On Feminism, part 1

I came across this yesterday and, considering some of the things we were talking about in the Irrational Men thread, I thought many people would find this interesting.

Why I am Not a Feminist, or “My Anti-Feminist Manifesto”

1. Being a woman, and being a woman of color, and being a Muslim, I choose to not be a feminist or in any way have the term feminist applied to my person, my choices, my thoughts, my writings or my art. I reserve the right to self-identify as I see fit and to define myself in relation to my culture and my ideals. I do not wish to take on the terminology of another’s movement nor bend it or re-invent it to suit my own.
[...]
b. I do not feel compelled to look to other cultures to find the answers to my problems. Feminism as it began in a movement by and for middle and upper class white women offers me nothing. It is not my desire to take their movement and somehow prove that my movement is the same. It is not. Theirs has its role in their lives, and mine is different.
[...]
3. I refuse to participate in the discussion that expects all women to be proud to identify as feminist, to challenge the “white” notions of what feminist thought is or is not, or to tell other women of color that they are unaware of their role and the oppression they are under because they do not self-identify as feminist.

a. I am an intelligent woman who is fully aware of the effects of colonialization and oppressions upon my peoples and upon myself. I am not ignorant of how I am used by those who wish to further their own cause, nor am I ignorant of how others see me or attempts to keep me down.
[...]
4. Why I despise the feminist movement and do not care to be a part of it.

a. I am tired of women of color being pitted against men of color because of this mis-notion that allegiance to other women is all that matters.

b. I do not need to make the movement mine. It’s not mine, it never will be mine. I have my own movement that is in line with my Islamic beliefs and values. Western style feminism, by any name it is called, is a secular order that seeks to wipe out my spirituality and force me to selfishly over-emphasize women to the detriment of others.

c. I do not feel the need to make myself a part of something where I am not wanted. It is my personal belief that women of color trying to stuff ourselves into the feminist movement does us an injustice. We do not need to broaden the acceptance of our experience into formal feminist theory. We do not need to make feminism “our own”. We can create our own revolutions, not jump on the bandwagon of that of another and then cry when we are pushed off.

Please read the whole thing. I quoted parts of it that particularly speak to me and to my own struggles with Feminism and the label Feminist.

Apparently the post/manifesto was sparked by a comment on Brownfemipower’s post about Full Frontal Feminism, teaching, and how education deals with the Feminist Narrative (Look for the comment by aleja on 24 Nov 2007 at 8:38 pm).

I’m still formulating my larger thoughts on this, but wanted to get your thoughts on the manifesto itself.

103 Responses

  1. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. She completely hit the nail on the head. I found myself nodding to almost every point she made, and wishing I could have formed my own thoughts on the matter with half the eloquence she used.

    Incredible post.

  2. Well, I disagree with it, but I’m also not a woman of color. Not really, anyway. This crosses into that grey area of intersecting sources of oppression. The feminist movement is certainly a white woman’s movement historically, but the civil rights movement was also a black man’s movement historically (at least, such is my perception of it from literary scholarship on the Black Arts/Black Power movements, but of course I’m looking at it as an outsider decades later). And it seems, though of course I am speaking from a [half]white female perspective, that there is a strong vein of misogyny among many black men today, just as there is apparently a strong vein of racism among white feminists (again, I haven’t seen it or experienced it firsthand, probably because I am less sensitive to it). Other social justice movements are not free of discrimination, either. Sexism and racism also persist in the gay community.

    None of this will prevent me, however, from allying myself with the feminist movement, civil rights movement, or gay rights movement. I think I can fairly say I really don’t see where she is coming from. I can understand being frustrated with the hypocrisy, but not rejecting an entire movement because of it; that seems counterproductive, as it seems to reject many of the positive goals the movement aims to accomplish. My sister, who is a lesbian, has voiced frustration to me about sexism within the gay community, but that doesn’t stop her from working for gay rights. She will never stop working for gay rights, because she believes in gay rights no matter *how* sexist some of the people around her are. In the same way, I should think I’d believe in women’s rights no matter how racist some white feminists are, and I’d believe in civil rights no matter how sexist some black men are.

    That sort of stuff is hypocrisy that needs to change. I am a firm believer in working to change it, not in disavowing the movements themselves (which despite their limitations have made much positive progress for all of us).

  3. Ico, I understand where you’re coming from, but what you seem to assume is that, because she doesn’t want to be part of the feminist movement, she can’t work against sexism and misogyny in other ways. One can do good and make changes outside of established “movements” or even with alternate movements. I would be very interested in seeing what a female-centered movement within the Muslim community would look like. One that is conceived and run by Muslim women. From the outside, people might label it Feminist, and the Feminists may even claim it as part of their overall deal. But the Muslim women are free to disagree with that appellation and yet STILL achieve their goals, you know?

  4. I feel sorry for her if she thinks that feminism is only for middle upper class white women. She’s completely wrong. And to say she prefers not to be feminist to focus on her race instead, well that’s bass ackwards, too.

    See My System Of Oppression Has a Bigger Cock Than Your System of Oppresion.

    This reminds of that story about those blind wise guys who start fondling an elephant and then start argueing afterwards about what the elephant is like.

    “it is like a bat’s wing!” declares the wise guy who’d been fiddling with the elephant’s ear.

    “No, it is like a tree trunk – stout and cylindrical.” argues the wise guy who’d been fiddling with the elephant’s leg.

    “You are both wrong, it is long and supple like a snake!” cries the third wise guy, who had been feeling up the elephant’s trunk, or something.

    So too goes the endless discussion on which system of oppression is bigger, badder and needs to be tackled more urgently.

    So this black guy, this poor guy and a middle class white woman see that rich white guys are always at the very top of all the systems of oppression.

    So the black guy goes “You see, it is rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so racism is the ultimate system of oppression, we must deal with racism first and foremost.”

    “No no, it is the rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so capitalism is the ultimate system of oppression, we must deal with capitalism first and foremost.” argues the poor guy.

    “No no NO, you’ve got it all wrong, it is rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so the patriarchy is the ultimate form of oppression, we must deal with patriarchy first and foremost!” Cries the middles class white woman.

    The black guys and the poor guy then look at each other and say together “shut up you stupid bitch.”

    The idea that often goes with that is this notion that you cannot attack multiple systems of oppression all at once, when in many instances, doing anything less than attacking all the systems of oppression that are causing trouble will leave you unable to actually deal with the problem at hand at all.

    People need to get it into their heads – fighting one system of oppression does weaken another, but only insofar as you don’t do it by trying to step on another yourself. Denying feminism because you think it steals your class thunder or race thunder is not the way to go. They’re all comparable, and they all help each other.

  5. Denying feminism because you think it steals your class thunder or race thunder is not the way to go.

    And yet I don’t think that’s what she’s doing or saying. This isn’t a Race/Religion/Whatever trumps Gender argument. It’s a statement about how the Feminist movement has a very specific viewpoint and that viewpoint doesn’t always include WoC nor does it care about their best interests. It’s a very Western viewpoint, one that, like the West itself, tends to look down from on high and make pronouncements about what is best for everyone. That’s not to say that feminism is a horrible tool of the white woman, it is to say that Western Feminist goals are not universal, nor can its ideals be applied universally as if we’re all the same because we’re all women.

    More information on this can be found at Brownfemipower’s post, which I suggest you read before you go further in this discussion.

  6. Thank you ABW. You so get me…

    Much love. :)

  7. Aerik, if feminism isn’t middle class white centric, where were all the feminist bloggers on Jena 6 (before it was picked up my the MSM, it was covered by WOC bloggers for months before that), where were they on Megan Williams? Where were they on the Bedford raids and T.Don Hutto? Women imprisoned without legal representation, children imprisoned in horrible conditions, no education, no play time or toys, threatened with separation from family members, air conditioner on full blast to control them, no health care. Aren’t these women’s issues too, they damn well would be if middle class white women and their families were the ones suffering. The white feminists were too busy covering beauty culture and sex to talk about these issues.

  8. Yes, she completely hits the nail on the head! :)

    “Denying feminism because you think it steals your class thunder or race thunder is not the way to go. ”

    ABW already expressed why this is not what is being written about in Aaminah’s post. Which is that certain majority viewpoints in the mainstream feminist movement often do not work for many women, whether WOC, queer, disabled, etc. I feel alienated from some mainstream feminist blogs because they write about things that sometimes seem trivial when there are deeper things out there. And often the talk around BC and sexual freedoms don’t relate to me as a queer woman, as a Catholic woman, etc. This is what Aaminah is getting at and other women who write about why the term “feminist” does not work for them and they have every damn right to tell it like it is. They’re not denying feminism. If anything, they’re moving beyond where it’s gotten stuck.

  9. And Donna said it even better than I could.

  10. I’d love to hear this writers thoughts on the thriving women’s movement in Iran.

  11. Er. ‘writer’s’. Dammit.

  12. Um, why do you think I should have thoughts on “the thriving women’s movement in Iran”? I’m not Iranian and I don’t presume to speak for Iranian women, Muslim or otherwise.

    Which is not to say I have no thoughts on it, but to suggest, why not ask Iranian women and Iranian women writers about their thoughts on the matter. Go to the source, honey. :)

  13. Amen. I’ve had the same struggles with feminism for years.

    Side note — wow, Ico. I don’t think I’ve ever perceived the civil rights movement as a black men’s movement. It’s a little startling to me — unpleasantly startling — that you do. But then, I think this is kind of what the manifesto-poster is getting at. Women of color have always been active and powerful within their communities fighting against oppression, including gender oppression, yet the mainstream (read: white people) completely overlooks them. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because they’re working as part of a larger effort, not solely as feminists. The white female leaders of the women’s movement have simply spent too many years defining themselves as feminists first, foremost, and exclusively, to the point that those who try to “multitask” their activism are perceived as diluted, not “real” feminists, not serious.

    But I didn’t realize things were so bad that white feminists had dismissed the Civil Rights Movement as a man’s game. When I think of the movement I think of Rosa Parks; Vivian Malone facing George Wallace at the schoolhouse door; Assata Shakur and Angela Davis and Shirley Chisolm and many, many others. None of these women got the press of MLK and Malcolm, granted, but they were most definitely at the heart of the movement, shaping its philosophy and doing some of its dirtiest and most painful work. A black man’s movement? The hell it was.

  14. ABW, I see what you are saying about alternative methods of moving towards the same ends, however I still feel that the phrasing of the post is problematic.

