White Privilege

January 10, 2008

Ever since Sudy did that video detailing how white feminists are ignoring their privilege in relation to feminists of color, that incident – and perhaps others – appeared to galvanize some brownish feminists into rage. Ordinarily I like rage, except when it’s directed at the label I’m boxed into. Amazingly enough, this made me uncomfortable.

Justice and I emailed back and forth. Convinced she would see things my way if I persisted, persuasive arguments were employed. Eventually, a tiny light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Being an obnoxious twit with a ironic sense of humor, an email ensued, which ticked her off so much it was doubtful she would take me seriously ever again. It was a summation of previous discussions – this time written as if I were a man responding to feministy demands – and I thought she’d be pleased that I had finally noticed the little light off in the distance, and also amused at my references to men’s sexism. Amazingly enough it had the opposite reaction, and her few emails after that seemed to positively seethe with frustration.

The email is below if you’re interested, but apologies for sounding simple – it’s the only way I can parse out problem areas sometimes. Big words are scary, but not as scary as the ideas they represent. Notice how I was writing the email to Justice as if I were writing a blog post to everyone. Oh, no narcissism there. Gee, why was she so huffy?

“Justice keeps bugging me to work on my white privilege, and I wish she’d stop. How can I enjoy it if she keeps making me feel guilty? Damn her. Hmmm, that sounds kinda bad, I don’t really enjoy the thought of people being oppressed. Well, damn her again!

But it’s kinda hypocritical for feminists to insist that men work on their gender privilege, and yet we don’t have to work on our white privilege or even examine our own little selves for traces of it. Wah, I don’t wanna be a hypocrite. She is a pain in the ass. I will blame her rather than actually dealing with the issue. Yeah, that’ll work, nobody will notice and I can pretend it doesn’t exist.

Excellent. Except I can’t critique anybody, including what I believe is the intractable problem (men) if I really did believe all that crap, because frankly I’m not that much of an asshole. So, how to deal with my white privilege? I dealt with it the same way everybody else deals with information they don’t like – DENIAL.

First, I tried telling her that in the summertime I get really really dark-skinned and am frequently mistaken for something other than white, in a friendly i-am-so-down-with-you-sisters kind of way. Surprisingly enough, she basically ignored that one – almost as if the men who claim that one dick-grab in a bar is somehow equal to a lifetime of harassment and intimidation are completely worthless.

Then, I tried the old hey-i’m-not-a-racist-so-don’t-blame-me routine. I figured this one might work, but no dice. She muttered something about “silence equals support for the patriarchy” and “the patriarchy is built on oppression” or some such [crap] – I’m still trying to ignore it at this point, obviously.

Third, I attempted the always popular i-don’t-benefit-from-it-because-i-got-other-isms-up-the- rootie-patootie-and-those-are-crappy-too. Surely this one could be expected to garner sympathy, but she’s mean, and so it didn’t work either. She said none of those were racism, and racism adds another layer on top of all those I had mentioned. Unfortunately she has a point. Curses, foiled again.

Next up – you can see by now that at least I’m persistent in my defense of not needing to work on my white privilege, right? I offered the extremely sneaky i’m-not-racist-but-those-other- people-are-so-what-should-we-do-about-them? This would surely distract her, as this technique is extremely effective on most activists. Hey, it works on feminists all the time. Unfortunately for me, Justice is way sharper than that, and meaner too, so it didn’t work at all.

Nope, she insists that I have white privilege and I have to deal with it. God she’s a pain.

So then, I tried the last misogynistic trick I knew – which is where I learned all these btw – and that was to suggest that perhaps if-she-just-calmed-down-and-told-me-things-in-a-different- way-then-maybe-i-could-understand. Crap, it didn’t work. She very politely (and patiently really) set me straight.

Frankly, in retrospect I’m wondering why I thought any of those tactics would. Perhaps the this-is-all-a-big-joke-and-gosh-isn’t-it-funny will pass muster. Somehow I don’t think it will. Hmmm, okay, I give up.

All kidding as a coping mechanism aside, I didn’t even realize what I was doing at the time, and afterwards I felt like an idiot. It was the very same bag of tricks that the patriarchy uses to resist dealing with problems affecting the very people that men claim to love, and which always capitulates to logic eventually. Great, I’m using it on my sisters, awesome.

The only reason I finally saw the pattern of my own behavior was because I was trying to figure out why she seemed so mad – even though I was being so “reasonable” – and because she kept poking holes in my bag of denial so that it became a seive. All the dumbass excuses and justifications leaked out until all that remained were chunks of stupidity – and have I mentioned that I’m not so much of an asshole that I can look idiocy in the eye and pretend it’s gold?

This all fascinates me on another level as well; white women in WOC space reminds me of men in womyn space and it gives me more perspective on what men have to cope with when dealing with gender issues. But of course I am going to stomp on my burgeoning sympathy for men like a ton of bricks, because in most cases they are deliberately using our sympathy as yet another delay tactic.  Unlike men, most women do not need to hear a thousand accusations before we respond.

[…] That is the exact same thing that men do when dealing with gender privilege, and that garbage stinks just as bad when a feminist does it. Except, I really don’t know how to deal with my white privilege. I mean, what am I supposed to do about it, exactly? I could use a cluestick, if you don’t mind helping out a blind white woman some more. END EMAIL QUOTE

Justice plucked a lovely quote from Amy’s Brain and which I will share with you. Her bolding for emphasis:

“One of the privileges of being normal and ordinary is a cer­tain unconsciousness. When one is
that which is taken as the norm in one’s social environment, one does not have to think about it. Often, in discussions about prejudice and discrimi­nation I hear statements like these: “I don’t think of myself as heterosexual”; “I don’t think of myself as white”; “I don’t think of myself as a man”; “I’m just a person, I just think of myself as a person.” If one is the norm, one does not have to know what one is. If one is marginal, one does not have the privilege of not noticing what one is.

This absence of privilege is a presence of knowledge. As such, it can be a great resource, given only that the marginal person does not scorn the knowledge and lust for inclusion in themainstream, for the unconsciousness of normalcy. I do not say this casually or callously; I knowthe longing for normalcy and the burden of knowledge. But the knowledge, and the marginality, can be embraced. The alternative to em­bracing them is erasing the meaning of one’s own experience in order to blend in as normal-pretending that one’s difference is nothing, really, nothing more significant than a prefer­ence for foreign cars, bourbon or western-cut clothes.”

From Marilyn Frye, “Lesbian Feminism and the Gay Rights Movement: Another View of Male Supremacy, Another Separatism” in The Politics of Reality: essays in feminist theory (Crossing Press, 1983).

Posted here with J’s permission.  Also, I will never write another blog post using Firefox.

169 Responses to “White Privilege”

  1. Mary Sunshine Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I began talking with JW.

    When my white privilege is named or challenged by other radfems, the strongest most immediate reaction that I have is *fear*.

    The source of this fear is not, as might be expected, fear of loss of privilege: it is fear of who I can possibly be if I am not white. The realization that my entire being is as enshrouded in whiteness as it is in poverty and in age. Everything I’ve ever had in my life, every experience, every bite of food, every place of shelter has inexorably come to me in the context of my whiteness: that I will not be excluded from that benefit or experience because of non-whiteness. This will continue for the rest of my life.

    My whiteness also inexorably and unwillingly puts me into a position of being (heterosexually) bonded with white men and boys, whether or not I am ever or have been ever “sexually involved” with a white man or men. That would be true even if I were a never-het butch-looking dyke.

    The reason is, white women by default are *the* carriers of potential white male continued existence as a phenotype. Women who are not white can never have that exclusive, reproductive, heterosexual bond with white males. I don’t want it, but I have it and I hate it. I see it in the looks I get from white men (even at the age of 63), and the manner in which they behave with me.

    How can this possibly not ooze from every pore of my body?

    I realize the gulf that must therefore exist between me and any WOC.

    On a purely statistical basis, I believe that the creation of large female-only strongholds can only be effected by WOC. I don’t see white women as playing a significant role in that most necessary development to end male rule.

    Mary

  2. Branjor Says:

    Oh god, Andrea, you didn’t really say those things? White privilege is something we have automatically just because we were born white. We didn’t ask for it, we just get it, whether we want to or not. The most we can do is **pay attention** to it, analyze it, so that we become more and more conscious of it and so can act to ease the burden on our sisters of color.

  3. Satsuma Says:

    No wonder Justice Walks got so mad! I hate that flippent “humor” that young heterosexual hip women throw at me to a point where I’d almost bash a hetero woman in the mouth for saying these things. Men know better around me. They just shut up when I walk in the roon and look guilty, but they don’t ever even try with me anymore; the punishment and social embarrassment I inflict on them is so severe that they are not willing to attempt it with me these days. Straight women and their dinginess is an area where I’m getti no to the point of no return as well…No patience no damn sympathy, no jokes!!!

    The best way to really get white privilege is to live in a non-white country, and then the white person is forced to learn a new way of life. Being on the receiving end of racism causes strange things to happen to you in daily life that would be impossible to imagine. For example, even when you do learn the language, people speak to you in condescending baby talk all the time.

    White privilege exists, it won’t go away, and no one with it can get rid of it. What you can hope to do is increase your awareness, defend people of color in all white environments and stick out your neck. Lots of women feel a fear of confrontation, but if you hear racist statements and you say nothing, and act like a chicken (straight women are chickens all the time around lesbians– I think of them as the ultimate cowards in social situations), then you are colluding in the oppression. Colluding, as in aiding and abetting. To put a stop to racism in all white contexts, be prepared to lose white friends and make enemies. If you want men to stop being sexist jerks, then white women have got to stop being racist jerks — that means if you do “humor” with women of color, you’re going to not be taken seriously. As a lesbian, I get so angry at straight women for their stupidity that it makes me want to kill. I assume women of color are so so sick of clever little stupid comments and dumb excuses, because they’re heard this dumb white stuff all their lives.

    As for loss of privilege, yeah you lose it, you lose friends, you cause trouble, you get a bad reputation… get used to it.

  4. Starfish Says:

    “My whiteness also inexorably and unwillingly puts me into a position of being (heterosexually) bonded with white men and boys, whether or not I am ever or have been ever “sexually involved” with a white man or men.”

    I’m thinking that if I attempt to deny my own whiteness around this point of truth, that would be where I might begin to say something akin to RHWWT (Racism Hurts White Women Too), if I were to try on that denial for size?

    ~

    I’ve been having a prob with Firefox too, went looking for answers and discovered that an extension called talkback might be messing things up for me. Try going Tools, Add-ons, and uninstall, or at least disable(if that’s an option on that one – I went ahead and uninstalled) talkback. That seems to have done the trick for me.

  5. bonobobabe Says:

    What you can hope to do is increase your awareness, defend people of color in all white environments and stick out your neck. Lots of women feel a fear of confrontation, but if you hear racist statements and you say nothing, and act like a chicken (straight women are chickens all the time around lesbians– I think of them as the ultimate cowards in social situations), then you are colluding in the oppression.

    There are two incidents that happened in the past year or so that still bother me to this day, because I did nothing. Once, I was sitting in the waiting area at the library, waiting to use one of the computers. A man and his girlfriend were sitting next to me, and he was verbally abusing her. I was feeling sick to my stomach and very agitated, but I was afraid. What if I say something to him, and then he starts on me, verbally and/or physically? And then there is the fear that if I won the confrontation with him or he was thrown out by security, he would feel so emasculated that he would take it out on his girlfriend when he got home.

    Then there was the time I was at a busstop and the only other people there were some punkass racist kid (late teens/early 20’s maybe) and his girlfriend. He was spouting off all sorts of racist crap about blacks and Mexicans. Again, I was feeling upset and sickened, but I was afraid of a confrontation.

    I would love to know what to do in those situations, should they arise again.

    I suspect that my fear that these men would be physically violent towards me has been planted there on purpose by the patriarchy. If patriarchy gives women the idea that they’ll be punished severely for standing up for themselves or others, then men don’t have to be violent towards them. But men are violent towards women everyday. So the fear is real to a degree, but I think it is blown out of proportion.

    I tried asking this question before in a feminist venue, and I got a bunch of “I don’t knows” and a couple earthmother types who claim that women are the peaceable sex, and we shouldn’t confront others, because that’s a male thing to do. *sigh* I would just like some solid advice on how to handle these assholes without setting them off, and if I do set them off, how can I protect myself?


  6. Golly gee I love you all. I too have been trying justicewalks’ patience of late. It’s a wonder she has any time to get anything done, what with having to deal with us white-girl-whiners. I’m putting something up on my blog later today about all this; being a solution-lover, that “what to do?!?!?!” thing is a big one for me. Maybe justicewalks will come in here and say what she said to me about that, which has been extremely, extremely helpful.

    WRT the situations above, bonobobabe, in the first one, I would have addressed myself to the woman. I would have broken into the conversation, made eye contact with her, and said, “Are you okay?” Or “Is everything okay?” And ignored the guy. If he tried to answer, or brush me away, I would keep ignoring him until I got some kind of answer from the woman. Of course, she’s likely to say, “Oh yes, everything’s fine,” because she knows which side her bread is buttered on and what she’s likely to have to deal with later, but on the off chance that she was ready in that moment to DUMP HIS ASS, you’re there to offer her someone to walk out with, a ride to a safe place, maybe some cash, company on the subway, whatever the particular circumstances are. This way, you’re not dealing with him, you’re dealing with her. You’re not directly criticizing or trying to change his behavior–which is useless–but providing her with an option. If she dismisses you, well, you’ve done what you can.

    The second one, it sounds like there wasn’t necessarily anyone right there that he was directing his vitriol to, that you could reach out to and help to get out of the situation. Honestly that sounds scary to me too. The touchy-feely “dialogue” people would instruct you to ask him questions. “Hmmm, why do you say that? What makes you think that? That hasn’t been my experience.” And then swap stories. I dunno, I guess this might work. I’ve never tried it. There are probably better solutions though.

  7. Luckynkl Says:

    Yeah, white women have privilege all right. If all you anglo women consider having a bigger bullseye painted on your ass a privilege. **chuckle**


  8. Oh, and another thing–let’s try not to confuse “blind” with “ignorant” okay? It’s ableist. I know, mA, just another frickin privilege to pay attention to, FFS. 🙂

    And to those of you who like the ‘sexism is inherent’ argument–how does that apply to whiteness? Is assholish self-centeredness inherent in white people? Why or why not? Discuss.

    /pedantic obnoxiousness

  9. secondwaver Says:

    Came over from Amy’s Brain, very GLAD to read this!

    As to the last question, is racism inherent in whites? I would guess that it’s imprinted culturally (not genetically) on us from infancy. Same as sexism. I also think that this racist cultural imprinting is made possible by an innate, genetic temperamental predisposition to xenophobia, which may have been a survival trait in early humans. In other words, it’s not inherent, it can certainly (with consciousness & work) be discarded.

  10. Starfish Says:

    “Is assholish self-centeredness inherent in white people?”

    Yes, where the definition of inherent is “the usual habit of”.

  11. justicewalks Says:

    And to those of you who like the ’sexism is inherent’ argument–how does that apply to whiteness?

    It *relates* to whiteness insofar as sexism is necessary for racism. White women must be enslaved and beholden to white men in order for white supremacy to continue, a set of circumstances to which MarySunshine alluded earlier. For any other race to rise to “supremacy” that race of women must likewise be enslaved to their men.

    The inherency of sexism comes in due to the fact that women providing men with sexual, reproductive, and/or domestic services is inherently a male-favored relationship. Therefore, white women cannot continue the white race without submitting themselves to white male domination. Under these conditions, there can never be a racism that benefits women as a class more than men as a class.

    Racism, like capitalism, is a reflection and a perpetuation of sexism. If white women would realize that their reactive behavior is an indication of their adhesion to white men, *not* (just) a benefit of the doubt given to white women, or white radicals, then maybe it would repulse them as much as it does me.

    I think that if a preference for one’s in-group is inherent, race being a more mutable a categorization than sex points to its eventual eradication anyway. There aren’t really discrete sets of characteristics that would constitute what we think of as a race categorization. Humans are more easily thought of as displaying a spectrum of phenotypes, with no two people possessing the exact same outward physical manifestation, not even twins, let alone two random people who have been identified by the patriarchy as belonging in the box marked ‘black’ or ‘Arab’. Men have simply drawn arbitrary lines, much as they’ve done with whole continents – “I declare this Rhodesia” is the same as “I declare this black, brown, or white.”

    This is different than sex because male and female do actually exist as entirely mutually exclusive categories. The immutability of sex difference, the fact that there are no overlapping edges, no blurred lines, by nature, is what makes sexism inevitable and as inherent as the sex difference upon which it is based. Race is superficial in a way that sexism is not.

  12. m Andrea Says:

    Justice, that is the first time that you have clearly stated your positon concerning the hirarchy of racism and sexism. Thank you.

    I believe that is what several white feminists have tried to say, and they always get pounced on by WOC, including yourself. It’s not that one of these things is more harmful, but only one of them is key to breaking the entire package. So why shouldn’t we put our efforts where it will do the most work in the shortest amount of time?

    I’m not even close to being a scientisty person, so it would be foolish for me to attempt to explain endrocrine stuff to the internet-at-large when there are plenty more qualified. Suffice to say there are very distinct differences in behavior when endocrine levels are modified – this is not in dispute by scientisty folk. Altering pigment levels, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing.

    Speaking of which, has anyone considered the effect endorcrine disruptive chemicals have on the transgenderism issue? Please put the fem lit down and pick up a science journal — for our future is already waiting, and has been for quite some time.

  13. m Andrea Says:

    Oh, the point of that post was to illustrate that perfection is not required to move forward; just that the desire to improve must be present. I saw what I was doing on my own, and I struggled to understand because I didn’t want to continue hurting Justice.

    Do men bother to improve because they want to avoid hurting those whom they claim to love, or because they want to keep their access to sex?

    The only person I was making fun of was myself, if you couldn’t tell.

  14. Satsuma Says:

    Suggestions on what to do when you overhear bad people mouthing off in sexist or racist ways….

    Always be aware that confrontation of any kind is scary. Courage is something you practice each and every day. We are all brave sometimes and fearful at other times.

    I evaluate several things: am I stronger physically than the abusive man in question? If the answer is yes, then I can try and just yell at him, ‘Stop abusing your girlfriend you sexist pig” yelled very loudly in a public place. Public humiliation is a powerful weapon that women often don’t try.

