Friday, May 09, 2008

As purple is to lavender…

A certain Jaime sent this bitch an e-mail asking whether I believe that Senator Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has produced a split feminism.


Great question and a nice segue into a topic this bitch has been agonizing about since WAM! 2008, so double thanks to you Jaime (wink).

Shall we?

A bitch has written and re-written this post so many times that I’m embarrassed to call out the number. I have come to the realization that my ass just needs to keep it real and not worry about style.

So, for better and hopefully not for worse, here’s where I’m at.

Senator Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has not produced a split in feminism. It just flushed away a lot of that tolerance bullshit and exposed a rift that’s been there since way back in the day.

This bitch just watched Iron Jawed Angels again and found myself screaming at the television set because it ended in a ‘go forth, sister, and be inspired by what these brave women did for you’ GreatBigHappyFuckingEnding after only a token acknowledgement of the deliberate cave by leaders of the Suffrage Movement to southern bigotry that left women of color on the curb for another 40 years!

But then I remembered my blood pressure and had to go to my calm happy place.


Anyhoo, this rift ain’t new and it is layered with issues of class, race, orientation and identity that all play a role in our goals and tactics. The reason it may seem new is because we haven’t had a happening that demanded an unavoidable examination of our values and our goals in some time.

As my beloved father used to say, you don’t have to do anything but stay brown and eventually die. This is about what we choose to do and why we make the choices we make.

In that spirit, here’s my choice - this bitch ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I honor the decisions of those WOC who have decided to step back or stop blogging. This shit ain’t easy and it can be frustrating as hell. I hope they will return to add their voices to the chorus…but I understand if they don’t.


As some of you know a bitch is not a fan of the school of tolerance and I blame a lot of this current drama on it.

We all need to do some inner work and ask ourselves some serious questions.

How do I define feminism?

Do I consider myself a part of the feminist movement?

Do I consider myself womanist?

Why do I consider myself a part of this movement?

What do I mean by the word oppression?

What do I mean by the word privilege?

What do I mean by the word progressive?

Am I keeping shit real and calling out those on the left for shit I would mercilessly correct had it come from the right?

Am I committed to social justice and do my actions reflect that commitment?

Only after we know ourselves can we be a part of something that will educate others and change the world for the better. Otherwise our unexamined drama will surface and define not just who we are but also what the movement is.

This isn’t a call for everyone to gather ‘round a campfire, feast on S’Mores and Come On Get Happy.

This is about keeping shit real…

…and a little something I like to call respect.


Eva said...

I have been away from this a long time, but I am glad to see that you are still here. I agree, that there has always been a rift, and it's not just in feminism, but that's what is now on display. I do not consider myself a feminist because I have always felt that femisnism did not address my Blackness. After reading through your questions, I will have to give them some serious thought to see where I would place myself or if I will forever be content not assigning any labels.

Jackie G. said...

I've been astounded by how many people are shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that mainstream feminism is the way it is now. I have to restrain myself from saying "d'uh", with an eyeroll which probably isn't fair but then at the same time, I have to realize that I came of age in the 80s when feminists of color really ramped up publishing and documenting their experiences both within and without the mainstream movement so I had access and the immediacy of that part of the movement and that helped shape me.

What's happening now is like a hackeney replay of the late 80s. I hope some of my younger sisters will learn to reserve their energy and put it where it counts rather than going a few more rounds with the current crop of white feminists. I'm to the point where I'm thinking, "Y'know, we can do this our own way and let the lot of them go." These days I'd rather put energy to building more bridges with other feminists and activists of color and a few white women who have their shit together than to deal with the hordes who think all feminism needs is a miniskirt to be cool.

Anonymous said...

The only "ism" to which I adhere is humanism. The rest are all divisive reasons for identity based political theater. Whatever you call your politics, if it's not promoting social justice it's bullshit.

quixote said...

Glad to hear you're going to hang in there, Shark-Fu. I'm so discouraged, I'm not so sure about me, but if you can do it, I ought to be able to get my act together. Right?

The whole shooting match of "my rights are important, your rights can wait" -- which we're seeing all over everywhere now, as well as in the pathetic business that sparked this post -- all that's made me think I had it figured out. Nobody can fight for their own rights. We can only fight for each other's.