    Aaminah, it sounds as if in rejecting feminism, you are also rejecting the core principle of it (i.e. equal rights for all human beings). I’m sure you’re not trying to say that, but that’s how it comes off, at least to me. And that’s where I take issue with it. You say you “despise” the feminist movement. This is such a broad rejection that it seems to encompass the basic principle that defines feminism — i.e. equal rights for all human beings. It’s like a slap in the face. Now I realize you very likely do not mean for it to be read this way, but I want you to understand that this is how I felt while reading it. It sounds like an utter rejection of all things feminist, including the most fundamental principle of feminism: equality. It may very well just be in the tone and the phrasing, but there you go, that is what I got from it. I don’t think it

    I also think you’re misinterpreting feminism a bit. The idea that “allegiance to other women is all that matters” — that seems as extreme as the notion that feminists all hate and fear men. I realize there are some extremists out there who are very vocal and might say this kind of wild stuff, but for every feminist I have ever met, it’s simply not true.

    What is undeniably true is that the feminist movement is western-centric, and does have a history of racism, and in this respect is still very problematic today.

  15. Nora, I’ll have to dig up those old articles I read on the Black Arts/Black Power movement. I can’t remember if they’re scholarship by PoC or by white literary critics (probably a mix). But I’ll tell you part of where my impression is coming from (and as you say, this is probably in large part due to white scholarship).

    In the literary canon (this is the field I’m in), the Black Arts movement and the work of the Harlem Renaissance are largely characterized by male black authors. That is the reality in the literary field. Black women authorship has been ignored much more than black male authorship. And the works I read by black male authors (such as “Invisible Man”) were definitely sexist, empowering black men but not doing too much for black women.

    With the efforts of minority scholars and feminist scholars, black men are pushing their way into the canon, and white women, but not too many black women. And of course it’s still mainly populated by white men. So, in terms of literary history, at least, black women haven’t been helped out as much as they should have by either the feminist movement or the civil rights movement.

  16. “But I didn’t realize things were so bad that white feminists had dismissed the Civil Rights Movement as a man’s game.”

    I should point out that this isn’t the impression of white feminists… it’s the impression in white *textbooks.* In my conservative city growing up, we were taught about MLK and Malcolm X — that’s about it. The general perspective of mainstream white culture, at least as I have seen it, is that it was a movement spearheaded by black men. Except for Rosa Parks, the names you mentioned are shamefully unfamiliar to me. This is partly due to the fact that I’m a terrible history student, but I think more importantly it’s because in high school, we were never taught those names. The movement as it has always been characterized to me was largely about black men.

  17. Ico, we are just gonna have to agree to disagree because I pretty much disagree with everything you’ve said.

    First of all, your statements negate each other. You cannot say that the basic element of feminism is equality “for all” while simultaneously admitting that it has always been a racist and classist movement. Feminism has never been about equality for all. In fact, most white feminists aren’t even asking for real equality. They want equality on what they want but not to be expected to extend that equality. For example, they want equal pay for equal work – which is great and I fully support that – but at the same time they want to be able to refuse to do equal work. Many want to be allowed to get the same job as a man, but they don’t want to actually have to do the same job as a man. In the same way, feminism as a movement was built on the backs of poor white women and women of color, so they sure as heck didn’t care about equality for us. History has also shown that in their quest for equality, they actually have trampled upon the rights of boys and men repeatedly.

    Has no one read the preface to my post? Really? Because I didn’t say that no one else can consider themselves a feminist or whatever else they want to identify by. In fact, I said I have alot of respect for many women that self-identify that way. So you can feel free to identify as you desire and believe what you believe about the movement. If it works for you, that’s great and I support you on that. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept it for myself. You seem so offended that I have chosen a different path than you. Why? I’m not offended by your path I just reject it as wholly inappropriate for myself.

    Also, your comments about the civil rights movement being a “black men’s movement” clearly shows your own racial bias. Granted, you say that your schooling was clearly biased and didn’t teach you a more accurate history, so you are a product of your society. But as a grown person, you are responsible for the fact that you continue to buy into it and can say you’ve never heard of the women in the movement that others have mentioned. These women were the backbone of the movement, as women are in pretty much any struggle, and it is not hard to find information on them. Certainly in this day and age access to such names is pretty easy to get. If you were truly invested in supporting women, you would make more effort to study their history and not ignore their role.

    As a self-proclaimed feminist, you have probably done this with white women, but clearly not with women of color so you are actually an exact example of what I disdain about feminism. Based on what I read here, it sounds like you haven’t made any effort to learn about how colored women have been a part of movements since long before white women even had a clue. You participate in the silencing of such women (including me) when you deny that they existed and made broad pronouncements about another movement that you are not a part of. Frankly, you don’t even sound the least embarrassed to admit your ignorance, you just say that isn’t what you know so it must not be.

  18. Aaminah, I brought it up because of this passage:

    I have my own movement that is in line with my Islamic beliefs and values. Western style feminism, by any name it is called, is a secular order that seeks to wipe out my spirituality and force me to selfishly over-emphasize women to the detriment of others.

    It seems like this is a question the Iranian women’s movement has to deal with as well, along with the issues of class that you brought up. It seems relevant to a discussion on feminism vs. other ways of ‘creating our own revolutions’. I wasn’t trying to lump you in with Iranians; I’d genuinely like to hear your thoughts on it and what you take from it, positive or negative, in your efforts to grapple with this question.

  19. First of all, your statements negate each other. You cannot say that the basic element of feminism is equality “for all” while simultaneously admitting that it has always been a racist and classist movement.

    Yes you can: theory =/= thing.

    For example, they want equal pay for equal work – which is great and I fully support that – but at the same time they want to be able to refuse to do equal work. Many want to be allowed to get the same job as a man, but they don’t want to actually have to do the same job as a man.

    Where are you getting this from?

    In the same way, feminism as a movement was built on the backs of poor white women and women of color, so they sure as heck didn’t care about equality for us.

    Is “ignoring” really the same thing as “buil[ding] on the backs of”?

    History has also shown that in their quest for equality, they actually have trampled upon the rights of boys and men repeatedly.

    I apologize for the repeated questions; I’m a law student who’s more familiar with critical race theory and feminist legal theory than with actual history. But what, exactly, makes you think this?

    But to add my .02, I’ve noticed that law has a similar historiography to Ico’s field. If I remember correctly, Kimberle Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and Mari Matsuda, among others, have characterized (legal) critical race theory and (legal) critical race feminism way.

  20. Aaminah, I don’t believe that my statements about feminism negate each other.

    I believe in the principle of feminism (“equality for all”). I also believe that this principle has been undermined consistently by the racism of white feminists, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the basic principle is supposed to be equality. You define the movement by its actors, I define it by its principles. That’s fine. I’m not disagreeing with you that as a historical movement it has often undermined its own principles through racism (though I do completely disagree about disempowering men and boys. I’m reading Mike Lew’s “Victims No Longer,” and he has a nice subsection about the feminist movement and how it empowers men, specifically w/ regards to sexual trauma but also just in a general sense of freedom in gender identity. I think this idea of it hurting men is a fallacy, mostly blown up out of a few extremists’ views)

    So I can understand rejecting feminism as a movement on the basis of its hypocrisy. What I took issue with was that:

    a) your post *sounds* like it’s saying you reject the principle of feminism. To me, anyway. Even if it’s not what you mean, I’m saying that’s what it sounds like.

    b) the phrasing (“why I despise feminism”) isn’t explanatory; it’s scornful. And so this, yes, does, I freely admit, offend me. The fact that you don’t choose to identify as feminist doesn’t offend me at all — I think you have good reasons — but to say you *despise* something that I care about does. I think that’s natural, don’t you?

    As far as learning about black women’s roles in movements — I’m not a scholar of history, I’m a scholar of *literature,* and I AM attempting to learn in my field. A large percentage of the material I have studied these past two years has been work written by PoC (and it would have been even more, if the African American lit class hadn’t been underfilled and canceled). I’m only human, I don’t have an infinite capacity for knowledge or infinite time on my hands; I do what I can in bits and pieces. I seek out classes, books, and the like written by WoC, but I’m not brilliant, it takes time to read and learn and I’m very much in the process of it all (for the record, I don’t know much about the feminist movement, either. Mostly I’m a grad student slave and grade papers)

    I admit my ignorance because it seems like the right thing to do. Um… may I ask what else you want me to do? Nora said I was wrong, so I explained where my perceptions were coming from. Largely, from literary scholarship on the Black Arts movement. I have been trying to study it (that’s why I’m in a class that includes lots of texts by PoC). How am I to know that what I’m studying may be incorrect until someone tells me? I’ve spent the last couple semesters reading texts and criticism by PoC and accepting them and the words of my professors at face value. What you are saying here contradicts what I’ve been learning. Apparently what they’re teaching me is not in agreement with what you know. But I mean really, how was I supposed to know that before someone told me?

    So Nora says, “Ico you’re wrong,” and I say okay — I take it Nora has better knowledge about this than I do, she usually does, so I tell her, “I’ll dig up the critical articles I’ve been reading so you can tell me what’s right and wrong in them.” I mean, is that such a bad response?

  21. Writers Wrath & Ico, there is so much that I have to say in answer to you both… I’d rather work on a post for my own blog and will trackback to this post, if you don’t mind. Just because it’s going to be lengthy, I don’t have the time right now to do it all justice, and I don’t want to disrespect ABW’s comments. :)

    RealPotato, sorry, I didn’t realize what you were getting at originally. :) I’ll have to come back to this though. And the truth is, I don’t know an awful lot about the matter, so thanks for the link. I’ll have to look into it.

  22. Nora, I don’t think I can post links to the articles I read because they’re in subscription only databases, but here’s a summary:

    Gene Jarrett, an African American literary critic, wrote an article entitled, “The Black Arts Movement and Its Scholars” that sums up what I studied (and a lot of stuff I didn’t). He refers to the work of several other scholars, and takes note of the fact that, “the movement’s general valorization of men, patriarchy, masculinity, and heterosexuality created stifling conditions for black women” (this explored in a book by a critic named Clarke). These aspects of the Black Arts/Power movement were heavily criticized by black women, and were ultimately a part of the reason the Black Arts movement faded, according to my profs.

    So, that is a large part of where my impression of the unfriendliness of civil rights to black women comes from. I’m looking at the interpretations of black and feminist scholars on the Black Power movement, and on the literature that helped to define it. The work of black male writers often hasn’t been kind to women (at least during the Black Power movement).