    I find most racism occurs in polite little social settings, where white people just agree or are silent in the face of it.

    I don’t think men even hear sexism, it is so all pervasive that they don’t have a clue as to what it is. Do men have a priority of keeping access to sex as their main motivation for just about eveything “nice” thing they do for women? YES to that question. That’s all most men think about. Why women continue to have sex with men who proudly declare themselves to be “a–holes” is beyond me. Abuse of women and how to make women insecure, and how to “bang” them and “pump ’em and dump ’em” is a staple of talk radio– Tom Leykis in Los Angeles has a whole three hour a day radio show devoted to telling men how to rip off and sexually exploit women. Women actually call into his show and agree with him. It’s a real heterosexual nightmare of a show that I don’t get at all. But it’s out there.

    My point is, women often act like silent little mice. They don’t speak up or fight back, and they do this silent act all the time! I am so tired of seeing straight women act like such doormats even in situations where they aren’t in physical danger at all. They are just plain afraid of rocking any social boat whatsoever. Straight women live in fear for most of their lives. It’s awful for me to watch this behavior day in and day out!

    We can all stand up for each other a lot more than we do. Courage, like any other virtue, is something you practice doing. You speak up in little situations so you can rise to the occasion should a big situation come your way.

    The once radical generation of women who were trained in the civil rights movement and who marched in the streets for women’s rights in the 70s is now in retirement. We have a new group of very young, very fearful, very cynical young women who don’t have it in them to do any of this. They are frozen in fear, or not really well educated as to political tactics these days.

    So clearly, we have to start all over again to get women up to speed.

    White women, you need to speak up and not stay silent. Don’t give women of color such a hard time, just do it! It’s up to white women to do our own work, just as it is up to men to do their own anti-sexist work. If we want men to change, then we ourselves as white women have to change as well.

    It begins with courage as a daily practice, a daily discipline, like weight lifting or playing the cello every day. You won’t get good at it unless you do the difficult things in life, like speaking up in public situations! As Audre Lorde once said, ‘Your silence will not save you.”

  15. justicewalks Says:

    I believe that is what several white feminists have tried to say, and they always get pounced on by WOC, including yourself. It’s not that one of these things is more harmful, but only one of them is key to breaking the entire package. So why shouldn’t we put our efforts where it will do the most work in the shortest amount of time?

    I actually don’t think this is what white women have tried to say. I think white women have tried to say that because sexism is more fundamental to patriarchy than racism, that we only have to work toward ending sexism and the rest will just magically take care of itself.

    What I’m saying is that racism is itself a manifestation of sexism, so that when whiter women are assholes to blacker women, what they are actually doing is *perpetuating sexism*. I’m saying that everything that is racist is sexist. I’m saying that if we really work toward eliminating sexism – all of it, not just the part that affects white women – racism will be eliminated in the bargain.

    White women seem to believe that if they rid themselves of sexism, but not racism, that the racism will eventually subside. I’m saying that if white women don’t eliminate their racism, they are still sexist.

  16. justicewalks Says:

    And that goes to your “shortest amount of time” fantasy. If patriarchy is a building, with sexism being the foundation, classism being the first floor, racism being the second, colorism (which is different but related to racism), able-ism, body-type-ism, etc., you can’t get rid of the sexism and still have the racism to work on later. The existence of racism is an indication of the continued existence of sexism (in practice or in the hearts and minds) to support it.

    All of this identity stuff was, I think, at first introduced to help women really get to the bottom of sexism. It was supposed to get us thinking about the different ways sexism is made manifest in women’s lives. But somehow, it got started to get away from that and women started to think of these many facets of women’s lives as being separate and distinct from sexism, as opposed to *extensions* of sexism. Poverty/sexism isn’t a collapse of sexism and some completely unrelated-to-sexism other thing. The point was that sexism is *class stratified*. Sexism is *racialized*. Sexism is inlaid with a body-type-based hierarchy. Addressing a sexism that isn’t racialized is addressing a sexism *that doesn’t actually exist in reality*. We were supposed to see all of these different facets of sexism and begin to see the whole of what has been done to women.

    Instead, women like Luckynkl up there, who is the only person here who finds any of this funny (mAndrea, thankfully, as moved beyond that 😉 ), are clinging to their one little sliver of a view of sexism, scared she might have it a little better than some other woman out there. And, while I’m glad she and women like her have at least got their senses of “humor” about them, I’m afraid they are holding us back. We have to talk to each other about our experiences, get the whole big picture of patriarchy. I, personally, am trying to see as much of the patriarchy for what it is, what it does to women, as I can, so that I have a clear idea of what it will take to get rid of it.

    That’s where the time-crunch is. Not, how fast can we just free the women from the top of the racialized, class-stratified, body-type-stratified, etc heirarchy of sexism. But how fast can we absorb the perspectives other women have of *sexism* into our own.

  17. Luckynkl Says:

    Instead, women like Luckynkl up there, who is the only person here who finds any of this funny

    Yeah, JW, I do think it funny when white women go around thinking they’re privileged. And I think it sucks when you and some other woc try to exploit that naivety. I mean, what’s the purpose in doing that? To help white boys get their women back into the kitchen? How does that help you or any other woc?

    Or do you think by kicking other women down the ladder, it positions you on a higher rung? Wishful thinking perhaps. Because it doesn’t much matter what color, class, religion, nationality, or whatever male-identified sequitur a women chooses to place before her name to designate which group of men she belongs to, she’s still a woman first in any man’s eye, which puts her in a boat. And all those boats are sinking fast. And that’s what I’m trying to get across to both white women and woc. Hello? Our boats are sinking and we’re all going down with them. So kindly stop the nit-picking and woman-hating and woman-blaming and the blame the victim mentality and grab a bucket and start bailing. No woman is to blame for those sinking boats. That is men’s doing.

    And I really don’t want to hear your noise either Satsuma. Lesbian women are in a boat too. Just like all the other women. And our boat is going down too. None of us are special. It doesn’t much matter to men, you see. We’re all alike to them. So the blame the het victim mentality just ain’t gonna cut it.

    Have you ever read the Handmaid’s Tale? Or seen the movie? If you have, then you’d know that lesbians will not be spared the rape and the forced pregnancies. It happens even as we speak. It happens to all women, you see. Regardless of race, creed, class, color, nationality or sexuality. Have any doubts? Just check Bosnia out. Do you really think any of those men stopped to ask which women were het and which ones were lesbian or celibate?

    It’s only within the last 20 years that crimes against women (ANY woman), such as rape and forced pregnancy, were considered crimes against humanity. But old ways die hard. Women still aren’t seen as human. White, black, lesbian, or otherwise.

    Back to the subject. What I think is funny.

    What I think is funny, JW, is that you quoted what I said about racism almost verbatim, yet when I said it, you threw a damn shit fit about it. Obviously it hit a note with you, otherwise you wouldn’t now be saying the same thing. So what’s the problem now? I didn’t say it pretty enough for you? Or is it because I figured it out before you did? Well, no shit. I’m almost 2 decades older than you are. And the woc who taught me are a decade older than me. What does it matter? As long as we all get wise and figure it out? Knowledge is power. You help me figure things out. I help you figure things out. We all get together and figure things out. What is so damn difficult about that? So what if I get things wrong sometimes? So what if you get things wrong sometimes? Congratulations to the both of us. We’re both human, flawed and weren’t born knowing everything.

    I already have a good idea you’re going to be too happy about what I just had to say. Good. I am too, in case you haven’t noticed. As the saying goes, if you’re not angry, then you’re not paying attention. Get damn good and pissed. Then come back and talk to me. Because through anger, comes some of the most brilliant ideas and the strongest allies. Because the gloves come off and the superficiality and repression vanishes and the attempts to hide it all fall by the wayside. We get right down to business and get to the root of what’s really bugging us. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s not polite. Sorry, I didn’t go to lady’s finishing school. But I do know this. If we all channeled our truth, honesty and rage in the right direction, we’d have the patriarchy licked tomorrow.


  18. Lucky, with all due respect, what justicewalks is saying about racism is NOTHING like what you said. You told her to STFU about racism. You told her, in effect, to pretend she was white. You told her to “stop playing the race card.” Justicewalks is developing a really, really brilliant and original analysis of racism-sexism. She blows my mind on a daily basis. And yes, I’ve read the books that you’ve read, and I’ve never read anything like the work that she’s doing. (Which of course could be my own cluelessness and whiteliness, but still.)

    We all know what you think, Lucky. Do us all a favor and LISTEN for a change.

  19. justicewalks Says:

    What I think is funny, JW, is that you quoted what I said about racism almost verbatim, yet when I said it, you threw a damn shit fit about it.

    You point to me where you’ve said anything at all like what I’ve said, Lucky. What you’ve said is that nonwhite women and non-het women need to STFU about our experiences. What I’ve said is that we all need to learn from each other, because racism and heteronormativity aren’t separate and apart from sexism – they ARE sexism. And if we don’t learn about sexism in ALL of its permutations, we are short-changing ourselves and supporting the patriarchy.

    I’m sorry that you’re a self-hating lesbian who doesn’t believe her experience as a lesbian gives her a knowledge that is denied to non-lesbian women, but I won’t be a self-hating Negro just so you don’t have to face the facts of your racism and nonchalance in the face of lesbian-hating.

    Glad you’re still laughing, though. Feminism’s moving on without you.

  20. Heart Says:

    I have something to say.

    I could easily — easily, it would take me no time at all — go through your posts, you women who have commented and written here or elsewhere, and find sentences which I could lift and use, out of context — including in videos circulated widely around the internet to wild applause from all of the pro-porn, sex-pos, anti-feminist contingent eagerly waiting for anything to use against any of us — to make any one of you wrong. I could do it to “prove” something about any one of you that I wanted other people to believe– even if it wasn’t true — for whatever reason I might want people to believe that.

    Should I do that, ya think? I’m sure there are lots of people out there who would be more than happy to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and enjoy watching feminists making stuff up about each other, treating each other poorly.

    I have never, not one time, tthought, much less suggested, that white women can leave their privilege behind no matter what they do. I have repeatedly written the exact opposite. I haven’t thought, nor said, most of what’s been attributed to me about race. The only “sin” I will cop to, with respect to racial issues, is that as a matter of my own feminist principles, I will not shun feminist women who make statements that are racist, IF and WHEN I know them to be committed feminists on a journey towards deeper and deeper understanding of oppression. I am not going to “repent” of that sin. If we cut everybody out of our lives who screws up, we’ll be sitting all alone in the corner, making a revolution all by ourselves. If someone is a committed, dedicated, racist of COURSE I want nothing to do with that person. But when we are talking feminist women, how is a woman going to change, grow, if I kick her to the curb the first time she fucks up and says something stupid? I don’t want to be treated that way and I’m not going to treat anyone that way.

    But here’s what I most want to say.

    What I have had to say about biracial relationships between black men and white women MUST be read in its complete context, especially by white women who have never been married to and had children with black men, with ALL of the implications and history and reality and lived experience that particular reality entails for white women in the United States, with its unique history of racism.

    What I have had to say about biracial relationships between black men and white women also must be read in its complete context by women of color. Because women of color are not going to get it either. If you impose your own set of experiences and understandings on what I, or (the tiny number of other) women situated like me say, if you apply what you’ve read in books or essays, to what I have said, and go no further, you will *not get it*. If you are neither black nor white, neither will you get it. Nobody will get it unless she cares enough to read. Unless she tries. Not many white women care or try. Almost no women of color do (and I understand and don’t expect them to).

    I long ago accepted that that is the way it is and there isn’t anything I can do about it. But I will reiterate that if you don’t read carefully, you will evidence every last misunderstanding (being charitable, because I don’t know if it’s misunderstanding or willful misrepresentation) — EVERY last misunderstanding — that most of you here have indeed evidenced, here or elsewhere. Even if you read carefully, you will probably still misunderstand, but if you are a person of good will, perhaps you will ask for clarification and more dialogue.

    I am sick of being lied about. I am sick of distortions, falsehood, and pure meanspirited bullshit being spread by women who fancy themselves to be all about the sisterhood, yet who cannot be bothered to actually *read* what I have written. Your willingness, you women here, to participate in that, hurts me. It hurts a lot. I’m not too proud to say so.

    Amy, you talk about the “smugness” of privilege in your blog post. I have rarely seen such smug self-righteousness as I see right here, in this thread, in most of these comments, including yours, actually especially yours and in your blog post as well. Perhaps smug, self-righteous privilege is in the eye of the bewildered — eh?

    I have lived and shared my bed and life with black people — male and female — for 36 fucking years, much longer than most of you have been alive and walking on this planet. I have learned some things in those years, and it is not anything you are going to find in all of those many books and essays you are so fond of, and it is not anything you are going to get without making some attempt. Marilyn Frye doesn’t get it. None of the major radical feminist theorists, save Audre Lorde, is going to get it. None of your linkees gets it, Amy. Nobody gets it but somebody who has lived it and those who care enough to want to know about those women’s lives.

    I can’t force you to want to know, or to read, or to care about my reality or lived experiences, and the way I feel right now, I don’t really care if any of you ever do. But I am going to offer my thoughts when you badly cross some lines, as you have here and in the past as well. We are going to continue to encounter one another, online, in real life, as radical feminists. What you’ve all done, said, and participated in here is going to inform every one of the interactions I have with each of you in the future. I need to say that so you know and understand that our interactions, from this point forward, change. I don’t trust you anymore. I don’t hate you. I don’t even dislike you. I just don’t trust you and will not be interested in engaging very deeply with you.

    It is extremely destabilizing for me, very triggering, to attempt to communicate my lived reality to people who not only demonstrate they don’t get it, but who clearly, clearly are uninterested in knowing what it is! That’s exactly what women have to do under male heterosupremacy all of the time– try, try, try to explain their lives and reality to people who aren’t really interested or who have already made their assessments, judgments (out of ignorance or sexism or racism or whatever), and it is humiliating and degrading and yes, it is oppressive to have to do that as a feminist woman, with feminist women.

    So I won’t be back.

    Heart

  21. womensspace Says:

    Why was my comment removed, Andrea?

    Please e-mail it to me so I can post it on my blog, if you aren’t going to post it here.

    Thanks.

  22. Starfish Says:

    Seeing as some comments weren’t showing up when I commented last, I will say something about this:

    “I also think that this racist cultural imprinting is made possible by an innate, genetic temperamental predisposition to xenophobia, which may have been a survival trait in early humans.”

    I’d not heard this one before. Sounds like an excuse for Othering, in the same vein as all the readily debunkable ‘scientific’ excuses for sexism.

    It makes me so angry that the general populace will accept and run with this sort of bs, or the oversimplified soundbites that get highlighted in mainstream media anyway. Soundbites that suit and serve the patriarchy by maintaining divides among us.

    ~

    I agree strongly with this,

    “What I’ve said is that we all need to learn from each other, because racism and heteronormativity aren’t separate and apart from sexism – they ARE sexism. And if we don’t learn about sexism in ALL of its permutations, we are short-changing ourselves and supporting the patriarchy.”

    By the by, there was a powerful piece of writing that used to sit atop the Margins boards, something about how white women will never bring about the revolution, about the waves of women gathering and growing stronger…. something like that. If anyone here knows what I’m talking about and can point me toward the actual words or the author, I’d be grateful.

  23. m Andrea Says:

    I upped the settings a tiny bit. Sorry for the inconvience. Now everybody has to post once, and then they can fire away. 🙂

    Okay, I still am defensive about ALL white women being a problem. There is a very good reason feminists don’t say ALL men are sexist pigs.

    I personally do not believe Lucky is saying “women of color need to shut up”. If she is, then I’m completely oblivious and I apologise. She has said repeatedly that was not her intention, yet some here insist she was. If you notice, Lucky is now doing the exact same thing men will do when repeatedly accused of sexsim – because Lucky’s respons has to do with human nature and not gender. Lucky is tired of people insisting that she is racist, and she’s given up trying to convince you otherwise.

    Maybe she is, but she keeps insisting she’s not, and I haven’t personally seen any evidence that Lucky is in fact racist. We all have a tendency to not choose our words with care always, or ask for clarificaiton before we accuse. I’ve done this myself often, and always regret it afterwards.

    Do any of you remember how often I would accuse someone of being “retarded”? lol It did finally occur to me that wasn’t exactly very nice. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. Please stop expecting perfection; you will always be dissapointed.

    Would any of you so intelligent folks be willing to suggest that the fastest way to build a bridge is to drive away people, instead of working with them and using the opportunity to change their opinion???

    Well come on, tell me how fucking intelligent that really is. I’ll wait.

    Justice, the world is not black and white. There are 256 shades of grey, millions more if I hit a little button in my paint program. You keep saying the word racist, continually refusing to accept that there is active racism and passive racism, and indifference, and blindness.

    I’ll wait while you also tell me how fucking intelligent that really is. Come on.

  24. m Andrea Says:

    Guess why I hate talking about white privilege? Because it makes me feel sorry for men. Pity cooties, yuck.

  25. m Andrea Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t see the comments sitting in the moderation que. Glad you commented Heart! 🙂 Have you seen my shiny new link policy? *hint hint* I thought about adding you anyway, but figured that would defeat the whole purpose.

    “I won’t be back.” Oooooh, she is so getting an email.

  26. justicewalks Says:

    I’ll wait while you also tell me how fucking intelligent that really is. Come on.

    It seems you are under the mistaken impression that nonwhite women need to build bridges with white women.

    White women are responsible for building bridges, if they are to be built.

    No one expects perfection. What I do expect is that white women will examine their behavior for signs of adhesion to the rules of the father. I am perfectly willing to help with this, but white women have to be willing to listen. In Amy’s post, she mentioned that “disagreeing” with nonwhite women that an instance of racism has occurred is not helpful. White women need to relinquish some of that arrogance which makes them feel as though they, and only they, can be objective about when racism has happened. White women need to realize that, for the most part, the reason that they can afford to focus on differences in degree (shades of gray) is because they aren’t directly affected. Their perspective is skewed.

    I can’t make you see that Luckynkl perpetuates racist-sexism with her ways of interacting with nonwhite women. You have to be willing to see racism where you have not previously been trained to see it. If you don’t feel as though my perspective is valuable in that, I can’t make you accept it.

    To Heart, I can only say what I have said already to another woman:
    This misconception that loving nonwhite men is the same thing as loving nonwhite women is so pernicious. What does a white woman miring herself in sexual, domestic, and reproductive service to a black man have do to freeing black women from that same fate? What does it to do prevent them from being enslaved to black men, in addition to being resented for not being as “ideal” a representation of womanhood as that white woman?

  27. womensspace Says:

    Justicewalks, white women loving nonwhite men does NOTHING to free black OR white women or any women anywhere.

    That does not change the fact that white women loving and bearing children with black men might be something worth making feminist knowledge out of in this white male supremacist milieu known as the USA. Not because it’s anything ANY woman should ever do. But, you know, as women, of whatever race, at times, we fuck up. And when we do, we have to redeem it by making knowledge out of it.

    Loving black men is not remotely in the same category as loving black women, dear god. For whatever I have to say about that might be worth.

  28. L.M. Says:

    Sporadic reader and first-time commenter here-
    “that incident – and perhaps others – appeared to galvanize some brownish feminists into rage”
    Sorry, but I find the use of the term “some brownish feminists” instead of “feminists of color” or “nonwhite feminists” rather offensive and dismissive. Just because people aren’t white doesn’t mean that we’re all the same “brown” race. Not all nonwhite people identify as “brown” and in fact some may find that term insulting, as in former President William Taft labeling Filipinos as “our little brown brothers”.
    If other nonwhite people identify as brown, fine with me, but when white people use the term it makes my skin crawl unless it’s 1.) in the context of a jokey parody of Tom Tancredo or other out-and-out racists, 2.) because someone has labeled himself/herself as “brown”. I know that some white people don’t necessarily use it as an insult, but the same could also be said of “oriental” – which isn’t offensive in itself, but is still something I’d rather not be called.
    Nonwhite feminists belong to many schools of feminism. Yes, we may identify as nonwhite, or maybe even “brown”, but we define our feminism in more terms than simply race.

    *if this comment is too inflammatory or offensive or whatever, you can delete it*

  29. justicewalks Says:

    What does it to do prevent them from being enslaved to black men, in addition to being resented for not being as “ideal” a representation of womanhood as that white woman?

    Acknowledge the additional burden on black women, which is there despite any road-gilding good intentions white women may have when they involve themselves with black men. Make knowledge out of it, sure, but recognize the ways in which that particular form of “activism” perpetuates racist-sexism, to the disadvantage of black(er) women. The role we play in the oppression of other women, whether unwitting, unintended, or not, should be acknowledged. I’m not asking that women be held to impossible standards of perfection, just that they examine the ways in which they align themselves, from the perspective of those beneath them in the hierarchy, with white male heterosupremacy.

  30. m Andrea Says:

    Sorry LM, I didn’t know it was offensive. I get really tired of using the phrase “women of color” or any of the words for women really. “nonwhite” really bothers me anymore.

    I see your point that “brownish” could be patronizing.

    Also, I’m not sure, but I think I accidently deleted a new commenter who is quite a lovely person.

  31. bonobobabe Says:

    In Amy’s post, she mentioned that “disagreeing” with nonwhite women that an instance of racism has occurred is not helpful. White women need to relinquish some of that arrogance which makes them feel as though they, and only they, can be objective about when racism has happened.

    This makes sense to me if I think of all the times men have dismissed something I’ve said. “That’s not sexist. You’re just too sensitive.” “Not everything is about misogyny. Give it a rest.”

    I know how I felt when I was in college and talking to a boyfriend of mine about the foot binding thing in China. His response was something like, “I don’t know why you’re all upset about something that happened so long ago and doesn’t have anything to do with your life.” So, I imagine it’s probably just as bad to tell a black person, “Hey, slaves have been freed for over a century, so what are you going on about?”

    I agree with JW’s assertion that white people shouldn’t be the arbiters of racism. After all, would we want men being the arbiters of sexism?

  32. womensspace Says:

    justicewalks, you do not understand my position. I am not going to be goaded by you or anyone else into responding to your (or others’) misunderstandings, distortions, or misstatements, because that will only deepen the disconnect that already exists. I’m saying, you don’t get it, and don’t ever presume or assume that you do. You’ve decided to go with complete bullshit circulated by people with a long history of axes to grind against radical feminists which have, when you get right down to it, just about nothing to do with racial issues.

    I’m out. I shouldn’t have returned and won’t make that mistake again. Just don’t ever presume, justicewalks, that you understand my position as to white privilege and leave off “responding” to things I’ve never said or thought.

  33. bonobobabe Says:

    Also, I wanted to thank everyone who gave me advice on dealing with real-life situations. I might have to start packing some pepper spray, so that I’m not afraid to confront these assholes. 🙂

  34. justicewalks Says:

    I understand enough about you, Heart.

    And I didn’t need to go with anything “circulated by people with a long history of axes to grind” to get to that point. Your words, on their own, have the political implications I’ve named.

    I’ll respond, whenever I feel like it, to anything you’ve written that is illustrative of your bonds to whiteness.

    Now, let’s see if you can actually abide by your word (twice reneged) not to come back.

  35. Satsuma Says:

    Re Heart’s comment 20:

    I think Heart is expecting too much of the reading/writing feminist blog public here. What I’ve noticed is that it is very hard to get a lot of this, and I have lost attachment to “getting anything.” What we can do is be respectful of our own life experience, and not have others say we can or cannot do things.

    We can accept that each and everyone of us is quite unique. Each and every one of us has a peer group. (I got into a lot of trouble when I said back at Heart’s house that radical lesbian feminists were my peers — lifelong radical lesbian feminists–not the converts who came along in the 80s or 90s). Straight women got all mad thinking I was excluding them. I wasn’t excluding them, I was just being realistic that I thought only my group would really get me.

    The larger feminist public won’t get a lot of our points. I certainly won’t get a white heterosexual woman who has 36 years with black men in marriage, for example. “Not getting” and “not respecting” are two very different things. I think we confuse these two phrases.

    No I will never get heterosexual women ever. That doesn’t mean that I don’t consider them really great sisters in our struggle, I just have to be honest about how far my mind can go.

    Those who say that lesbians can’t be lesbians anywhere in herstory don’t get that lesbian is the way one is. It has nothing to do with rape, it has to do with who you are.

    I don’t waste time explaining some things here, because I know you all aren’t going to get it. So why bother. But I do know we are trying to have a forum where women own the land, where we own the territory, and where we are talking to one another without having to deal with the eternal stupidity of “leftist men.”

    Sure everyone is a racist, everyone is a sexist, everyone is something awful. That’s a given. So that firmly established, what do we all want to do next?

    I’m never going to fathom why women marry their oppressors, and most straight women think that I’m “choosing” a lifestyle that will get me into trouble all the time. They’ll be a whole lot of people who will call me oppressed, the problem is, I don’t see myself as oppressed. I see myself as self-made and having more freedom than most women on the planet.

    Once you’ve gotten over the ignorance of straight people in daily life, you learn to focus on what works for you, what empowers you.

    I’ve been around the feminist wagon train long enough to understand that support among feminists is rare. Encouragement is rare, and that I’ve had to go to other groups who will respect my accomplishments and cheer me on.
    Feminists hate money and investments, but I love math and I love making money! Bad!!! BZZZZ sting hate! I go elsewhere for serious money discussions, for example.

    Perhaps we should consider how we can cheer each other on a bit more. Try a “what we love about each other” the most fest now and then.

    I know that I love all your comments here. I may get ornery on my heterosexual women are evil bandwagon, or wagon train, but that’s anger. That’s pure frustration. Are straight women all that idiotic? Obviously not, but sometimes the underdogs who get kicked around all the time in those stifling hetero controlled places — you know, all the stores in shopping malls, all the movies put out by Hollywood, all the shoe stores, all the fashion industry… all the ads in magazines… well all of this represents hetero reality, and you get plain sick of it! Give me big old Amy of Amy’s Brain and you’ll get some real Dyke kick butt religion…old time lesbian religion. We love this! It’s our song and it’s going to make the heteros mad mad and more mad.

    It’s about styl’in and posturing and having a good old polemical time.

    So we have to all understand that there will only be a partial “I get you!” I know that when I put my ideas and feelings out there, very few women get me. They really don’t understand what I am talking about most of the time.

    It’s ok. I know that I am trying to explain how I live my life and what really works. I don’t waste my time doing things that don’t work. It has to work, or I’m not interested.

    So, to sum it all up, sexism and racism are one in the same. You will care the most about the stuff that hits you hardest out in the world. I get screaming mad at hetero women in make-up and high heels–Yuck! Justice Walks has had it with white women who marry black men and think they know what racism is — mad mad mad! Straight women get mad at lesbians for believing they are the queens of correctness, and they’ll get mad when we feel self-rightous and holier than thou all the time. Well we are the most sacred, we are the elite and we love to crow crow crow about it. How irritating! Yuck! But hey, my big sin is I like to crow, I like to say “I TOLD YOU SO!” Perhaps it’s just how I get all this anger out of my system, who knows?

    But getting right down to it, what is it that we really want to do to further the freedom of all women? Do we really want to understand how the machine can be changed? Did Thomas Jefferson really care about the freedom of black people? He was conflicted but couldn’t quite cut it. Did his writing help get us closer to freedom now? Yes, I’d say the mere fact that he helped create a republic without a king was a big breakthrough.

    We all want a better world, and we all want to be heard. The real problem is that all women have been negated and denegrated for so long, that we have this stored up anger, and now we ain’t gonna budge no way no how now!

    And that’s where we’re at now! Do we want to create real sisterhood? Well we’re working on it! I know my great thing is I really do feel morally superior to straight women! I do feel my way of life is far better than their life living with my enemies. I actually have this delusion, because I will never get straight women as a species. Some women blew up at me for using the word “species” until they discovered that I call myself a “species” too — I really just LOVE the word.

    We can all take a sentence or two out of context and go ape over it. I’m not into nitpicking and getting all technical about some woman’s little old sentence being EVIL. But I’ll look for the intent, for the compassion, and for light. I get to keep all my ridiculous bigoted ideas about straight women, because it serves me. But I know they are trying too.

    The point is, effort counts, what you do counts. If we are here as radical feminists, then we all count. We are all fighting huge enemies here. We all are partial to our “issue” and we all think everyone else’s “issue” isn’t as important. But we know that we are getting closer, and that’s what all this is about.

    I’m in it for the rest of my life. I won’t quit! I hope all of us keep on keeping on, because this dialogue is real, and it’s true and it’s worth it!

  36. Heart Says:

    36 years with black men in marriage

    PLEASE, no more mixed up, made up stuff. That’s not what I said. I divorced my second black husband in 1994 after 19 years of marriage. But I had my oldest child in 1972 and he will be 36 in February. Husbands and lovers come and go, but friends are forever, kids are forever, as are their spouses, their kids, their friends, their friends’ kids, their friends’ lovers, and so on. I have a huge family. I don’t “think I know what racism is.” That is not what I said and I do not want it circulated as though it is what I said. I speak out of a particular, comparatively rare standpoint and location that gets ignored and dismissed time and time again by (too often white or might as well be white, lived as white most of their lives, married white, white kids) feminists, smug, pedantic knowitalls, who decide they are going to tell me things about racism and my own life and writings, when in fact, they are pulling stuff out of their asses, and have no idea what they are talking about. Half the time they don’t even know any people of color much less have any lived experience of anything related to all the stuff they think they are so expert about, the complexities of black/white partnering are something they have never even considered, and for sure they’ve never a single time had their lives remotely personally disrupted all the way up to forever altered by racism. Yet they blabber on like they’ve lost their goddamn minds, ironically, EXACTLY like all the second wavers they are usually so critical of! They are the sensitiver, more conscious radfems, not like some, with great big libraries and ZERO lived reality. Yeah, I’ve had it. No more mincing words about this, it’s absurd.

    It’s easy not to care whether people “get it” when you are not the one being lied about and attacked and targeted by people some of whom have serious problems and issues and are scary and creepy. If it’s happening to someone else, oh, ho hum, you take things too seriously, just relax. Trust me, Satsuma, if it should happen to you and cause you the real, material harm it’s caused me, you’d be singing a different tune. Lies hurt people. Having said that, heaven forbid, I hope nothing like this ever happens to you or any woman because its horrible.

  37. womensspace Says:

    And thanks for saying that about lifting comments out of context. The same is true of mining posts for tidbits that are potentially useful for making stuff up or missing the point of posts entirely in one’s rush to attack and harrass. Thank the goddess everything I have written is there in its entirety to be read. That’s the only consolation I have, slim as it is when this kind of ugliness breaks out.

  38. justicewalks Says:

    And thanks for saying that about lifting comments out of context.

    Oh, Heart, you don’t want everyone to know the *real* context of our differences. You should be grateful that I have not been more explicit about that context when the context from which your comments were made is that of communing with willful racists, of standing silently by in the face of racism, and of making excuses for it.

  39. womensspace Says:

    I don’t care what you say or do, jw. You’re a demagogue with a purity purge in mind (whatever happened to all the stuff about sadomasochism in relationships though?) and you’re painting yourself into a solitary corner in which you will be fighting your own lonely revolution all by yourself. I’ve already “confessed” my “sin” — that if a feminist woman fucks up and says something stupid, I’m not turning my back on her so long as I see she is headed in a good direction. That treatment is reserved, for me, for avowed, unrepentant racists/sexist/classists/lesbophobes/earth-haters/animal-haters, people who lie, people who cannot be trusted and people who are scary and deranged. The “willful racists” I think you’re alluding to, however wrong they might have been, and whatever stupid things they might have said, in certain cases had your number, jw, in a way I didn’t, because I am forever forever giving every woman the benefit of the doubt and viewing every woman I encounter with rose-colored glasses, especially if she is smart and well-spoken as you are. That right there is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. My words speak for themselves. All of them. In context.

  40. justicewalks Says:

    I don’t care what you say or do, jw. You’re a demagogue with a purity purge in mind (whatever happened to all the stuff about sadomasochism in relationships though?)

    Ah, yes, the same accusation lobbed by the pro-pornies against radical feminists. How’s it feel to be on the other side of that one? Is it as satisfying as the pro-pornies make it out to be?

    As for sadomasochism in relationships, it is my understanding that the relationships themselves are sadomasochistic, which is why I do not fear standing alone. That you are willing to stand beside women upholding white supremacy, for the sake of “community,” is proof that your relationships (of white supremacy) have quite a hold on you.

    I am not bound in this way to my non-relationship interactions with other women.

    Don’t talk to me about being well-spoken. I know exactly the collusion with white male supremacy that is my adhesion to white men’s English.

    Your words do speak for themselves. It’s just that they say something different to women on this side of the hierarchy than they do to white or (more easily) white-identified women. It’s cool that you don’t care about other women’s perspective on your words.

  41. justicewalks Says:

    And this?

    you’re painting yourself into a solitary corner in which you will be fighting your own lonely revolution all by yourself.

    To my ears, if you care, of course, that sounds like, “Why are you scrambling for black separatist pennies when you could be getting white feminist dollars?” The white supremacist valuation is clear.

    And, contrary to your wishes, Heart, I am not the only one. My community may be small, but it exists.

  42. thebewilderness Says:

    I think what bothers me most about these flamewars is the misguided “do as I say, not as I do” parenting that goes on in them.

    Almost everyone says some version of this:
    “I can’t force you to want to know, or to read, or to care about my reality or lived experiences, and the way I feel right now, I don’t really care if any of you ever do. But I am going to offer my thoughts when you badly cross some lines, as you have here and in the past as well. We are going to continue to encounter one another, online, in real life, as radical feminists. What you’ve all done, said, and participated in here is going to inform every one of the interactions I have with each of you in the future. I need to say that so you know and understand that our interactions, from this point forward, change. I don’t trust you anymore. I don’t hate you. I don’t even dislike you. I just don’t trust you and will not be interested in engaging very deeply with you.”

    Shorter, it comes out like: Don’t you dare dismiss me. I dismiss you first. So there!!

    Every interaction we have with everyone informs the way we interact with each other, sometimes to the detriment of all. When you give someone a tounge lashing on you blog, or in a flame war, could you please not pretend that you didn’t mean to hurt them? Could you please not pretend that you are so shocked when they return the asshattery by giving you a tongue lashing.
    Heart, you don’t have Justice number, any more than she has yours. You’re yelling past each other. You’re posturing for the peanut gallery.
    As the undesignated representative for the peanut gallery, I respectfully request that you seek a higher level of honesty with yourself.

  43. delphyne Says:

    I know I’m a simple soul but when a woman of colour says something is racist don’t we white people need to sit and think about it instead of getting defensive? Or if we do feel defensive, examine that defensiveness, because in my experience it’s usually hiding something. It’s what we expect of men after all when feminists point out sexism to them (not that it happens very often).

    MAndrea, you said we don’t think all men are sexist pigs, well the only ones I think aren’t are the ones trying to work against sexism and even they are usually struggling with big problems of entitlement. The same has got to be true of we white people.

  44. thebewilderness Says:

    And another thing,
    Could someone explain to the peanut gallery what made Heart think anyone was talking about her. I have read this thread over three times, and her comment still seems like it came right out of left field. I obviously lack the necessary context to understand wtf.

  45. m Andrea Says:

    I was wondering what you thought of all this, Thebewilderness.

    Delphyne, that comment by LM has been bugging me quite a bit, obviously I’m not even close to understanding racism as I thought. I thought I wasn’t racist, I was smug about it! This of course means my amazing powers of discernment are completely fucked and this is not acceptable. So of course I must deny the problem. Wah. Oh, and I can’t possibly feel sorry for men so I must find a weasel-way out of that. You see the difficulties.

    Also, there is no Racism 101 Blog and someone *cough* needs a slow-learner’s permit.

  46. Satsuma Says:

    Heart said:
    “Trust me, Satsuma, if it should happen to you and cause you the real, material harm it’s caused me, you’d be singing a different tune. Lies hurt people. Having said that, heaven forbid, I hope nothing like this ever happens to you or any woman because its horrible.”

    What makes you think that this kind of thing has never happened to me? You don’t know my life history, but I can tell you I’ve been playing lesbian feminist hardball for a very long time. Now, I put out my opinions, but I have very low expectations of being “understood.” I have high expectations for myself and my goals, but I have low collective goals. Frankly, radical feminists still settle for the crumbs, and I am way beyond that now.

