Friday, May 25, 2007

Blog wars

I'm in a funk. Seriously. I went out of town for a few days, and when I got back there were a bunch of posts to read, many having to do with the women of color (WOC) response to FFF (Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism for those of you who don't live in the feminist blogosphere) and the response to that response. And I've been trying to catch up, but every goddam post leads me to about five other goddam posts, and then, just to make sure I'm being a responsible reader, I have to check out the comments on the posts because someone in about five minutes from whenever now is will be referencing those comments and tearing someone a new one. And one thing becomes crystal clear: I picked a shitty time to get behind on my blog reading. It is nearly impossible to stay even with this one. And more than that, it is mentally exhausting to try. And depressing on top of that. (I'm so tired, in fact, that I can't link to all the stuff to which I've just referred)

For those of you who are just joining the fun, here's a brief recap (from what I've been able to gather).

People With Concerns About the Book: "We think there are some issues that need to be addressed."

Jessica Valenti and Her Supporters: "Shut up."

PWCAtB: "We feel silenced, yet again. That is actually one of the issues we think needs to be addressed."

JVaHS: "Can you keep quiet just a little longer? Oh, and stop being jealous."

You get the idea. You can accuse me of losing important nuances in this recap, and you can accuse me of interpreting the situation through my own biased lens. Fair enough. If you want to read the Fun Feminists Are Always Right version, go visit Feministing. But, in my opinion, my version is more accurate. Not as flattering to white, middle-class feminists, but more accurate nonetheless.

And here's the thing. I feel like I should have something incisive to say about all of this, but what I really want to do is quit reading this shit altogether. 'Cause it makes me tired. I feel like there's a huge responsibility to do more for WOC issues, which wouldn't be hard since my baseline right now is at about zero. Sure, I think about the issues from time to time, and I get outraged with the best of them, but I don't actually do anything. I have the unearned privilege, on accounta my whiteness and my relative class comfort, of not doing anything about them and of not even thinking about them if I don't want to. I have the luxury of these issues not hitting me over the head from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed on most days. And I am cognizant of the fact that these issues do nothing but hit others over the head all fucking day long. This is why I have a responsibility to do more.

Which is why I can't just quit reading this shit. And why I need to read more of it. It's okay for me to feel bad about my privilege and my lack of activity on these issues. Hopefully feeling bad will be the kick in the ass I need to start doing actual work to make the feminist movement more closely reflect my values. Because in my perfect world, feminism is about eradicating the oppression of all people, not just white people, and not just women. The racist, capitalist patriarchy in which most of us live is unfair and oppressive to a lot of people, and it's not really responsible social activism to try to lift out only those who are most like us. We grow more when we listen to people who are unlike us, who come with different experiences, and who use different perspectives.

I am not going to save the world, and I probably won't make any meaningful contribution to people of color and their issues. I am not a Gatekeeper of Feminism, which, in my opinion, is the movement that shows the most promise of helping the most people. At most, I am a gatekeeper with a small 'g,' as all members of movements are. But, thanks to the Miracle of the Internets, I have as much access to the Gatekeepers as anyone else, meaning I can leave comments at the Big Blogs, engage in discussions, post and promote my own stuff, and read and promote the work by feminist bloggers of color. I can also have some real world conversations with real live people in my very own community. I owe it to all oppressed people to acknowledge that my liberation is bound up with theirs and to do what I can where I can with the privileges I didn't earn but which I nonetheless possess. Because that, in my mind, is the only way feminism can deliver on the promise to lift us all up.

We are all in this together. It's time we started listening to each other.

My attempts at listening have led to me adding the following blogs to my daily rotation. I encourage you to check them out if you haven't already. You may not like all of them (I'm not even sure I like all of them yet), but you won't know that yet. Be quiet. Observe. Listen. Learn. Act.

Taking Steps
The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum
Women of Color Blog
Having Read the Fine Print
The Unapologetic Mexican
The Silence of Our Friends

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