implies that women of color are not “invisible” on this matter. That this is an ongoing conversation that we are having sort of implies a lack of invisibility. If the connection between women of color and racist police brutality was “invisible”, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it.

    … that are not remotely reasonable interpretations of what I said.

    You don’t get to decide what is and is not a reasonable interpretation of what you wrote. That’s kind of one of the basic tenets of having an opinion on the internet. Especially when you seem to be the one who is doing most of the polarizing here, accusing me of insisting on this and demanding that. I’ve done nothing of the kind, in fact I’ve been about a zillion times more gracious in this particular conversation than I tend to ever be on the internet. If my language were any more deferential, I’d be kissing your ass.

  29. Radfem
    Radfem March 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |

    I guess I just don’t see where, in any of this, WOC are “invisible”. I’ve seen plenty of blog posts about the effects of police brutality on women of color, both in a direct victim capacity as well as in a corollary “community” capacity. I also feel that you would have to be really, really dense to see feminists taking interest in cases like Sean Bell’s and assume that it’s because feminists are just all about the black men at the expense of black women. Hell, Holly’s original post on this specifically mentioned the women Bell’s murder left behind.

    I’ve also seen many in a proactive sense in addressing it. That’s also what discussions in my region tend to focus on as well at the community level. But the media especially mainstream tends to focus on the men in any movement.

    My earlier comment is in moderation somewhere but I do think that breaking down the issue of police abuse into genders is problematic and I’ve seen it done by feminists mostly as an excuse not to address this issue even as it pertains to women of color and White women who don’t fit the parameters of “mainstream” feminism. Because in many ways, White women still look to the police as allies in dealing with violence against women. Policing the National Body, a collection of essays (including one on DV) which deals a lot with policing gender by race. It’s great reading if you haven’t done so.

    I think sometimes that it’s mostly White women think that if they address police brutality that it will be advocating for Black men at the expense of Black women. At least online. Only there doesn’t seem to be all that much concern about Black women in those discussions except to say that this is what they really want (as if they all wanted the same thing). It’s just this sense that police abuse and brutality is detracting from *real* feminist issues.

    One reason why it’s problematic is in the case of case of parolee/probation searches, which often happen early in the morning, unannounced and with officers often from a special unit (who may or may not be wearing patrol uniforms) who knock on the door. The nine-your-old daughter sees that her mother’s busy getting her brother ready for school and Dad, who’s the subject of the search is already out trying to find a job, a difficult task for a convicted felon. The daughter opens the door and one officer or more has a gun raised at her head.

    Or the young woman who’s engaged to be married to a man shot and killed by police while leaving his stag party(and the fact that like many men in that situation, he attended one was enough to disqualify his shooting in some feminists’ minds) and she’s attending the funeral of the father of her child at the same church they were to be married in.

    Then there are the daughters who witness their father being shot right in front of him, 10 feet away by police officers.

    Like I said, it’s a lot easier to separate police abuse by gender (or attempt to do so) in writing than it is in real life.

  30. William
    William March 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm |

    Except police don’t look at Whites carrying guns for self-protection and African-Americans, male or female, in the same way. Tyisha Miller had a gun in a car to protect herself while waiting alone in it and she was shot by police at least 24 times even while passed out or unconscious. Kathryn Johnston had a small gun given by her family to protect her from criminals because she was an elderly women living alone and she was shot about 30 times by narcotics officers breaking into her house in Atlanta.

    Radfem: I’ll preface this response by saying that I admit I might be reading your comment wrong. It seems to me that you’re advocating better gun control and better control of police, or that you’re using the comment about guns as a jumping off point for something else. I apologize in advance if I took something from your comment that you didn’t intend. I’m using your comment as a jumping off point and I’m giving a bit of detail on one of the cases you mentioned because I’m not sure how widely known it is. That said

    Thats an argument for better police-control, not better gun control. Especially in the Johnston case, the problem wasn’t that she had a gun but that police kicked in the door to her house, in a neighborhood with a history of home invasions, in the middle of the night, wearing all black, and didn’t announce themselves all on what they knew was probably a bad tip. Then they shot her and waited to call an ambulance until after they’d planted drugs, during which time she conveniently became unable to testify because she bled out. After that the department willfully engaged in obstruction and evidence tampering to cover their own asses. Gun control wouldn’t have done shit to protect her.

