I live in cracks and nooks. I exist nowhere and everywhere. My feminism is a territory cast aside from the big island that is Feminism, at least, the feminism that everyone has been discussing regarding #femfuture.
There is this US territory, not coded as such but as “online feminism” (presented as neutral, deterritorialized, homogenous) but this construction is not online feminism, it is American or perhaps North American, or should I go all Latina and just call it what it is: Anglo feminism and then there is me in the sidelines. So, when Jessica Luther wondered out loud what I thought (there have been a lot of polemics about the report), I sincerely have no thoughts because I don’t belong in this.
To call what is going on in an Anglo centric environment “online feminism” is to cast me (and millions like me) away from the umbrella. We live elsewhere. We communicate in English but we are not part of the culture that is being discussed. We are the outsiders that have issues that are alien to this “online feminism”. I highlight the attack on reproductive rights going on in the US as much as I can, but this is not my personal fight; I point to the need of US immigration reform as much as I come across topics that cover it, but my reason of existence is EU immigration reform and its intersections with gender; when something that happened in the US needs denouncing to harness the collective attention, I gladly lend myself to it because I believe feminism is not a zero sum game (i.e. if I spend a few minutes or hours talking about an issue in North America, it doesn’t detract from my long term goals about policies, racism and gender in Europe). However, that’s not my “online feminism”. I might get lumped into the term because I communicate in English but my reality is rather different: I live in Amsterdam.
And here’s what happens when you inhabit these cracks: you pretty much don’t exist. Years ago when I started writing publicly, I made the decision to write in English (instead of Spanish or Dutch) because a) it’s the language most spoken in my surrounding and b) my written Dutch is appalling. I lack nuance, I lack depth, I have the vocabulary of a child and quite frankly, it’s a language that limits my ability to communicate on the level I wanted to. Besides, when in 2002, the Euro came in, I quickly threw myself into the political consequences of this Union and I thought I’d be more effective writing in a language that is widely spoken within the area. However, because I am simultaneously in (i.e. part of this online feminism by virtue of writing, blogging, creating media, etc in the English language) and outside (i.e. I live in Europe and the bulk of what I write and communicate is about WoC living in Europe), I get pretty much ignored. When feminist organizations in The Netherlands organize events, they do not know I exist. Sure, I know for a fact I am read by some (in fact, the biggest feminist NGO in the country has me listed in their blogroll), but I do not speak the “local language”. Oh I do speak Dutch all right. But I speak of a feminism that is practically alien to them. I shout about immigration reform and death of WoC, I yell about State violence directed at WoC, I insist on the hierarchical nature of a White Supremacist Patriarchal State… all the topics that local feminist organizations won’t touch with a ten foot pole. So, I simply do not get invited. They will happily bring Caitlin Moran over from the UK to give a talk (they did last year) but those like me simply do not exist locally.
Then there is the American version of online feminism, which has other realities and other goals and other culturally relevant issues, to which I do not get invited either because frankly, I have nothing of meaning to contribute (thousands of WoC are doing that locally and passionately, so why would anyone bring me over to talk about what people with better local knowledge and ideas are already doing?). In the UK, the online feminist discourses seem to be dangerously US centric as well. The exception being Black feminists who are contributing a wealth of knowledge and creating their own epistemic histories but that is not (yet) mainstream UK feminism. Mainstream is, once again, Caitlin Moran. Online, British feminism looks either inward (rightfully so, because they are focused in their local issues) or towards the US (as if the US was the feminist Mother Ship one should aspire to) but there isn’t much in terms of a European focus. “Things” happen either in the UK or in the US and once again… I inhabit another space.
So, all these talks about #femfuture are certainly not about me. If anything, I try to firmly stand my ground so as not to be colonized by this increasingly US centric version of online feminism. My resistance ends up being a double bind: I need to resist the policies, racism, discrimination, etc of a State that considers those like me disposable and I need to resist the absorption of the “Mother Ship” that owns the discourses around which feminist issues matter the most. In the meantime, I can tell you this much: my #femfuture is about yelling louder. Because really, there isn’t much else I can do, further than assimilating (which, no) in order to create the awareness I believe is needed.
