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  1. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen August 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

    Wow… I totally hear you. I’ve always wondered why Feministing, despite its solid stable of WOC editors and contributors, still gets generalised as a white space. Is it because the contributors don’t highlight their backgrounds every time they post? Personally I rarely reference my identity when posting, to avoid being pigeonholed as “establishment”, “marginalised” or whatever. By and large my time at Feministe has been a blessing and nothing else, but in the more radical communities I pass through, I get an attitude that being a blogger for Jezebel or even here makes you a sellout or something. If I let such things get to me more, I’d be as frustrated as you…

    1. theLaplaceDemon
      theLaplaceDemon August 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm |

      Agreed. I was just wondering about that re: Feministing earlier today.

      I mean, I’m sure a lot of it still comes from the fact that Jessica Valenti is still kind of the face of Feministing even though she left it years ago…and that fact that the association still exists so strongly is probably in no small part because she is white, while lot of the current editors and writers (many of whom are honestly a lot better than Valenti in their writing and analysis) are not. Oh, hai racism.

    2. Alita
      Alita September 19, 2013 at 11:39 am |

      no, its because a few of the articles (and more likely many of the comments) very much have a touch of ignorant xenophobia to them especially when discussing women from non-christian religions or women from “minority” cultural backgrounds.

      so please dont play ignorant “is it because they dont cite their background?”-no, if you sound like you opinion is coming from a white westernised lens, you cant blame people for assuming you are a white westerner.

  2. Nicole
    Nicole August 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

    I’m sorry if some people have assumed you must be white, upper-class, etc. However, you can be a person of color and still perpetuate what we refer to as “white feminism”; namely, one need not be white to consistently maintain a space’s “whiteness”. Feministe, like other feminist sites, display a consistent preoccupation with issues that impact white, privileged women or even spin issues that might affect non-white women in a way that reveals either incredible privilege or incredible ignorance.

    1. ohio_biz
      ohio_biz September 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

      Agreed. My perspective is somewhat atypical (25, business man, non-feminist, but i do this and 2-3 other feminist blogs for perspective and often good insight). The thing that SCREAMED to me during the whole article is all the main stream feminist sites I have read focus on issues that I can’t imagine resonnate with people of limited means (to be 100% clear, there are more “white people” who are poor, but the % of minorities who are in poverty as a % of their race is 2-3x. And that is crap, is unfair and can be fought). however, feminist blogs, this one included, rarely talk about the family, economic, entrepreneurial and business / political constructs / programs that could help disadvantaged women (and families and kids). Not saying whether that is right or wrong (you can use your platform for what you want), but these sites do NOT serve many messages that are helpful to people trying to make a bettter life for themselves. If you are struggling day to day, you think someone gives two shits about Hugo? Come on..

  3. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

    You’re definitely right. I’m going to have to think about this post. Thanks for writing.

  4. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll August 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

    If I walked into a bar where white people vastly outnumbered poc, it wouldn’t really matter if a poc co owned that bar. I’d consider it a white bar. Especially if all those white patrons engaged in racist discussions and smeared their WP all over the poc. Fucking constantly.

    1. trees
      trees August 30, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

      Yeah, I agree. The author acknowledges that issue here:

      And I also get that including writers/editors of color in these spaces doesn’t change the demographic of the commenters or the culture they create …

      I’m hoping that she elaborates on this point a bit more:

      …but, damn, it makes it hard to change that culture when the writers themselves feel shut down by people who look like them.

      I’m trying to think of ways in which I as a reader/commenter can be more supportive.

      1. BHuesca
        BHuesca August 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

        Seconded, and thank you to frau sally for writing.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L August 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm |

      Of course, none of that should matter at Feministing, where they basically have no commenters anymore, and haven’t for a long time now. Back when there were commenters at Feministing, and I started reading there, the place turned out to be pretty much a horrible transphobic cesspool, and the people who ran the place did little or nothing about it. Hence the famous boycott, and I’ve hardly been back since. The fact that nobody comments there (because everything is on full moderation) hardly inspires me to return, and neither does the fact that there’s one trans woman who does blog there regularly now. The place was spoiled for me, permanently.

      Some people, including some self-identified feminists, don’t deserve lovingkindness, and I have no problem blaming them — and even hating some of them — for what they do. Goodwill doesn’t solve everything.

    3. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen August 30, 2013 at 10:17 pm |

      Yeah, I noticed most commenters mysteriously vanished around the time of Feministing’s site revamp. Did it to overlap with the boycott or something? I just assumed they botched their comment system so badly that nobody could be bothered to comment anymore. Too bad, because a community with no comments defeats the whole purpose of a community. At this point it functions more like a news portal — does anyone know if their readership has plummeted as well?

      1. Donna L
        Donna L August 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

        You’re right. Without comments, it’s not a community at all. I don’t really know whether it happened because of that boycott, but it certainly happened afterwards, and it’s been that way for a very long time now. I don’t think anyone even bothers trying to comment anymore.

      2. Medusa
        Medusa August 31, 2013 at 8:31 am |

        I’m assuming it has plummeted. It used to be my homepage, and now I only look at it every once in a while to mock it with my friend.

        Not the content, but the way it used to be such a huge community and now it has declined and they don’t seem to want to let it go.

      3. EG
        EG August 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

        I used to be a regular commenter there. I stopped around late 2007, I think. I didn’t like the revamp, and there were one or two conversations where I had just had enough (I remember one in particular with a commenter asking me how, without the guidance of Christ, Jews had come to the conclusion that slavery was wrong, and comparing owning slaves to keeping kosher), but mostly it was just a time in my life where I was overwhelmed with stressful demands and needed to walk away from the internet. When things had changed well enough for me to come back, there was nothing to come back to, comment-wise. So I came here.

      4. Tony
        Tony September 2, 2013 at 3:56 am |

        It was at around the time of the site revamp. And no, the readership hasn’t plummeted; at least according to Alexa, it’s more popular than this site and it’s become more popular over the past year. They also have 93,000 twitter followers vs. 18,000 for Feministe- not that it’s a competition for anything.

        They just either didn’t want to deal with moderating the comments (which is kind of understandable, frankly – the audience over there is likely to be even broader than the one here, which means they’d pretty much have to have someone watching the threads 24/7) or they didn’t have the money to re-program the site to make commenting easier. I’m leaning towards deliberate, because comments were closed on the #sifww post.

        It’s sad– it’s by far the most racially diverse “mainstream” feminist site. They have WOC posting regularly, but there’s no “community”, so the site is associated with Jessica Valenti forever (or not even mentioned as a part of “mainstream feminism” anymore).

      5. Athenia
        Athenia September 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

        It sounds like they are doing pretty well–I read somewhere that they have 500,000 unique visitors per month or something like that. Having feministing turn into a news portal is probably for the best though since commenters could not behave themselves and being so popular is just going to bring more n00bs.