    It seems to me that it is best to say that women can and will explain themselves the best way they can. Racial issues don’t push my buttons as much as anti-lesbian comments. It all depends on where the greatest location of anger really is in women.

    Justicewalks and Heart are having a debate. Neither one will agree with the other, and that’s ok too. I respect both of them. I like Heart because she really does have Heart, and Justicewalks has some good kick butt lesbian in your face stuff that I really love. So it’s theme and variation here.

    thebewilderness said:
    “Could someone explain to the peanut gallery what made Heart think anyone was talking about her…” Good point. I don’t see anything here that seems directly related to Heart in a mean way, but stuff appears on other blogs. So maybe she confused these posts with other posts. I personally have a hard time keeping up a lot of the time too, so I just hang in there. Women fly off the handle at things I’ve said, and that was interesting, because those words weren’t a big deal to me. E.g. using the word “species” got women mad, or calling radical lesbians my peers — that got all the straight women in a tizz..
    I must have called straight women stupid, so naturally they got mad at that. I have a quick tempter and an indifference to people getting mad at me. Radical lesbian feminists who have been hard core for over 25 years don’t give a damn about harmony or going along, or being nice. It’s why we are radical lesbians in the first place; we’re angrier and more aggressive and more willing to take on the hetero machine as much as possible. This won’t win you friends among straight women, just as liberal white women will be hated by black women… the continuum.

    Blogs are really contentious places. I love big old fights, and debates and conflict. Always have always will. Remember, I get to see a lot of straight women sit around in silence, or putting up with stuff that makes me want to kill, so just seeing women get angry and tough here is a sign of life in the univserse.

    I believe getting good and angry at one’s life condition is a key to making change! What we get angry over will push us forward.

    I’ve been around long enough to know that I get cheated in the coalitions, so I am a rabid individualist. I’m not into groups, but I am into selected groups who have a specfic focused objective. A group advances one, if this doesn’t happen the group is worthless in my book. Kind of like expecting me to march on Washington over abortion rights. Simpe minded me — just stop having sex with the oppressor, simple right? 🙂 Pretending to be a smiley face… just for the sake of the feight of heart. (small letter h for this word) 🙂

  47. Satsuma Says:

    Saw Sudy’s video recently. It’s always easy to pick out little quotes and fuss them. I could spend a lot of time on this too, but I only use quotes to enhance a discussion, not to cherry pick and nitpick someone.

    Racism, sexism and anti-lesbian commentary are all very real on the feminist blogs. That’s a given, because we are all still living in a racist, sexist and lesbian hating world. We are still in this world, and so as a result, we all won’t get everything.

    Sometimes I’ve advanced more by seeing the bad behavior of feminists when I was down, then I did when all was “sisterhood.” I learned valuable lessons about what feminists will and won’t do.

    If you don’t experience something, you’ll have a hard time believing it exists. You can talk about sexism to men, but they don’t get it in their faces. Men are so different from women, that they don’t even see the danger in things we see. Sexuality being a big one.

    We can all point out racism and sexism on feminist blogs. I just assume straight women are homophobic or at least homosexual uninformed. They just are. I assume heterosexual women can’t see or feel heterosexual privilege and that’s ok. They just aren’t that interested in this. They just aren’t that into it! Great! I’m not all that into having children or day care or kinder kulture. It’s ok, we can admit utter boredom over each other’s lives. It’s best to be brutally honest. I had the pretenders that’s for sure.

    But the sad thing is, we can all be better people if we do see! If we do have privilege, and anyone living in America really does — even poor people drive cars in America, then this vision of the real is powerful.

    I know it is useful to see heterosexual privilege, because then I can see more clearly incredible lesbian advantage. When I see this advantage for what it really is, I can have compassion for my straight sisters who are about to have the right to marry a man who several years into the marriage is going to bash the woman’s head in and bruise her face. Or I get to meet the straight woman who is going to get raped because she’s going to a party. Now straight parties with lots of “cute guys” at them are places I wouldn’t be caught dead in, but the straight women who go to these things actually think the men are harmless and cool.

    I even get to see the future when I first meet new husbands, because I can see how dreadful they are, while the hetero woman literally is blind to the danger. Now that’s always interesting.

    Good for Sudy for putting together the video. I even enjoy her attempts at journalistic balance “don’t get me wrong, there are many good things about the internet…” “BUT” I’m going to trash the few bad things I can find in feminist land. I love the next generation and that wonderful phrase “Don’t get me wrong…” always a prelude to danger in my book 🙂

  48. thebewilderness Says:

    Excuse me, mAndrea,
    Where do I sign up for one of those slow learner permits? I need one in the most godawful worst way.

  49. justicewalks Says:

    Shorter, it comes out like: Don’t you dare dismiss me. I dismiss you first. So there!!

    Only, when Heart says it, as a white woman, what it really means is “Don’t you dare dismiss me! I will leverage the dismissal with which white supremacy has already attempted to silence you.”

    And, when I say it, as a black woman, it’s “Don’t you dare dismiss me! I will show you, to the best of my ability, what it feels like when you are dismissed as your fathers (and you, with their blessing) have dismissed me.”

    Do you see how one has more backing from the white male heterosupremacy? You need to keep in mind the power differentials here and stop trying to equalize everything, as if Heart and I speak from places of equal footing. It’s what men do all the time. What I do is different when done by a white woman. What a white woman does is different when done by a black woman. Keep that in mind when you’re chastising me for standing up for myself against one of your fellow representatives of white supremacy.

    When you give someone a tounge lashing on you blog, or in a flame war, could you please not pretend that you didn’t mean to hurt them? Could you please not pretend that you are so shocked when they return the asshattery by giving you a tongue lashing.
    Heart, you don’t have Justice number, any more than she has yours. You’re yelling past each other. You’re posturing for the peanut gallery.
    As the undesignated representative for the peanut gallery, I respectfully request that you seek a higher level of honesty with yourself.

    Could you please not pretend as if there isn’t a difference between being aware that someone might be hurt by what you say, and saying it with the intention to hurt?

    Could you please not pretend as if pointing out racist-sexism when I see it is , for me, about giving “tongue-lashings.” It’s about pointing out racist-sexism. If racist-sexists feel “tongue-lashed” by that, it’s their problem.

    As for posturing for the peanut gallery, thebewilderness, why don’t you ask the women who have actually taken me up on my offer to correspond individually and privately about my “posturing.” Heart and Luckynkl were as welcome as anyone to email me about what I’ve written. I would have LOVED to have that conversation Heart and I just had via email. But why don’t you ask Heart when the last time was that she returned one of my emails? I came here, left a couple of messages that had absolutely nothing to do with Heart, and she made it all about her. Well, I’m not going to back down from a public brawl now that I’m in the midst of it. And I’m not going to back down from confrontation with women who had the same option others did to email me privately. The thing is, Lucky and Heart like the sand of the arena too much for that. Heart has even made comments about blogging without comments being “pissing in the wind.” So, for them, yes, it’s about scoring public wins. But for me, it’s about proving to other black separatist feminist women (who are lurking) that we should stake out our claim to a feminism that is apart from whiteness and wealth and youth, etc.

    That is something that Heart and her buddies can’t stand to think about. She came in here and threatened me with solitude and loneliness twice. She would love to believe that if I don’t have her I don’t have anyone, that if I’m not willing to work with her that I’ve sabotaged myself.

    I read that quote Starfish requested from Heart about the real revolution being made outside America’s borders. The women who will likely be the avant garde of the revolution for women’s liberation are now taking notes from American feminists. But they aren’t using the works of white feminists. They are reading about black women’s struggles against white feminists, in fact, and they are learning exactly which women are woman-centered and will be assets to them during the revolution and which ones are male-centered and will hinder progress with their love for men, their love for whiteness, their love for wealth, their love for book-learning, or their love for publicity and glory.

    I, or, more likely, the black women who come after me, will not cover white women’s asses for them when the time comes. The revolution will not be nice, clean, or peaceful, and it will not be hashed out over the internet. When the revolution rolls through, those of us who are not ready (black women and white women, of course, but for different reasons) will be considered, and dealt with, as collaborators. I’m trying to help white women understand some of the ways they fall short in empathizing with women who are not white. This will be important one day, even if it is a far-off day.

    But I gotta say, as things stand, if a revolutionary from India or China asked me (and, believe me, they wouldn’t pose the question to a white woman – they’ve already got your number) who we needed to get rid of here in the US to guarantee the revolution’s success, I’d be naming white women right after the rich (who are mostly white anyway) and the heterosexual ones.

    I’m done for now, but I’ll be back to respond if need be.

  50. womensspace Says:

    Yes, I stopped e-mailing with you, justicewalks. As soon as I realized you really did not want communication or discussion or engagement. I think you are after sycophants, women who will tell you exactly what you want to hear, in exactly the way you want to hear it. Sorry, I am not that, I am not ever going to be that. I know what that phenomenon is, I recognize it when I see it, I do not participate.

    As to why I responded here, you know exactly why I did. So does everybody else here. But anyone who has questions should watch Sudy’s video and e-mail Amy, ask her about the history of that post she wrote.

    Having said all of that, I wish you well, justicewalks. And I mean that. You can threaten and be menacing and all of that, okay, I see that, it is duly noted. There is one thing you cannot do, and that is, you cannot keep me from wishing you well, wishing you community, peace, happiness and every good thing life has to offer, given the world we must move and live in as female persons under male heterosupremacy. This I will continue to do.

    Heart

  51. justicewalks Says:

    Ha! You have wished me nothing but solitude and loneliness, twice in this thread! Get over yourself. Stop trying to look magnanimous. I’m not impressed with magnanimity anyway.

    I wish you the best of luck with trying to reconcile your supposed principles with your actions.

  52. Mary Sunshine Says:

    There are also those women who wish each of you well.

    Well as in well, full stop.

    I am one of them.

  53. Satsuma Says:

    Kind on an unnecessary fight between Heart and Justicewalks. I don’t see a non-heterosexual non-white revolution coming at all. I don’t see women of color killing white women either. Women can’t even defend themselves against stupid men in their lives, let alone a whole country of women.

    However, what I can see is Justicewalks creating a world of her own people– women of color, separatists who are sick and tired of white women fudging and dodging. You get sick of getting stuck with eveyone’s issues but your own, and so a separatist stance is a perfectly good strategy.

    Saying someone will be all alone in this is silly. Of course Justicewalks will have the women who can band together without compromise in their own self interest. That’s obvious. I got sick of all the feminist groups that really didn’t want to deal with the issues of importance to me or my blunt beliefs, so we got together a group of 15-25 women and things have gone very well.

    Most of the feminist world would certainly not be interested or would trash the things we are achieving, but they’re not in the group and don’t have to put up with us.

    15-25 women united in solidarity over very specific goals is very very powerful. It’s extremely powerful not to have to deal with heterosexual issues at all, and we don’t.

    So the bottom line here is that we are all coming from very different places in the world, and we are not all going to get along. Getting along is not the point, but finding out where we’re coming from is helpful and useful.

    I can well understand the concept of collaborators and the revolutionary desire to kill them all off. That goes without saying. The problem with this is we all have our lists, and not all the same types of women or men will be on all of them.

    I would disagree that “book learning” is bad Justisewalks. Books are great, I love them!! That seems inconsistent with Justicewalks connections to black women’s separatism. I read as many books on dozens of subjects as I can. My partner is an author, and writing is a real delight to me. I also know that a third world feminist perspective is not mine. I’m from the U.S., I’m stuck in its imperialism, and I don’t want to impose my racism on other parts of the world. I’ll work with women everywhere on collective feminist projects, but I’m more project oriented these days.

    If you really write powerfully about separatism or racism, and YOU are the oppressed group in question, white feminists always freak out. Just as heterosexual feminists freak out over lesbian in your face anti-heterosexual anger — I’d call it volcanic anger! This is a place where women can unite, and also be mad as hell. I do believe we have to be mindful when women are really trying to create sisterhood, and I believe Heart is trying very hard to do this. I know she wants women to get along, but she doesn’t get lesbian nationalism or lesbian life in the way I know it, and she won’t get what racism feels like as it is directed AT her. These are areas that we can’t know unless we get it coming directly at us like a train going 100 miles an hour.

    This difference in life experience is going to cause frustration and fights. But it doesn’t mean we can’t work through them. I try not to take comments personally on blogs. Women don’t know each other personally here, so they won’t get the whole story and that’s ok. I’m not a diplomat or a mediator.

    We all know who got excluded from second wave feminism, and we all know that each and every one of us left to find our people and our issues.
    I support the larger women’s agenda — the mainstream stuff because I know that’s a beginning. I support the smart radicals, because I know they have a real vision. And I know where I stand as a radical lesbian feminist, but I also can see the shortcomings of radical lesbians and I’m not going along with the poverty part of that program. I support the wealth of women, and I support intellectual virtuosity, and I’m not going to back down from those two positions. Neither one is racist in my opinion. Women are not going to pay my bills or for my health care, and I believe in fully taking care of myself. I have 15 more work years to go, and then I’m done with the heterosexual world, and plan to move in with the community group we’ve built over the past 20 years or so. That’s my plan.

    Anyway, we can be strong and tough or we can be weak collaborators, either way, we are right. All of us both rebell and collaborate. Most radical lesbian feminists hate a lot of my ideas, so we can share information, but I’m not going to go along with things that don’t support my life. I have to find the women who will back and support me for who I am, and then I go to outer circles. We can have more freedom and wealth that we all imagined, if we really want this, or we can be very poor too. We do have a choice in America. We have a lot of choices.

    So I say three cheers to BOTH Heart and Justicewalks. I believe in the work they are both doing. I’ve learned and been very impressed with the work they are both doing on the Internet. I’ve been in this activism for a very very long time, so I know how hard it is to DO THE WORK. It is in many respects a thankless job — just ask Sonia Johnson or Mary Daly or any of your favorite heroines from the mists of feminist time.

    We all know how great our sisters from the past were and are. We all know how their writing and work changed lives and changed the world. That’s a given. Racism and heterosexism are not going away. These twin towers of evil are deeply embedded in patriarchy, the third part of the evil trinity in my opinion — see radical lesbians can be trinitarians 🙂

    I don’t get into the kind of racism that revolves around the arguments of white women who marry black men. I don’t know that world, and only have gay friends in interracial couples. But I do see all marriage to any man as bad bad bad. I see women living with the enemy in their OWN homes as having the colonizer over to dinner every day! Yikes! But women do this all the time, and women just don’t care enough about their freedom to stop living with the enemy. That’s a given. I hate it, but they’re going to do it anyway.

    We can share the power, we can be more powerful, we can throw our minds as far as they can go — a favorite Daly quote. In the end, sisterhood is not a cheap penny stock, and it doesn’t come easily to any woman who is conscious.

  54. thebewilderness Says:

    I’m sorry Justice.
    I was clumsy in what I said and ended up saying a different thing from what I thought. I was not trying to equalize everything, but looking back I see that I conflated where I should have been careful to be specific. I was responding to Heart’s comment and should not have drug your name into it that way. It made it seem like I thought you were doing what she was doing. I don’t.

    “Could you please not pretend as if there isn’t a difference between being aware that someone might be hurt by what you say, and saying it with the intention to hurt?

    Could you please not pretend as if pointing out racist-sexism when I see it is , for me, about giving “tongue-lashings.” It’s about pointing out racist-sexism. If racist-sexists feel “tongue-lashed” by that, it’s their problem.”

    You’re right that I don’t see a great deal of difference between intentionally hurting someone and not caring if you hurt someone or not.

  55. bonobobabe Says:

    I liked Satsuma’s comment.

    Everyone is different. And there are so many facets to feminism, so many things worth getting upset and worked up about, that we can’t all possibly concentrate on every single thing. That’s what’s great about everyone being different.

    I think that it’s perfectly OK for women to concentrate on the areas that charge them up the most, or the areas where they do have a measure of control. Small changes in our lives might ripple out to make changes in other people’s lives. My interests tend toward the unspoken assumptions (like men getting the armrest on a plane when sitting next to a woman; women moving out of the way of men on the sidewalk), not shaving, and I think who does the housework is a very important issue. I am single and never plan on dating or living with a guy, but all my female friends who are married or living with someone are being disrespected night and day b/c of this issue.

    Now, someone else could say, “Hey, you’re an idiot. There are more important things out there like FGM and marital rape and wage discrimination.” And they may be right. But I don’t have the personality, money, connections, knowledge, or other wherewithal to do anything about those things. But I can stop shaving, and maybe some young girl who recently got over a strep infection of her genitals due to waxing or shaving just might look at me and get an idea. Or maybe I can inspire one of my friends to stand up to her husband and get him to run the fucking vacuum cleaner.

    The enemy is coming at us from all sides, and we can’t be everywhere at once. I think it’s OK if we’re each facing a different direction.

  56. justicewalks Says:

    Satsuma, I was talking about the badness of elevating book-learning over any other kind. Like that “well-spoken” remark. She’d never have said that if I’d written everything I’ve ever written in Black English. It’d be the same ideas, but she’d never recognize it as “well-spokenness. It is only because my English is by the book, so to speak, that it is praised.

    Also, whatever is to be done with collaborators, whether it is abandonment or exclusion, or whatever, if we had to break it down right now, we can pretty much guarantee that if you’re looking at a white woman, you’re looking at someone who wouldn’t be able to work under a model of egalitarianism with a nonwhite revolutionary. From anywhere. The numbers of white women who are capable, truly capably of interacting with a nonwhite woman as fully human, are so insignificant as to be unworthy of mention. (Sorry, women, can’t give out cookies!)

    thebewilderness, you can’t imagine the difference because you’re only thinking about the hurt feelings of the oppressor class. You can’t fathom ever not caring about white women’s feelings because white women have been kind to yours.

    It is the same as all the not-my-Nigelers. They can’t imagine not caring if men’s feelings are hurt because Nigel (says he) cares about theirs. They don’t give a damn about all the other women Nigel has not been kind to. And you don’t care that not a single white woman has ever taken my feelings into account as if I’m a whole person. I get reduced to a demagogue.

    I am simply pointing out what I see as your (and other women’s) failures to fully empathize with me, or with any nonwhite woman. I’m not asking you to do anything about it. I’m just speaking my truth as I see it.

    Yes, bonobobabe, we can all look our different ways. I just think it’s telling that, even after we’ve all decided we’re radicals, or separatists, or whatever, I can tell which women will stand up for me, and other nonwhite women, by the look of them. Like, when, upon seeing my fat black co-worker’s fat black husband for the first time, the office bigot said to her, “Now I can see why you don’t feel the need to go to the gym,” I knew that I’d be the only one to say anything against his bigoted behavior. I knew that because everyone else in the room was higher up in the racist-sexist hierarchy than we were. To me it’s indicative of white women’s refusal to hear about, or care about, the racial, cultural, reproductive, self-image-related ways that they are tied to white men. That white women are happy going about their daily lives being tied to white men in these ways, so long as other white women don’t mind, is mind-boggling to me.

  57. Satsuma Says:

    Justicewalks says:
    “I was talking about the badness of elevating book-learning over any other kind. Like that “well-spoken” remark. She’d never have said that if I’d written everything I’ve ever written in Black English. It’d be the same ideas, but she’d never recognize it as “well-spokenness. It is only because my English is by the book, so to speak, that it is praised.”

    Oh I get it. Kind of like all the Japanese radical feminists saying, “Nihongo was joszu desu ne!” to me all the time. It was a very patronizing, “Oh your Japanese is good.” They’d also say, “O-hashi jozu desu ne” too — I use chopsticks well. I get the picture.

    Justicewalks says:
    “The numbers of white women who are capable, truly capably of interacting with a nonwhite woman as fully human, are so insignificant as to be unworthy of mention. (Sorry, women, can’t give out cookies!)”

    This assumes that you have only lived in the U.S. In the U.S., I’d say these words apply, but in other countries white radical feminists worked very well with radical women of color, who were the majority in the entire country.(So it was the white women who were the women of color in that context). The dynamic is not necessarily racial, it is about who is the majority or the minority that determines power. And the tables turn when you are struggling with a new language, and the rest of the radicals speak it as a native language. And then there’s the anger older people in Taiwan feel towards the colonoizing Japanese language itself, and their acceptance of my useage of it because I was desperately trying to communicate, and I didn’t know Chinese.

    I finally learned how to speak Japanese when I met a woman who wasn’t racist and who treated me as a real human being! Bingo! Up to that point, all the Japanese talked to me in “baby talk” – a form of racism that really made me mad. I knew something was up, I could feel the tone of voice, but it wasn’t until I met a non-racist Japanese woman that suddenly I acquired the language.

    But anyway, “well spoken” is a complement I give to people who really say something great. I probably would not say this if I wasn’t reading the Queen’s English, but then I have a very strong literary bent, and writing and grammar are very important to me. Having struggled academically in school, and having been illiterate until the age of 10 or so, I really value literacy. It’s because I had a much harder time learning in gradeschool than the other kids, so perhaps it’s just overcompensation on my part.

    ‘Well spoken” is generally a white insult to black people. So even if I really mean it, I won’t say it to black people ever. Because it flat out is an insult!
    Just as calling women “chicks” is a flat out insult. No fudging on this! Anyone who uses that word around me is gonna pay!

  58. Satsuma Says:

    PS It is Nihongo wa (not was) — can’t type or spell sometimes.

  59. justicewalks Says:

    Satsuma, I have lived abroad, for years, as a child and adolescent. European white women are no more capable of interacting with nonwhite women as fully human than American ones.

  60. thebewilderness Says:

    “thebewilderness, you can’t imagine the difference because you’re only thinking about the hurt feelings of the oppressor class. You can’t fathom ever not caring about white women’s feelings because white women have been kind to yours.”

    On the contrary, I can imagine a difference, and I used to tell myself that there was a difference, that when I hurt someone through carelessness it wasn’t the same as when I hurt someone intentionally. For me, there was a difference. For them, it was a difference without distinction. The result was the same.

  61. thebewilderness Says:

    I think I said that wrong. I think it is supposed to be a distinction without a difference. Anyway, what’s worse, that I don’t care enough about a person to consider their feelings when I spout off, or that I care about their feelings enough to try to hurt them when I spout off.

  62. m Andrea Says:

    There is a reason feminists do not say ALL men are sexist pigs. It shuts the door. It assumes that no man can ever be better, and there is no point to even trying.

    I won’t even make that declaration about men, but I forget sometimes to include that word “some”. What I do say is that it doesn’t matter if there are SOME nice guys, as long as sexism harms ALL women. So while we can turn it upside down and say “it doesn’t matter if there are some white women who are nice, as long as racism harms ALL people of color” — while we can find truth in that statement, there is a very LOGICAL problem with the consequences of the statement, as you are attempting to assert.

    The problem is that pigment is not as intractable as biological sex, and you can’t divide white/poc on the basis of pigment as you can divide xy/xx without creating an additional problem. If you’re going to be consistent, several steps down the road you must logically end up with a box containing only a particular shade of black, with particular shapes of features, etc etc etc and of course all being female. You end up discriminating against other women of color! That needs a longer explaination if that’s not clear enough, but I’m sorta busy making something really evil in my paint program.

    The only way your argument, if I understand it correctly, can be logically consistent, is to throw out logic all together and say “I just feel like being around only black women”. Which is fine and completely understandable, given the apparent lack of awareness displayed by so many white people, myself included. But you’re trying to turn it into some sort of logical argument, and it doesn’t work.

    And no, when your own argument ends up discriminating against women of color, it doesn’t look very good, and no, it can never be empowering or powerful.

  63. m Andrea Says:

    well, that and I can’t find the words. It becomes a form of reverse discrimination.

  64. m Andrea Says:

    Rambling. Part of the problem is that hormones affect physiolgy and cognitive function, so that we COULD argue that some particular characteric of men (along a continuum) is inherent. Can’t really do the same thing with pigment, so we must admit that racism is entirely eliminatable. In which case it seems really stupid to insist that “all white people are evil and will never change, so I’m just going to sit over here and sulk”.

    You’re using a form of “lookism” – what people look like – and as soon as you start doing that, there is no freaking end to to it. You can discriminate because somebody who is the right shade of black, with the right nose, with the right hair texture, etc etc etc, still has something else you don’t like about them.

    And as soon as you stop using logic, those of us who do like logic get to point out the non-logic, and also we can start yelling “discrimination”. White people aren’t going to hold all or most of the power forever, I for one would like to see that end, and then were will you be? You will be the one discriminating, and it will be just as evil as when white people do it.

    This is why, when I was convincing a whole freaking room of women yesterday to become feminazis 🙂 and a few of them wanted to make men subserviant, I had to point out that we cannot do that under any circumstances.

  65. bonobobabe Says:

    This is why, when I was convincing a whole freaking room of women yesterday to become feminazis 🙂 and a few of them wanted to make men subserviant, I had to point out that we cannot do that under any circumstances.

    But think of the possibilities! Cunnilingus seven times a week, no intercourse, and no blow jobs. Sweet!

  66. pisaquaririse Says:

    m Andrea–is it kool with you if I link to this for a post on my lil slice of bloggulardom?

  67. bonobobabe Says:

    As for hurt feelings, I think you can make a distinction between doing it on purpose and unintentionally doing it.

    I think a lot of women use hurt feelings as some kind of trump card. It’s a way of curtailing any discussion. It reminds me of when I get worked up about something, like animal abuse, and I’m talking about it to my mother. If I curse, she’ll immediately interrupt and tell me not to curse. Totally derails what I was saying, and we end up arguing over using curse words.

    It’s like the whole “sexism hurts men, too” thing, or the “why can’t we all just be humanists.” It’s a way to stop the discussion.

    No one can be 100% sure what might set someone else off. Some people might be overly sensitive. I don’t think, “My feelings are hurt,” should be a reason to stop a discussion. Certainly, racism and sexism are volatile topics. Of course, people are gonna get upset! These are topics worthy of being upset about.

    When a discussion is derailed, it sends the message that some person’s delicate sensibilities are more important than the systematic oppresion of people by gender, race, disability, appearance, etc. And I don’t think that should be the case.

  68. justicewalks Says:

    ***Can’t really do the same thing with pigment, so we must admit that racism is entirely eliminatable. In which case it seems really stupid to insist that “all white people are evil and will never change, so I’m just going to sit over here and sulk”.***

    This is a mischarachterization of my words. I’m not sulking. I’m pointing out the facts on the ground. If white women are interested in changing the facts on the ground, they will. If they are not, as they have shown themselves to be, they won’t. They will hang out with all white women and call it inclusivity. As I’ve said before, don’t go to the all-white beach and then say that, because there was no sign explicitly prohibiting nonwhite women, it wasn’t really an all-white beach.

    I’m just asking for white women to acknowledge this. What harm is there in acknowledging that all your friends are white, and that this is politically meaningful to women who aren’t? That’s all I’m saying. Just don’t live unexamined lives.

    ***You’re using a form of “lookism” – what people look like – and as soon as you start doing that, there is no freaking end to to it. You can discriminate because somebody who is the right shade of black, with the right nose, with the right hair texture, etc etc etc, still has something else you don’t like about them.***

    Actually, I’m not “using” lookism. The world is using it. I’m just pointing it out. The point isn’t that I could choose to discriminate against someone on the basis of their appearance, but that, as things stand, white people think their appearance is an indication of their superior goodness and decency. Blacker people have been seen to be possessing of some goodness and decency, but less than white people. And the blackest people have been raised to believe that their appearance is indicative of a total lack of goodness and decency.

    We are all treated according to this hierarchy of lookism, which I did not create, but just describe.

    ***And as soon as you stop using logic, those of us who do like logic get to point out the non-logic, and also we can start yelling “discrimination”. White people aren’t going to hold all or most of the power forever, I for one would like to see that end, and then were will you be? You will be the one discriminating, and it will be just as evil as when white people do it.***

    Well, how about you don’t complain about reverse racism until the power discrepancies have evened out a bit, then? I would like to see white people lose power too, but I do not care whether or not they relinquish it on their own or whether someone says something that maybe hurts their feelings a little bit but which spurs them to seek out ways to actually change their behavior, in ways that will be meaningful to women who have been raised under the burden of being considered even less human than white women.

    If white women aren’t willing to change themselves in ways that are meaningful to women who have been raised under the burden of white men’s and women’s inflated senses of self, that says something about them. I’m not going to point to individual white women who have tried to get it, who aren’t afraid to be told they’re doing it wrong, even, as if they are somehow more or equally representative of whiteness than the vast, vast majority of white women.

    So, that’s where I’m coming from. Racism is not inherent, no, but until whiter women are, on a significant scale, no longer racist against blacker women, I’m not going to pretend as if all women are equally worthy of being allies.

    And, yeah, bonobobabe, it’s a total derail. No one, not ever, in any of these discussions (and I’ve been booted from many places for talking about racism against women), has asked me about my feelings. Being asked about your feelings is one of the privileges of being an oppressor.

  69. justicewalks Says:

    On the contrary, I can imagine a difference, and I used to tell myself that there was a difference, that when I hurt someone through carelessness it wasn’t the same as when I hurt someone intentionally. For me, there was a difference. For them, it was a difference without distinction. The result was the same.

    Again, thebewilderness, you are asking only me to acknowledge that I have “hurt” white women, without acknowledging that the white women in question have hurt me. I have at least acknowledged that white women’s egos may be bruised by what I say. Not one white woman here has vocally acknowledged that I have been hurt, repeatedly, by white women. I have sought out white women, repeatedly, for friendship, for alliance, for community. And time and again, the alliance has been one-sided. The price of the alliance has always been my silence on the matter of race. There has been no variation.

    Why is just my saying that more hurtful than the repeated hurtful behavior of white women? I’ve suggested that it is white women’s inability to fully empathize with blacker women.

    If you don’t like my answer, that’s fine.

    I’m starting to feel like an animal in a zoo, now, though, with people coming to see what noises I make without trying to understand what it is like to speak from my cage, so, if anyone wants to discuss things further with this particularly masochistic black woman, email me.

  70. m Andrea Says:

    And for the record I totally think Justice is awesome and very brilliant, and I am not worthy.

    Exactly Bonobobabe. But now that I’ve figured out what the purpose is, it doesn’t work anymore. 😉 I would just call it and keep on rolling.

  71. womensspace Says:

    If white women are interested in changing the facts on the ground, they will. If they are not, as they have shown themselves to be, they won’t. They will hang out with all white women and call it inclusivity. As I’ve said before, don’t go to the all-white beach and then say that, because there was no sign explicitly prohibiting nonwhite women, it wasn’t really an all-white beach.

    I’m just asking for white women to acknowledge this. What harm is there in acknowledging that all your friends are white, and that this is politically meaningful to women who aren’t? That’s all I’m saying

    Very true. And what harm is there in acknowledging, similarly, that it is entirely politically meaningful to have chosen to share one’s life with a partner of color, and that it is entirely politically meaningful to have given birth to and to have raised to adulthood nine persons of color, meaning that as a conscious decision, with complete awareness, full volition, you have relegated yourself to being outnumbered at least nine to 1, as a white woman, amongst those with whom you are most intimate. This is a decision that your friends will not be white, your intimates will not be white, your children will not be white, your in-laws will not be white, your partners will not be white, your grandchildren will not be white, nobody in your immediate family will be white. Because you want no part of calling yourself inclusive while surrounding yourself with white people.

    But my having described this very thing as being a political statement was made to be racist on Sudy’s youtube video.

    That’s why there’s no discussing anything with you, for me, jw. You don’t want to hear anything about this. I’m supposed to erase 36 years of my life and all the concomitant decisions, that entire reality, and start tabula rasa with you telling me who and what I am and what my life and decisions have been about. I had to decline on that. In my family I am forevermore outnumbered 1 to many, many, many and I always will be. I *wanted* it that way beginning back in 1970.

    Heart

    *fixed html per Heart’s request mAndrea

  72. womensspace Says:

    Andrea, could you fix the html? Sorry, and thanks.

  73. thebewilderness Says:

    “Again, thebewilderness, you are asking only me to acknowledge that I have “hurt” white women, without acknowledging that the white women in question have hurt me.”

    Criminy Justice,
    This whole time I have been talking about Heart, myself, and others hurting you. I kept thinking I was making that clear, and the whole time I was being clear as mud.

  74. justicewalks Says:

    Look, Heart, your problem is with white women, not with me. I have acknowledged on your private boards that you have, in ways, demonstrated yourself to be more willing to divest yourself of ties with white men than other white women.

    That you want to be acknowledged as a white-woman-with-a-black-husband among white women is not my problem, though.

    It doesn’t obligate me to not say anything about the ways you fall short.

    Like, picking out my grasp (and a hell of a grasp it is) of white men’s English as the one point upon which to heap praise. That means something. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t.

    (Oh, and Satsuma, “well-said” is different than “you are so well-spoken”.)

    It also means something that you respond to me here, when I’ve made clear how violated I feel in commenting here, how exploited, by white women. Just one more lap of around the cage for the amusement of you and yours.

  75. womensspace Says:

    Re white men’s english: go read what I actually said. I didn’t write what you’ve been responding to. That’s been the problem all along, that people, including you, have not read what I actually have said, in context, you just read stuff in and run with it.

    Of course I’m going to respond here. We finally got to the part of the discussion where I could at last point out how idiotic and foolish what Sudy did — and your citing to it — was in the first place. Now that we got to this point, that becomes emananetly clear. As to the problem with having black husbands, do I have a black husband now? Hell now. Haven’t for 13 years.

    As to feeling violated, yes, I certainly know how it is to feel violated, like, for example, having sentences and even phrases you’ve written lifted out of context in a completely disingenous, mean-spirited, inaccurate, distorted way, with youtubes made and women you have trusted citing to those youtubes as though they have merit somehow. Yes, I know what feeling violated is, like when women you’ve trusted write series of posts twisting and distorting your writings, straining out gnats, ignoring camels.

    When I feel violated, I stop reading. When I’m being made to be the butt of jokes, when I am being targeted for humiliation, including by women of color, I leave them to it. I don’t hang around, reading.

    Heart

  76. justicewalks Says:

    And, Heart, you’d stopped emailing me long, long before Sudy’s video. So, let’s not blame a nonwhite woman’s video for your failures to acknowledge the shit you’ve let slide without comment under the auspices of “community.” White women’s community. Just so we’re clear.

    thebewilderness, it was not clear at all to me that you were not implicating me. I’m sorry to have misunderstood.

  77. justicewalks Says:

    When I linked to Sudy’s video, I mentioned that there were things about her politics that I did not agree with. I felt that was enough.

    I’m not going to go out of my way to refute things she’s said about women who have not gone out of their way for me.

  78. justicewalks Says:

    Oh please, Heart. You said my well-spokenness obscured the fact that I was just another screaming harpy Negro cry-racist, in so many words. You said that, perhaps if I hadn’t been so “well-spoken,” you’d have seen it sooner.

    Well, of course you would have! Black women who can’t speak white women’s language are more easily seen as different from white women than those of us who can.

  79. justicewalks Says:

    And you never did acknowledge the implications for black women, of your attempts at “leaving white privilege behind,” either. It was at least an attempt, yes. But it was not without white supremacist implications, from my perspective.

  80. womensspace Says:

    jw: I have acknowledged on your private boards that you have, in ways, demonstrated yourself to be more willing to divest yourself of ties with white men than other white women.

    Yes, you have. And moving on from there, this is for Amy and for those who have made great hay with phrases, out of context, of posts I have written, lambasting me for stuff I’ve never said, like that white women can rid themselves of all white privilege. All I have ever said is that I have been willing to divest myself of ties with white men. I have not said white women, including me, can divest themselves of all white privilege — ever. I haven’t said it because I don’t believe it. I’ve said white women can be traitors to whiteness. That I do believe and that is what I have lived. Which doesn’t mean that the day ever comes when any white woman’s — including my — white privilege does not exist.

    But for me to have said that is me, stepping out of my place. I am allowed under the current reign of white academentic stupidity, to say one thing and one thing only, that I have white privilege which I have to “work on.” Which is a totally empty, vapid and meaningless thing for any white person to say. And, of course, I can ream other white women new ones if they should say anything more than that they have white privilege which they have to “work on,” or if there are a few words I can lift out of context that might make these other poor deluded white women wrong, and what I really most want to do is make all those other deluded white women wrong, and myself right.

    Heart

    Heart

  81. justicewalks Says:

    Heart, while you have shown yourself to be willing to divest yourself of your ties with white men in some ways, Amy has also shown herself to be willing to divest herself of her ties with white men in other ways, ways that have, so far, been more meaningful to me than the route you’ve chosen.

  82. Satsuma Says:

    Oy vey, this is all too weird for me. Wake me up when a new subject begins.

    As for being violated, I’m not violating any woman here. I am simply taking you all seriously and trying to learn something. One thing I’ve learned is to never share much personal information at all on blogs or women will just attack for no reason.

    For me its about changing the world. I have my way of doing it, and I am sure everyone here has theirs. Good night and good luck! 🙂

  83. womensspace Says:

    My words speak for themselves. I’m not going to repeat them. Your twisting them and making stuff up, jw, doesn’t change a word of what I’ve said (re well-spoken, an inspecific, general reference to *all* women who well-spoken without any allusions at all to race.)

    I didn’t stop e-mailing with you, jw, because of anything having to do with Sudy’s video. I stopped e-mailing you because you want sycophants, not dialog and I’m not a sycophant and won’t be. But, I said that already.

    Since the disingenuous-meter is now over the top — “Well, I said I didn’t agree with *everything* Sudy said,” maningless in its lack of specificity — I’m calling it a night.

    Other than to say that come the revolution, given that I am literally surrounded by persons of color who are my closest intimates and always will be, I’ll take my chances.

    Heart

  84. justicewalks Says:

    Yes, Heart, I’m sure you do have women of color around you. I was once one of them.

    I know the concessions the people of color in your life must make for your loyalty. I wouldn’t pride myself on the company of self-hating nonwhite people, the way I once was.

  85. justicewalks Says:

    And that you keep redirecting the conversation to the quarrels you have with white women, when the discussion is the quarrels you have with nonwhite women is also telling. What’s Amy got to do with my decision to take something away from Sudy’s method of dealing with problems in feminist circles?

  86. justicewalks Says:

    But my having described this very thing as being a political statement was made to be racist on Sudy’s youtube video.

    That’s why there’s no discussing anything with you, for me, jw.

    Well, it is racist(-sexist), from a certain nonwhite female perspective. It’s less racist-sexist than shacking up with a white man, yes, but still racist-sexist.

    Perhaps you did not mean to juxtapose these 2 sentences, but I took this to mean that it was because I’d linked to Sudy’s video that “there’s no discussing anything with [me].”

  87. justicewalks Says:

    “Well, I said I didn’t agree with *everything* Sudy said,” maningless in its lack of specificity — I’m calling it a night.

    About as meaningless as “Well, I said I didn’t agree with *everything* [you know who] said” ?

    Yeah.

  88. thebewilderness Says:

    “go read what I actually said….That’s been the problem all along, that people, including you, have not read what I actually have said, in context, you just read stuff in and run with it.”

    There are about a dozen feminist blog threads currently talking about that problem, right there, in that line. The assumption that the problem lies in the failure of others to read and understand you.

    “When I feel violated, I stop reading. When I’m being made to be the butt of jokes, when I am being targeted for humiliation, including by women of color, I leave them to it. I don’t hang around, reading.”

    You have been saying that in this thread for three days. Your remarks in this thread are off topic. In fact I would go so far as to say they are in direct opposition to the topic. I think it would be more appropriate for you to start a thread on your own blog about how everyone fails to treat you with the respect you think you are entitled to.

    mAndrea, if you think I am out of line please delete me, or ban me, or heap abuse on me, wev.

  89. womensspace Says:

    I’m not trying to curry any favor with you, jw. I’m not, again, your sycophant. I’ve said what I had to say, to you, to Amy. This is mAndrea’s White Privilege thread and my comments are right on topic and relevant to that subject. Seems to me you’ve forgotten not only what thread this is but whose blog this is, jw.

    As to resorting to insulting my children, basically for being biracial and my intimates, that was racist. It’s an example of the specific experience of racism that belongs to me and to women like me, along the lines of, “You and those no-count mongrel half-breeds of yours.” You’ve demeaned yourself by allowing yourself to go there, jw, and in my eyes you have devalued everything you’ve had to say that might have had value.

    I’m done with you. You have dished out the very racism of which you have accused me and others. Good bye.

    Heart

  90. justicewalks Says:

    Heart, where did I insult your children?

    And the reverse racism thing, I’ve heard before. It’s old.

  91. justicewalks Says:

    mAndrea is free to boot me from the blog whenever she likes. Are you calling on her to do so?

  92. justicewalks Says:

    Oh, and I think you’ve misattributed thebewilderness’ words to me, Heart. Talk about needing to read things carefully.

  93. thebewilderness Says:

    Heart, you have repeatedly done on this thread what you came blasting in here accusing everyone else of doing to you. You have derailed this thread with your constant memememe, and made no effort whatsoever to discuss the subject except as it relates to youyouyou.
    As a blog operator yourself one would think you would have better manners.

    You might note the presence of Justicewalks in the blogroll of this blog.

  94. womensspace Says:

    jw, this is what you said and is what I was responding to in 89.

    I know the concessions the people of color in your life must make for your loyalty. I wouldn’t pride myself on the company of self-hating nonwhite people, the way I once was.

    I stand by what I said and it has nothing to do with “reverse racism.”

  95. thebewilderness Says:

    Well now I’m really pissed, and everyone’s gone to bed. Criminy

  96. justicewalks Says:

    Ah, yes.

    If I say that a black woman with a white man is self-hating in ways probably unknown to herself, would you balk? Because I’d say that, too.

    I’ve been that woman too.

    Saying that I can empathize with the journey that the nonwhite women in your life are on, whether it will lead them to my place or not, is not an insult. Unless you think my growth beyond the desire for your favor is a bad thing.

    Which would be white supremacist.

  97. womensspace Says:

    thebewilderness, back off. I have nothing to say to you right now. My comments here have been penultimately relevant to white privilege and a direct response to mAndrea’s citing of Sudy’s video in the first sentence of her blog post as well as Amy’s comments.. I have also received two e-mails from mAndrea during the course of these threads — unsolicited, in other words, mAndrea e-mailed me, I didn’t initiate e-mails to her — and I have no indication that she takes issue with my contributions here, quite the opposite.

    Maybe you view your policing of the thread, references to threads elsewhere, etc., as germane to the topic of white privilege– sorry, I don’t.

    Having said that, it’s late, and I’m going to bed.

  98. thebewilderness Says:

    Well pull you head out of your ass and look around. White privilege, on the blogs, exactly as you have been abusing it, is the topic du jour in blogtopia.

    This is a blog thread, Heart, nobody has to obey you here. Back off, indeed.

  99. thebewilderness Says:

    “One of the privileges of being normal and ordinary is a cer­tain unconsciousness. When one is
    that which is taken as the norm in one’s social environment, one does not have to think about it”

    Does anyone remember who called this “the headache you don’t know you don’t have”?
    I have been trying to recall, and haven’t been able to.

  100. Mary Sunshine Says:

    What does it matter “who” said it, BTW? I’ve been hearing it said by many women for many years.

    Are you jealous that you are not the focus of attention here, and so seek to increase your measure by joining in another tiresome pile-on?

    Here: some negative attention: =}{= It’s all yours.

    Are we having fun yet?

  101. Mary Sunshine Says:

    oops – TBW, not BTW

  102. Luckynkl Says:

    Ok, I kicked back for a few days and listened as asked. I didn’t see, hear or learn anything new other than some new pretzel twists and some cool new insults. Other than that, it was same old, same old, tired old horseshit that’s gone on for millenniums. Women pitted against each other and bickering among themselves, each pointing the finger of blame at each other, some acting as tho they have some kind of monopoly on oppression and feeling entitled to be listened to and kow-towed to more than others, none of it feminist or revolutionary, and all acting as women have been programmed to act by men since patriarchy first crawled out from under its rock. It’s just another day and business as usual under the patriarchy.

    I do believe that the revolution is coming and it will be nonwhite women that lead away. However, I do not see black women leading the way. Nor will it be white women. I see no loyalty or cohesiveness in either group or any indication that either one knows the meaning of sisterhood. There’s just too much competitiveness, too much jealousy, too much envy, too much of a willingness to imitate men’s hierarchies and establish the same pecking orders among themselves.

    I also don’t see lesbians as a guiding force. Again, there’s no cohesiveness among lesbians. And too much of a willingness to imitate men’s hierarchies. But instead of color, the focus is more on masculinity and femininity
    (aka butch and femme) — neither of which has anything to do with being female. The het relationship is too often imitated with masculinity trumping femininity. This does nothing to liberate or free women.

    I see our greatest hope coming from Latino women and Middle Eastern women. Israeli women, I’m told, are some of the best and most respected fighters in the world. And some of the most militant women I’ve encountered come from Australia.

    Amerika? The UK? Canada? Way too conservative and way too obsessed with men. I’m often asked by nonwhite, non-Amerikan women, “Why are Amerikan feminists so obsessed with men?” Second only to, “How can you stand being an Amerikan woman? Your men sell you.” And a nod to, “You Amerikan women are some of the most oppressed women in the world but think you have privilege?” I blame it on the patriarchy. Whte men chanting to white women how good they have it, how lucky and privileged they are to be in Amerika and have men like them who don’t stone them or set them on fire or bind their feet or make them wear burquas, and so on and so forth. And willingly, white women believed what they were told. But white women weren’t the only ones. Many nonwhite women also took the bait, hook, line and sinker and jumped right on the bandwagon. Lemmings, all, just marching themselves right off the cliff at the direction of the white man.

    But if white men are the dominant power (at least in the U.S., which makes them one of the most dominant powers in the world), it’s only common sense who it would be most important for them to control and dominate. White women, of course. Simply because there could be no white men without white women. Kate Millett once said, “It is interesting that many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning.” I think she just nailed white women, don’t you?

    The totality of white women’s conditioning is easily recognizable. At least to me. White women are wimps. Oh, come on, we all know it. They are predominantly meek, docile, passive and probably the least threatening groups on the planet. They’re dick whipped. Robotic Stepford wives. Plastic Barbie dolls — no lines, no character. I look into their lost vacant eyes, their blank stares, soulless, devoid of fire and passion, as they robotically move through their daily routine. Their shoulders sag, they shrink from confrontation, melt at the sound of a harsh word, and obey and do as they are told and run off to do it with their tails between their legs. Let’s face it. Just about any woc could kick their ass in about 3 seconds flat.

    Which is what makes your behavior a bit despicable, JW. But I understand. It’s so much easier and safer to kick the master’s dog than it is to kick the master, no? Can’t say as I blame you. White men are scary, scary dudes. So I don’t blame you for being such a chickenshit and going after those whose ass you know you can kick instead of those you know you can’t.

    White supremacy. Who has it? Who has the power political, economically, socially? Don’t you mean white MALE supremacy? What’s up with the dropping of the “male” and transferring it onto women? I mean, white women’s language? Don’t you mean white MALE language? Cuz last I looked, it wasn’t women, white or otherwise, who had the power to create and define words.

    And just how do you explain that black males got the right to vote the century before any white woman did? Did white women get to vote before black women did? No, they did not. When it came to women of ANY color, it was not about race. It was about sex.

    The male-identified hierarchy you are trying to imitate and create for women under patriarchy, just doesn’t work, JW. Patriarchy is about the rule of the FATHERS. Last I looked, men of all colors can be fathers. NO WOMAN CAN BE.

    Let’s stop conflating words, shall we? Anyone can have bias and prejudice. But not everyone has the power to oppress. Racism has to do with these power gaps. So does sexism and classism. It isn’t about mere bias and prejudice. It’s about power. Women, regardless of race, creed, color, nationality, sexuality and so on and so forth, do not have the power politically, economically or socially to oppress anyone. Only MALES have this power. What about that don’t you get?

    You (and not just you) throw these buzz words out like “racist” and “racism” and “privilege” and don’t seem to have any understanding of these words. You would be correct if you said that white women were biased and prejudiced. You are incorrect when you say that white women are racist. Women cannot be racist. Women cannot be sexist. Women cannot be classist. In the U.S., poc cannot be racist. Because none of them have the power, politically, economically and socially to oppress the other. And privilege is only granted to the oppressor. Now get a clue and think before you use words haphazardly.

    If you still don’t get it, here, let me flip the tables on you, JW. The U.S. is s global super power. Politically, socially, and economically. And when it comes to might making right, our military is second to none. You’re an American, JW. Doesn’t that make you “privileged?” And horrifically oppressive of others? So why don’t you remove the log out of your own eye before you so self-righteously try to remove it from someone else’s?

    Doesn’t make sense, now does it? Because you don’t own any of this power and privilege, now do you? It is American MALES who have this power. Specifically white males. Now how the fuck would you like it if globally, nations started getting all up in your face and started blaming you, as an American woman, for the invasions, the oppression, the colonization, the destruction, the exploitation, the torture, and the murder of thousands upon thousands of people on this planet, while they gave Amerikan men, especially white Amerikan males, a free pass and didn’t say boo to them?

    How’s that shoe feel on that foot?

    There’s more to come so stay tuned. I’ve kept quiet for a few days as asked and now it’s my turn to say a few things.

  103. delphyne Says:

    This is horrible. It’s not women of colour who create divisions in feminism, it’s white women, upper class and middle class women, able-bodied women and straight women when we refuse to acknowledge that our behaviour and attitudes may be bigoted and are hurting women who aren’t those things.

    You can’t ask a woman of colour to ignore racism in order to create some kind of artificial unity. That is requiring her to deny part of herself. JusticeWalks is so right when she says those things are extensions and manifestations of sexism, I’d never thought of it exactly that way before but it’s the best analysis I’ve come across.

    I’m struggling with the idea of white women as collaborators, but I only have to imagine myself as not white and I bet that’s exactly how I’d react to white women. To blame JW for her reactions to racism is a real mistake.

  104. justicewalks Says:

    Luckynkl, I’m not going to respond to most of what’s in your screed, because I don’t plan to read it, but I did notice one thing, while scrolling my way past it, that I’d like to address.

    I have never denied my class privilege, within the context of the US or on a global scale. I am not afraid to admit those things about me that have privileged me in relation to other women. My US citizenship has most certainly been one of those things and I’m willing to take a back seat when I am too privileged to know what I’m talking about. I welcome anyone to challenge me on my US-centricism or any other facet of my privilege. What I don’t welcome is women higher up in the race hierarchy telling me what’s what when it comes to racism.

  105. m Andrea Says:

    I love you all and you’re all fucking awesome. Personally, I think this discussion is being very productive, in the same way that Sudy’s was productive – initially merely stirred up some negativity, but ultimately got people thinking. Did I mention how much I appreciated LM’s comment?

    Story Time! I sent an email to TheBewilderness a long time, asking how in the world I could be have enough compassion to treat people well – not calling them stupid – if I thought they were in fact complete idiots. Correctly, she did not respond, and a few weeks later I realized I was focused on the wrong word. It doesn’t require compassion to treat idiots well – it requires respect. And then they automatically can’t be idiots, just people saying stupid things. So compassion was found after all, on a path which meanders.

    This discussion has been amazingly respectful. Carry on.

  106. Branjor Says:

    ***This discussion has been amazingly respectful.***

    The above comment amazed me as my own impression of this discussion has been just the opposite. Not saying I am right (or wrong), it is just amazing how utterly opposite our impressions were.

  107. thebewilderness Says:

    MS,
    That was my pathetic attempt to make myself get back on topic.
    Thank you for dismissing me. That is certainly an important part of the topic.

    mAndrea,
    I don’t think I got that email, I think I would have answered you.

  108. Luckynkl Says:

    This is horrible. It’s not women of colour who create divisions in feminism, it’s white women, upper class and middle class women, able-bodied women and straight women when we refuse to acknowledge that our behaviour and attitudes may be bigoted and are hurting women who aren’t those things.

    Wrong. It is men who created these divisions and hierarchies, not women. Altho white, upper and middle class, able-bodied, straight women make convenient scapegoats, they’re no more to blame for it than giraffes are.

    Btw tho, nonwhite women are also upper and middle class, abled-bodied and straight. White women certainly don’t have the monopoly on that. In fact, the vast majority of black folks in the U.S. are middle class, able-bodied and straight. It might also interest you to know that 70% of woc identify as feminist while only 40% of white women do. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit more concerned about white women than I am about woc. Why only 40%? Oh, is it because white women are all equal with men now and are not being raped or abused or discriminated against any more, and can all pack their feminist bags and go home now? Or is something else going on?

    You can’t ask a woman of colour to ignore racism in order to create some kind of artificial unity. That is requiring her to deny part of herself. JusticeWalks is so right when she says those things are extensions and manifestations of sexism, I’d never thought of it exactly that way before but it’s the best analysis I’ve come across.

    I’m not asking JW to ignore racism. Nor should she. What I did say is that the civil rights movement and feminism are not the same movements. And I explained why. I also explained briefly that none of these hierarchies can exist without the control of women. Here it is:

    I know that that is what unites the brotherhood, regardless of race, creed, class or color, and what they can all agree on. The dominance and control over women. Because without the control of women, these hierarchies cannot exist. I will not be diverted from that. Because when women are liberated, I believe all other forms of oppression will fall like a stack of dominoes.

    The above is a direct quote to JW. I’ve made the link between racism and sexism for years. This is the short version from RR:

    Sexism is at the root. Racism is a symptom of sexism.

    Sexism can exist without racism. But racism cannot exist without sexism. In order for this constructed hierarchy to continue, blood lines must be kept pure and heirs produced. Unable to produce the heirs themselves, men must control the uteruses of those who do. Women. If women had always been free to reproduce with who they wanted to reproduce with, I dare say that race wouldn’t even be an issue today. Because there’d be no race. What we’d have instead are people who are neither black or white.

    Random reproduction can eliminate racism and most other -isms. But random reproduction cannot eliminate sexism.

    Think about it.

    And here is the long version that has been quoted widely on the net, especially during the Anonymous attacks:

    Women of color are oppressive? LOL. That’s a good one. Almost as funny as saying white women are oppressive.

    Women, regardless of race, class, creed or color, do not have the power to oppress, ok? The best that any woman can do is ally with male power. Women do that in part by using a sequitur before the word “woman,” be it a race, nationality, creed, color or what have you. All that means is that you are the property of the men of that chosen category and are being bred like a domesticated dog to reproduce and supply members to those various teams of men so they continue with their beloved hierarchies and playing their favorite game of “King of the Hill.” They then take turns throwing each other off the top of the hill and being king. No race, color, class or creed of men have clean hands. They all love, participate in and support this game and each has had their turn. Their only complaint being when they’re not the ones on top and making all the kingly rules.