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

  23. I am a white woman from a well-off middle class family and came from more or less the same background as these women who started “feminism”. Unfortunately, anytime I see women trying to be modest in dress, prefer to be a housewife/homemaker, work a traditional job, etc…why do these feminists attack us? I am one of those women who prefer to dress in stylish clothing that covers up my body and not show off my skin. I don’t mind staying at home to help keep things neat and to help raise our only child. I work part time as a massage therapist and fast food server, and I am faithful to my husband while not subject to the belief of being subservient to him.

    Sometimes tradition DOES have the answer, despite modern Western thinking. Oh…and I am an EQUALITIST, no one should be subservient or denied (almost) anything because of (almost) anything about the person, whether sex, socio-economic class, orientation, gender variance, whatever…

  24. How many middle-class white women with your lifestyle are personally attacked? The only ones that come to mind are Caitlin Flanagan and IWF bloggers.

    My understanding is that the vast majority of feminists are not attacking individual women with your lifestyle. Rather, they’re attacking societal and cultural structures, specifically ones that only condition women to “choose” to stay home with children, wear conservative clothing (which implicitly slut-shames those who wear revealing clothes), etc. In other words, they question the concept of autonomous free will underlying our society’s use of the word “choose.”

    Further, they’re also attacking the denigration of childrearing duties implicit in the traditional (i.e., white, heteronormative, middle-class, single breadwinner) nuclear family ideal.

  25. Also, how much of a tradition is it when it’s only a couple hundred years old?

  26. I agree with some parts of the manifesto, but others don’t work so well for me. On the pro side, I think it makes perfect sense that Aaminah wants to decide for herself what camp she belongs to and not have other people labeling her. Nothing is more annoying than condescension from people who don’t know jack about you. What makes me raise my eyebrows is the idea that feminism is a unified ANYTHING (white, secular, hostile to men). The movement may have had its origins in white, middle-class enclaves (I say MAY have, because even with a couple decades of reading and experience in the community I’m sure I don’t know all the facts), but it certainly didn’t stay there, and if you take a look around the internet you can find feminists of many different races, countries and religions. Just as Aaminah chooses to distance feminism and call it the province of white Western women, many other non-white, non-Western women choose to call feminism their own. To imply that these women are “taking someone else’s movement” seems condescending in turn — like they can’t decide for themselves what is theirs.

  27. Ico,

    The Black Arts Movement has nothing to do with the Civil Rights Movement. The former predates the latter by a long shot, and while it’s certainly significant in overall perceptions of black progressivism/the development of an intelligentsia… to conflate the two really doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re referring to the resurgence of certain black arts in the 60s and 70s, like African dance? I don’t run in literary circles, so I have no idea what they refer to as the Black Arts Movement, but I’m thinking of stuff like jazz and the Harlem Renaissance, decades before the CRM. (And even there, I can think of so many prominent women’s contributions that it still doesn’t feel like a “man’s movement” to me. Josephine Baker, Zora Neale Hurston, Billie Holliday…)

    The Black Power Movement also isn’t a good way to measure/judge the Civil Rights Movement. It represents a philosophical subset of the CRM, and to a degree its most militant and extreme face — sort of like the way evangelicals represent the most strident voice of modern Christianity. They by no means represent Christianity’s true complexity or breadth; they’re not even in the majority. They’re just the ones who (currently) get the most press. To judge all Christianity by that one subset would be… well, silly. Granted, people do it all the time, but that’s because they’re ignorant, not because it’s true.

    And as with most militant/extreme movements, men did dominate the BPM. It’s true that most of the leaders were male, and that there was a certain amount of macho rhetoric tossed around. But again — there were plenty of big-voiced, big-Afro’d sisters right up in there, wielding the guns and making the speeches and getting arrested/harassed by the government. And, among other things, letting the men know they weren’t going to settle for sitting at home and being quiet. From what I understand, one of the most sexist voices of the early BPM, Eldridge Cleaver, got set (mostly; he was still fucked in the head) straight by Angela Davis — the face of Black Power, in my mind. Hell, for that matter, the PR face of the BPM was really the blaxploitation movement in film — and that was full of kickass women, like Cleopatra Jones and Coffy and Foxy Brown. They were caricatures, but it still means something IMO that they were based on real asskickers like Assata Shakur.

    I take your point that your perception of the CRM is flawed partly because most American textbooks are so flawed on the subject. But I’m not shocked that the average American is ignorant about the most significant struggle against oppression in our recent history; I’m shocked that a feminist would be so ignorant about it. Feminists like Gloria Steinem were directly influenced by the CRM; they borrowed its tactics and ideologies and more successful strategies. They drew inspiration from its female leaders. But for today’s feminists to have forgotten that, and relegated the CRM to a men’s movement… whoa. Just… whoa. ::shakes head::

  28. The work of black male writers often hasn’t been kind to women

    Compared to what? The work of white male writers?

    I have a very hard time understanding the fixation in this conversation on the sexism of the civil rights (and black arts movements). I’m not denying that there were issues and plenty of them but honestly, is there a point here besides omg black menz are teh devil!!111!!eleventy!11!!! I’m guessing someone hasnt read Kalamu’s 1970s pieces on sexism in black liberation movements…

    I mostly liked Aaminah’s piece but I kinda felt like some of it was dismissive of some of the really strong WOC who do identify as feminist and have done amazing work.

    On the other hand, most of her critique of white mainstream feminism is solid and echoes what WOC have been saying about feminism for nearly 150 years. Eventually, maybe people will listen?

  29. I don’t think I’ve ever perceived the civil rights movement as a black men’s movement. It’s a little startling to me — unpleasantly startling — that you do. But then, I think this is kind of what the manifesto-poster is getting at. Women of color have always been active and powerful within their communities fighting against oppression, including gender oppression, yet the mainstream (read: white people) completely overlooks them. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because they’re working as part of a larger effort, not solely as feminists.

    Nora, I don’t think it’s a feminist thing. Black women were very much powering the movement, but the leaders who are spotlighted and deified are the men. The spokespeople of the major organizations were almost always men: MLKJr., Stokely Carmichael, as he was then, H. Rap Brown, etc. Ella Baker was the only woman in the SCLC, and she was the secretary despite her massive work and experience in anti-racist community organizing. I don’t think this is an accurate image of the movement, but I think it is a pop culture image. Any real understanding of the movement, of course, would involve understanding how important black women were to it, but I’ve read in more than one gender analysis of the movement the formulation that women were the marching feet, but men got to be the mouth. (With obvious exceptions, like Fannie Lou Hamer, of course.)

    When it comes to the origins of feminism, my understanding is that western feminism has its roots in white women’s work, as do most western developments, the idea that its roots are solely in middle- or upper-class white women is mistaken. To do so overlooks gender solidarity (which did later fracture on class lines) of the Shirtwaist Strike in 1910, for instance, and the roles played by working-class immigrant white women. That doesn’t mean that this particular writer has to or should identify with it, obviously, but there it is.

  30. nojojojo: The Black Arts Movement has nothing to do with the Civil Rights Movement.

    Do you know what the relationship between Critical Race Feminism in law is to the Civil Rights Movement? My professors who considered themselves as CRFs described the movement as stemming from CRM. I’m extremely hesitant to question their explanation because they were there, but after reading your discussion with Ico, I wonder whether people outside legal academia have a different perspective of the relationship between the two movements.

  31. “Compared to what? The work of white male writers?”

    I wasn’t making a comparison, Delux, just stating what I’ve read in texts by black male authors. White male authorship has been enshrined and canonized and has dominated *all* western literary history, perpetuating racism and sexism and white male privilege for centuries; there’s really no comparison there.

    Nora, the “Black Arts” movement as it’s characterized in literary history refers to the artistic movement of the 60’s and 70’s that corresponds to the Black Power movement.

    The earlier period of authors like Hurston and Hughes is referred to in literary circles as The Harlem Renaissance. While it does have prominent female authors, the most frequently canonized work of the period is that of black male authors (like Hughes, Toomer, McKay, Cullen), and there’s relatively little scholarship on the black women writers of the time (Hurston being the prominent exception). I’m not sure if this is due to the prejudice at work back then or due to the prejudice at work in the decades following when minority and feminist scholars were expanding the canon. All I know is that it’s noticeable enough that my professor practically begged us to write on those women, because they deserve the critical attention, and right now it’s just not there (we get bibliographies of research on these authors; theirs were short).

    On the Black Arts and Black Power movement, the criticism I have read by scholars of color has generally all reached the same consensus: that the movement’s inherent machismo, sexism, and homophobia were problematic. I recognize that there were women who reacted against this and were prominent, particularly poets, but the general discourse in academia is, essentially, as you summed it up: “men did dominate the BPM. It’s true that most of the leaders were male, and that there was a certain amount of macho rhetoric tossed around.” This is what I was thinking of when I referred to sexism.

    But you’re absolutely right, I overgeneralized from a radical subset of the CRM, and I shouldn’t have made that jump. I’m very sorry that I did. As you can see, my knowledge comes in the form of slices of literary history, and there are huge gaps (such as most of the CRM) that I have yet to fill. I apologize for the generalization (and I will work on learning more of the CRM history as it is written by scholars of color). I wasn’t trying to make an argument about the CRM, per se, but quite a different point altogether…

    The broad point I was aiming at (and I should have just specified Black Arts, since that’s what I was thinking of) is that every social justice movement has flaws. CRM, feminist movement, LGBT movement… but I still support all of them, because I believe in their core principles.

  32. Ico,

    I’ve never heard that period (in the 60s) referred to as a Black Arts Movement; I’ve only heard that term applied to the earlier period which included (but did not exclusively consist of) the Harlem Renaissance. But it does sound like this is something being defined by literary scholars, of which I am not one, and isn’t common knowledge. I’m also not sure you can call the Black Arts Movement of whatever period a social justice movement. Art is usually political, I know, and is always so when it comes from PoC. But while art has an influencing/inspirational effect, it’s not out there in the streets getting beat up by the cops.

    But back to the point. The existence of sexism in the Civil Rights Movement in no way makes it a “man’s movement” — any more than the presence of racism in feminism makes it a white power movement. For you to refer to the CRM as a man’s movement, as you did upthread, is a sweeping mischaracterization that totally dismisses some women who are my heroines. And it precisely demonstrates the manifesto-writer’s point — you’re fixated on the issue of whether the CRM was sexist to such a degree that you’re ignoring the contributions of some incredibly prominent, powerful, and influential women within it. How, exactly, is that feminism??

