Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Instersectional Oppression, Intersectional Privilege: White Female Privilege

The existence of white female privilege is being debated. (See the comments here, or just read Renee's take on the whole thing). I see the debate as an example of the continued failure of white feminists to grasp intersectionality.

As I wrote here,
The universal human being is not just male. He is heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied, middle-class, and - in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand - white. We tend to conceptualize every deviation from the default atomistically, even though this does not reflect individual identities or experiences. So, for example, the experiences of a disabled woman of colour do not amount to the experiences of a white able-bodied woman + an able-bodied man of colour + a white disabled man. Her experiences are those of a disabledwomanofcolour. The different aspects of her identity cannot be separated out from each other.

As such, I do not just experience marginalization as a woman. I experience marginalization as a white woman (among many other aspects of my identity).

By the same token, I do not just have privilege as a white person. I have privilege as a white woman. I have white female privilege.

That is, there are assumptions made and expectations placed on me that, vis-a-vis my interactions with white men, rather suck. But vis-a-vis my interactions with people of colour - particularly women of colour - those same assumptions and expectations privilege me.

This is not contradictory. It's about relative power in the kyriarchy. This is intersectionality.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How To Wallow In Your Privilege

I think my activity on Tumblr is mainly going to consist of cutting up other Tumblr users when they write horribly oblivious things.

This is something that I wrote on Tumblr today, and I thought I'd share it...


On March 21 the Admins of Fuck Yeah English Major Armadillo replied to an ask from eatenplacenta that let them know that many of the submissions they post are ableist - that is, the ones where Armadillo responds to improper grammar/spelling with rage, violence, and death threats. Personally, I agree that such posts are ableist - and not only that I think they are classist, racist and nativist as well. Also, not very funny. Seriously, it feels like there have been dozens of iterations of the same joke, we get the picture.

The Admins replied in a kinda-accommodating, kinda-'splainy and justifying way. They could have done better, but they also could have done worse. So, yeah, take that as you will.

ANYWAYS, today they posted another ask, from bw9, that was written in response to the ask about ablism. The admins posted it without any response or commentary, so one can only assume that they agree with it's content. It's pretty horrible. There was no option to reblog the ask, so I'm just doing a post on it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"The Harper Government" Meme!

The Invisibility of Women Warriors

Ukrainian guerillas, 1944

I was watching a BBC World War II documentary about the Eastern front. It focused quite a bit on the partisan fighting in Ukraine. It was a while before I realized that the only footage they showed, and the only interviews they conducted were with male partisans.

My grandfather was part of the Ukrainian resistance during the war. And I have researched the activities of Ukrainian nationalists during WWII. So I know that there were more than a few women partisans - one of them even had her autobiography published in English (unfortunately I can't remember what it's called).

The documentary also showed local communist activists who were targeted by the Nazis - again none of them women. When there were certainly women among them - my grandfather's aunt was one of them.

Throughout the documentary, the narrator talked about German and Soviet atrocities carried out against the local populations for their support of nationalist partisans. Even against "women and children". Erasing the fact that there were women who were actively involved with the partisans. And assuming that it was somehow more reasonable to kill men who were not active partisans.

This post on Feministe criticizes the common MRA line that women ought to be more grateful to men because men are the ones who built society and fought in wars, blah blah blah. The idea that it has only ever been men who fought is, of course, bull shit. The assumption itself makes it easy to ignore any evidence to the contrary, obscuring the trials and sacrifices that women experienced as active fighters in war. It's a self-perpetuating myth, that is reflected throughout pop history.

Image is property of Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, here on Flickr.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Election Time!

"The Harper Government" has fallen! Good. I'm glad they were taken down on a vote of non-confidence due to the government being in contempt of Parliament in the first time in Canadian history. Instead of being taken down on the budget. It seems like the Liberals are aggressively trying to frame the election - unlike last time. They have to make this about democracy, not economic scare tactics.

Although I'm not terribly fond of the Liberals, and I think Michael Ignatieff is an enormous douche, they aren't anti-democratic like the Conservatives.

And if the Liberals don't win this one, they had better come together with the NDP and the Bloc to form a coalition government. Most Canadians vote for a left or left-of-centre party, and it's ridiculous we don't have a left/left-of-centre government.

Image source.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To My Fellow Privileged Feminists...

So I just posted a rant at Sady Doyle on Tumblr. That might not have been the wisest course of action. But I'm angry and frustrated. I am disappointed in third wave feminism, and in us, white cisgender heterosexual able-bodied North American class privileged feminists. I thought we were trying to do better than our predecessors. I thought we were trying to set our egos aside and make room for people who deal with more axes of oppression than being cis women. I thought we were trying to not use feminism to trample over more marginalized people. Can we try to not fuck that up for a while? Seriously. And if we do fuck it up, can we at least try to not make things worse subsequently?

