Archive for the ‘race’ tag
I talk a lot about how feminism fails trans women here, but trans women aren’t the first, or only, group of women that North American feminism has failed. Renee at Womanist Musings writes about how white feminism ignores racism, or even claims that women of color addressing racism is akin to siding with men against women. Or more generally, how second wave feminism fails to address intersectionality when race is involved.
I often engage in conversations with white women in which I accuse them of not owning their race privilege. Quite often the response is, why are you blaming us, and not white males. I believe that this is an important issue to discuss because despite the sisterhood claims of feminism, there actually exists a lot of animosity between WOC and white women.
White women and black men, both focus on the marginalizatio0n that they face from over privileged white men. Though WOC will acknowledge that there is definitely an issue with how the white male body is encoded with power; they are not our sole oppressors. Unlike white women, white men do not have a history offering friendship that ends in betrayal. The relationship between white men and WOC is quite clear…adversarial. Telling us to focus on white men instead of deconstructing their own unearned privileges is an attempt to deflect responsibility.
Feminism has a history of betraying WOC. As it has been noted on this blog and many others, when it came to activism, white women of middle/upper class standing have repeatedly made the movement about their needs and their desires, while at the same time trying to assert a common sisterhood with WOC. When there is filing, coffee making and general menial tasks to be done, then and only then, do WOC matter in any significant way. As we look at who are considered the heroes of second wave feminism the disparity between white women and WOC speaks volumes. Despite the consciousness raising and the ideology of the personal is political, the personal is only validated when it is the experience of white women. White bodies, and white experiences have been utilized to create the monolithic woman.
The rest of the post here.
As a white woman, words like this make me bitter and angry – not at women like Renee who are speaking the truth, but at the white women who have come before and betrayed women of color. As a trans woman, I certainly sympathize with the experience of repeated betrayals from white cis feminism, as well as dealing with feminists who insist upon attacking me while refusing to deconstruct – or even acknowledge – their own privilege.
And feminists – feminism, as a movement – need to acknowledge these betrayals, need to be held accountable for them. White feminists, as a group need to acknowledge our white privilege and check it, not use it against women of color. WoC live with the intersection of racism and sexism and have no choice but to experience both. Demanding that they privilege one over the other (sex over race, race over sex) is demanding that they pretend that some of their oppression doesn’t exist – and never mind the impossibility of separating the two. White society is not sexist against Black women, Latina women, or Asian women in the same way as it is against white women. This also plays out for Black and Latina trans women, who- for example – are described by J Michael Bailey as “especially suited to prostitution.”
Also, check the comments at Renee’s for a privileged white feminist trying to reenact exactly what Renee’s post is about.
Edit: Also read this followup post.
I’m really looking forward to the finished product.
Curse you, WordPress, for fighting my attempt to post this every step of the way. :(
Cripchick’s hosting the 37th edition of the Disability Blog Carnival:
Disability Identity: What Do You Think??
The Disability Activist Collective, a group of disability activists working to create change within the disability community by shifting focus towards culture and identity, is currently collecting pieces (poetry, art, essays, videos, blog posts) on disability culture, community and identity in hopes of creating a website or hub on disability culture. This carnival is your chance to participate in the building of it!
This edition will focus on disability identity and culture in all its forms (i.e. radical disability pride, understanding disability through various frameworks, disability intersecting [coming together] with other identities, dealing with pain, etc.).
The deadline to submit something is officially May 4th though I will keep adding people in through a rolling basis. The blog carnival will go on air May 8th. You can submit things by leaving a link in a comment to this post, emailing me it at consciouslycrip [at] gmail [dot] com, or using the blogcarnival.com tech.
The Angry Black Woman is hosting a blog carnival for allies:
I’ve been thinking about many things since the whole “Thank You, White People” post debacle and subsequent influx of white supremacists who seemed to come here with the intent of saying, “You thought you dealt with racists on a daily basis? HA! We’ll show you what REAL racism is!” And they did. One of my reactions was to say that for every white ally who acknowledged racism and worked to fight against it, there were 20 others wishing to drag us back to Jim Crow and worse. Then smart commenter Jackie said:
Thing is, I don’t believe there’re 20 of them for every one of us (black or white or other) who wants to make things right; I think there’s actually somewhat fewer of them. But for each white supremacist (and for each person of any color who wants to make things right) there are 20 nice, well-meaning, but privileged and entitled white people who thing “racism is bad” but have no idea whatsoever that real racism exists, or what it’s like to be a target of it. Or how much they have benefited from their European coloring, and from not having centuries of slavery and legally enforced poverty limiting every aspects of the parents’ and grandparents’ and great-great-great-grandparents’ lives.
This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?