  33. Winter’s Wrath,

    What the heck is CRF? I’m in no way a legal scholar, note.

    You do raise a good point, though; it’s clear now from talking to Ico that scholars in various fields have done their own deconstruction of the Civil Rights Movement, and those perspectives vary pretty widely.

  34. As I said Nora, I’m sorry for the generalization (which was a jump made from BAM/BPM), and I should not have made it. Your comments made me realize that.

    I do I think your analogy would be more accurate if it read like this: “The existence of sexism in the Civil Rights Movement in no way makes it a “man’s movement” — any more than the presence of racism in feminism makes it a ‘whites’ movement.'”

    (… because white power is a separate movement all its own)

    And I would agree with that. I also think you can make the case (as critics have) that feminism has been in some respects a white women’s movement (which isn’t to erase the many awesome WoC feminists, just to acknowledge the movement’s focus as a whole). In a similar way, you can argue that the BPM (not the CRM — again, I’m sorry I generalized from BPM) was a black men’s movement, by which I don’t mean to erase the women who were prominent during the BPM — just note the movement’s focus as a whole as it’s been characterized to me by scholars of color.

    “For you to refer to the CRM as a man’s movement, as you did upthread, is a sweeping mischaracterization that totally dismisses some women who are my heroines.”

    I said, and will say as many times as you like, I am sorry. I was wrong to do so — it was a poor generalization made from an extremist group to the whole, which was silly of me. I extrapolated from what I knew of BAM/BPM, which as you pointed out is not at all representative of the CRM as a whole. I recant my statement entirely. I can also promise you that my scholarship is and will be focused on expanding the literary canon to include people who have been silenced by exclusion; I just haven’t gotten to the CRM yet (except for the BAM). But I *will,* I promise you that.

    On a sidenote, I assign my students (all of whom want to write essays about “reverse-racism” in affirmative action… [drops head on desk]) readings, stuff like “The Love of Books” by Gloria Naylor to show them how history is written by the dominant culture and often erases PoC, women, etc. I’m thinking about the general impression in pop culture that Veronica talked about. Given our conversation here, I think it would be good for them (and me) if I could give them an essay debunking the mainstreamed version of the CRM, which tends to highlight just a few key figures and erases the women. The essay would have to be fairly short, mind (or I’ll have to excerpt it), but do you have any suggestions? The class unit is on hidden arguments (that which has been written into history and written out of it), so this would fit right in.

  35. Winters, I’m also curious about CRT and CRF. I know next to nothing about law, but I did a quick check on the terms and it seems like there’s a parallel between critical theory in law and some of the critical theory in literature. What is it all about?

  36. In my defense, though, I’d also like to add that I’m not the only person making generalizations based on extremist elements of a movement. Feminism is not anti-male; sure there are some very radical elements of it, but these do not represent the movement as a whole.

  37. “In a similar way, you can argue that the BPM (not the CRM — again, I’m sorry I generalized from BPM) was a black men’s movement, by which I don’t mean to erase the women who were prominent during the BPM — just note the movement’s focus as a whole as it’s been characterized to me by scholars of color.”

    Thus? I’m still not clear on what the point of this deep focus on Black men apparently running Black movements is. (and now we’ve jumped from the civil rights movement to the Black arts movement to the Black power movement, am I right?)

  38. Ico: Winters, I’m also curious about CRT and CRF. I know next to nothing about law, but I did a quick check on the terms and it seems like there’s a parallel between critical theory in law and some of the critical theory in literature. What is it all about?

    As I understand it, critical race theory and critical race feminism in law is directly related to critical theory in literature. I don’t know enough about literature theory to know how they differ, but my hunch is that law professors directly “imported” it.

    Because of the law’s reliance on precedential reasoning, legal academia doesn’t seem to value questioning authority and developing novel theoretical models the way other fields do. We usually just import other fields’ methods and “apply” those methods to the law. (But then again, I’m still in law school. Because I can feel my brain dying here, I’m a tad bit bitter.)

    nojojojo: What the heck is CRF? I’m in no way a legal scholar, note.

    My apologies; I forgot to define it. CRF refers to Critical Race Feminism, which is a subdivision of Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRF is the study of how the law’s and implicit definition of “black people” as black men and “women” as white women negatively impacts women of color. To quote Angela Harris, these essentialist definitions “reduce the lives of people who experience multiple forms of oppression to addition problems: racism + sexism == straight black women’s experience.”

    Although the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s where much of the confusion in this conversation is coming from. Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t explicitly define “black” as “black men” and “women” as “white women,” subsequent case law does. I don’t know if modern textbooks are relying on legal history to create their narratives of the Civil Rights Movement, but if they are, then their belief that CRM revolved around black men and the feminist movement revolved around white women makes sense.

    In DeGraffenreid v. General Motors, the plaintiffs argued that they faced the combined racial and sexual discrimination, even though white women and black men were not impacted. The court said: “The legislative history surrounding Title VII does not indicate that the goal of the statute was to create a new classification of ‘black women’ who would have greater standing than, for example, a black male. The prospect of the creation of new classes and of protected minorities, goverened only by the mathematical principles of permutation and combination, clearly raises the prospect of opening the hackneyed Pandora’s box.” Or, to quote Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, “the court apparently concluded that Congress either did not contemplate that Black women could be discriminated against as ‘Black women’ or did not intend to protect them when such discrimination occurred. The court’s refusal in DeGraffenreid to acknowledge that Black women encounter combined race and sex discrimination implies that the boundaries of sex and race discrimination doctrine are defined respectively by white women’s and Black men’s experiences. Under this view, Black women are protected only to the extent that their experiences coincide with those of either of the two groups. Where their experiences are distinct, Black women can expect little protection as long as approaches such as that in DeGraffeinreid, which completely obscure problems of intersectionality, prevail.”

    Even though that was just a district court ruling, the Ninth Circuit upheld the rationale in Moore v. Hughes Helicopter, Inc.. In it, the court refused to certify black women as class representatives in race and sex discrimination actions. The court noted “Moore had never claimed before the EEOC that she was discriminated against as a female, but only as a Black female…[T]his raised serious doubts as to Moore’s ability to adequately represent white female employees.” Again, to quite Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, “This curious logic in Moore reveals not only the narrow scope of antidiscrimination doctrine and its failure to embrace intersectionality, but also the centrality of white female experiences in the conceptualization of gender discrimination.”

  39. I’m not sure if my explanation is helpful: I’m in finals paper writing mode right now. If it’s not, let me know and I’ll see if I can dig up free articles online to point you.

  40. I have issues with identifying as feminist too, so this post helped me to clarify some of my own thinking. It made me realize that most of the times when I have accepted the label, I’ve been reactionary. I’ve done it in order to escape having to articulate a long rant about how I really feel, and also to avoid having the person I’m talking to assume that I’m somehow anti-woman or something. Mind, I’ve never taken a women’s studies or feminism class (I’m a self-directed reader too!), and usually talk about feminism with people who already know me well, so it’s not a problem I’ve faced often. Still, Aaminah made me think that I need to do a better job of defining myself with respect to my conflicting feelings about feminism. I shouldn’t just be settling for the path of least resistance on this one.

    The manifesto reminds me of something I think about all the time and find fascinating: the incredible process by which we all form and express an identity. Some of it comes from our sense of ourselves and where we feel at home, and some of it comes from our sense of society and how others perceive us. You’ve got to navigate the two in a way that feels right, and you’ve got to figure out what that is. Feminism is particularly dicey because it seems to mean something different to everyone. What I love about Aaminah’s post is that she speaks up and defines this part of her identity for herself so that no one else has a chance to get an idea she doesn’t want them to have. That’s awesome. My hat is off. I support most of her specific points too.

    My only hesitation comes from Aaminah’s idea that she can control the definition other people apply to her writing once it’s out there. I fully support her saying that it’s not feminist and doing what she can to affect how it’s viewed. I just wonder how much you can really complain about people interpreting writing in their own way. I don’t mean jackasses who are just being insulting. I mean people who give their best honest thought to a work and use it to come up with a different interpretation. I’ve always personally felt that writing is like a child–once you’ve let it out there, anything might happen to it. To me, that’s what makes it so powerful.

  41. “CRF is the study of how the law’s and implicit definition of “black people” as black men and “women” as white women negatively impacts women of color.”

    This does sound like stuff I’ve been getting out of literary theory. At least w/ regards to much of the canon, “black writers” are implicitly black men and “women writers” are implicitly white women.

    This is changing a lot. There’s a ton of feminist scholarship these days on WoC, and many of the most prominent black authors in the canon are women like Morrison and Walker. The closer you get to the present day the better things are. But the problems of the past haven’t been erased.

  42. Winters, one question about CRF. In literary theory, at least these days, the work of feminist and minority scholars seems to largely overlap and intersect, with discussions of privilege incorporating both race and gender (and to a lesser extent, sexuality and class). The universality of the underlying principles concerning oppression seems to have kind of united them, and at the same time increasing scholarship on and by WoC is merging them in critical discourse.

    Is this also becoming true in law? It seems from what you’ve said as though CRF arose because historically critical feminist theories were dominated by white women and CRT by black men, so CRF gave WoC of voice (am I getting this right?). Is it still true nowadays of critical feminist theory and critical race theory? Or does it all kind of… merge together?

  43. If all references to “Muslim” were changed to “Christian”–would that be different? Why?

    Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world, and have equal political (not cultural) power, IMHO, so I am curious why this aspect goes unchallenged. There are Christians of color throughout the world, as there are Muslims. Christian women (particularly in South America) have said much the same thing.

  44. Is this also becoming true in law? It seems from what you’ve said as though CRF arose because historically critical feminist theories were dominated by white women and CRT by black men, so CRF gave WoC of voice (am I getting this right?). Is it still true nowadays of critical feminist theory and critical race theory? Or does it all kind of… merge together?

    Yes and no. Scholars are definitely more aware of it. However, because of common law’s precedential nature, the law still defines “racism” as “black men” and “sexism” as “white women.”
    Because legal scholarship ultimately revolves around legal definitions, the scholarship implicitly defines “women” as “white women. Consequently, this “awareness” is a Full Frontal Feminism style of awareness: white women’s experiences are the norm, and WoC experiences are the exceptions discussed in separate paragraphs.