    4. BHuesca
      BHuesca August 31, 2013 at 12:03 am |

      Phernobarbidoll, are you criticizing the number of white readers or the number of white writers? because it seems to me it would be easier to have/recruit/attract more poc writers than to wish for more (random?) Poc commenters.

      1. trees
        trees August 31, 2013 at 12:16 am |

        I think pheeno’s sentiment is echoed in the discussion below, and it seems more statement of fact than criticism.
        Nanette says:

        Naming this and other sites as “mainstream white feminism” does not (or should not) necessarily mean that non-white posters are erased or excluded. It’s just that they are posting on a mainstream white feminist site.

        Changing the culture of the site, making it less hostile to woc, trans*, disabled and others will not change that, I don’t think. In fact, I’m not sure why it should?

      2. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll August 31, 2013 at 12:17 am |

        Whyever would I subject either to this? More Poc writers won’t fix the existing racism. . Neither would more poc readers. The racism has to be fixed for either to be heard or cared about. We can’t even get past ” but that’s not racist” derails, or brining classism in to derail.

  5. trees
    trees August 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

    It sounds like you’re being put in a difficult position, and I’m sorry that you haven’t been getting the support that you need. Thank you for writing this, and also for linking to Chally’s final post. I especially appreciate the emphasis on lovingkindness. I hope to see more of your writing here in future.

  6. Jenna
    Jenna August 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

    I have followed links from here into a wonderful array of varied voices. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to people who didn’t grow up in the same circumstances I have. I want to see the other viewpoints and understand.
    On smaller more personal blogs you can usually learn a lot about that blogger and tell which angle they are viewing things, but, commenters on THIS blog often forget how anonymous commenting can be. I don’t expect people to remember things about me that I may have posted before, because my memory for that about others is faulty, usually. There are a few regular posters that I can pick out, but otherwise what I see is the chosen name, and the current post unless I go digging.
    If someone is speaking about lived experience, I’m sure not going to disagree, and I try to listen more than I post.

  7. Nanette
    Nanette August 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm |

    This sort of reminds me of when Samhita wrote a similar post at feministing, flinging herself between Jessica and those nameless, yet notorious, “other woc” who had very real, specific critiques of specific people. She, too, complained of being ignored as a woc when commenters labeled feministing a “white” site, without referencing the woc who posted there.

    My first reaction to this post was about the same as it was to hers.

    Somewhat angry at the conflating of issues and the attempt to stand between Jill and those who have substantive critiques–in effect, dismissing the critiques without actually addressing them, while assigning a type of blame to those other woc and absolving Jill at the same time.

    And, sorrowful that talented, vibrant, brave woc…that *you* should be made to feel erased, unwelcome and unsupported, and unheard on this or any other site.

    Anna Holmes, though, may have been a woc (still is, but is no longer editor at Jezebel) but Jezebel was not started to be a woc site, even at the beginning. And, even so, the primary problem with that site (in this incidence) was the current white editor privileging the words and actions of an abusive white man over the woc (and white women) he abused.

    I really don’t see how you can argue that Jezebel does not belong in the mainstream white feminism category (though some could argue on the “feminist” part of it.)

    Anyway, I don’t know the answer to a lot of things. Sigh.

    1. trees
      trees August 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm |

      Somewhat angry at the conflating of issues and the attempt to stand between Jill and those who have substantive critiques–in effect, dismissing the critiques without actually addressing them, while assigning a type of blame to those other woc and absolving Jill at the same time.

      I hope the author will address this point.

      I’m not getting why it’s thought that past POC contributors and the occasional guest blogger should have a substantive impact on the perception that this is a site for “mainstream, white feminism”.

    2. Jasmin
      Jasmin September 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

      Thanks for this, Nanette. Something about this post was invalidating about the legitimate grievances brought up by WOC in a very “those angry black women”* way. I think the title is also off-putting. In what world do WOC have the power to erase themselves from mainstream feminism? Sorry, not feeling it.

      *The ABW would be the stereotype of WOC commenters, not the author.

    3. Athenia
      Athenia September 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      Actually, I’d argue Jezebel started out to be a very WOC site, although it needed to appeal to white ladies too. I mean, I think you have the contradiction right there with the name and logo–Jezebel (a hypersexual black woman) and the logo, which is the face of a (presumedly) white woman.

      Either way though, I can see why people identify Jezebel and feministing as “white feminist” sites due to content, audience or writers. I mean, even though Samhita is the executive editor, it’s not like she posts regularly. Anyway, nobody thinks Crunk Feminist Collective is a white feminist site, for example.

  8. Nanette
    Nanette August 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

    Yes, I hope she does, too.

    And to answer your question–I don’t know! It’s odd, to me. Especially considering that, for example, at one time there were at least a couple of transwomen posting here regularly (may still be–sorry, if I’ve missed someone,) yet no one that I know of would even think of saying this was not a mainstream cis/het site.

    Non white/cis/het feminist/other-identifying sites are centered differently, as most within non-primary groups know. So it’s a completely different thing.

    Naming this and other sites as “mainstream white feminism” does not (or should not) necessarily mean that non-white posters are erased or excluded. It’s just that they are posting on a mainstream white feminist site.

    Changing the culture of the site, making it less hostile to woc, trans*, disabled and others will not change that, I don’t think. In fact, I’m not sure why it should?

    1. Nanette
      Nanette August 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

      Sigh. This commenting system defeats me. “Reply” seems make its own decisions on where to land. :)

    2. Donna L
      Donna L August 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm |

      at one time there were at least a couple of transwomen posting here regularly

      There were, but then as of two years ago they had all gone away and there were zero for a while I think, and then one started commenting, and now there are several again. And even some L & G & Q people! But you’re right that no one would ever dream of saying that this isn’t a mainstream cis/het site. It just doesn’t have the reputation anymore of having a group of commenters who aren’t very receptive to trans people. The presence of a few people from a marginalized group who regularly comment or blog at a place might make a difference in how “friendly” that place is thought of being by other people belonging to that group, but it’s not going to change the general character of the place.

      1. trees
        trees August 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm |

        There was at least one trans* regular blogger here as well. Holly immediately comes to mind, but I feel like there may have been other guest bloggers that I can’t remember.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L August 31, 2013 at 12:34 am |

          If anyone wants to understand the difference between Feministe 5 1/2 years ago (when Holly did blog regularly here) and Feministe now with respect to trans issues, look at this thread:

          http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/11/26/transgender-privilege/

          Yes, there were plenty of commenters defending trans women on that thread, and pushing back against the nonsense. But vile, disgusting, bigots like Bliss (whoever she may be) and others, were allowed to go on. and on. and on. and on, endlessly, about how people like me are “epistemologically male,” and “functionally not women at all,” without a damn thing being done, and other people were permitted to interrogate and speculate and theorize about trans women’s lives in that particularly lovely, pseudo-academic way that people love to do, again without anything being done.