God, do I know this feeling. It’s mostly why I stopped capital-b blogging.
What rankles as well is that here there are some pretty vocal & strong voices from women of colour. But often white feminists in Australia will ignore them in favour of an analysis of racial justice coming from the USA. Sometimes in favour of people coming from the USA.
Also, Flavia is more generous than I am, I suppose. After trying to be heard by US-centric bloggers, only to be told I was “doing nothing” and “build it yourself”, I pretty much gave up on showing solidarity when none was being shown my way.
like just the whole attitude tumblr feminists have towards that scene makes me so angry because wow a++ job not taking ANY cultural context into that film
like haha look she has so much agency she has decided to cut off her hair and thus divorce herself of femininity EXCEPT THAT THAT’S NOT THE WAY GENDER OPERATES IN ANCIENT CHINA EXHIBIT A:
for han people prior to the qing dynasty (and i’m telling you right now mulan is set before the qing), cutting your hair is a sign of shame and disgrace and humiliation because you are cutting off that which your parents gave you and you are being incredibly disrespectful to your parents, which is the ENTIRE REASON why people were willing to LOSE THEIR HEADS instead of cut their hair when the manchus mandated that men were to shave their hair into queues after conquering china
like unless you are a buddhist nun or a buddhist monk (even daoist monks and daoist nuns don’t shave their heads; see wudang, emei) who has cut their hair to signify that they are no longer concerned with the 凡 and thus familial/personal relationships are no longer of import, i can’t remember a situation in which it wasn’t a disgrace for han people to cut their hair prior to ~1644
i will always reblog this always relevant piece of commentary re: cultural appropriateness of feminist commentary, or lack there of.
I am hosting the 54th Down Under Feminists Carnival at one of my other blogs!
The next edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival is planned for 5 November, 2012 and submissions can be made up until November 2, though it would be excellent for me if you would submit before that. Submissions can be sent to yiduiqie [at] gmail [dot] com for those who can’t access the blogcarnival submissions form.
Submissions must be of posts of feminist interest by writers from Australia and New Zealand that were published in October. So submit early and often, please, and tell your friends!
There is no official theme for this edition of the carnival, though the unofficial theme of my blog is always race and ethnicity representation, so please definitely feel free to use that for guidance! (Do you sense a post brewing on exoticism and feminism and my experiences in China? oh yes indeed)
[img: a column in a newspaper. the title is cut off but reads in part ‘stop bla’. the column reads:
don’t tell me i shouldn’t be walking the streets of melbourne, alone, late at night. i already know it’s a safety hazard.
don’t tell me that i shouldn’t accept drinks off strange men. don’t tell me that i shouldn’t go out alone, even if it is just to the toilet, to the bar, to take a call. i already know they are safety hazards.
tell them that when i say ‘no’, i mean no.
let’s stop blaming women for rape. let’s stop blaming women for assault.
how can we put a stop to rape? the answer doesn’t lie in increasing cctv surveillance, policing or lighting in the streets, though they’re positive strategies.
the answer here is: stop raping.
if you see a girl walking on her own, leave her be. if you want to buy a girl a drink, don’t spike it.
if you ask a girl for a drink, or a dance, or sex, accept her answer.
if your girlfriend or wife or friend or someone you just met doesn’t want to have sex with you, don’t have sex with her.
stop blaming victims, the city of melbourne, the dark streets, the police. blame the real reason. blame the rapist.
laura nicol, northcote ]
An interview with Karen Miller at tor.com, where she talks about feminism, writing for established universes, and Australian epic fantasy.
The fact that there are men today, in supposedly civilised Western societies, who proudly proclaim that they will not read a book written by a woman, for no other reason than it was written by a woman—what does that say about the kind of blind bigotry that still prevails in our lives? Women are expected to fully participate in stories written by men and about men—but men are often made to feel inferior if they engage in stories written by women about women, or about men and women. This isn’t to say that stories should never be written with just men or just women in mind. I don’t believe that at all. But to dismiss the books written by women fantasy writers solely because they’re written by women? Really? Everyone’s okay with that?
In our ongoing mission to prove to the world… . or tumblr that women are accurately portrayed in comics and naturally contort themselves into pretzels on a daily basis, we present to you another one of our daily life photos.
Here is what we normally look like when we pay our bills.
My first reaction was, “The real person didn’t twist her chest forward enough” and then I smacked myself and said, “That’s because the real person actually has a spine, genius.”
I need lots and lots of these anatomical corrections to come across my dash. I’m starting to subconsciously think these horrible poses might be possible!
fuck but Candy Bowers is a genius
you should almost certainly go to her stand-up show “australian booty”, the last performance is tomorrow
I saw her show last night, it was super awesome. Go see this tonight if you can! (at the Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne)
Ay-leen the Peacemaker reports back from a seminar on bartitsu, an obscure Victorian English form of martial arts that combined various fighting styles from boxing to jujitsu, and which is coming back into nerd vogue thanks to Sherlock and steampunk:
Prof. Donnelly started off by explaining how bartitsu was based on learning how to fight with whatever one had on-hand. During the Victorian era, every gentleman had a walking cane or pocket watch and women had a parasol, pocket watch or (eek) hat pins, which is why most of bartitsu’s moves employed those accessories. “If I were teaching a modern self-defense form using Barton-Wright’s philosophy,” Prof. Donnelly commented, “I’d probably use a cell phone.”
We learned how to block, parry and strike with canes, to use parasols like bayonets, and how both items can be used to pin down attackers. Best tip of the day: “Aim for the squishy bits.”
An intriguing historical tidbit:The legacy of bartitsu was varied: for example, a secret society of bodyguards called the “jujitsu suffragettes” was created by Edith Garrud and protected woman suffragettes during protests…
Jujitsu. Suffragettes. IS THIS REAL LIFE.
This part is especially telling (and sadly true of some places I’ve been involved in):
The core group began by thinking it was easy to go beyond tokenism to integrate women of color into the organization. They ended, however, with the realization that genuine integration means not only attracting more women of color to events, but also shifting the structure of the organization to include women of color as powerful forces in shaping the organization. Perhaps because their racism made them see me as a “white ally,” these resistant white feminists were often very up-front with me about their decision not to share power with women of color. One Board president told me it “simply isn’t worth it” to consult women of color about what they want, because she realized it would take the organization in a direction she didn’t want it to go, and serve a constituency she now realized (as a result of our “counseling”) she didn’t want to serve. Other white women said that it would make them “too uncomfortable,” and that, for them, TWFC would no longer be a refuge and a place that boosted their egos by affirming they “did good.” Instead, they’d have to be “careful” all the time, and would be self-conscious about what the women of color thought of them. In short, given the comfort of racism, and the discomfort of active anti-racism, they chose racism, outright. What was there for me to do at that point, except clarify that they had chosen to perpetuate racism, rather than to end it?
oh snap. this. and i mean this. is sooo my experience working with white organizations that want to be anti racist. like, shit, you mean being an ally means *i* dont get to be the good white person all the time? well, then, no thank you! cant we just be racist instead?
and frankly, not just with white vs of color women. also in dealing with us centrism, class, sexuality, etc. this is the pattern, y’all.
and folks still ask me why i dont do anti oppression work for ngo’s anymore…
This whole article is really helpful in breaking down ways white groups or white organisations can actually work towards diversifying and ways in which this frequently doesn’t happen and why (as explained in the section above, pretty much because the core organising group chooses racism over the discomfort of active anti-racism.)