    I agree that police don’t look at POC the same way they look at whites, and I agree that they’re more likely to kill a POC with a gun than a white person with a gun. Advocating stricter gun control just seems like seems like blaming the victim.

  31. Daily Femmostroppo Reader - March 10, 2009 — Hoyden About Town

    [...] Weekend Reads [...]

  32. Radfem
    Radfem March 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm |

    Radfem: I’ll preface this response by saying that I admit I might be reading your comment wrong. It seems to me that you’re advocating better gun control and better control of police, or that you’re using the comment about guns as a jumping off point for something else. I apologize in advance if I took something from your comment that you didn’t intend. I’m using your comment as a jumping off point and I’m giving a bit of detail on one of the cases you mentioned because I’m not sure how widely known it is. That said

    Better control of police though I do believe in gun control for different reasons. I just remember back after Tyisha Miller was killed seeing the racism of the NRA and many (maybe not all but many) gun rights activists for the first time. And assuming that a Black man with a gun is viewed by society including police as the same thing as if a White man was and if it’s bringing protection from racist violence or danger from it. Because what’s one of the most common excuses given by police for shooting Black men? He was reaching for….

    Thats an argument for better police-control, not better gun control. Especially in the Johnston case, the problem wasn’t that she had a gun but that police kicked in the door to her house, in a neighborhood with a history of home invasions, in the middle of the night, wearing all black, and didn’t announce themselves all on what they knew was probably a bad tip. Then they shot her and waited to call an ambulance until after they’d planted drugs, during which time she conveniently became unable to testify because she bled out. After that the department willfully engaged in obstruction and evidence tampering to cover their own asses. Gun control wouldn’t have done shit to protect her.

    Having the right to bear arms (which she was exercising and maybe the NRA used her as their poster child for an out of control state though I didn’t read any comment from that group whatsoever) didn’t protect her either but that’s a somewhat different argument. And she shot at what she thought were criminals breaking into her home after attempts to pry off the bars on her window failed. What else was she supposed to think?

    Only once she fired in self-defense and the bullet missed the officers and ended up lodged in the eave above the door (contrary to earlier reports, all injuries suffered by the officers were self-inflicted). But once she fired, they fired back. Though since their intentions were criminal, she probably was going to be harmed in some way anyway. The only reason her death received any scrutiny at all from the feds was because she was 92, not 22.

    Those cops coerced an informant with threats of planting marijuana (that they had found elsewhere and carried in the trunk of their car all day) and he pointed to her house to avoid arrest. They tried to get three informants to do buys but none agreed or could get to the location. So they ran off to a judge and lied to him saying their information was based on lengthy surveillance when it wasn’t. After they handcuffed her and left her bleeding from five or six bullet wounds in her chest on her own floor, they planted cocaine in her basement.

    It wasn’t isolated. Just ask Francis Thompson who was 80, Black and lying in her bed with a cap pistol aimed at another narc team from APD which broke into her home mistaking Black men and women carrying food to a funeral wake after the death of her son with drug customers. Can you imagine what went in her mind then and then later when she saw the Johnston case on the news?

    I agree that police don’t look at POC the same way they look at whites, and I agree that they’re more likely to kill a POC with a gun than a white person with a gun. Advocating stricter gun control just seems like seems like blaming the victim.

    Perhaps but that’s not what I was doing. All I said is that it’s difficult for gun activists to argue that having guns makes all people safer from government intrusion or violence assuming that all men are equal when it comes to how they are viewed if they have weapons. Even the NRA doesn’t treat them equally as I discovered.

