Monday, May 16, 2011

SlutWalk and Oppressed Groups hating one each other more than their Oppressors

So I just wrote a ton about SlutWalk because I read critiques that called them racist which I think are fundamentally misguided.

It's pretty much an infight between feminists who feel that they somehow represent all women of color and that white women's feminism completely ignores them (some does, but some does not).

What I find just mind-boggling is that these particular women of color's wrath seems most directed towards white feminist rather than say I dunno patriarchy or people who actively defend and protect patriarchy.


Fucking Leftist Sectarianism!

What happened to meeting people where they're at? That's why I'm glad I have an anarchist background, instead of screaming at people and saying "you're so RACIST, Feminists", I do bring up the issues I think are not addressed and don't let people not deal with them but at the same time not alienating them like these critics are doing off the bat.

Also on POC Organize whoever wrote the article basically said people like me are not *really* people of color because we happen to disagree with their over the top approach to critiquing Slutwalk, there are tokens who really do work against people of color's overall interests but you have to be very very careful that you don't just label people who don't agree with you tokens when they're not tokens.

Black people who think Black people's laziness are the reason Black people are disproportiontaely poor and that history or institutional racism have nothing to do with it are what I'd call tokens. I'm more likely to say hey some white feminists don't get class or race issues well yet but let's work with them and work on issues we care about in common and make them aware of what issues are important to working women and women of color instead of just "You're racist!" being the first thing out of your mouth.

Also I don't have time for this. Many strands of 21st century young women's Feminism are very inter-sectional and addresses race, class, sexual orientation, gender, ability, and immigration status. In fact Feminism is possibly the most intersectional movement in the left today. Other movements are moving that way but I've seen feminists talk about issues in a lot more detail than I've seen people doing class adequately discuss gender or those fighting against racism talk about gender or class.

Gone is the 70s feminism that completely ignore women of color and even that was mostly a strawman anyway. Betty Friedan for example actually was a labor journalist and wrote a lot on working women and women of color's issues before she wrote the Feminine Mystique. Focusing on white middle class women in that book may have not been the best decision IMO but critiques that she ignored other women in that book forget that she had long addressed those women's issues.

Anyway it is so typical of oppressed groups to reserve the worst of their wrath for others in their oppressed group and not the oppressor. It's an effect of oppression. It's a form of internalize oppression to be more harsh in judging other oppressed people than the oppressor.

Just my two cents.

P.S. I'm also not the oh we should just dialogue and be kumbayah type at all. I just think that these critiques are completely over-generalizing, creating rifts between women of color and white women more than there were before, and just generally ineffective.

These are the articles that have good intentions but just irritate me and make me think they're doing more harm than good in the way they went about it:

Edit: I think that pervasive sexual violence and sexism will not end without addressing gender roles, the construction of sexuality and violence in our culture, and the economic situation of women but we are not going to move forward in ending it if we just trash our potential allies at the first chance we get.

To say that these young women are racist because they are addressing sexism in the way that is most familiar to them when they are called sluts and experience sexual violence and then chide them for initially focusing on sexual oppression as related to appearance and saying that their attempts to take action are ultimately oppressive of women of color is counterproductive in my opinion. (Women of color get called sluts a lot too and they think that they shouldn’t be raped no matter what they were wearing either.) I completely understand where the critique is coming form but if when I said I was interested in Feminism at the beginning of college you went on a rant into very complex issues without a common starting point and chided me for not having perfect gender, race, sexual, anti-oppression politics you would really have lost me for a while. We very much need to address these issues in order to improve our situations but alienating allies like SlutWalk is not the way to go about this.

Also what do these critiques say about the women of color who are involved in Slut Walk? Are they not participating in making invisible and marginalizing these women? Why did they not instead ASK women of color in SlutWalk if they felt that it was not representing their needs? The articles I read assumed these things or said these people’s voices did not matter. One of the core tenets of anti-oppression politics is to ask before you assume people feel a certain way and not to speak for others whom you are not.

Originally this was posted as a Facebook note but a friend asked me to put it on a blog so that more people could see it! So here it is with some added clarifying thoughts of mine because the note was written for people who know me personally and I wanted to add some thoughts so people who don’t understand me do not think that I don’t think that white privilege or class privilege are not problems. They are, it just doesn’t help to throw those labels around without explaining why it matters or why it applies. I have read so many white Feminists who talk about how important ending white privilege, not necessarily enough but it’s not like they do not exist, they’re just being conveniently excluded from the conversation as well as women of color who don’t think SlutWalk is a racist organization.