    Women are not allowed to play this game, ok? Their only role is to supply members to men’s chosen teams.

    So what is a white woman? She is simply a woman that has been determined to be acceptable for white males to breed with to insure the continuation of his team. Same goes for black women, red women, brown women, Jewish women, Amish woman, Mexican women, Japanese women or what have you.

    We have another name for this. It’s called “animal husbandry.” But instead of producing German Shepherds and Chihuahuas, women are being bred to produce the various races, creeds, colors, nationalities, etc.. Because men need heirs to continue playing the game. Unable to reproduce themselves, they must control those who do. Women.

    The battle has been over what it’s always been over. The battle over the uterus and who gets to control it. Because he who rules reproduction can control the world. Sexism can be found at the root of it all and racism is born of it.

    Unlike sexism, racism is relative. It depends on which region of the world we’re talking about and what time period. White men may be the dominant group in America, but that’s not the case in China, now is it? And it sure wasn’t the case in America a few hundred years ago when Native Americans ruled the roost. In fact, Genghis Khan was the greatest conqueror of all time. Here’s a newsflash. He wasn’t a white boy.

    Until y’all get this, you will completely miss the boat and be complicit in the hierarchies of the patriarchy and insure the continuation of men’s favorite game.

    In the meanwhile, y’all sound like sisters squabbling over which daughter daddy decides to bestow favor on. A daddy that will inevitably be replaced by another daddy who will choose another daughter to bestow favor upon.

    So when do you get it that none of the sisters have any power or say-so? And that it’s all up to daddy? That women have no more power than men’s dogs? Sure the dog may live in a mansion and eat steak every night and even have a chauffeured limousine. But is it the dog that has power?

    Think about it. And then stop being such tools. In the meanwhile, here’s a bone, Fido. Go fetch

    It’s not pretty, but it’s hard to miss the point.

    So, like, did you think all of this came to JW in a dream? Her so-called “brilliant analysis?” She co-opted it and only used a very small slice of the pie for self-serving reasons to apply just to whites, and avoided the larger picture, which clearly shows that nonwhites are just as much collaborators in racism as whites.

    But when JW does it, it’s called “brilliant analysis.” When I do it, it’s called “racist.” Um, what’s wrong with this picture?

    Well what’s wrong with it is that JW has tunnel vision. She’s narrow-minded, near-sighted/short-sighted and cannot see beyond her own nose and own seething hatred for whites. What I am guilty of is looking at the big picture, instead of such a small, narrow one. I think globally. I think about history and current events, world-wide. I think about how this affects all women, not just some. I am unable to think so small. I am unable to close my eyes and ignore the rest of the world and just think about me, me, me, and fuck everyone else.

    And that is why I’m cautious in getting all caught up in lesbian issues, or woc issues, or any other select issues that affect only some women. Women are oppressed in a million different ways and I understand each and every one of them. So I have to think globally. How my stances affect all women, not just some. And that’s what I will continue to do. If I don’t take up your self serving agenda, that doesn’t make me racist or sexist or homophobic or whatever choice buzz word you choose to call me. It means I have my eye on something bigger and it’s you that can’t think outside the 4 walls of your own box.

  109. justicewalks Says:

    and avoided the larger picture, which clearly shows that nonwhites are just as much collaborators in racism as whites.

    That’s because the topic of the thread is white privilege. If you read today’s post at my blog, you will see that I am fully aware that nonwhite women can also be racist. They are just racist against fewer women than white women.

  110. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Just a note to JW, that your latest blog post:

    http://walkwithjustice.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/something-i-should-have-said-long-ago/

    is breathtakingly, awesomely brilliant. Sorry, I’m running out of superlatives here.

    🙂

    My lungs and my mind are filled with oxygen.

    Thank you, and bless you.

    Mary

  111. justicewalks Says:

    Which means that they are NOT “just as much collaborators in racism.” It means they are less so.

  112. m Andrea Says:

    I have a really thick skin Branjor.

    If white women marrying black men is off limits, and white women marrying white men is off limits, then what the fuck do you expect them to do?

    Pardon me, but I don’t see the logic.

  113. m Andrea Says:

    You have made the case that white women uphold white patriarchy very well. I get that part. What you have failed to do is explain how getting rid of white women will end sexism. So yes, your constant attack on white women appears nothing more than simple hatred. Understandable, but still.

    You need make the case the white women are the CAUSE of sexism.

    I personally don’t want to hear another fucking word until you can do that.

  114. Branjor Says:

    Just read JW’s latest blog post. Yes, it is brilliant, pointing out things I hadn’t thought of before and explaining them clearly. Maybe all this will be sorted out at some point for me, as I have been confused and changing my mind almost with each successive post.

  115. m Andrea Says:

    That sounds rude. Sorry.

  116. Mary Sunshine Says:

    I want to make it clear that I am totally impressed by the analysis and statement of principles in JW’s blog entry today.

    I am *not* following all the stuff about which post of Heart’s was the one which made her somehow the champion of denying the reality of black women for all time.

    I’ve been screening that stuff out for the sake of my own sanity for weeks now (and yes, I’ve been thru the psych system and know whereof I speak.)

    Heart and Justice are both breathtakingly brilliant, and rock my world. I can’t live without either of you. The two of you are my daily reference points.

    What I refer to specifically in JW’s gift to us today is:

    “I was talking about the improved treatment that black women receive when they are perceived as being tied to white men – as having white husbands or boyfriends or baby-daddies. My point to white women was that their white privilege was directly tied to white men, that even black women could tap into it to some degree, and that, therefore, silence in the face of white privilege was a concession to MEN, ultimately. I would have thought it should have been clear, then, if black women with white men were making concessions to white men, that white women with black men were making concessions to black men …”

    and:

    (with reference to white women being married to black men)

    “It doesn’t alleviate, and, in fact, exacerbates, the pressure on black women to be the “ideal” women that white women are. And having half-black children doesn’t make a white woman any more in tune with the perniciousness of racism in the lives of women who do not have white parents.”

    and:

    (with reference to half-black people)

    “half-black people (who are higher up in the race hierarchy than black people, just so we’re clear) have their experiences elevated over the experiences of all-black people. Half-white people, with their tendencies to be forgiving of white slights against nonwhite people, are then the preferred representatives of nonwhiteness. And, as we can see with the furor over Barack Obama, black people are supposed to fall down grateful that half-blacks would deign, magnanimously, to represent us.

    But there are reasons why half-black women are not exactly representative of the black female experience. For example, black women who do not have white parents are more likely to speak Black English, rather than the standard. They are more likely to more closely approximate the African phenotype than the Aryan one. And half-white people are more likely, because their white parent is more likely to have access to such information, to be aware of the ways of advantageously navigating the banking, education, and legal institutions, which were made for people like their white parents. These are just the basics, but what it comes down to is that women with one white parent are positioned in such a way as to be sheltered from many of the consequences of nonwhite-parented nonwhiteness.

    I know from my own full-black experience that being able to speak white women’s language with fluency and confidence has been a major influence in my failure to see white women’s racism. It has been easy for me to be fooled that white women are impressed with my ideas, when they’ve only been impressed with my ability to express them in Standard American English. I cannot imagine the difficulty I’d have had coming to my recent realizations if, on top of my grasp of white English, I also had lighter skin and straighter hair and maybe some white relatives in high places to always cushion me against the racism experienced by black women who cannot speak white men’s English, or who are even darker, or more nappy-haired than I am.”

    and:

    “I’m just saying that the woman to judge whether or not any real anti-racist effect has occurred will not be a white one”

    The stuff about Heart, back-patting, chastising, etc – as I say, I have to delete for my own sanity.

    JW, I *love* your statements of principle and your analyses of the psychosocial and lines of power stuff: the way that white women’s bonding with white men fits into the essence of the power structure of male rule, and how it undermines feminism through crushing the hopes of friendship and trust between white women and black women.

    As far as I am concerned, those brilliant analyses and statements of principle deserve to be stated on their own, for best effect.

    Think about it: women reading this stuff one or two years from now will just be confused and distracted by reference to a bunch of blog posts that are lost in history. Are they supposed to accord that context of blog-post history the same importance as your abstract statements of principle? I hope not, because the effectiveness of the communication of your ** ideas ** will be less.

    I also want to make it clear that I do not support personal attacks by any radfem against another radfem. When I feel myself getting drawn into that I know that I’ve lost the plot, and have descended into a whirlpool.

    *Pointing out* personal attacks by a radfem against another radfem also sucks me into that same whirlpool. If I don’t point out such an attack, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen it and that it doesn’t register with me.

    We have brilliance to share, and share it we do.

    xoxox Mary

  117. Luckynkl Says:

    That’s because the topic of the thread is white privilege. If you read today’s post at my blog, you will see that I am fully aware that nonwhite women can also be racist. They are just racist against fewer women than white women.

    I don’t read your blog, JW, but I don’t mind discussing anything you have to say here.

    I’ve already said that I don’t think women can be racist and I’ve explained why. So for argument’s sake, I’m going to use the word “biased” or “prejudiced,” ok?

    Remember now, I think globally rather than locally.

    So being white women are a minority in the world, how can nonwhite women be less biased than white women? Are Asian women in China less biased than American white women? Are the nonwhite Muslim women of the Middle East less biased than American white women? Can you be more specific? Because I guess I’m having difficulty seeing how you can say that one group of women can be less biased than another. I see no evidence of that. Wouldn’t it be relative? Relative to which part of the world one comes from?

    I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from.

  118. Starfish Says:

    m Andrea, I disagree that this is/was a productive thread.

    If you’re (general you-‘re) remotely serious now or in the future about identifying and unlearning white privilege, one concrete thing any one of us can do is immerse ourselves in the worlds of women of colour. For a start, resolve to invest at least some time (lots of time is better) reading the blogs of women of colour, follow links, carefully read and re-read the posts and conversations in comments threads. Making that commitment will, over time, politically and personally enhance your life – it has mine.

  119. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Starfish,

    Have you seen anything in this thread that would lead you to believe that m Andrea disagrees with your second paragraph?

  120. Starfish Says:

    My second paragraph was a general comment -the gist of which is that any place where the voices of white women, even white feminist women dominate, as they have here, is not a really good place to begin to grasp the perspectives of women of colour, seeing as the voices, worlds, perspectives of women of colour, in their own words, are surely integral to identifying and unlearning white privilege.

  121. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Thanks, Starfish.

    Yes, I agree.

    🙂

  122. Starfish Says:

    I’ll take this opportunity to add the word “overall” to that sentence of mine about productivity, so as not to completely erase the many good, pointful words of those who’ve participated here.

    Will it be read as sycophantic if I suggest that justice’s energies were diverted, even co-opted here?

    Because (it’s all about me!), you see, I’d quite fancied the opportunity to hear more from her, interactively, without the many degrees of tension that really were outside of passion and anger about the topic of the thread.

    So, oh gracious host person, I judged the thread unproductive because *I* didn’t get what *I* was hoping for nearer the outset.

  123. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Hi Starfish,

    By my most recent understanding, JusticeWalks welcomes feedback from readers of her blog at the email address that she gives there.

    To the best of my understanding, comments on her blog are closed because she is not interested in hosting a lot of interactions *amongst white women* on that blog.

    Also, to the best of my understanding, several of us (whitewims) have had continued interactions with her by email.

    I try not to let judgements made by womyn of any particular demographic to influence my thoughts and feelings and interactions in radical feminist discussions. In that respect, of course, I do not always succeed. What I like to do is to always go back to my (inborn, pre-verbal) sense of Original Female energy in deciding to which energies I might give credence, or with which energies I wish to interact.

    For me, the watchword is wisdom. I’m wary of “justice” because that essentially male-constructed concept implies the connected concepts of regulation, enforcement, and correction. Or, the equally male-constructed concept or revenge.

    My sense of radical feminism is not centred around “social injustice” but female survival – by which I necessarily mean females of all species and phenotypes.

    I am a female-centred separatist.

    So, no, I don’t go around waiting for opportunities to hop on other wims as sycophants.

    Wishing you well,
    Mary

  124. m Andrea Says:

    Starfish, I didn’t read half the comments in this thread, somebody else had to tell me what was in it. Two people arguing past each does not sound very productive.

    Mary, that was a great comment. I totally agree, if I understand what you’ve said.

    Also, I tend to notice pattern, large patterns. The smaller individual things tend to fly right by me because I am looking for the all-encompassing patterns which include everything. If I could find the study, I’d do a post on it. It made the point quite clearly that many people – intelligent people, not stupid at all – had difficulty with finding patterns in large trends. They had trouble because they would always focus their time and attention on individuals or groups of individuals. This is not said to be insulting. Folks already know *I* need help with certain things, why is it so impossible for them to believe that they need help with seeing certain *other* things?

    Anyway, I’ve noticed a few patterns among many women of color, but before I talk about it, I will go back and check again. These patterns, incidently, defy all freaking logic and make many women of color appear quite freaking ignorant to me. I already know some of are true, but one in particular needs double-checking.

    White feminists never get a free pass to have everything we say automatically believed; why on earth do women of color get a free pass??? People seem to be assuming that because a woman of color says something (and no I am not talking about Justice), then it must be true and no critical thinking skills are required or allowed.

    I’m evil. NO ONE gets a free pass for the idealogies they express, not even myself.

  125. Mary Sunshine Says:

    “I’m evil. NO ONE gets a free pass for the ideologies they express, not even myself.”

    I’m right there with ya, mAndrea.

    🙂

  126. delphyne Says:

    Well if a woman of colour is talking about racism MAndrea, it probably is a good idea for a white person to take a deep breath and having a think about it rather than trying to argue it down, which seems to happen far more often than it should. In other words perhaps the white person could try using their critical thinking skills on their own defenses rather than on trying to prove the person who is addressing them wrong.

    Justicewalks certainly hasn’t got a free pass here, she’s been called a demagogue and a hater of white people. Those are pretty harsh words.

  127. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Hi delphyne,

    “Justicewalks certainly hasn’t got a free pass here, she’s been called a demagogue and a hater of white people. Those are pretty harsh words”

    The words are indisputably harsh. But that does not affect the reality of whether JW (amongst others) may have been given a free pass by posters { p1, p2, … p(sub n)}, while not having been given a free pass by posters {q1, q2, ….q(sub m)} where m and n are intergers in the interval [1, S] S being the number of posters to this thread.

    Nor does it affect the reality of whether JW is, in fact, either of those harshly-stated descriptors.

    Mary

    Standard disclaimer: “What do I know, I’m just a mathematician?”

  128. Mary Sunshine Says:

    oops … “integers”

  129. delphyne Says:

    Who do you think has given JW a free pass, Mary? If you do think that, that is.

  130. Starfish Says:

    Okay, so, if I’m understanding right, sounds like women of colour, generally, and justice particularly have been observed to be illogical, ‘man-nish’ and to exhibit patterns of behaviour that are… questionable?

    It’s not recognised how the oppression of women of colour and white women’s relative privilege plays into that?

    Wow.

  131. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Hi Delphyne,

    I don’t think that anybody here has necessarily given JW a free pass.

    The free pass concept is definitely floating around, as I have seen it floated around in discussions of other dimensions of oppression.

    The concept usually starts floating around when the discussion reaches the point (after a gazillion iterations) where it is polarized into the two positions of:

    —————————–
    1.) Everything that a person of class X has to say is evil, reflects their privilege, and should be denounced, whether that person says Q or not-Q. And is a person of class X doesn’t say anything, they are just ducking the fog.

    2.) There are varying ways of interpreting statements A, B, C, or ….
    ————————-

    and position 1.) dominates because of its intensity and simplicity of understanding.

    HTH.

    Mary

  132. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Starfish,

    In a word:

    Nope.

    Try again.

    Cheers,
    Mary

  133. delphyne Says:

    “The free pass concept is definitely floating around”

    You’d have to give me some examples because I’m just not seeing it.

    All I’m seeing is the argument that people of colour are the experts on racism, in the same way that women are the experts on sexism and that white people who want to argue the toss should perhaps try a different approach if we actually want to have productive discussions.

  134. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Hi Delphyne,

    You said:

    “white people who want to argue the toss should perhaps try a different approach if we actually want to have productive discussions”

    Which toss?

    See, I don’t care to have *any* discussions with males about sexism. I’ll have those with women. I can imagine no possible discussion of sexism that I could have with any male that could be productive in any way.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that discussions between males and females will have any effect on the lived reality of oppression of females by males.

    From another angle:

    I’m a woman living in first world poverty, but not homeless. I don’t subscribe to the theory that any discussions that I may have with a homeless person or persons will have any effect on the lived oppression of homeless people by those who are housed.

    To the contrary, I experience the discussions that I have had with the homeless have been of immediate benefit to me and of no immediate benefit to them.

    Doesn’t mean those discussions need not have, and should not (or should) have happened.

    Back to racism and white women: I don’t think that anything that white women can do or say will have any effect on the lived reality of oppression of black people by white people.

    I don’t want racism to exist. But like JW and some other radfems I have known in my life (including black lesbian separatists) I believe racism originates in the desire of males of whatever phenotype to breed, own, and control successive generations of males of that same phenotype. And then to have the different armies of male phenotypes battle each other for dominion.

    This really comes down to how we see patriarchy originating chronologically in the human species. I don’t see it as an ethereal “ideology” that floated in one day from outer space, and just *happened* to seize upon all population distributions of all human phenotypes all over the planet.

    I see it originating chronologically in the simple perpetuation of human males across millennia.

    I expect to see it climax / implode with the destruction of the physical infrastructures of the planet upon which it hopelessly depends.

    Off to bed now ….

  135. delphyne Says:

    “Which toss?”

    That one where white people tell a person of colour that they are wrong when they say something is racist and start calling them names instead.

    And I agree with some of what you’ve said there, Mary, about where racism originated, although now it is in existence and has been for quite a few centuries/millennia(?), it’s perfectly obvious that white women are able to make use of it too. The latter part seems to be the sticking point here. Racism is a form of power that any white person can draw on, women included, even if the pain we cause does not equal the damage white men can do. It’s still pain and it still needs to stop.

    I’m still not seeing the free pass concept that’s floating around though, however I’ll stop pressing you on it.

  136. delphyne Says:

    Sleep well. 🙂

  137. Starfish Says:

    ~”and position 1.) dominates because of its intensity and simplicity of understanding.”