And that got me wondering if this was true for any kind of ally. Is it easier to understand oppression, to move past guilt and on to useful dialogue, etc., if the person explaining these things to you in-depth is a person like yourself? White or male or straight or Christian or whatever? I don’t know. But as this is the Internet, it should be easy to figure out.
The deadline is May 5th, and I apologize for my own atrocious lateness in posting about it.
[W]e all get told how much our activism of any sort does not matter. If you happen to not be against, or are even ambivalent towards, or maybe involved in sex work (and not the perfect poster girl victim), what you do doesn’t mean shit. It’s nothing, not good enough; after all, you haven’t seen what they’ve seen, and you are enabling it, even personally making it happen! It doesn’t matter if you bust your ass every day trying to find a woman on the run from an abusive ex a place she can afford to live. It doesn’t matter if you spend hours working with lesbians who have been kicked repeatedly by society trying to help them feel comfortable in their own skins. It doesn’t matter if you’ve scrubbed the blood and grey matter of a woman shot by her boyfriend off your floors or stood over the casket of a co-worker killed by her boyfriend in a jealous rage. It does not matter if you’re a transwoman who has been beaten or raped. It doesn’t matter if you’ve fucking lived aspects of any of these lives on your own in order to put food on the table and come through it realizing that every persons situation is different and that there is no universal experience when it comes to all women. It does not matter. You’re not good enough. Right enough. Pure enough. What you do means nothing, no matter how much of that nothing you do or how much of that nothing you’ve lived or how much of that nothing has helped other people.
The radical feminists I talk about in this blog, who write the most transphobic things are the same radical feminists who say the above – who dismiss the work Ren does because Ren does sex work – because she’s a stripper. Their bigotry is not limited to just one or two things, but a spectrum of experiences and lives that they vehemently disapprove of – BDSM, pornography, women of color who actually speak for themselves, women with disabilities. Anyone who raises uncomfortable questions about the definition of oppression in radical feminist terms – that the root of all oppressions is gender, that women are invariably oppressed, and that all these things represent oppression. BDSM reifies heteronormative patriarchal sex roles. Transsexualism reifies the patriarchal gender binary. Pornography makes women nothing more than sex objects. All women have a common experience of oppression as women, and so the pain that a black woman suffers when the violation she suffers is defined as “not really rape” and “a theft of services” is the same pain that a black woman from Mali suffers when she is refused political asylum to protect her daughters from FGM. It’s the same pain that a Russian woman who’s been trafficked into sex slavery suffers. It is the same pain that a latina woman suffers when she is separated from her daughter before deportation. These are all the same pain that a white middle-class woman feels when she reads about these stories. Or so some radical feminists might say.
This denies that all women have our own diverse experiences, that we experience life differently, that we’re oppressed in many ways because of race, disability, class, and sexual orientation. That my experience as a white woman is not the same as a black woman’s, or that black woman’s experiences are not the same as mine because she is cissexual and I am transsexual. That we have intersections that stack and multiply the social complications we face, and that it is impossible to separate “race” from “gender” for women of color, or “disability” from “gender” for women with disabilities.
Instead of looking for a common thread that binds all women together, we’re better served trying to address the real experiences that real women live. A form of feminism that runs women who don’t share that common thread out on a rail isn’t really a feminism I can get behind. Especially not one whose proponents try to silence voices like these.
Bob Parks’ complaint is that “Transgenders are not like blacks,” or rather, that we’re appropriating black civil rights struggles to explain our own plight and justify why we need civil rights. Now, it is true that people inappropriately appeal to what black people have suffered as comparable to what they’re suffering, and this is not really a good way to make your point. It also ignores the intersections that trans people of color have to deal with both because of their gender and their race.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with drawing parallels, or learning from history. Bigoted speech about just about any minority parallels the speech about just about any other minority. The same tactics, the same silencing. Hate crimes happen the same way (even if for different motivations). The results of oppression are sometimes similar – lack of access to employment, housing, some protections. It’s possible to draw similarities between particular instances – such as same-sex marriage vs. anti-miscegenation laws – without claiming they’re identical.
What really disappoints me about Bob’s post is not that he is angry about racial struggles being appropriated for other causes. It’s how he goes on an extended tirade about how transgendered people are too weird to be acceptable, how trans women all dress like sluts, and how we don’t look right. In other words, he uses the language of bigotry to justify why he doesn’t want us to have our civil rights, and why he does not want us to even mention the black civil rights struggle in comparison to our own. He judges trans women by what he assumes we look and act like, and says this is a reason we don’t deserve civil rights.
Personally, I do not think it is cool to spread offensive stereotypes about a group of people and judge them as lacking based on those stereotypes. It does not matter whether those stereotypes are applied because you changed sex, because of who you love, because of the color of your skin, or because your body doesn’t fit into society’s norms.