  33. Radfem
    Radfem March 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  34. William
    William March 9, 2009 at 3:53 pm |

    I just remember back after Tyisha Miller was killed seeing the racism of the NRA and many (maybe not all but many) gun rights activists for the first time.

    That is, unfortunately, a sad reality for not only the NRA but also many other gun rights groups. Its a problem some of us are working on and trying to change, and a big part of it has to do with class and region, but it is still a serious problem.

    which she was exercising and maybe the NRA used her as their poster child for an out of control state though I didn’t read any comment from that group whatsoever

    You’re right, the Johnston case was a terrible and, disgustingly, a rather routine case. The NRA mostly avoided the Johnston case because they avoid criticizing cops. The big problem with the NRA is that they aren’t really a gun-rights organization, they’re a hunter’s and collector’s rights organization with a very conservative base that leans pro-police. Most of the attention I saw around Johnston’s case was coming from the Second Amendment Foundation (a more radical, less conservative group) and civil libertarians like Radley Balko (who has extensively covered the militarization of local police and the escalating police violence during drug raids). Balko in particular has done a great job hunting these stories when they do make it to the press, covering them, and trying to keep them in the public light. His blog is TheAgitator.com

    I think, completely unrelated to gun control, there could be a meaningful alliance between some members of the libertarian right and those of us who are passionate about civil rights around the issue of police misconduct and general government abuse of authority. It frustrates me to no end to see, time and again, the same stories popping up in places like Feministe and places like Reason magazine with commentators making the same criticisms for the same reason and no one ever noticing that theres something there. I think both sides could learn a lot from each other, especially since the current state of American politics means both major parties aren’t likely to do anything meaningful. /rant

    Perhaps but that’s not what I was doing. All I said is that it’s difficult for gun activists to argue that having guns makes all people safer from government intrusion or violence assuming that all men are equal when it comes to how they are viewed if they have weapons. Even the NRA doesn’t treat them equally as I discovered.

    I apologize for having misinterpreted and, unfortunately, agree.

  35. Ampersand
    Ampersand March 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm |

    I think highly of Amp, but his discussion basically removes race and women and tries to claim the REAL reason Sean Bell is a feminist issue is because of men’s rights.

    Thanks! I think highly of you, too.

    First of all, I want to completely endorse what Mandolin and Lauren have already said, in comments 12 and 20. Their statements are a better description of what I believe than anything I would have written.

    I think that centering women is an essential part of feminism, but I don’t think it has to be all of feminism for all feminists. I think there’s room in feminism for concern with “gender justice,” and in some cases that means being concerned with how some men — particularly when gender intersects with other areas — can end up being singled out for some types of victimization because of gender.

    I think that many (not all) feminists in the 1960s and 70s had less of a problem with this sort of conception of feminism; I don’t have any cites on hand, but it’s my impression that liberating men from gender was more often seen, by feminists, as one of many goals of feminism. Although I’m not saying this about you in particular, Octogalore, in general I think one harm of the MRA movement is that it has caused feminism in general to become much more suspicious towards claims that sexism harms men, because those claims are so often used as derailments, or as a way of denying that society favors men or disadvantages women at all.

    Thank you for the link, Lauren.

  36. HungryHungryHippos
    HungryHungryHippos March 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm |

    I hate when they always throw in the statistics about gender and race…like it actually makes a difference.

    Here is a video I found that talks about the gender issue in unemployment. Women are on pace to have more jobs than men with the downturn in the economy.

    http://www.newsy.com/videos/economic_battle_of_the_sexes/

  37. octogalore
    octogalore March 11, 2009 at 1:04 pm |

    Amp — a thoughtful comment, and I agree that feminism should be concerned with the fact that men “can end up being singled out for some types of victimization because of gender.”

    I am not sure that we can state that because most victims of police violence are men, this is because of gender, however. So it’s not that I would call any focus on gender bias affecting men a derailment per se, but I think the failure to even mention a multivariable analysis here is disingenuous, and that’s why I get concerned about the motives.

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