          It made me feel physically ill to read that thread. Among other things, because it reminded me that not so much has changed in the world since 2007, because the same or similar people still say the same things all the time. Except now they can do it on Twitter!

          But at least I don’t think for a second that any of that would be allowed to happen here anymore. (Because now we silence the brave truth-tellers, of course!)

          To me, having one regular trans blogger — or one WOC blogging regularly — doesn’t necessarily mean everything is wonderful. There’s a lot more that’s necessary.

        2. trees
          trees August 31, 2013 at 12:46 am |

          I’ll check out that link.

          To me, having one regular trans blogger — or one WOC blogging regularly — doesn’t necessarily mean everything is wonderful.

          Sweet baby dinosaurs! I pray I didn’t say anything to imply otherwise!

          There’s a lot more that’s necessary.

          Absolutely! I thought that was understood.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L August 31, 2013 at 1:30 am |

          Goodness, Trees, of course not! Just the opposite! I was trying to agree with you and Nanette and others, and explain, in an oblique kind of way, why I also found the OP slightly confusing, using as an example the fact that Holly’s presence as a blogger here once upon a time clearly didn’t have a transformative effect on the fundamental nature of the place. If it’s changed for the better here with respect to trans issues over the last 5+ years — not that this will ever be anything other than a basically cis/het place — there are other reasons.

        4. Ally S
          Ally S August 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

          Wow, it literally was painful for me to read Bliss’ first comment.

        5. trees
          trees August 31, 2013 at 10:24 pm |

          I’d rather have a root canal than read that thread again.

      2. Nanette
        Nanette August 31, 2013 at 1:04 am |

        I don’t know who Bliss is, but gah! Heart. Disgusting person. I’m so happy that things have changed here (and hopefully elsewhere) and those sort of bigoted comments that you point out are no longer tolerated.

        “To me, having one regular trans
        blogger — or one WOC blogging
        regularly — doesn’t necessarily
        mean everything is wonderful.
        There’s a lot more that’s necessary.”

        Absolutely. A full, diverse roster of regular and bloggers would be good–but, also important are moderators and core groups who are part of the site’s center. That’s part of what has been missing over the years, sadly.

        A mainstream white feminist site doesn’t have to be a bad, clueless thing. Unless it wants to be, of course.

    3. trees
      trees August 30, 2013 at 11:51 pm |

      My initial reaction to the post was irritation, but I thought I was just being defensive. Since others seem to have had a similar reaction, I’m thinking maybe there’s some merit to it.

      1. Nanette
        Nanette August 31, 2013 at 12:39 am |

        Well, I think the reaction is natural–to me, it’s an irritating post, that sort of came out of left field. And perhaps she didn’t mean it to be so, but it also has a feel of woc-blaming for situations we (or, especially, current regular woc commenters on this blog) did not create.

        As well as being dismissive of various concerns, considering that the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag was a global thing, with thousands of people around the world expressing their frustrations and issues with mainstream white feminism.

        Hopefully frau sally will join in the conversation and clarify a few things this weekend.

        1. trees
          trees August 31, 2013 at 12:53 am |

          Hopefully frau sally will join in the conversation and clarify a few things this weekend.

          Yeah, I would definitely appreciate that.
          Also, thanks for pointing out the scale of the conversation:

          As well as being dismissive of various concerns, considering that the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag was a global thing, with thousands of people around the world expressing their frustrations and issues with mainstream white feminism.

        2. miga
          miga August 31, 2013 at 2:39 am |

          I felt that way too, Trees and Nanette. It’s why I haven’t really commented on this post. It hit a nerve and I’m still trying to parse out what opinions of mine are knee-jerk and what are legit.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |

          But if the solution isn’t more content from WOC or more posts reflecting something other than a straight, single, white woman narrative or more WOC commenters — if there is, in fact, no solution, then there is nothing left to engage with or for.

          …yeah, except WOC here have explicitly asked for all of that on the #sifww secondary and tertiary threads. Knock off being disingenuous.

        4. trees
          trees August 31, 2013 at 10:27 pm |

          …yeah, except WOC here have explicitly asked for all of that on the #sifww secondary and tertiary threads. Knock off being disingenuous.

          I’m wondering if she read those threads.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

          If she didn’t read the threads, then why the hell is she assuming no one here thought of or discussed these things? o_O

  9. Miss S
    Miss S August 31, 2013 at 3:22 am |

    Yet Feministing and Jezebel are still included in discussions of online feminism as white

    If they aren’t white, what are they? Diverse? Or even open to diversity?

    Have you ever seen a race discussion on jezebel? it’s a complete disaster and has been for years. Did you see the most recent discussion on race here? Fail, every time.

    <Are we silencing our own voices? Do we really want to be heard? Do we really want to hear each other?

    Ask Pheeno if she wants to be heard. Ask all of the woc who have put up with racists commenters, and outright racism in comments directed at them. The fact that they are still here suggests they want to be heard. The woc on here aren’t the problem, the racism is.

    1. Miss S
      Miss S August 31, 2013 at 3:23 am |

      html fail lol. It’s late, I’ll add more tomorrow.

  10. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 31, 2013 at 11:04 am |

    In all fairness, one doesn’t just see whitewashing in Feminist groups. It’s just a microcosm for the way the rest of the world defines itself.

    I’ve long been rubbed the wrong by the inequality and favoritism within women’s studies programs. If you’re wealthy enough, privileged enough, or lucky enough to go to an elite college like Barnard, you will receive excellent instruction. We have an elitist, supposedly merit-based system within a generally exclusionary, Patriarchal institution of higher education.

    I respect Courtney Martin for owning up to the fact that her career as a published author is due, in no small part, to attending Barnard and having a roommate whose mother had serious connections to a publisher.

    Most of the women who have had the opportunity to raise their consciousness to an appropriate level, of course, are white. Denoting a few token women of color is no tenable solution. If we want to change things, we need to peer beyond the same established channels, the same Seven Sisters approach.

    Those who write for mainstream feminist publications are, very often, alumni of these gold standard colleges and universities. To have an audience, one must first start with the advantages granted without even having to lift a finger or to prove oneself. If it were up to me, I’d look beyond the familiar and find feminist thought in other places.

  11. Samquilla
    Samquilla August 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

    In my opinion, it starts with more moderating. I have basically taken Feministe out of my “daily reads” because of the lack of moderation and acceptability of mean comments making fun of other women without actually making a feminist critique. For me it’s the response to posts on mothering and homebirth/attachment parenting/eating placenta, that made me feel like I did not want to be a part of this community, but it happens with respect to race and other identities/experiences that are outside the “norm” for the majority of the commentariat. The comments are not respectful constructive feminist critique. They are just mean and finger pointing and “ha ha, look at those weirdos.” I had a back and forth regarding this on placenta eating and was told by regular, established commenters that they valued their right to be sarcastic and flip more than they cared about making this community welcoming to women who engage in/sympathize with these practices. That’s when I decided this was not a community I wanted to participate in any more.

    1. EG
      EG August 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

      As one of those commenters, I stand by that. Sarcasm is the mainstay of almost all my communication, and I think that equating the privileged crunchy urban white women whose placenta-eating was being mocked in that thread with actual disenfranchised, marginalized groups is both disingenuous and absurd. And I’m completely serious about that.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl August 31, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

        I also took part in that discussion.

        The problem with the mocking of UMC, white, NYers eating their placenta is that it never left any wiggle room for cultural/racial variations where there were arguably valid reasons for the practice.

        Which just circles back to the point I made upthread about how criticiquing stuff white women do often misses out completely on how that issue may differently impact other people who are not white women. And that the reality of how other races and cultures do stuff differently may make plenty of the critique of what white women are doing look like shitting on POC. Even if it is inadvertent, and unintented, it’s still a big problem.

        1. EG
          EG August 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

          I’m not buying that. That article was specifically about that specific class of women, privileged if ever there were privileged women. Mocking those specific upper-class women for their specific practice and the woo that inspires it is nothing like indicting the practices of marginalized people. I’m not going to go around not making fun of the privileged ruling class for their ridiculous peccadilloes. (Further, I just did some quick searches on that thread, and nowhere is there a mention of the practice being ganked from a marginalized culture. It all seems to be based on what “other mammals” do.)

        2. Librarygoose
          Librarygoose August 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm |

          Further, I just did some quick searches on that thread, and nowhere is there a mention of the practice being ganked from a marginalized culture. It all seems to be based on what “other mammals” do.)

          Yup, it’s one of those “Well, the monkeys do it so it must have some value!!” things. The only people I ever learned about eating their placenta was crunchy-hippie types. Rituals involving disposal of the placenta? Many and varied. Eating it is really not one of them.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L August 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

        crunchy . . . placenta-eating

        Are they? I’ve never tried one.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

          Placenta or urban women?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L August 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm |

          I’m not even going to touch that one!

        3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help September 3, 2013 at 4:35 am |

          It’s all in the frying.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

      I’ll do my very best to make afterbirth-eaters feel as welcome as WOC on this blog, I promise!

  12. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

    at what point is something not white, mainstream feminism

    I gave this a bit of thought, last night, and I suppose it’s important to make a distinction between mainstream feminism engaged in by white feminists, and white!mainstream!feminism. The former seems to be more of a “who’s doing what” and the latter an exclusionary, implicitly or explicitly white-centric (if not white-supremacist, hello Amanda Marcotte and Hugo Schwyzer) feminism that at best ignores, and at its worst actively seeks to undermine WOCs’ selves, interests and contributions to feminism.

    Thus, I would point out that it is possible for a site to be run mostly by feminists who are white and still not be a part of white!feminism.

    On the flip side, it also means that it is entirely possible for a site to NOT consist of white feminists, in whole or in part, and still be part of white!feminism.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter if there are WOC on Jezebel, if Jezebel is willing to show video of black girls being gang-raped for clicks, and refuse to apologise for actively promoting, paying and defending a racist domestic abuser and rapist who targeted WOC by his own admission. I don’t care what colour the owner of a site (or founder, or contributor) is, if the site as a whole is an unfriendly or outright dangerous space for WOC. I really don’t give a flying fuck.

    I’m sorry you feel erased, and I apologise for participating in that erasure.

    But seriously?

    Seven posts in four years, and you’re pissed off that no one took you into account when discussing the site as a whole? Your blog post contributions in the last four years has a lower word count than my comments on the #sifww thread alone, and you expect your presence to be acknowledged every single time someone discusses the racial dynamics of Feministe? That’s as ridiculous as my expecting everyone on the site to acknowledge me every time they talk about the lack or presence of non-western commenters on the site. And I know there are other WOC bloggers and guest bloggers on this site, but tbh, here’s the breakdown: Jill and Caperton write a goodly 75% of the content on the site between them. Maybe closer to 80%. They’re both white. And I enjoy their writings on the whole, which is why I hang around. But they’re both white.

    If Feministe isn’t a white mainstream site (that veers fairly close to white!feminism sometimes), where’s the protection for WOC commenters? Where’s the crackdowns on people being shitty to POC? The shit that people here have gotten away with saying in the past is pretty fucking impressive.

    Oh, and by the way, I’m a little pissed off that the responses to the dozens of excellent suggestions to make this a WOC-friendly space that were raised in the #sifww threads on here has been:
    1) Pop culture post
    and
    2) Post shaming WOC for refusing to acknowledge how there’s WOC in white feminist sites, rly!

    Yeah. I’m a little pissed. I don’t think you should have shut up, I just expected something a bit more proactive and less, frankly, victim-blaming to be the first direct response. Because honestly, if mainstream feminism is as full of influential and powerful WOC as you seem to be claiming it is, why is that not what I see? Why is it that I can’t read comments threads on these supposedly inclusive sites without a countdown to racist crap being slung about?

    I don’t know. I still feel like you were erased and that’s not okay, but otoh what the hell, it’s not like you were a significant presence here. You were certainly content to sit by while WOC were being shat all over on this site, and the second all that blows over, you come back here to waggle a finger at us for forgetting your almightiness?

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll August 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

      And this.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L August 31, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

      I feel a little embarrassed to admit it, but until the OP said that she’s one of the bloggers here, I had no idea that that was the case. Her name isn’t even familiar to me, and I’ve read almost every post and comment here for nearly two years now. And I would guess that I’m not the only commenter here for whom that’s true. So I’m not sure how she can reasonably expect that people will take her presence into account in thinking about what “kind” of a place this is.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

        Yep. My intial reaction was to feel bad for her personally, and I still do, but otoh I’m really uncomfortable with the direction, timing and implications of this post.

        And really, I just… it’s not even that I feel that Feministe has such bad issues compared to most non-explicitly-poc-focused places on the ‘net. Even the racefails that occur in most posts are pretty minor IMO; to take the example of the name-taking thread that Lola brought up, it was a question of a lack of nuance, not ill-intent. #sifww was pretty notably horrible IMO. I was pretty hurt and disgusted by the #sifww thread because of a bunch of new faces (or old faces wev) who turned up and made it unpleasant, but still, I really like most of the regulars, and I just… gah.

    3. Miranda
      Miranda August 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

      I suppose it’s important to make a distinction between mainstream feminism engaged in by white feminists, and white!mainstream!feminism.

