Monday, April 12, 2010

A response, cross-posted from the comments

First off, I guess I should point out (again) that I didn't disagree with the substance of Matin's article, nor her decision to self-identify as a womanist. Her problems with academic feminism and the feminist movement aren't particularly dissimilar from my own, in that I think race and class (and disability and gender-identification and lots of other things) are often (and used to be exclusively) side-discussions in favor of things that affected the day-to-day lives of the people with the money, time and space within the larger society to dedicate to discussing and being active on them. Her critiques of her experience with women's studies are similar to the things that drove me away from the program at my university. She identifies as a womanist; I identify as a feminist concerned with the kyriarchy. I don't believe that women can achieve equality without everyone in marginalized groups getting equality because too many women belong to marginalized groups that lack equality.

That said, my critique was very specific: she said that her problem with feminism was that it ignored the contributions and voices of women of color, and then seemingly ignored the contributions of voices of women of color. Latoya was totally right that those sites are externally identified more with Jessica, Jill, Amanda and Bitch herself than the women of color who write for it, and that their commentariat is often hyper-white and eager to separate race from discussions of gender (ahem). But, calling them "largely run by white women" is, to me, not accurate -- "largely identified with" or "largely read by" are extremely valid criticisms, as Latoya said, but to say that they are largely run by contributes to the (I think inaccurate perception) that their editors or leadership are exclusively white. Martin could have even said that they focus on issues of more interest to white women than not -- and it's a criticism this site made of Feministing a year and a half ago, to an angry comment thread, so I'd hardly be one to complain that it's not a interesting point.

To me, the problem with ignoring the contributions of women of color to mainstream sites is it contributes to the difficulty of those writers to get the attention, both from readers and the mainstream media, that they deserve.

Martin, on her blog, took offense that "Jezebel" didn't comment on a piece written by Chloe of Feministing for the Guardian about why she thinks womanists should integrate into the Feminist movement. I can only point out that I've worked here about 1-2 days a month for the last 4, hadn't read the piece, likely wouldn't have agreed with it if I had and might well have critiqued if I had been writing here when it ran. I am, however, more into these kinds of arguments than anyone except perhaps Latoya, and have no special insight other than that as to whether any of the other writers at Jezebel saw Chloe's piece or felt like getting into a discussion about it at the time.

Her larger critique, however, is that it wasn't my place to point out that there are women of color leading and writing in those spaces. It's not one I plan to argue with. It is a point of view -- one I obviously didn't agree with -- but one about which she feels very strongly for her own personal and intellectual reasons.

My point was, and is, that I think the way to get people to associate these blogs with women of color is not to accept and contribute to the perception that they are largely run by white women but to highlight the important contributions made by the women of color who write and help run those blogs, and to encourage them (and others) to hire, promote and highlight the contributions of many more -- and also to link to, engage with, read and promote the writers who choose to operate in different spaces, like Martin, that are dedicated to more specific points of view.

1 comment:

Bowleserised said...

This is what I understood you were saying. Didn't fancy poking my head into that comment thread though. I didn't have the time to firefight.

From Samhita, three years ago: