cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (serious)
Cimorene ([personal profile] cimorene) wrote2008-04-13 03:03 pm
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When a feminist isn't a "feminist"

I spent hours yesterday and today reading up on this trainwreck in the feminist blogosphere after links from [ profile] miriam_heddy and [ profile] ciderpress. It's about racism and intellectual theft, and how white feminists use their priviledge, consciously or un-, to coopt the voices of women of colour, claiming their ideas in the process of making those ideas heard without attribution instead of working to make the voices of women of colour heard as well.

As my mouth fell slowly open in horror yesterday, I understood for the first time why some women who believe in the systematic oppression of women and believe that it's wrong choose not to call themselves "feminists." For the first time, I understood that this has nothing to do with a misunderstanding of terminology on their part. What this battle over terminology has to do with is yet another one-way visible veil of priviledge blinding us over here on the priviledged side of the veil. We have the luxury of saying that the history of the movement doesn't matter because of the dictionary definition, of all things. We have the luxury of saying, "But look at the dictionary! You meet the dictionary criteria, so if you claim not to be a feminist, you're wrong." But women of colour don't have that luxury. They can't define a political movement by the dictionary in defiance of its history and its present when it's busy silencing them, instead of doing what it says on the tin and working to change their marginalisation.

I'm ashamed and disgusted that I didn't see this before and that I inadvertently contributed to the attempts of systemic priviledge to silence the marginalised by arguing this point with them before. I'm sorry, belatedly, to my friends and to anyone who's listened to me say those things, whatever side of the fence they're standing on. I was wrong.

[identity profile] 2008-04-13 08:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Holy crap. That Amanda lady's behavior in the comments of the Feministe post is disgusting. Total turn off. I cannot understand how someone who would crow from the rooftops about being a feminist would so blatantly write off the concerns of other women as them just "beun jelus". Does not compute.