      This distinction is very helpful. Cosigning.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune August 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

        Yeah. It’s a question of willingness to be thoughtful and clear when writing on issues that don’t directly affect the blogger(s), and being protective of marginalised groups in the extended region of comments etc. It’s not about being part of (marginalised group) oneself at all.

    4. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve August 31, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

      I don’t know. I still feel like you were erased and that’s not okay, but otoh what the hell, it’s not like you were a significant presence here. You were certainly content to sit by while WOC were being shat all over on this site, and the second all that blows over, you come back here to waggle a finger at us for forgetting your almightiness?

      Of course you will sympathize with her being erased, because I’ve seen it happen to you multiple times on here. The very thread in contention required you and pheeno to assert your WoC status on numerous occasions to people who assumed you must be white if you said something vaguely sympathetic towards Jill. Frau Sally doesn’t seem to get that you who are commenting get BOTH the erasure AND the bullshit.

    5. Aydan
      Aydan August 31, 2013 at 11:53 pm |

      Seven posts in four years, and you’re pissed off that no one took you into account when discussing the site as a whole? Your blog post contributions in the last four years has a lower word count than my comments on the #sifww thread alone, and you expect your presence to be acknowledged every single time someone discusses the racial dynamics of Feministe? That’s as ridiculous as my expecting everyone on the site to acknowledge me every time they talk about the lack or presence of non-western commenters on the site.

      Perhaps I am missing something, but when I click on Sally’s name, I see eight pages of posts– about 100 total– all of which have happened in the last four years. During 2010, she was apparently posting two or three times a week.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 1, 2013 at 12:02 am |

        That’s weird; her Feministe tag only shows seven posts in that time. o_O Well, that’s confusing…

      2. Donna L
        Donna L September 1, 2013 at 12:16 am |

        But the fact remains that this is only her third post in the last two years, and her seventh since the beginning of 2011. The fact that mac didn’t notice her 2010 posts isn’t all that relevant to mac’s point, which was really about what’s reasonably current.

        1. Aydan
          Aydan September 1, 2013 at 9:33 am |

          But the fact remains that this is only her third post in the last two years, and her seventh since the beginning of 2011. The fact that mac didn’t notice her 2010 posts isn’t all that relevant to mac’s point, which was really about what’s reasonably current.

          But it is surely relevant to Sally’s point, about how her contributions to the site and the community have not, in her opinion, been recognized. She acknowledges herself that she is not a regular poster any more– I don’t think anyone’s disputing that– but there is a big difference between writing seven posts in four years, and writing 89 (as I see now it says directly under her post).

  13. Denise Winters
    Denise Winters August 31, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

    I find it disgusting when people assume someone is white, and such assumptions are often rooted in racism and sexism with regards to what WOC should think or feel about a given issue. It has happened to me here and I will absolutely not engage with the person who did so. However, I don’t see identifying sites like Jezebel and Ferministe as white-focused/white sites is erasing the voices of WOC who contribute. It isn’t making an assumption about the race of every commenter or blogger, but rather identifying sites like Jezebel and Feministe as white/WOC hostile by pointing out that based on the overall site as a whole and the majority of posts (and lack of posts) and comments that:
    – They regularly fail to identify and acknowledge issues that predominately and/or disproportionately affect WOC
    – Ignore the voices of WOC when they say someone is an abuser and call it “being behind the learning curve” (as oppose to you know, deliberately disregarding the voices of WOC)
    – Routinely allow racist/xenophobic comments to pass without remark
    – Do almost everything in a way that centers white women and their experiences ( even when supposedly apologizing for their failure to defend black women)
    – Meet criticism with defensiveness (Yep, I’m still upset about Black History Month and Jill’s comments in the threads that brought it up)
    – Constantly come to the defense of white women who are criticized, often by WOC, but do not seem to make defending WOC as high a priority ( Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike being derisively called a “liquid diet” comes to mind, as does writing a post defending Sheryl Sandburg’s book and posting it on March 1st, you know, the day after the unremarkable BHM ended)
    – Make it so that WOC constantly feel these spaces are hostile
    – Failing to seek and post a variety of opinions and angles from WOC

    Jezebel, Feministe, and Feministing (a site I no longer even really bother to visit regularly) have involvement from WOC, but that doesn’t mean that the hostility many WOC feel in those spaces should matter less. The racism within them are systematic to the sites. And ways to make it better have been posted, again, and again, and again on Feministe and Jezebel especially. And still, these conversations come up again and again. It isn’t a matter of a magic ratio of WOC to white women, but of a constant tone of vitriol toward WOC, an erasure of diversity and differing opinions, ignoring our voices, accusing us of “piling on” or being overly obsessed with “call-out culture”, turning to WOC to offer solutions only after the problems have been pointed out as oppose to being more pro-active, and then failing to make changes again and again and again.

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll August 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

      This.

  14. SamBarge
    SamBarge August 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

    I am a white, cis, hetero woman so I admit that I may not be aware of the attitudes on Feministe that make WOC feel unwelcome. I can see it on Jezebel of course; I’m not that obtuse. I rarely visit Feministing anymore, so I can’t comment on it. There are commenters here – commenters whose opinions I read and respect, even if I don’t comment often – saying that Feministe isn’t always a safe site for WOC and that bothers me.

    Is there a feminist site(s)/blog(s) that is(are) fostering a safe environment for WOC? I want to frequent those blogs. I want to have my white (and cis and hetero) privilege challenged, not upheld, by the discussions I read/engage in online.

    Any suggestions would be very welcome.

    1. IrishUp
      IrishUp August 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

      May I suggest taking this to an open or spill-over thread. Asking to be educated on a thread that is (or SHOULD be) centering questions regarding how NOT to erase POC and particularly WOC, is really, really really insensitive. There are plenty of 101 blogs. Coming in waving your ignorance of the matter is just not cool. The women here discussing being erased, neglected, and undervalued do not need you rubbing that in their face (And to paraphrase Sharkfu – catch that knee! I’m not saying you MEANT to, I’m pointing out that was the effect of your comment.) If you value them, take this discussion elsewhere, please.

      1. SamBarge
        SamBarge August 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm |

        Sorry. That was not my intention and I apologize to anyone I’ve offended by my insensitivity.

  15. trees
    trees August 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

    On rereading, this seems to be the meat of the issue:

    We’re not helping anyone by continuing this practice — you think I’m white and some form of the enemy, I feel ignored and defeated until I’m totally over it and stop engaging altogether, then there are only white women left.

    Besides accepting that you are also a WOC, are there other ways in which I as a reader could be more supportive? What might support look like?

  16. Colin Day
    Colin Day August 31, 2013 at 11:28 pm |

    Perhaps people look at your nym and decide that you are German? Why not Señora Sally Benz?

