Friday, April 25, 2008

Time to Weigh on the current White Feminist Debate

I'm conflict-avoidant, and really busy, and, let's face it, a beneficiary of white privilege so I am "free" to ignore it, otherwise I would have said something sooner. I should have anyway.

First, to nutshell if I can: white feminist Amanda Marcotte didn't give proper intellectual props to Brownfemipower, a big cheese in the feminist blogosphere, when she should have. You can get plugged in here, here and here. To make matters worse, at about the same time, Amanda's publisher, Seal Press, said some privileged shit about how she "wants" to publish women of color but just can't seem to find them. That sounds just like the "where are the women bloggers" meme that goes around constantly, doesn't it? And then Seal Press put into Amanda's feminist "survival" book a bunch of imagery of, shall we say, questionable merit from a race-conscious perspective. (h/t to Angry Black Woman for most of this.)

So, here's the thing, and I want to give proper thanks to Twisty Faster at I Blame the Patriarchy for schooling white feminists, including me: my benefiting from white privilege makes it easy for me to wave off or ignore as "ironic" or "ignorant" or "but that's not the message they were trying to send!" instead of recognizing that if a member of a minority group calls something out, you should listen to their assessment, since they're the ones who can't wave this shit off or ignore it. To quote Twisty: "That this was unintentional is of no consequence; it was perceived by many, and rightly so." This is exactly what feminists get stuck saying to men all the time: what you thought you were saying, buster, ain't what I heard, and you need to care about my point of view. The fact that someone is having a different experience does not mean they are shrill harpies, or otherwise invalidated. It means they are having a different experience. If you have an expert in the house, listen to what they have to say.

Just so. And white feminists need to listen, and care about the point of view of women of color, and minority voices. This does not, I believe, dilute the feminist movement or its goal of equality for women - and I don't think it requires that women put our advancement as women on the backburner while we "fix" some "other problem" - but rather that understanding the complex experience of different women can help all of us learn new tools and strategies for the advancement of all women. Because different areas of the fight may need different tools. And because one size, does not, as they say, fit all.