Except people don't. So if you don't fight for your own, you're always way down the list. And if you do, the people with the loudest methods and the most current privilege float to the top. Which pretty much defeats the whole purpose.

So I'm discouraged.

In my ideal world, everybody'd be aware of how much privilege they have. The more they have, the more they'd concentrate on fighting for others before themselves. Men would be the feminists. White women would worry more about women of color than themselves, and so on.

The whole problem would vanish, because the people *causing* the problem would finally be the ones stopping it.

/*cue hysterical laughter*/

Lesboprof said...

I do call myself a feminist, a womanist, and an active anti-racist. I also came of age (and into feminist consciousness) reading feminist/womanist women of color... another white girl who grew up reading bell hooks, Cherrie Moraga, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua, and many others. I have been repeatedly disgusted by the race-baiting and classist manipulation in the HRC camp and the media, even while I agreed with some of the critique of the misogyny of the press regarding her campaign. There is work to do, and I want to be part of the group actually doing it.

billie said...

americans, in general, have no idea what it means to keep it real. the white surburbanites anyway. perhaps it's pollyannish of me to consider myself a humanist- but ists and isms exist to exclude no matter what the politically correct mission statement may say. until and unless people do get real and realize that we are all humans underneath- we share the same anatomies- only the window dressing is different- then we are doomed to continue the endless loop of stupidity.

in hillary's defense, at least she laid it out bare for the world to see- women can be just as arrogant, greedy and power hungry as men- and do it well.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Good post BL. Great questions.

But can't we have some s'mores and a campfire?

Anonymous said...

Race baiting in a presidential election surprising? It is what it is, no surprises there.

As a WOC I refuse to stop claiming feminisism as my own, they don't own exclusive rights - Ain't I a woman? I sure as hell am whether I'm a part of mainstream feminism or not. I am both feminist and womanist.

As far as HRC quitting I don't think she should if she believes she is doing what's right for her and DNC, but who knows her motives. One of the reasons she didn't get my vote was that she took black folks for granted in the first place.

Great Post Shark-Fu. You're not only an angry black bitch, but a damn smart black bitch as well

Rachael said...

…and a little something I like to call respect.

Would you elaborate?

GayProf said...

Regardless of the number of rewrites, this is a good post.

It should also remind us that supporting one candidate or another is not actually a sign of fighting for social justice. In the end, neither was actually that radical.

Lenoxave said...

I'm watching "Unbought & Unbossed" right now Shark-fu about the historic run of Shirley Chisholm for POTUS. Your post is right on!

Anonymous said...

What Lesboprof said.

And there are so many splits in feminism, really, as has been said many times, there isn't a feminism, there are feminisms.

But my feminism is grounded in fighting oppression wherever I see it. It has as many roots in anti-racism and in GLBT rights activism as it does in that mass movement for the right of middle class white women to get jobs and not get married that many people think of when they hear the word feminism.

And I like to think that I try to fight for other people's rights as much as my own, heterosexual, white middle class Jewish woman's rights. I'm sure I screw up now and again, but that's what my goal is.

Anonymous said...

I've had enough unpleasant work relationships with white women with latent racist behavior and some have even tried to sabotage my job or relationship with male bosses to jockey for hbic status that this is nooooo surprise to me at all. I have to remind myself that all white women are not the sum total of my work experiences but it still pisses me off. They want all of the fabulousness with none of the challenges.

Anonymous said...

I'm so thankful someone else uses that Hillary Swank movie to reference a 'dirty little secret' that's been in the femiNOT movement for the longest of time. But perhaps now not so little or secret seeing how the so-called feminist 'leaders' don't make their contempt for women of color especially black women hidden anymore. Or maybe they feel they finally don't need to I have known this for a while now that is precisely why I don't ever support them and think they are a scrouge on the fight for women to become equal. All they do is more HATM than good and the lot of them make me sick!

GoldenAh said...

Yes, you right about being brown and dying. When we go missing the police don't even want to be bothered to do their job. Below is a link to this story in the Village Voice. I guess the feminists at NOW, or NOWNYC, etc, are too busy supporting an old white woman's run (because it's HER TURN!) for the presidency to care about an issue like this. Pffft.

NYPD Inaction Over a Missing Black Woman Found Dead Sparks a Historic Racial-Bias Lawsuit

Friðvin said...