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll August 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

      No. Woc shouldn’t have to pick “ethnic” names to avoid being defaulted to white. Also- are all Germans white? Since when?

      1. Colin Day
        Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 2:45 am |

        the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways[deleted for tedious doubling down on refusing to buy a clue. It is arrogant in the extreme to assume that someone is white unless they make a point of telling you otherwise, and future arguments from anybody along these lines should have the giraffe called to offer guidance immediately. ~ mod team]


        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

          Don’t even fucking try to say there’s a difference between name and title given the damn point was to insert some signifier of her race in her goddamn posting name. Doesn’t matter if you said title, it means the same thing. It means she has to advertise in order to not be defaulted to white. Mods we need a giraffe here.

          [Thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mod team]

        2. tigtog
          tigtog September 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm | *

          I’ve only just woken up and seen the giraffe alert, pheeno. Apologies for the delay in responding to it.

    2. Aydan
      Aydan August 31, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

      As I am neither a woman of color nor German nor Sally, perhaps I should not be responding, but there are certainly women of color who are also German. There are also Hispanic women who are white.

      Additionally, my understanding is that “frau” is not the equivalent of “señora,” as the latter denotes something about the marital status of the woman using it (which would be incorrect in this case, as Sally noted she is single) that the former, in current usage, does not.

      1. Aydan
        Aydan August 31, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

        Oops, crossposted with Pheeno.

      2. Annaleigh
        Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 12:36 am |

        Not necessarily, Aydan. It’s also addressed to people of a certain age. I have begun to be addressed with the term for a few years now (I’m 32), even though I am not married and there’s nothing to suggest to people that I am married. IIRC it’s very similar to frau/fraulein.

        1. Aydan
          Aydan September 1, 2013 at 9:23 am |

          Oh, I didn’t know that! Thanks for telling me, I like learning new things.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L August 31, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

      I hate to think what you believe pheeno and mac should use as their names so you can easily identify their ethnicity. I guess you think mac is from Scotland?

      1. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 12:17 am |

        Dances with Barbies

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 1, 2013 at 12:41 am |

          DYING LAUGHING

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 1, 2013 at 12:50 am |

          That has got to be the funniest thing you’ve ever said here, pheeno. Wonderful.

        3. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 12:51 am |

          Or because we are both Indian, I should be pheeno “feather” barbidoll and you have to be Mac “dot” avitykitsune so people can tell us apart. Or pheeno “wooowoowooo”barbidoll.

        4. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 12:54 am |

          Well, one does what one can lmao

        5. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 12:58 am |

          And obviously if you were scottish macavity FREEEEDOOOOOOM” kitsune.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 1, 2013 at 1:12 am |

          *giggling at the dot and feather jokes*

          Macavitykrishnasune? That’s all I’ve got…

        7. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 9:22 am |

          Good one!

      2. Colin Day
        Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 2:32 am |

        I didn’t say that they should use anything, as I have never heard mention the erasure of their ethnicity.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 9:54 am |

          Happens all the time. Maybe you should pay attention.

    4. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 1, 2013 at 12:03 am |

      My wife is Argentinian/Puerto RIcan and she has a Jewish last name. Her maiden name was actually quite German sounding, though it is a fairly popular Argentinian name.

    5. Annaleigh
      Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 12:32 am |

      It really, really, really shouldn’t have to said, but there are many Latin@s with German ancestry and German surnames (Kat von D, anyone?), with some countries having bigger German populations than others. Good grief.

      I for have a very Anglo name (this is my actual name) and an equally English surname, but I am mixed and mostly of Mexican ancestry. Think please, next time, before you post shit like this.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 1, 2013 at 12:48 am |

        I have cousins in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia with German-Jewish surnames, and cousins in Cuba with a Polish-Jewish surname that most people would think sounded German. I’m pretty sure that there are more people of Italian descent in both Brazil and Argentina than there are in the USA. And plenty of German descent. Where does Colin Day think Gisele Bündchen is from?

        1. Annaleigh
          Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 1:04 am |

          Yep. You’re absolutely right Donna, not only about the people with German ancestry but also in general other Latin@s with European ancestry that isn’t necessarily Spanish or Portuguese. That’s a pretty large part of the population when you get down to it. Where does he indeed think Gisele Bündchen is from?

        2. Colin Day
          Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 2:21 am |

          Brazil.

          Now, as I asked Annaleigh, do people believe that Frau Sally Benz is white because she writes on Feministe, or because of her nym?

        3. Chally
          Chally September 1, 2013 at 3:30 am |

          The former, Colin. This problem is not just about Sally.

  17. Colin Day
    Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 2:11 am |

    Responding to Annaleigh:

    I know she’s from South America; does the average American? As for there being German WOC, sure, just like there are WOC who write for Feministe. Do people believe that she is white because she is on Feministe, or do they believe she is white because of her nym?

    1. Annaleigh
      Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 3:29 am |

      The average American can use Google and learn a few things about Latin America, things like, oh, German people immigrated to many of the countries. If they are making assumptions purely on a surname, they are missing information, and no one is obligated to sit down and explain to you the intricacies of their ethnic and racial background or the makeup of their country of origin.

      1. Colin Day
        Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 4:42 am |

        And why would they have believed that she was from Latin America in the first place?

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 1, 2013 at 9:14 am |

          Because this is supposed to be a blog where people KNOW BETTER THAN TO ASSUME RACE. Is that simple enough for you?

        2. miga
          miga September 1, 2013 at 10:25 am |

          Well, I didn’t know who Frau Sally Benz was…so you know what I did? I Googled her.

          Peoples’ nyms don’t and don’t have to correspond to their actual ethnicities. Kitsune is a Japanese word but I’m pretty damn sure Mac isn’t Japanese. And that’s ok.

        3. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom September 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm |

          For that matter, I haven’t noticed anyone assuming I’m Greek based on my ‘nym, despite the myth of Leda hailing from that area.
          I mean, part of the whole point of a ‘nym is that you get to have whatever one you want. You’re not actually required to leave little clues in it so people can play Ethnicity Treasure Hunt.

  18. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 3:38 am |

    There’s been a march for immigration reform over the past few days, and Friday afternoon the marchers arrived here in town to a warm reception at the church my Catholic relatives in town attend (the church is also very important to the history of the United Farm Workers movement). They are moving along and continuing the final stretch to Bakersfield. I hope their feet and their resolve hold up!

  19. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 3:39 am |

    Uh oh, the link didn’t make it! Let me try again. Walking for immigration reform

    1. Annaleigh
      Annaleigh September 1, 2013 at 3:40 am |

      Oh gosh, meant to put these in Open Thread, very sorry!

  20. Colin Day
    Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 4:43 am |

    Response to Chally

    OK, thanks.