    I’m working on a feminist reading of a quarantine law, and I’m not sure how to bend legal discourse to define “women” as a more diverse group. (Which is why I keep coming here to “productively procrastinate.”) If you have any suggestions, I would deeply appreciate them. (And if it gets published as my Note, I’ll happily include you in the acknowledgements!)

  45. Denying feminism because you think it steals your class thunder or race thunder is not the way to go.

    And yet I don’t think that’s what she’s doing or saying. This isn’t a Race/Religion/Whatever trumps Gender argument.

    She is making that kind of argument.

    I am tired of women of color being pitted against men of color because of this mis-notion that allegiance to other women is all that matters.

    She seems to be under the mistaken impression that feminism necessarily harms men, that it would steal power away from men of color if they don’t oppress women. She doesn’t seem to understand that when men of color shake off sexism, they’re able to work with women of color (and non-color, other colors) and produce works of liberation that more than the sum of whatever the groups were doing before.

    @Donna: Feminists blog and do activism for other cultures and races plenty, if you’re willing to look for them. These are the feminists that are able to gather the most publicity for races, classes and sexes. Jessica Valenti of Feministing, for example, and the collective group she works with, talk about racism, classism, and homosexuality plenty, and were able to put Jessica on the Colbert Report and gain all those posts some publicity.

    If that’s not enough for you, then you should be able to rant to me just as much about how much black groups don’t help black women enough. Why is it less valid for me to opine about the lack of black activism against retarded gangsta rappers? Have you seen feminists like those I’ve named whine about how much you darn race activists don’t help women enough, or were they kind enough not to whine about other activists stealing their thunder?

  46. Aerik: “@Donna: Feminists blog and do activism for other cultures and races plenty, if you’re willing to look for them. These are the feminists that are able to gather the most publicity for races, classes and sexes. Jessica Valenti of Feministing, for example, and the collective group she works with, talk about racism, classism, and homosexuality plenty, and were able to put Jessica on the Colbert Report and gain all those posts some publicity.”

    So we need white feminists to gain the most publicity for WOC and other marginalized groups? No, we can do it ouselves. Feministing is also a horrible example to bring up as they have often had posts and threads and other issues where WOC were attacked and silenced.

  47. “retarded gangsta rappers?” Aerik, what is your problem?

  48. Aerik,

    here’s the thing. You can say “This is how I interpret her words” but you really can’t say “She means exactly this”, especially when she’s already said that’s not what she meant.

    So, NO, she’s not engaging in Race/Religion Trumps Gender talk, no matter how many times you attempt to say that’s what she’s doing. I think your interpretation of her words is, frankly, wrong. I don’t think her statement about women of color being pitted against men has ANYTHING to do with the notion that feminism hurts men. What it does have to do with is exactly what we talked about int he post “No, we’re not gonna take it”, which you should scroll back and find.

    Also, any statement that starts “If that’s not enough for you” should end before anything else comes afterwards, because good things rarely do. Look, you appear to be telling us that there’s no inherent problems regarding WoC within Western Feminism and, I’m sorry, but you’re just wrong.

  49. Winters, thank you for the explanation of CRF. Let me see if I’ve got the legal stuff right; I looked up the cases you mentioned because I wasn’t entirely sure I was understanding them correctly from your post.

    If a company is hiring and promoting white women and black men, and black women sue and claim they have been discriminated against, the company can show they’re not discriminating on the basis of sex (because they hire white women) or on the basis of race (because they hire black men)… right? And under the Civil Rights Act Title VII, WoC can claim *either* sex discrimination or race discrimination. The law does not recognize the full identity of WoC but only parts of it — as PoC or as female — in ways that severely disadvantage WoC.

    … wow. Sucks. I didn’t realize that separation between race and gender discrimination was coded into law (though sadly, I’m not really surprised). That completely invalidates WoC’s experiences.

    Maybe other people here have suggestions for you regarding the legal question? I unfortunately don’t know anything beyond what you’ve told me. I did read what seems like a fairly comprehensive report by a Pennsylvania court task force that concludes with:

    “No significant and lasting progress in combating either gender or racial bias can be made until the interdependent aspect of their relationship is acknowledged, and until perspectives gained from considering their interaction are reflected in legal theory and public policy. Towards this end, members of the Pennsylvania bar and bench, and participants in the legal system statewide, should reexamine conduct and assumptions that marginalize women of color, and work together to achieve equality for all participants in the courts of the Commonwealth.”

    http://www.courts.state.pa.us/Index/Supreme/BiasCmte/FinalReport.ch14.pdf

    So maybe if you’re based in Pennsylvania you have some support? :/

    Anyway, I thank you for the insight into CRF and the legal separation of race and gender. I hope your paper goes well! It sounds like a worthwhile endeavor.

  50. Aerik, it’s interesting that you should mention Feministing – especially Jessica – because there was a huge blowout over Jessica’s book not speaking to women of color. Just because WOCs felt like their voice wasn’t being heard, they were called “jealous”, “rude”, and “hostile” just to name a few. And this isn’t just some isolated experience.

    It’s happened on Pandagon, Feministe, and other feminist blogs. Hell, it’s even happened to me. As a matter of fact, it’s happening right now – with you.

    You, like so many others before you, have not chosen to listen to what these WOCs have to say about feminism because it doesn’t mesh with your view. Not only do you say that she’s “completely wrong” in her views, but that by focusing on racial issues over feminist ones are “bass ackwards”. What you, and so many other White feminists don’t seem to understand (even though it’s been repeated ad nauseum), is that the experiences regarding women of color and feminism are very different than mainstream (read: white) feminism. Our color doesn’t wash off. We can’t pick and choose when we’re going to focus on race or gender. For women of color, it’s the same side of the coin. Unfortunately, when WOCs bring up topics that are important to us and women AND as “feminists/womanists”, our voices are usually shouted down. This isn’t a “Race/Religion/Whatever trumps Gender” argument; it’s a “Shut-up-and-listen-to-me-because-I, as a woman of color-have-something-very-important-to-say” argument. And many of us feel as though we’re not being heard. Because of this, many WOC “feminists” choose not to identify themselves as feminist (some prefer “womanist”). Why be a part of a group that doesn’t treat you with the respect you deserve?

  51. ABW: Feministing is also a horrible example to bring up as they have often had posts and threads and other issues where WOC were attacked and silenced.

    Not to mention the whole Full Frontal Feminism fiasco.

    Ico: If a company is hiring and promoting white women and black men, and black women sue and claim they have been discriminated against, the company can show they’re not discriminating on the basis of sex (because they hire white women) or on the basis of race (because they hire black men)… right? And under the Civil Rights Act Title VII, WoC can claim *either* sex discrimination or race discrimination. The law does not recognize the full identity of WoC but only parts of it — as PoC or as female — in ways that severely disadvantage WoC.

    As far as I can tell, yes. (I’m a law student focusing on global health law, so my understanding of employment discrimination may be flawed.)

    And I have to say, your elegant articulation of my legalese is a timely reminder that law isn’t that complicated — the problem is that law school makes us use an unnecessarily complex sublanguage.

    So maybe if you’re based in Pennsylvania you have some support?

    Sadly, I don’t think it will be much help. The final report isn’t a case or a statute — and therefore it doesn’t have precedential power.

  52. Why is it less valid for me to opine about the lack of black activism against retarded gangsta rappers?

    First off, great use of the word “retarded”. [/sarcasm]

    Secondly, what makes you think that Black activists *aren’t* speaking out against the mysogyny in hip-hop? There are Black activist groups everywhere involved in boycotts, rallies, forums specifically causing this problem. However, mainstream hip-hop is not ALL hip-hop. There are many progressive artists out there, so to lambast the entire genre would be going against the artists out there who are actually trying to do right by Black women.

    Have you seen feminists like those I’ve named whine about how much you darn race activists don’t help women enough, or were they kind enough not to whine about other activists stealing their thunder?

    Check out Bint’s post on CM and Heart. They both wrote wrote about how women of color were “morphing into the oppressors”. Also, please read these posts by Brownfemipower. A must see!

  53. Winters Wrath: Yeah, especially the entire FFF thing. I didn’t bring it up directly because you really don’t want to get my blood boiling right now.

  54. Oops

    “specifically causing this problem” -> “specifically focusing on this problem”

    Darn fingers!

  55. I do think it’s possible to disagree with the writer’s assessment of western feminism without attempting to force her to identify herself as a feminist, however. On continued reflection, I just don’t find the statement

    Western style feminism, by any name it is called, is a secular order that seeks to wipe out my spirituality and force me to selfishly over-emphasize women to the detriment of others.

    to be accurate. Western feminism is simply too multifaceted to be characterized as a “secular order,” especially when one takes into account the great rise in feminist spiritual studies that it has kicked off–one has only to look into the ordination of women in various Christian and Jewish denominations in the west, the rise of feminist goddess worship, and the great number of books on feminist spirituality to see that western feminism is by no means monolithically secular. Quite honestly, as an atheist, setting aside recent celebrities like Hitchens, I’ve never met a secular person/atheist who really cares about “wiping out” anybody else’s spirituality.

    It is possible that by “my spirituality” she means Islamic spirituality in particular, but in that case, why invoke feminism as a “secular movement”? It’s more accurate to say that western feminist spirituality has been almost exclusively Christian, Jewish, and pagan and that that’s why it has marginalized Islam, among other religions, than it is to say that it has marginalized Islam because it is a secular movement.

    The language that she’s invoking by using the term “selfish,” as well as the statement that feminism is at the expense of others–by which I assume she means men, children, and the intersexed–is also reverberating with a long tradition of patriarchal accusations of “selfishness” toward women who do not wish to sacrifice themselves for men. That is probably not what she means to do, but the resonance of the word doesn’t vanish because of authorial intention. Manning Marable once wrote a great essay about the Crown Heights violence, in which he noted that when orthodox Jews called for the blood of black people, they were using language that allied them with generations of white racist violence, and that being Jewish could not cancel that association out. He also noted that when black people chanted “kill the Jew,” they were associating themselves with generations of Christian privilege and anti-semitic violence, and that being black could not cancel that out. I think that the word “selfish” used against feminism and feminists carries similar patriarchal overtones.