Kakak Killjoy is a Malaysian feminist webzine showcasing critical writing on culture, the arts, science, and politics.
I just posted on there, and some people you may recognise from Tumblr are on there too. Come see :)
(The title’s a reference to a Malay riot-grrrl-esque song I believe)
If my writing mojo returns, you’ll be able to find me posting on here.
In the early eighties, there was a report, written for the US Government, called Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery. This report argued that transition-related treatments were medically unnecessary. As a result, consideration of federal and state aid for trans people was dropped, and private insurance companies quickly followed suit, disingenuously expanding the definition of “transition-related” to include absolutely anything that could even conjecturally be related to hormone treatments, including various types of cancer. Trans people have died as a result.
I wonder how many people know who was responsible for that report, who it was that convinced the US government (and, indirectly, insurance companies) that helping trans people wasn’t important. You’d probably think it was some fundiegelical Republican, right?
Nope. It was Janice Raymond.
If you feel like being enraged, you can read a copy of her report (trigger warning for transphobia, obviously). If you don’t feel like reading, you’re not missing much, as it’s basically the same “morally mandate it out of existence” horseshit that was in her book. (And yeah, like most transphobic feminists, she almost makes a couple of really good points, but is so focused on eliminationism that she doesn’t actually arrive at helpful conclusions. Or so it appears — frankly, I can only read a few sentences of it at a time without wanting to scream and kick things.)
So yeah — if you’ve ever wondered why I can’t be “understanding” and “patient” with feminist transphobia, now you know why: tens of thousands of trans people have died because of it.
“Should Feminists Be Vegetarians?”
Author: Kathryn Paxton George
Source: Signs, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Winter, 1994), pp. 405-434
Planning to track this text down, based on this extract. I feel like, based on this, I’m going to have some issues, but interested in giving it a read.
[ text: By arguing that the vegan lifestyle is an ideal to be aimed for, moral vegans are compelled to accept the presuppositions that attend it - that our Western way of life is best. But with that way of life comes an industrialised complex that has implications for culture, the environment, and the expenditure of labor and resources, that is, wealth. If the only way to have a truly ethical relationship with animals is to adopt a vegan lifestyle, it also means that we must live in a society like ours; all other “less advanced” societies would (magnanimously) excused as morally ignorant or culturally backward or both. But this is simply moral arrogance. On that view the economically poor who consume animals and their products in cultural and environmental contexts that are migratory, marginal, tropical, arid, arctic, alpine, oceanic, isolated, or otherwise nonindustrialized would be routinely excused, just as women, children, and old people would be routinely excused, just as women, children, and old people would be routinely excused from attaining the most virtuous life of veganism. But as I have argued above, the routine excuse of nearly everyone in the world except Western young adult males from “true morality” suggests that there is something wrong with the morality, not with those excused from it. Why should we think that our Western culture - with its attitude of dominating nature, of using nature solely as a tool for human ends - is the only one capable of a moral relationship with food animals? We should wonder, instead, whether our culture is not on the wrong track entirely concerning such a relationship. ]
i feel like there’s some commentary to be made here, that the guys are all spread out and taking up space, and emma, the only woman featured, is tiny and condensed and unlike the others, does not take up the entire frame.
One of the hardest parts of feminism for me is the NOT JUDGING part.
I had a post in my head about the slut-shaming that goes on around Halloween and how despicable it is, but this is much more succinct and says basically all that I had in mind. I mean, let’s shame the costume companies who make it so hard to find decent costumes, meaning that anyone who’s a little bit busy and picks up a ready-made costume is kinda stuck with the company’s idea of what female professionals dress like. Let’s shame the society that creates the screwed up beauty standards that demand more skin to be deemed attractive and then turns on anyone who embraces their sexuality. Let’s shame the people who are dressing up as insulting caricatures of ethnic minorities. And let’s leave the women who make their own choices of what clothes they are comfortable in, alone.