  21. Nanette
    Nanette September 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |

    “*I suppose it’s important to make a
    distinction between mainstream
    feminism engaged in by white feminists,
    and white!mainstream!feminism. The
    former seems to be more of a “who’s
    doing what” and the latter an
    exclusionary, implicitly or explicitly
    white-centric (if not white-supremacist,
    hello Amanda Marcotte and Hugo
    Schwyzer) feminism that at best ignores,
    and at its worst actively seeks to
    undermine WOCs’ selves, interests and
    contributions to feminism.*”

    What an excellent way to put it, mac. The distinction is there and something I’ve often noticed, but didn’t really know how to articulate, lol, especially in a non-flubbery, confusing way. I’ll be using this example from now on.

  22. Colin Day
    Colin Day September 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

    Reply to pheenobarbidoll

    Sorry, I hadn’t noticed, though I might not lurk enough to catch it all.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog September 1, 2013 at 6:06 pm | *

      Moderator tip: when the comment nesting won’t let you nest your reply, it’s useful to quote the relevant sentence/paragraph of the comment you’re responding to, so that it’s clear which one of several possibilities amongst the earlier comments it is that you are replying to.

  23. Nanette
    Nanette September 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm |

    I need to apologize for this comment, and other things. I offended one of my personal heroes and she wrote about it. And, of course, I’m sure I offended others and they just have not (that I’ve seen) said so. If I get permission to link or name the person, I will–she said a bunch of brilliant stuff. But, until then, my apology on its own.

    Here is the offensive language:

    “I don’t know who Bliss is, but gah! Heart.
    Disgusting person. I’m so happy *that
    things have changed* here (and hopefully elsewhere) and *those sort of bigoted comments that you point out are no longer tolerated*.”

    As she pointed out, the use of passive language in that comment makes it sound like things…just happened. That feminists one day decided that transphobia was wrong and that bigoted comments were not points of discussion–they were hate and should not be allowed.

    That’s not the case though, as I was reminded…as I *knew*. But I was tired, my memory wouldn’t engage and I wanted to get on to the next point.

    In other words, I disappeared and erased the work of countless trans*folk who were in the trenches of feminist blogs, and elsewhere, day after day, fighting the bigotry, the dehumanizing talk, the “let’s have a discussion on whether you should be allowed to exist” talk and much more.

    I even erased the trans*folk who posted comments and blogs on this site, including transwomen of color– I may have mentioned Holly in a comment, but not Rose (little light) whose exquisite “the seam of skin and scales” (http://takingsteps.blogspot.com/2007/01/seam-of-skin-and-scales.html?m=1) had such an impact on me. And, in fact, I am yet not mentioning many others, of color and white.

    My comment, though, erased all of them and their hard work. It was they who turned things around. Who refused to be discounted, who blogged and commented, who educated, shamed and fought for every bit of respect and love they deserved. It didn’t l;ust happen.”

    Some of my other comments, on rereading, may have seemed dismissive or unfocused in regards to trans* issues, commenters or bloggers, too. My intent, whatever it was, doesn’t matter. My offense does.

    And for that I am sorry.

    1. Nanette
      Nanette September 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

      This should be replying to my above comment (but I’m not counting on it.)

      Anyway, I got permission to quote and link piny, so I will, since she says all this so much better.

      Yesterday, Frau Sally Benz posted on Feministe about whitewashing, that is, assuming Feministe is predominantly white. There’s been some conflict throughout this larger discussion – solidarityisforwhitewomen, wtfhugoschwyzer – about the way that past bloggers and blog history are being categorized. So Nanette said this in comments, and it crystallized things for me, that is, made me angry:

      (My comment, excerpted above)

      No, look, things did not change. A small group of people changed them. This is what happened: once upon a time, the feminist blogosphere had carved out a niche in the political blogosphere. The feminist blogosphere was really transphobic. A lot of the time, bloggers were well-intentioned, but they had no idea how to identify transphobia or talk about it. They wound up repeating – and ignoring – a whole lot of transphobic commentary.

      Then a bunch of trans bloggers and commenters started complaining about it. They made it their business explain, in painstaking detail, over and over and over again, why their humanity was important and why transphobia needed to be a feminist priority.

      Mainstream feminism is capable of articulating the concept transphobia because of that work.

      Mainstream feminism has managed to become less transphobic only to the extent that it has internalized the critiques of trans people.
      Trans bloggers.
      Holly wasn’t the only one. A partial list: Queen Emily, gudbuytjane, Rose, Lisa Harney, and, yes, voz. Some of these women guest-blogged at feministe. All of them did trenchwork in the comments section for years on end.

      There is much more here, http://workingweight.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/this-is-what-i-used-to-call-a-rant/ about the history, the work that was done and the heroic, persistent efforts of those who did it.

    2. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca September 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

      I’m glad for the trans women who struggled to make this place less triggering by reducing the number of extremely bigoted statements cis people here utter. I often feel disquieted, however, by the attempts of cis allies to center their perceptions of trans experience in discussions about trans women. To be blunt, why does it even matter whether you (you’re cis, right?) acknowledge that there are trans women who fought to make this space less transmisogynistic? Why is your opinion relevant on that? To give us feel-good vibes? You are cis; it is to be assumed that you will say transmisognistic things–intentionally or unintentionally. Trans women do not need cis people who will say the politically correct thing on trans stuff time every time and never slip up–if more cis people did this, all it would be to fool us thinking y’all were less prejudiced than you actually were. I’m sure the reality is you personally are somewhat prejudiced against trans women and that you will always be, just like 99% of cis people are and will be for the foreseeable future.

      The thing that will make trans women safer is if you–despite whatever prejudice you may have–make it a major life commitment to fight for trans women’s liberation. To materially and emotionally support trans women who are in prison. To provide a trans woman with a place to live or a job. To personally pay for a trans woman’s transition-related medical care. To buy an HIV test and administer it–in a safe environment–to a trans woman who is afraid to go into a clinic because of the transmisogyny she will face there.To refuse to assume a gender for any person when you first meet them, regardless of whether their appearance looks ambiguous or not. To refuse to apply a gender to infants and small children until they’ve had a chance to actually articulate what their gender is.

      Now these very well may the sorts of things you are already doing–I’m making no assumptions one way or another on that. I am aware, however, that most cis people think that the farthest they need to go is saying the right politically correct phrases when talking about trans women so that we won’t be offended. Frankly, I see this as practically worthless, and it honestly seems that cis people who feel this way are more concerned about their image than about our liberation. As a cis person, it’s a given that you will seem “dismissive or unfocused in regards to trans* issues” much of the time. It is understandable for trans women to skeptical of you when they first meet you or read what you write. If you want to gain the trust of some of us, prove that you understand what we are going through by the way you live your life, day in and day out–not by never saying a fucked up thing on a blog in a moment of tiredness.