  56. Aerik, I want to direct you to a post ABW made a while back on the treatment of black women by black men. It’s directly relevant to what you’re saying, and might be enlightening. I made similar assumptions about black rappers’ misogyny (albeit in… um… milder terms). Nora (nojojojo) gave me a polite rap over the head about white privilege that I think you ought to read.

    http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/no-were-not-gonna-take-it/

    The entire conversation is worth reading, but here’s a specific segment that pertains to you:

    “I constantly hear white people chide the black community for not taking misogynistic rappers to task. From my perspective inside the black community, I’m always astounded and amused by this, because as I see it, the black community has been shouting at rappers for years. I’ve read articles in black magazines, watched rappers argue about the issue amongst themselves, heard angry speeches from prominent people — but they weren’t prominent enough for the mainstream media to pay attention to. So a lot of white people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading, oh, Cornell West, act like nobody’s ever noticed it until they did. This is privilege in action — the blithe assumption that if white society didn’t notice it, it wasn’t important, or being addressed. So just don’t assume nobody’s saying anything… they just might not be speaking in a place you usually look/hear.”

    I think you should go read that thread.

  57. Angel’s comment, combined with Winter’s stuff about CRF made something click for me…

    If a feminist group claims to be concerned about WoC, but then directs its focus solely on sexism and ignores situations that are racist (but not sexist), such as the Jena6… it’s doing the exact same thing to WoC as the legal system does. Just as in Civil Rights Act Title VII, WoC can claim *either* sex discrimination or race discrimination. The law does not recognize the full identity of WoC but only parts of it — as PoC or as female — in ways that severely disadvantage WoC.

    Similarly, feminist movements that only support WoC when sex discrimination is involved do the same thing.

    … ok, I’m really slow, I know. But I think I’m starting to have a better understanding of the problems in the feminist movement.

  58. Ico: I’m pretty new to all of this,and I never even thought of it that way. Good call!

  59. I am like looking cartoon the new person, comes to see your article today, can be the friend with me?

  60. If a feminist group claims to be concerned about WoC, but then directs its focus solely on sexism and ignores situations that are racist (but not sexist), such as the Jena6… it’s doing the exact same thing to WoC as the legal system does.

    I agree that feminists shouldn’t ignore other sorts of discrimination/oppression such as racism, homophobia etc.

    For me feminism is about challenging sexism, and sexism occurs when assumptions are made about someone, or someone is oppressed, because of what sex they are. And because feminism is for me (I know other people’s definitions vary) fundamentally about challenging stereotypes and the injustices that stem from prejudiced, stereotyped thinking, it blends into challenging other sorts of stereotypes, including racial ones and ones about people’s sexual orientations.

    I was Googling and came across this statement from Valerie Russell which maybe says that better than I did: “It is my position that the struggle for liberation is a struggle toward a new humanness, and that one dare not happen apart from any other struggle. The seeds which spawn the racist mentality also spawn the sexist mentality, though the results differ in both their historical manifestations and degree of oppression.” (from here).

    Similarly, bell hooks writes that “Challenging homophobia will always be a dimension of feminist movement. For there can be no sustained sisterhood between women when there is ongoing disrespect and subordination of lesbian females by straight women” (Feminism is for Everybody98-99).

    And, though he doesn’t mention feminism, Niemöller’s poem “First they came…”, is a reminder that denying the linkages between different kinds of oppression can ultimately weaken a movement and leave it isolated.

  61. Will I be opening a huge can of worms if I ask about Full Frontal Feminism…?

    I haven’t read it. I saw the Colbert Report interview and the slim white female belly on the cover and figured if that was an indication of the content… yeah. Lots more “full frontal” in there than “feminism.” But I’ve only heard bits and pieces of the blowup that occurred over it. Is there a link anyone could point me to?

  62. Ico: Here is a good starting point around the FFF thing at Sylvia’s blog.

    http://problemchylde.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/feminizm-matterz/

  63. I can understand not wanting to identify with a social movement like feminism. I know many people who are hesitant to identify as “liberal” despite left wing political beliefs because we have to share the floor with people who carry around lots of entitlement ; race -class and gender. I am a fence sitter about what to call myself politcally for these very reasons(but I do call myself a feminist).

    I think one issue that lots of people have with words like “feminist” and “liberal” is that they are under assault from assholes on the right, but not for valid reasons like class and race critiques but rather in the “crazy manhating feminist” and “pinko commie liberal” way. I think many self labeled feminists (and liberals) lump any/all criticisms together, and a with us or against us mentality emerges, kind of like the ‘don’t-point out bad things about America when it is at war’ politics that has been going on the past few years.

  64. [...] I decided to turn it into a blog post instead. On her blog, Angry Black Woman has a post up called On Feminism, part 1 where she quotes from Why I am Not a Feminist, or “My Anti-Feminist Manifesto”. The author hits [...]

  65. I think one issue that lots of people have with words like “feminist” and “liberal” is that they are under assault from assholes on the right, but not for valid reasons like class and race critiques but rather in the “crazy manhating feminist” and “pinko commie liberal” way.

    Agreed.

    Part of me wants go with Alice Walker’s idea and rename the movement womanism. It wouldn’t magically eliminate privilege problems, but I think it would provide the hardest — and most important — first step: making middle-class white feminists self-consciously aware of their privileges on a daily basis.

    Yet at the same time, I’m afraid that would be viewed as capitulating to the wingnuts.

  66. For me the thing to take away from manifestos like this one isn’t even the split in what people call themselves, but rather the points of critique about a large group of people. I don;t agree with every single point in the manifesto, but I think on the whole it right on and these issues need to be righted.

    The decision to call yourself a feminist is going to be different for every person, this may be due to a mixture of practical or theoretical reasons. Probably there are a large number of people who identify as feminist who do and say exactly the same things as people who don’t identify as feminists, Probably different decisions work better for different people.
    Words that apply to giant groups of people and concepts have fuzzy boundaries(like the ancient Greeks’ logical paradox of the heap) so it is only meaningful to argue about what feminism means to each of us if we back it up with social critique-which I would argue then becomes more meaningful than the word feminism anyway.

  67. Hmm…I’d heard some pretty persuasive arguments that feminism began in America with women of color, and from white women interacting with women of color, and that over time it became more white (one might even use the word ‘appropriated’). Is that view of feminism’s history not so widespread? This part of the manifesto seems not to mesh with that:
    “Feminism as it began in a movement by and for middle and upper class white women offers me nothing.”

  68. Daomadan, thank you for the links on FFF. I realized after I posted my comment about the cover that in fact, in book publishing, often the author has little say in the cover selection… but it seems as though what’s inside is pretty much true to that cover picture. Ew. It’s… really depressing that THAT is going to be in the minds of many people as What Feminism Looks Like.

    And you know, some of the related entries about women’s studies courses and stuff about Jessica’s treatment of WoC who criticized her… that was very eye-opening for me to read. The link you pointed out to me on Sylvie’s (ProblemChylde) blog mentioned how in one of her classes when a discussion of racism came up, her white classmates said to her, “Yeah, but that stuff can come after we’re done with sexism, you know?”

    I was actually kind of shocked when I read that. Is that sort of attitude common in women’s studies programs? In places like Feministing? I’d always thought the interconnectedness of these systems of oppression was pretty much an underlying principle of any real discourse on feminism… It’s kind of a given among academics in my department.

  69. I’m not going to even try and pretend that I got through this entire thread, because my contacts dried out halfway and I couldn’t go on any longer.

    All I can say is woot woot to Angela’s words:
    OUR COLOR DOES NOT WASH OFF.

    Damn, grrl…Ain’t that the truth.

  70. Ico, I’m glad the links helped open your eyes to some of the issues inherent in places where the majority of readers come from a white feminist background. I’d say that people who go “we can get to THAT (racism) after we deal with sexism” happens a lot. So many issues are brushed aside in favor of the majority’s. Lately, my biggest beef has been that we’re in the middle of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and I’ve seen very little posting on some major blogs directly related to it.

    I also hope I introduced you to some amazing writers on those blogs and in those links. They’re incredible. :)

  71. Do you also reject the benefits that feminism has achieved for women? I’m not certain how old you are, but I am old enough to remember hearing people say that any woman who gets raped asked for it (and people nodding in agreement without thinking there was anything wrong with this statement), jobs being advertised where only men could apply (with jobs for women being secretarial or “gal friday” ads and low-paying), etc. Embracing a movement doesn’t have to mean accepting every plank that movement stands for (there’s plenty about the Civil Rights Movement that I do not accept or embrace), but I won’t dismiss the entire movement out of hand while I accept the benefits that the movement has fought for and gained. So many of the benefits that women has today are taken for granted by people who were born during or after the 1970’s because so much changed for women after that, mostly due to the feminist movement. I remember those days, and while there’s plenty about feminism I don’t embrace, I won’t decry an entire movement that gives me the daily benefit of certain gains without my having to fight for them every day on an individual basis.

  72. Writer’s Wrath,

    I am token white male who particpates on this forum (and a few others)….LOL!

    I may decide to go to Law School some time down the road. (That depends on how much punishment I want to take down the road.)

    I have always been interested in the Sociology of Law – Does CRT and CRF have its roots in Duncan Kennedy’s Critical Legal Stuides movement at Harvard?

    Thanks,

    Adam

  73. 1) Critical legal theory (CLS) has far more to do with literary theory and Continental Philosophy than with Sociology. Although the Frankfurt School was roughly 1/3 Philosophy, 1/3 Literary Theory and 1/3 Sociology, CLS focuses far more intensively on literary theory because the law’s power exists only through language.

    2) CRT began at HLS, but CLS’s beginnings were far more decentralized.

    3) Law professors really just steal their ideas from other fields and “apply” them to the law. Why? I suspect it’s because intelligence isn’t really about getting the “correct” answer on standardized tests: it’s one part work ethic, one part breadth and depth of knowledge, one part creativity, and one part questioning authority. When a field is fundamentally premised on the assumption that authority cannot be wrong, you’re intentionally educating people to be dumber than they really are.

    My .02? If you want to study the sociology of law, get a Ph.D. from a sociology department: going to law school will just waste $180k and three years of your life.