    I would understand this to be a reflection of patriarchy’s position. It sees black and white, sometimes hears black and white, or white and non-white, or more approved/rewarded and less approved/rewarded presentations.

    And right-minded, female-centred feminist women ought not go there?

    Am I to understand that by apparently oversimplifying I’m doing women altogether, or feminist women at least, a disservice? Because what I’m finally seeing nowadays is white women’s continued domination of the discourse, definitions and goals of feminism. Women of colour have been pointing that out, all ’round the world for in excess of 30 years now. And many white feminist women are standing their ground about that, that it’s not so, still?

    Increasingly reactionary, or something, now.

    Reckon I might just go and offer to make the cups of tea for women who aren’t white. I must be too simple and/or dumbed down to get white women’s feminism anymore. Not that women of colour actually need me, personally. I see that. They might appreciate our understanding and support though.

    I’ve had the song Melting Pot playing in my head the last few days, have been thinking about that in relation to what I’ve learned about racism, mostly concentrated in my geographical location rather than the UScentric blogospere by the way. The thing is, everything I’ve learned translates, broadly at least.

    I don’t believe patriarchy cares whether or not in a hundred years or more there are coffee coloured people by the score. Elsewise it wouldn’t have allowed this white liberal solution a foothold it repairs by recategorizing by shade and/or expression of allegiance in a way that muddies the waters somewhat but leads most often to assimilation into the system that remains white dominated. I don’t think white women are altogether blameless in our complicity, our ongoing levels of ignorance about how we impact individually and collectively the lives of women of colour.

    ~”Back to racism and white women: I don’t think that anything that white women can do or say will have any effect on the lived reality of oppression of black people by white people.”

    Here’s where I disagree. White feminist women can do much to expand and/or refocus oft stated goals around reproduction, for instance.

    ~”I expect to see it climax / implode with the destruction of the physical infrastructures of the planet upon which it hopelessly depends.”

    Yeah, I often see that as the inevitable outcome. Then wonder at the worth of effectively pissing into a fell wind whenever I speak or act in ways seeking change. I guess I’m not prepared to bide out my time without speaking and/or acting in ways that are change-seeking.

    I’m still recommending that white women seek to learn from women of colour, not necessarily individually, rather as non-monolithic groupings.

  138. Starfish Says:

    I said “I’m still recommending that white women seek to learn from women of colour, not necessarily individually, rather as non-monolithic groupings.”

    That’s the bottom up approach. Top down doesn’t work, hasn’t been working.
    White women need to ask women of colour what, if anything they need from us, and listen – even if only to ameliorate the effects of the system until the whole thing blows up in all our faces. Surely that is useful, is something we might well choose to do.

  139. m Andrea Says:

    Dear God, I specifically said it wasn’t about Justice. I was talking about patterns. Among many women of color. Not any specific person. The patterns themselves were left unspecified.

    And someone, once again, can’t tell the difference between patterns across a large area and one individual. This is what I was trying to explain – that some people are barely capable of distinguishing the difference. I realize now that this is a really difficult concept for some otherwise very intelligent people. It’s like confusing one puzzle piece for the entire frame.

    Perhaps it is you who needs to quit being defensive. Can you just admit that you can’t tell the difference? Because you’ve really proved it in your response. There is an old saying, and it goes something like this:

    Big people talk about ideas
    Medium people talk about things
    Small people talk about specific people

    Delphyne — when a white feminist says something, do we automatically believe her statement to be true?

    Yes or No. Pick one. For extra credit, explain your answer. I don’t mean to pick on you because you’re basically a lovely person, but if someone says illogical crap which is expressed repeatedly, I’m not going to let it slide.

    When anybody says anything negative about transgenderism, the response is always to throw up the pity shield without ever seriously considering the allegation. In the exact same way, whenever someone even suggests that women of color exhibits an UNSPECIFIED pattern, the response is always to scream “you must be racist” without ever considering if there is even some truth to the charge.

    Congratulations, you proved me right, without me having to do a damn freaking thing other than point out your own behavior.

  140. Starfish Says:

    m Andrea, were the first four paragraphs of your 10.19pm post directed toward me?

    One thing I didn’t say above, when I talked about the melting pot, etc, is that from what I know of radical Maori perspectives, extrapolating that to radical people of colour all over, the very idea that white women, to the extent any of us can choose with whom to partner, actively choose to partner with men of colour as a political statement (if that is in fact being suggested anywhere) would be laugh that out of the house.

  141. m Andrea Says:

    Please, look up the word “scapegoat”. As in, “psychology of group dynamics”.

  142. m Andrea Says:

    Oh, Starfish, I thought everybody went to bed!

    I know Delphyne is a very strong person, and she can handle it. You seem like a very gentle person and I wasn’t sure you could, frankly. But you were doing it too. You are referring to the Maori, and I know nothing about them or the dynamics of what’s going on there. I deferr to your knowledge about that subject.

    I think about black people in america a lot. Slavery has left some horrible scars on the american psyche which will take a very long time to heal. And yes, I am clueless about stupid stuff, that comment by LM still bothers me, and I really do appreciate her taking the time to say something.

  143. m Andrea Says:

    To clarify: Whenever a blog discusses specific people repeatedly, then that blog only becomes interesting to those very few visitors who care about those specific people.

    I would much prefer this blog be about ideas, so that many different types of individuals might find something of value – or perhaps complain about. 😉

  144. Starfish Says:

    It’s early evening where I am, but I’ll stop and let you get some sleep now, shall I.

    Yes, the legacy of slavery in the US is something I’ve been looking at more closely lately. Having seen Roots as a child, not knowing the KKK even existed until I was about 15, watching Bowling for Columbine as an adult, reading Toni Morrison (Beloved, most recently) among other bits and pieces hardly equips me well with understanding.

    Interestingly, to me, I stumbled across an essay about Black Separatism in the US on what was clearly a white supremacist site yesterday, among the many places I was reading having searched ‘melting pot theory’. I too have lots of learning to do.

    That question about scapegoating, despite the matter of to whom, or what group it might refer to being subjective, I should think, would certainly shut things down altogether, remotely productive things, anyway.

    If having an opinion, an informed opinion (albeit not always so gently expressed) is going to be interpreted as scapegoating, then I’ve no clue how to proceed.

    Perhaps I will bow out now, though, unless I’m directly addressed (or badly derogatorily referenced).

    You’re right m Andrea that I’m mostly gentle. Please don’t interpret that as a lack of strength or inner resource, though.

  145. Starfish Says:

    Gotcha. I missed that before I last submitted, due to slow composing while also doing dishes.

  146. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Delphyne,

    “That one where white people tell a person of colour that they are wrong when they say something is racist and start calling them names instead.”

    I agree.

  147. L.M. Says:

    I probably shouldn’t comment here, but I wanted to thank delphyne for her comments.

  148. stormy Says:

    I’ve been out of the loop for the last week or so, and have only just caught up and read this thread in one hit.

    I love all of you wimmin, and each and every one of you has said something of merit. I hope that this thread and others like it, will not result in factionalism. If this happens, my brain will go into meltdown, and I will be forced to straddle both ‘sides’! 😀

  149. m Andrea Says:

    When something is pointed out, oftentimes the response is not to deal with the thing being pointed out, but the response is to change the focus of the conversation.

    “You can’t distinguish between an idea and a person”.

    “but you hurt my feelings!”

    “but you’re mean!”

    “but that was rude!”

    “but you’re just being defensive!”

    Those are all ways someone changes the focus of the conversation. They are denial tactics. Now the person does not actually have to deal with what was said to them, they put the focus on the other person’s motivations or their own feeling instead of dealing with the actual point. It’s dishonest. It’s the mark of a person in denial.

    The point is that Delphyne cannot distinguish between an idea, and a person. Please address that idea.

  150. m Andrea Says:

    My favorite quote comes to the rescue AGAIN! Thanks TBW! You see how useful that one is?

    Also, personally I thing we all have things we need to learn, and we all have things we can teach each other. But when one person sets themselves up as the aribiter of all that is good and everyone else is always wrong – well, it looks kind of ridiculous to a reasonable person.

    Fess up and move on damnit.

  151. delphyne Says:

    “The point is that Delphyne cannot distinguish between an idea, and a person. Please address that idea.”

    Of course I can. And big raspberry at you for calling me a small person BTW. 😛

    I probably didn’t explain myself clearly enough when I pointed out that JusticeWalks wasn’t getting a “free pass” here though. I was trying to bring the discussion back to a real situation rather than this imaginary one where women of colour are apparently getting “free passes” whilst white feminists aren’t. What made this situation different from those where the free passes are apparently being handed out?

    I mean if you ask women of colour whether they think they are getting these free passes, I don’t think they’ll agree with you that they are. I think they might argue that it is white people including white feminists who are demanding the free passes or, in concrete terms, expecting to be believed when they say their intentions are good so any racism they might be involved in doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist – the argument about Amanda from Pandagon’s racist/sexist bookcover was a case in point, although to be fair to her she did go back to her publishers to get them to change it in the end.

    As to whether I think white feminists should automatically believed, well if they are talking to a man about sexism then yes, I think probably in almost all cases the guy needs to STFU and think about what she’s saying (like that ever happens). I’ve never come across a man who knows more about mine or any other woman’s oppression than women ourselves do. If a man says “you want a free pass” or “you’re a man-hater” or any of those other attacks that men like to use when their power is being challenged, do any of us really believe what he’s saying is legitimate?

  152. m Andrea Says:

    And if you ask white feminists, they will tell you they are not getting a free pass either. My point is that white feminits are a permissable target of criticism, but that people of color are not. Any criticism of people of color ALWAYS gets the response of “you’re just being defensive” or “you’re racist”. There is no attempt to ever take the criticism seriously.

    Are people of color exempt from criticism? Yes or no. Pick one.

    After a while, screaming “you’re racist” while avoiding the actual point just looks kind of stupid to a reasonable person.


  153. Andrea: What you say is just not true. Look around you. People of color take incredible abuse daily on the internet as well as everywhere else–both directly, personally, and by just having to witness the stupid shit that white people say. Like your last comment, for example. I watch people of color struggle all the time to get their perspective taken seriously, and it very rarely happens.

    You seem really smart and I think you are going to read these comments later in your life and cringe–I know about this from personal experience. I recently came across a comment I made to someone’s blog about a year ago, and I was/am so very ashamed for having let my reactionism get the better of me. It might be worth trying to educate yourself more and work through more of your defensiveness before you write more about this publically. Just a suggestion from someone who’s been there.

    Of course people of color are not exempt from criticism–that’s not what anyone here has said. What has been said is that people of color KNOW MORE ABOUT RACISM THAN WHITE PEOPLE DO. And hence, that their opinions ABOUT racism should be taken seriously and not randomly “disagreed with” by white people, just because we don’t like how those opinions reflect on us.

  154. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Hi Amy, Hi mAndrea,

    Amy, I agree with what mAndrea is saying only in respect to it applying to one person (or woman) of colour at a time, in a particular instance, saying it.

    I agree with you Amy, that en masse, POC are getting abused all over the internet.

    I haven’t seen any particular whitewom here “randomly” disagreeing with JW. Some individual Whitewims have very particular, specific beefs with *some* of what JW has said.

    To me, that doesn’t mean that those particular whitewims should be denounced as racists *any more than* any other whitewims should be. I posit that all whitewims are in vastly many ways, varying from individual to individual, racist.

    To me, that does not translate into *any* WOC’s opinion on any particular matter of racism should be taken by every whitewom as unquestionable truth. The (perceived) edict that should be, is, I think, what women here are referring to as a “free pass” for WOC.

  155. bonobobabe Says:

    My point is that white feminits are a permissable target of criticism, but that people of color are not. Any criticism of people of color ALWAYS gets the response of “you’re just being defensive” or “you’re racist”.

    I would say the same thing happens to people who criticize women. Like when a radfem criticizes a plain vanilla feminist, or even just a non-feminist woman for doing something like shaving or wearing makeup. The radfem will get, “That’s blaming the victim. Stop woman blaming,” as a response. We’re not supposed to blame women for shaving; we’re supposed to blame the patriarchy. But yet, there IS an element of choice involved. We’re trained not to see it, but it’s there.

    The problem is, there is such a fine line between justified criticism and being racist or sexist or ageist or whatever ist you can think of. Liberals have done a good job of bringing this stuff to public awareness, but now I think we’ve gone overboard.

    I got flamed terribly on a couple feminist blogs for my anti-Muslim statements. I was called a racist, simply b/c Muslims are brown. However, I wasn’t criticizing their race or ethnicity. I was criticizing their religious beliefs, which are ridiculously stupid, and the results of their stupid religious beliefs, which are decidedly misogynstic. I am allowed, however, with impunity, to make fun of Christians, especially American fundie wackos, because they are white. I can’t, likewise, make fun of Jews, even though Yahweh is as fictional and ridiculous as Allah, b/c of the whole nazi thing.

    But I reiterate that it is sometimes very difficult to determine if you’re engaging in blaming the victim or if you’re being racist. It’s a fine line between those things and legitimate criticism.

  156. m Andrea Says:

    Please keep in mind my criticism of POC has nothing to do with what they consider racist attitudes or behavior (it is totally left up to them to decide what is racist), but the way in which many POC appear to be going about eliminating racism. My concern is with the process, not the product.

    Personally, I know that I need help with seeing racism in all it’s forms. But whenever a white person attempts to suggest that *some* white people could be helped to see racism in all it’s forms if the information was given in a particular way, the response is always “quit telling us what to do” and “a white person telling a person of color what to do is racist”. Okay, I just told you why this particular method isn’t working for me, and I just told you what method would be effective (on helping me to see racism in all it’s forms) but somehow POC are so overly sensitive that my suggestions themselves become racist.

    Pardon me for thinking some people of color are too stupid to help themselves. Even the white feminists take into account what would help different types of men see sexism in all it’s forms, but somehow this same idea is “racist” when applied to people of color who attempt to do whatever works in getting white people to see racism.

    Do people of color not major in advertising or psychology or learning theory? Because the first rule is to use what works, and if you want to know what works, then you ask your target market what would be helpful *for them*, and then you DO THAT.

    And again, as long as some folks are going to be stuck on specific people, we can’t discuss any of this, because this is one of those “frame around the individual parts” concepts.

    edit: I remove all the “fucking” LOL

  157. m Andrea Says:

    The more I blog, the more my idoicy becomes apparent, even to myself. It’s pretty hard to avoid. But I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else, so it doesn’t bother me. The important thing is to keep moving forward as best I can.

    When your target market keeps popping up over and over again, telling you what would be effective, and you keep ignoring it – yes, you are behaving in a stupid manner. Personally, it doesn’t bother me to point out stupidity, because I never expect perfection. I really don’t understand why so many people of any color are offended when foolishness is pointed out. Of course no one is perfect, and of course we never see ourselves the way other people see us. The only reason to be afraid of appearing stupid is to believe it’s actually possible to exist in a state of perfection, or to be afraid that one is more stupid than the average person. I’m narcissisticly awesome, so this can’t apply to me. 🙂 You all are awesome too, btw.

    As long as someone gives me a REASON for why something I’m doing is stupid, then I am totally willing to sincerly consider their point of view. Opinions, on the other hand, cut ZERO ice with me and are automatically discarded.

    Also, you all type too fast, and I don’t preview.

  158. thebewilderness Says:

    Your argument is based on the assumption that these people(feminists and colorful people) have volunteered, and are responsible to teach those people, the target audience, and that the target audience desires to learn.
    I don’t think these things are generally true.

    I do agree that declarative statements, without explanation, are difficult to learn from and sometimes used to dismiss others. Still, sometimes it is very like saying “water is wet”, and being told that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, so it can’t possibly be wet.

  159. bonobobabe Says:

    While part of me is in agreement with your thoughts about tailoring the message to the recipients, mAndrea, I can’t help but think it is similar to men telling women that if we were just less strident, less angry, less nitpicky, etc. then maybe men would understand better.

    I don’t think the onus for learning something falls on the teacher; it falls on the student. I’ve had good and bad teachers in school, but learning takes place in the mind of the student. It certainly helps to have a teacher tailor the message to the learning style of the students, but it seems a bit unfair to expect an oppressed person, whether female, a person of color, or both, to spend time catering yet again to the people above them on the hierarchy.

    But then another part of me thinks, “Well, if that’s what’s needed to get the message through, maybe that’s just the way it is, no matter how unfair it is.”

    I’m torn.

  160. Luckynkl Says:

    Let’s say that white women do masochistically shoulder the sins of the fathers. How does this change the power structure in any way? It doesn’t. Because women don’t run the show. Men do. And tra-la-la, men can’t hear you. And men aren’t going to change a thing.

    So while JW may get a charge out of white women behaving masochistically and may feel more powerful about her powerless little self when they do so, her analysis fails to address the power structure or change it any way. It’s just one oppressed group one-upping another while the power structure continues to remain unchanged and intact.

  161. Branjor Says:

    But white women aren’t oppressed at all. They’re “suppressed”. A woman of color said so.

  162. Mary Sunshine Says:

    “But white women aren’t oppressed at all. They’re “suppressed”. A woman of color said so.”

    Branjor,

    Who in particular said that?

  163. Branjor Says:

    I read it in a thread on someone’s blog. I found it while trying to google who on earth was talking about “blowing away many, may people” (mentioned in a thread on Heart’s blog). I didn’t find what I was looking for but I did find the thread mentioned above on a blog I had never heard of before. For the sake of preventing “WW III” I will not mention the name of that blog.

  164. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Thanks, Branjor.

    It’s sort of like how I remember some working class “feminists” saying that middle class women weren’t really oppressed.

    There’s a lot of female horizontal hostility out there.

  165. Luckynkl Says:

    But white women aren’t oppressed at all. They’re “suppressed”. A woman of color said so.

    Funny how people always think the grass is greener on the other side.

  166. Satsuma Says:

    I certainly don’t think the grass is greener on the heterosexual side of the hill!

  167. Luckynkl Says:

    I certainly don’t think the grass is greener on the heterosexual side of the hill!

    I know it isn’t. I thank the fates every day that I’m a lesbian.

  168. Branjor Says:

    I sure don’t think the grass is greener on the heterosexual side either. As far as the search for love goes, I always think of men as the booby prize, intended for the losers. Since patriarchy never intended for women to be winners, the patriarchal endorsement of men as (the only acceptable) love objects for women speaks volumes to me.


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