      To me, the thing that really erases the experiences of trans women is when cis people frame issues as if the most important thing we need is for people to just be more sensitive and open-minded about us (not that you were really doing this hardcore, but there were echoes of that in what you wrote). No. We need jobs; we need medical care; we need to not be raped or murdered; we need to be happy enough that we don’t commit suicide; we need liberation. We need to have never been constructed as males in the first place so there is nothing to “transition away” from–we need the freedom to just be viewed from day one as little girls with specific types of medical needs that need addressing (and actually are addressed in a timely manner). That’s what we need.

  24. Donna L
    Donna L September 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm |

    [Breaking up a long comment to try to avoid moderation; if it works, the original comment can just stay in moderation where it is.]

    Thanks, Nanette.

    I agree with Piny; this place becoming less transphobic wasn’t something that just happened, but required a great deal of effort by a lot people. Effort that is so inherently stressful and exhausting that it’s almost impossible to do it for very long. I know that if I had been around and participating at the time of that 2007 thread, and had tried to participate in threads like that to push back, I wouldn’t have lasted very long at all.

    As I said, the problem was not that there was a shortage here of allies willing to speak up, even in 2007.

    It was the fact that for anyone, particularly anyone trans, to do so, meant a constant battle against the relentless aggression of everything from sheer ignorance to open transphobia, and everything in between, with little or no active moderation preventing people like Bliss saying the same awful things over and over without being cut off.

    And it certainly has changed for the better here, and I don’t think a thread like that could happen here again. The far stricter moderation now shuts people like Bliss down very quickly. And I think there’s a decreased willingness of even the non-trans commenters to put up with having to deal with that kind of thing at all; better to shut the conversation down right away.

  25. Donna L
    Donna L September 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm |

    I’m not suggesting for a moment that it’s been a case of unbroken progress, or that this is anything close to a safe space for trans women even now. I don’t really know much about the situation for trans people here between 2007 and the fall of 2011, when I began to participate regularly; I’m sure a lot of it was the “trench work” that Piny mentions, which did result in a lot of mainstream feminists internalizing the trans critique of their viewpoints, and being far less likely to come up with the “well, why can’t you just live as a feminine man?” kinds of question.

    But I have a feeling that a lot of people must have burned out at some point, because as of the fall of 2011 there wasn’t one single trans woman commenting regularly, never mind a trans blogger or moderator.

    And the very first couple of occasions when I remember speaking up here around that time were to disagree with people who were insisting that although trans women may be women, they are still “biologically male,” and also to argue that it wasn’t “derailing” or silly to ask people to use inclusive language and avoid the “all women do X” kind of formulation, no matter how tiny the demographic of trans women may be.

  26. Donna L
    Donna L September 1, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

    And it’s not as if people (usually not regular commenters, anymore, at least) don’t still make ignorant and/or hostile comments on trans issues on a fairly regular basis. Or that I and the small group of other trans women who comment regularly here don’t still feel pressure to speak up and explain things, even on a 101-type level, perhaps because we’re afraid that if we don’t nobody will. (After all, even when supportive cis feminist women are willing to speak up, they don’t always know what to say.) And that sometimes I, at least, feel that I do have an obligation to try to be patient, and try to explain things to cis people, because there are, after all, so few of us and we can’t survive or make any progress at all without cis allies.

    Not that patience doesn’t run short sometimes, like with that guy who argued with me for an entire thread that a transphobic article was not in fact transphobic. And there was my special misfortune of engaging with the Mr. Radical White Guy who insisted that the Cause of Revolution must always come first, that issues of misogny and LGBT rights had to take a back seat, and ended up making the Extremely Clever remark to me, when I disagree with him, that “just because you cut off your dick doesn’t mean you aren’t one.”

    But that’s still better than what it was like in 2007.

  27. Donna L
    Donna L September 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm |

    And if it has been possible, by doing the things mentioned above, to make things more tolerable here for commenters who are trans women, and make them feel less often that they have to be constantly on the defensive, or that participating in a trans-related thread makes them feel like they’re running a gauntlet and being beaten with sticks, then might it not be possible to make things more tolerable here for WOC commenters?

    I’m not remotely suggesting that the analogies are perfect or even very close, or that taking similar steps to change the climate for WOC here would be effective. But something has to be done.

    1. Nanette
      Nanette September 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much for sharing your perspective (though I would have loved to see that as one long comment, lol.)

      This past week or so is probably the most I’ve been on this site in years–and I’m trying not to bigfoot conversations, so that the perspective of .. well, everyone here, especially woc and trans woc is heard the loudest.

      That said… (lol)

      then might it not be possible to make things more tolerable here for WOC commenters?

      well, I have some thoughts on this, but no time to really get them out right now (and I don’t want to just thoughtlessly blab again, though I was getting ready to), and they might not be needed anyway.

      Plus, your comment (s) give me a lot of other things to think about.

    2. Kathy
      Kathy September 3, 2013 at 10:41 am |

      Echoing Nanette, thank you. I don’t know if I should take this to spillover or not, but I feel bad about linking to Feministing last week without knowing their history. (The ban was way before my time, but nothing I couldn’t have found with a little googling.)

      1. Kathy
        Kathy September 3, 2013 at 10:43 am |

        Sorry. I meant to say boycott, not ban. Here’s the post if it hasn’t been linked before:

        http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/04/14/on-cis-supremacy-feminism-and-feministe/

        1. Donna L
          Donna L September 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

          Wow, that brought back some bad memories. The feministing post that’s mentioned (and the comments) were probably one of the main things that made me give up entirely there, and never return.

          It doesn’t seem like a whole lot changed between 2007 and 2009 here, does it?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

          Galling Galla, if you read this, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I noticed that you were commenting here back in 2009, and you’re the only trans woman I know of who was commenting back then who comments regularly now. If you agree with me that there’s been an improvement, what do you think accounts for that — is it just that the moderators respond to complaints about transphobia (or cisscentric derailing) more quickly than they used to, especially since the “giraffe” system started? Is it that when people come here and start making transphobic comments or asking excruciatingly ignorant questions, they no longer seem able to find anyone to support them among the other commenters, and people are no longer willing to indulge them by engaging in lengthy arguments on trans “theory”? Any or all of the above?

  28. Donna L
    Donna L September 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

    Thank you, Nanette. If and when you do feel like sharing your thoughts on that subject, I’d love to hear them. As well as the thoughts of other WOC here.

    And just to clear up any possible misunderstanding, I am not a trans WOC myself — just your garden-variety New York Jewish atheistic left-handed bisexual second-generation* trans woman with an invisible disability and a (definitely not invisible!) gay son.

    But I do try to be as good an ally as I can.

    * = the child of a Holocaust survivor

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