    /threadjack

  74. sandra77,

    Not sure who you’re asking the question of, but I’d like to point out something — the feminist movement really didn’t make that much of a difference for women of color. The women in my family have worked outside the home for generations — first as slaves, later to survive. (My female ancestors’ most common occupation was raising white children, which apparently their poor downtrodden white mothers, confined at home and not allowed to work, couldn’t manage themselves.) Black people, women included, didn’t get to vote until decades after white women did. Black women couldn’t get the secretarial jobs white women so begrudged, at least not until the Civil Rights Movement that you apparently have such reservations about. And even since the CRM, feminism hasn’t been particularly useful for us. I’m sure you know this, but the greatest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action have been… wait for it… white women. And as countless incidents remind us (e.g., Imus, “Missing White Woman Syndrome” and the corresponding non-attention to missing black women, the vilification of black “welfare queens” when the majority of women on welfare are white, so many more I can’t count), some of us women — those of the darker persuasion, especially — still get regularly blamed for the bad things that happen to us, rape not the least.

    So please just remember — some of us are still fighting for the same gains that feminism has given you already.

  75. Nora, I don’t disagree with what you say, but please don’t write out the huge number of white women who continue to be blamed for the sexual violence done to them, if we wear the wrong the clothing, or have a drink, or have had sex before, or walk outside after dark, or basically exist. I don’t mean to deny that being black increases that blame exponentially, but that one is hardly a battle that white women have won yet, either.

  76. There’s a post over at Laws and Letters that I just happened to run across (while trying to read up on CRF) that pertains directly to this conversation about rape and race. Essentially, the author is arguing that where the law is concerned, the legal divide between race and gender causes serious problems for WoC who face violent crimes. She quotes Kimberle Crenshaw:

    “Black women, as both women and people of color, are situated within both groups, each of which has benefitted from challenges to sexism and racism, respectively, and yet the particular dynamics of gender and race relating to the rape of Black women have received scant attention. Although antiracist and antisexist assaults on rape have been politically useful to Black women, at some level, the monofocal antiracist and feminist critiques have also produced a political discourse that disserves Black women….The discrediting of Black women’s claims is the consequence of a complex intersection of a gendered sexual system, one that constructs rules appropriate for good and bad women, and a race code that provides images defining the allegedly essential nature of Black women.”

    http://lawandletters.blogspot.com/2006/04/intersectionality-of-race-and-gender.html

    I know Crenshaw sounds deeply theoretical, but it’s a very interesting post and the author of the blog explains it pretty well… Really shows how feminism, to be effective, MUST address race directly in the issue of rape (and everything else, but the post focuses on rape specifically). It also shows how so far, white feminism hasn’t done nearly enough for WoC on this issue.

  77. Veronica,

    I agree — rape (and vilification afterward) isn’t something that white women no longer have to worry about. I didn’t mean to imply this, though I can’t speak for sandra77, whose implication I was answering. In any case, sorry if it came across that way.

    Ico,

    Thanks for the link and the info; it’s comforting to see there’s been some study of this in a legal context. I’d say it’s only one of the issues on which feminism historically hasn’t helped WoC, but at least there’s some effort finally being made to redress the problem.

  78. This has been a very thought-provoking post, although I am troubled by how feminism has been presented. As a black male feminist, I understand and respect people’s right to identify or reject any ideological system that they do not feel is in line with their world view, but I wish the people would take more time to discover the complexity of thought that can exist inside of broad labels like feminism. I will concede that feminism has had the air of a totalizing and judgmental discourse that seeks to give women the rights that middle class Western women believe that everyone should have, but feminism will not advance as an system of challenging the limits of women’s ability to define themselves if women who come from a world that is outside the reality of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Hélène Cixous do not participate in shaping how the discourse moves into the future. Whether or not you can see the usefulness of feminist theory in how you define yourself, remember that generations of your leaders and thinkers will encounter these ideas through university educations throughout the world, thus academic discourse should not be seen as useless hot air but a tool, as Val Plumwood put, to encourage others to rethink cultural paradigms. Writers like Leila Ahmed and Chandra Talpade Mohanty has used the tools of gender studies and feminist theory to critique the very tendency to engage non-Western, particularly “third world” women, as helpless women to be save rather than sisters in the struggle who must find their own ways for gaining agency in systems that seek to define them. Specifically, I would like to address the question of, as Ms. Hernández put it, the tendency of feminism theorist to pit ” women of color being [...] against men of color because of this mis-notion that allegiance to other women is all that matters.” First, I concede the emphasis of feminist, women, and gender studies is often that privileging and examining the perspective of women. However, the analysis, when taking to just conclusions, should show the aspects of particular cultural or societal practices that damage and exploit both men and women, that both are connected in these problems and that both can be the oppressor and the oppressed. While I do not expect everyone to participate in philosophical and social theory aspects of feminism, I feel that it is unfair to dismiss all of feminist theory because of its shortcoming to reach its true potential.

    For any interested in what I think are expectionally gifted writers in the area of Islam, gender, and feminism ( a subject that I am currently studying), here is a list of reading to get you started.

    To cover myself from any attacks by other students of gender and Islam, I do not claim that any of this women would call themselves feminist, other than maybe Mohanty. These are reading in the field of gender studies that I think are exceptionally good in this area.

    For those who need a good foundation in the history of Islam, read Karen Armstorng’s Islam. She is a truly scholar and presents the foundations and history in its context.

    On gender, Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” discusses from within feminist discourse the types of critiques that Ms. Hernández and the ABW have of how Western women have look at women from other cultures. If you have access to JSTOR, the full text article is available. If not, get in touch with me through my blog, and I will be glad to send you a copy.

    On Islam and Gender, any of Leila Ahmed books are a great start. If I had to chose, I would strongly suggest Women and Gender in Islam. Riffat Hassan is also a strong activist and writer in this area. Many of her articles on web, so just google her name.

    I encourage everyone to challenge all systems since that is the only way they can improve.

  79. Leila Ahmed’s books are NOT a great place to start if you want to understand women in Islam. She does not work within a framework that accepts the basic foundations of Islam. She does not speak for women who are not ashamed of being Muslim. Women & Gender in Islam is a cultural treatise that does not rely on the actual teachings of Islam as its basis and in fact disregards and distorts the original teachings of the Prophet in regards to women.

    It’s nice to “meet” such a well-read black male feminist and I believe your intent is sincere. But once again, you fall into the same pattern as everyone else: speaking on something you don’t know about. Non-Muslims need to stop asking other non-Muslims what to read to understand Islam and Muslim women.

  80. Aaminah, I am curious about your opinion of the International Congress on Islamic Feminism whose proceedings are collected here?

  81. Let the church say AMEN!!!!!

  82. See this is exactly the problem?
    Leila Ahmed???
    Man!!
    She represents a fringe. Come on.
    People are reading all the wrong things.
    She does not represent us!

  83. And she is not a scholar!

    Karen Armstrong- I would call her a scholar.

    But not Leila Ahmed.

  84. I cannot put myself in the position of the woman from the post. I am not Black, not Muslim, I have most likely never been to where she lives. The one thing we share to some extent is the social background. And, pushing it further, I, like her, am also not a middle-class White American woman, like the frontwomen of the second wave of feminism.

    But I learned feminism from my mother, who grew up poor in a part of Europe that is considered remote by most people in the West, and who didn’t know that she was a feminist until she learned about the movement many, many years after she began her personal struggle for women’s rights.

    My mother never denied being a feminist, although so many things set her apart from the American movement, and organized feminism in the country where she lives.

    It is thanks to her that I define feminism as the right of women to THINK and act in accordance with that and not a set of forms that try to constrain them. I believe it is important to keep that label and define it for ourselves each in our individual practice. That way women’s struggle for equality remains VISIBLE.

    Quiet thinking and fears of being “disloyal” towards men do not help us assert our right to live on our terms.

    I do understand that the racial aspect is inextricably linked to Black feminism and I respect that. In fact, I value Black feminism for the insight it offers into the conflation of different forms of oppression in the experience of Black women. I think we can all learn from that, because attending to our own issues does not mean dismissing others’ concerns as unimportant.

    Therefore, I don’t think that solidarity with Black feminists and other women works against solidarity with men in the Black community. Feminism, after all, is not about waging a war against men, but about the happiness and honest life of men and women alike.

  85. Hi. I speak here is a black woman who grew up working class on the S. Side of Chicago who has a master’s degree in wome’s studies and years of work in many activist communties. In addition I also identify as a Pagan, queer,radical woman of color.

    Historically, women of color have always fought for our own communities- black women have fought alongside with white women, black men and white men if need be. No matter what we call ourselves we fight, making and breaking alliances as needed. I agree with the right of women to call themselves whatever they like as long as they fight the good fight. Black women struggle with what to call ourselves and it is a good and necessary conversation to have.

    I am personally feminist in contexts where it is necessary and womanist in other contexts. I find that the labels matter less to me than actual results. I agree that white feminists can be racially blindsided AND I argue that black women have a lot to learn from the successes of the feminist movements. Feminism to me means a woman’s right to decide her own life…which will vary largely based on a woman’s class, race, religious etc standpoint. I find that most people (of any group or gender) who oppose feminism do so largely by lumping all the different versions of feminism into one so big and vague as to be inaccurate.
    Feminists are straight, queer, poly, single, partnered, black, Latina, Christian, Pagan, Muslim, humanist, radical, liberal, seperatists, eco-centered, Marxists, anarchists, housewives, strippers, professors, farmers, college students, welfare moms, male and female. I don’t believe it is possible to dismiss all of these experiences in one stereoypical blow.

    To say that one despises the racism and classism of some white feminists is entirely right. I certainly do.
    It is ok, and probably necessary to be critical of majority white movements. People of color must call our white colleagues to task for racial inequalities.
    But it’s wrong to say that racism or class defines feminism or that there is nothing to learn from feminist activism or organizing. I do not think that I’m being oppressed or brainwashed or unloyal to my race when I choose to work on issues such as sexual harrasment, unequal pay, racism, homophobia, religious bigotry or sexism. All of these are MY issues and I don’t see them as seperate.
    I also take offense at the idea that I am making something that is not my own, mine. Feminism doesn’t belong to anybody and neither does fighting oppression whatever you call it. African-American are a hybrid people-we take a little of that and this and create something new. Christianity wasn’t our own but from that we created gospel, soul, which led to rock and roll, and hip hop. We took euro-american scraps and created soul food. We took from feminism and created black feminism and womansim. We continue lifting as we climb, no matter what we call it.

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  87. But it’s wrong to say that racism or class defines feminism or that there is nothing to learn from feminist activism or organizing. I do not think that I’m being oppressed or brainwashed or unloyal to my race when I choose to work on issues such as sexual harrasment, unequal pay, racism, homophobia, religious bigotry or sexism. All of these are MY issues and I don’t see them as seperate. I also take offense at the idea that I am making something that is not my own, mine.