So, for better and hopefully not for worse, here’s where I’m at.

The bitch's grammar is just a tad better than mine.


bitchphd said...

It just flushed away a lot of that tolerance bullshit and exposed a rift that’s been there since way back in the day.


I have to admit, though, that the longer I blog the more I think that "calling people out" is less important than respecting and/or linking the folks who show how to do things right.

Rawi said...

"Senator Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has not produced a split in feminism. It just flushed away a lot of that tolerance bullshit and exposed a rift that’s been there since way back in the day."

Right-on!! It's about time we all revisit our copies of bell hooks et. al.

Kanani said...

Shit, bitch.
For that snarkiness, I guess I oughta buy a teddy bear, or at the very least a mug.

But yes, I call it a silent Gentlemen's agreement.

PuckFinn said...

I have never considered myself a Feminist.

To me, the word Feminist implies a group of people who think of themselves as “woman” first and who have the privilege of enough time and money and security to think about it ad naseum.
My experience with these feminists is that they think of me as Black woman. Woman being second (thereby completely ignoring my existing and my concerns).
I don’t have time to think about how hard it is being a woman to get shit done. I just work hard to get the shit done.

That being said, I do not think that Ms. Clinton’s run for the nomination created any split in feminism. The feminism of Ms. Clinton and her most vocal supporters (that’s you, Ms. Steinem) remains crystalline and intact.

I am for the movement made up of people just trying to get the good shit done for the benefit of all.

Anonymous said...

I chose to identify as a womanist and a humanist. Mainstream feminism has been to concerned with the rights of a few at the expense of the majority. I recently started a blog because I realized that WOC need to tell our truth rather than allowing others to define it for us. If we don't speak up we will continue to be marginalized.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what a womanist is. I do consider myself a feminist, in the sense that women should be able to reach their potential without structural interference.

On a personal level, as a white woman (or really, just as myself), I would find it hard to ask myself all the time if I am honoring someone's Blackness enough. I just can't have a relationship with someone where I'm walking on eggshells all the time. Better for them to just decide that I'm not "aware" enough and seek other more like-minded people.

But on a societal level, feminism needs to work for every woman. Whether that means equal pay, affordable child care, anti-abuse laws, whatever.

When keeping it real means being sincere, then I'm all for it. When keeping it real means being judgmental and throwing people away, then I'm not for it. Most of us are just confused, slightly insane people who want to be happy and avoid suffering. Whether white, black, woman, man.

I'm just an average person.

Anonymous said...

Um, just to be clear, when you say "when keeping it real means being judgmental and throwing people away, then I'm not for it" are you referring to the various WOC bloggers getting pissed off at so-called "feminists" (the white ones) being racist? *Rightly* getting pissed off at *actual and blatant* racism?

'Cause if so, stop embarrassing me as a white girl. Calling people and institutions out on bad behavior is not judgmental; concern trolling about WOC being mean to you, and dismissing the stuff they say 'cause it sounds too hard and they didn't couch it with enough "pleases" and "thank yous" is judgmental. (Well, kinda judgmental; mostly just lamentably loserish.) Being "sincere"ly blind to your privilege and "keeping it real"ly ignorant aren't things to be proud of, by the way...

And I'm pretty sure you don't personally have to worry about going *overboard* in "honoring someone's Blackness enough" either. I get the impression you're not exactly hurting for shelf space to keep all your humanitarian awards.

I guess it's too much to ask to expect an "average person" to strain herself to accommodate, respect, and acknowledge another human being.

Shark-Fu said...

Walk with me a moment here - you don't know me or my work or my life anymore than I know you or your work or your life. So let's drop the assumptions and, dare I say, keep it real.

If you took the time to read through my blog you would find a far different approach than the one you assumed of me.

And it is that assumption...that very thing which you questioned of me yet dished out at me without pause or consideration...that is the root of the problem, the challenge before us and the reason I wrote this post.

Thanks for the clarity and the comment.

Anonymous said...

Eek, sorry! >.<

Shark-fu, *your* post was awesome. I was addressing CD's comment (which I realize now I *totally* didn't make clear in what I said.)

Apologies for the confusion! I like your blog lots, and none of the bitchy was meant to aimed at what *you* said! My bad!

Shark-Fu said...

Thanks and understood!

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