    Makeda, I agree.

    The backlash caused many WOC to only see feminism as racist and classist and many white women to dismiss feminism altogether.

  88. Hello, everyone.

    I don’t want to act like an impostor on ABW’s blog. I like what she’s doing here very much and find it really great that it’s such a lively discussion forum.

    I hope it’s not impolite of me to use this space for making a request.

    I’m an MA student who wants to write about Black feminism in the blogosphere. I would like my project not to be about just description and “analysis” but about co-operation. I would like it to be not just about the posts I read but to be grounded in a dialog with women who know more than me and have expertise and willingness to pursue the project of Black feminism in online communities.

    In short, I don’t want to interpret Black feminist blogs from a remote perspective, but give bloggers the voice and ask questions.

    If you are interested in participating, I would be more than pleased.

    Here is where you can find more about my project:

    – brief description: http://scribblingswithgreenchalk.wordpress.com/project-black-feminist-blogs/
    – Question 1: http://scribblingswithgreenchalk.wordpress.com/2007/12/01/question-1-who-can-be-a-black-feminist/

    ABW, I hope I haven’t abused your hospitality.

  89. Good post and links to Aaminah’s posting on feminism. Interesting discussion, but in some places it feels like I’ve read it before. And before. And before. And before.

    I’m not sure where the definition of the civil rights movement comes from as being primarily by Black men. Yes, the larger media outlets zeroed in on Black male leaders predominantly but if you read, research or talk with many people who were involved in the civil rights movement (and there were many) and they will tell you about the Black women and young girls, including the women themselves.

    To exclude Black women from a movement that they were greatly involved in and in cases, died for ,while claiming to know a lot about White women shows that it’s only the history of White women that’s worth knowing, as some people here have said.

    How about Ida B. Wells-Barnett for example? Sojourner Truth? The civil rights movement era was indeed a long one. Earlier women’s rightings including slave narratives are harder to find than men’s including Harriet Jacobs, whose writings were erroneously and racistly credited to a White woman. They are there. Sometimes you have to just look deeper.

    Women always play important roles in civil rights movements. It doesn’t mean there’s no sexism in these movements but women are deeply involved. It’s not women’s fault if the media outlets that cover these movements and view as well as portray them often through the prisms of racial privilege and gender privilege, deemphasize or even ignore or try to erase their roles. But many women have left their words , memories and pictures behind.

    Donna: Feminists blog and do activism for other cultures and races plenty, if you’re willing to look for them. These are the feminists that are able to gather the most publicity for races, classes and sexes. Jessica Valenti of Feministing, for example, and the collective group she works with, talk about racism, classism, and homosexuality plenty, and were able to put Jessica on the Colbert Report and gain all those posts some publicity.

    If that’s not enough for you, then you should be able to rant to me just as much about how much black groups don’t help black women enough. Why is it less valid for me to opine about the lack of black activism against retarded gangsta rappers? Have you seen feminists like those I’ve named whine about how much you darn race activists don’t help women enough, or were they kind enough not to whine about other activists stealing their thunder?

    Oh dear. I’ve definitely read this before, some place. Maybe a couple. What’s ironic is that on this site (and on Donna’s and on many others) there are excellent examples of activism and feminist discourse and yes, they do look for other blogs and sites given the wealth of links to other bloggers on their postings and sites. I don’t know what to say to see them get lectured or even scolded on being told how to and that they need to look and find feminists who blog or are activists except it’s grossly unfair and those who do criticize them should be ashamed of themselves. Have you even read these sites? They are there. That is, if you know where to look for them. Why not start here since you are here? This is a great site with many good discussions.

    For me, these are the places to go, not Feministing where female bloggers of color have been treated badly any time they open their mouths, which doesn’t exactly speak to an inclusive movement as you claim it to be. It doesn’t speak to a lot of White women either even as it’s earmarked for our kind.

    And with all due respect, many women including this one don’t really relate to Jessica Valenti and what she has to say about feminist issues. There’s also a lot of discussions going on in the internet on these issues as others here have noted. That is, if you know where to look for them.

    It’s posts like these that are one reason that I’m embarrassed to call myself a feminist at times.

    Yeah, and lose the ableist slur, please.

    —Radfem

  90. female bloggers of color have been treated badly any time they open their mouths, which doesn’t exactly speak to an inclusive movement as you claim it to be.

    Given that three out of the seven bloggers of Feministing are women of color, I’m fairly certain that this is overstatement.

  91. Given that three out of the seven bloggers of Feministing are women of color, I’m fairly certain that this is overstatement.

    When I was reading those threads at feministing and some other spots, i didn’t really think so. but thanks for the racial breakdown of Feministing’s bloggers even though I didn’t ask for it.

    Maybe I should be more specific in my comments. Many women of color including many who are or were bloggers have been treated badly any time they open their mouths, which doesn’t exactly speak to an inclusive moment as you (or others) claim it to be.

    Aaminah, it sounds as if in rejecting feminism, you are also rejecting the core principle of it (i.e. equal rights for all human beings). I’m sure you’re not trying to say that, but that’s how it comes off, at least to me.

    This statement really struck me as not being really accurate. What “feminism” is being rejected? Your “feminism”? Does this “feminism” really align with “equal rights for all human beings”?

    The problem too often is that with feminism as happens in other movements sometimes is some people are more “human” than others. I was thinking of this after reading and still reading brownfemipower’s posting here.

    —-Radfem

  92. The problem is also blaming someone for not caring about equal rights because they won’t adopt feminism or your brand of feminism and then on top of that, being more concerned with trying to tell them what they’re really saying instead so you can understand it.

    Maybe if that’s how you see it, you should go back and read Aaminah’s posting and see what she’s saying.

  93. Bluewatcher, I did read Aaminah’s entire post before responding to it.

    “Does this “feminism” really align with “equal rights for all human beings”?”

    In my mind? Yes. But we have already established that my definition of feminism is based on feminist theory, which (at least in the stuff I have read) recognizes the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Aaminah’s (and others’) is based on the attitudes and history of the feminist movement.

    Thank you for the link to brownfemipower’s post. This is the kind of thing the feminist movement needs a LOT more of.

  94. sandra77 your commetns are laughable the fact is that attitude of ‘let’s worry about US first’ is the very reason women of color can’t relate to the Feminazi movement. And now is just about the agenda the feminots have NEVER cared about women of color and I’m not saying they should but at the same time don’t blither blather about ‘all women’ when want you REALLY mean is ones just like you. Who share your economic status,neighborhood,educational background,age, and most importantly skin color.

  95. And as much barn burning as they do let’s not forget these are still their fathers,brothers,husbands,sons,grandpas,nephews, and so-in-laws so spare me the they fought for all of you claptrap. Bottom line white women have ALWAYS had white males at their beck and call so there ‘climb’ out of the pit of discrimination was not a very high one. Case in point Bill Clinton a male who exhibited almost EVERY behavior that the feminuts supposedly are so disgusted by yet they fought to the death to defend him why. Because he’s in their back pocket another example I read someone refer to the ‘retarded’ rappers who frankly aren’t ANY more misogynist than a lot of Hollywood filmmakers yet the feminots don’t attack them why. Because they contribute big bucks to their oragnization so maybe you should question how the same group of ‘activists’ who are supposedly so down for ‘fighting the good fight’ will willing prostitute themselves out to get it. Don’t use your sex to get your way THEN turn around and bitch about sexism.

  96. Lmay:

    What’s wrong with you?

  97. As far as I’m concerned, using the term “feminazi” is an automatic Godwin. For all their faults, feminist groups have never committed wholesale genocide and murdered millions of people, nor have the advocated doing so. It’s a specious comparison that’s insulting to the victims of the Nazis as well as to feminists.

    white women have ALWAYS had white males at their beck and call

    I guess that’s why white women have never been raped by white men, or beaten by them, or institutionalized by them, or sexually harrassed by them, or prevented from owning property, or any of that. That’s a relief.

    It’s one thing to discuss the very real ways in which the feminist movement has in the past and continues to abandon non-white women. It’s another to claim that white women don’t suffer from misogyny. That’s simply untrue.

    Feminists supported Clinton because he was better on feminist issues than the Republicans. Just like every other group on the political scene, they get their hands dirty–we have to be the only angels at the table in DC? And you’re simply incorrect about Hollywood–feminists have been campaigning against the misogyny in mainstream films for decades.

  98. I would like to address Aminah’s response to my post. The books for Leila Ahmed that I suggested were from my class reading list for my graduate seminar on Women’s Movement’s in the Middle East and North Africa. The class was designed and taught by Dr. Sallama Shaker – a leading Egyptian diplomat and a practicing Muslim. Although I take full responsibility for how I characterized the text, I do base by positive recommendation on hers. Thus to dismiss me as someone who is speaking out of some vacuum about Islam is not only no true but sad. If there cannot be a complex discussion about the various positions held by women in the Muslim community, there will continue to be small-minded bigotry in the greater non-Muslim community. So, am I banned to silence about Islam because I do not practice the faith? I never made the claim that Ahmed was any sort of spokesperson for the entire Muslim community, but it is a place to start a dialog informed by facts. Ahmed’s first goal to unpack the historical context surrounding this issues. To respond to sacrosanct, I find it problematic that someone becomes unscholarly as soon as they present issues that do not agree with yours. The dialog needs to start somewhere, and I do see anyone else providing constructive solutions.

  99. [...] so many months ago I commented on the Angry Black Woman’s blog in a thread on feminism, expressing shock and dismay at the anger directed at white feminists. In my naivete I assumed that [...]

  100. [...] On Feminism, Part 2 Posted on April 28, 2008 by the angry black woman I bet you don’t remember part 1, do you? Here’s a reminder. [...]

  101. [...] so many months ago I commented on the Angry Black Woman’s blog in a thread on feminism, expressing shock and dismay at the anger directed at white feminists. In my naivete I assumed that [...]

  102. I have read it, but I cant agree.
    I enjoy feminism, because of its use to me. It’s the first time I EVER heard women talk about the issues relating to them and thier lives. Its also one of the few times women talk about thier issues and are heard with any legitimacy ( in other words , ppl care to listen). White, black, Yellow, Brown, Red whatever race.
    Or maybe its just what Ive been exposed to, Even with liberal colleges, things are censored.

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