Without getting into the background of the Tumblr thing, here are some of the key points from my rant:

  • Questioning the subjective reality of the marginalized person you’re talking to is not cool. 
  • You know what doesn’t matter and what you don’t need to explain when someone tells you you’re being racist, or disablist, etc? YOUR INTENT. Does. Not. Matter. What matters is that you understand how and why what you did was racist/disablist/etc, and that you make an effort to not do it again. 
  • If you step on someone’s foot (to use the ever-popular foot-stepping metaphor) you don’t say, “yikes! Either I was being clumsy, or you got in the way. I’ll assume that I was being clumsy. But see, I was just trying to demonstrate this really neat dance move that involves a lot of stomping.” No. You step off the person’s foot, apologize, and be more careful. 
  • As white cisgender heterosexual able-bodied North American feminists, I tend to think that we should always be combating our own privilege. That means not deciding, “Oh, I’ll just revel in my privilege this one time, in this one space.” If you realize that you’re looking at something from a privileged perspective, challenge your perspective yourself. Don’t wait for a more marginalized person to come along and do it for you. 
  • What we can do is SHUT UP AND LISTEN. And help in the ways we are told we can help. And also: WE ARE OWED NO ALLOWANCES, NO ASSUMPTIONS OF GOOD FAITH. If you want to be considered an ally, you need to prove that you are an ally, and continue to prove it. And if you fuck up, that does not mean that you get a free pass because, hey, at least you’re trying! It means that you have to keep trying harder.
Yeah. End rant.

Hey, Torontonians!

Are you going to SlutWalk on April 3rd? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

And I'm Also On Tumblr Now

It seems like a lot of stuff is going down on tumblr these days. So I jumped on that bandwagon too. Follow me on tumblr!

It's not going to be the exact same content as here; I think I'm going to do more post just about things that happen in my life, and random observations and stuff. Also, reblogging.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On Black People Being Held To A Special Standard Of Goodness: A Message To White People

This video has been making the rounds online:

A white woman takes it upon herself to sneer at a younger black woman who is eating on the subway. She calls her an "animal". She says that she will be "going to jail". Apparently, the white woman - and countless others who have commented on this video - expected the black woman to just take being dehumanized by a stranger as she was going about her daily business. Apparently - to countless people who have commented on this video - the fact that the black woman did not just take it, but instead confronted the white woman, and did not let her get away with how she was treating her, and the white woman continued to antagonize the black woman until the confrontation became physical, "proves" something about the "aggressive nature" of black people.

As a white person myself, I would like to address that white woman, those internet commenters, and all white people who might watch this video: If you feel anything other than sympathy for the black woman in this video, and perhaps concern that the white woman will try to get her into trouble, then you are being racist.

Friday, March 18, 2011

WTF Cleverbot?

My partner plays World of Warcraft. We were talking about the different bots people use in the game, and how sophisticated some of them are. That made me think of Cleverbot, the website where you can have a conversation with an artificial intelligence program. So I went over there.

I started by asking, "Do you play WOW?"

It replied, "No, I'm a girl."

There are girls who play WOW.

Are you a boy?


You are a boy.

What makes you think that?

Because you love me and I am a girl.

I could be a lesbian.

You're a man?


Is Scotland better than England?

Not only are you sexist and heteronormative, you're ethnocentric too.

You cannot claim ownership of that statement.

I totally own that statement.


Seriously, who programs this thing?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm On Twitter!

Yeah, so I got a Twitter account. Cause sometimes I want to share my thoughts, but there's not enough for a blog post. And it seems to be what all the cool kids are doing. Follow me please! (See sidebar for button) Also, I'm wondering who I should follow, so if you have any favourites, please suggest them!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's About Power

I've been catching up on feminist blogs, including a piece that Amanda Marcotte wrote for The Good Men Project called "The Solution to MRA Problems? More Feminism". The article is pretty much exactly what I think whenever I read anything by an anti-feminist "men's rights activist". Some of whom turn up in the comments to that very article. One individual who calls themselves thehermit wrote,
Equality would probably help everybody, the basic problem is, that feminism never was equality. Not at all.
Do they want 50% women in the congress? Of course. 50% of directors of big companies? Sure. 50% of homelesses? 50% of workplace deaths? …….
Oh wait, they only want half of the GOOD things.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Radical Idea

Not an actual woman.

In a recent interview, Charlie Sheen was asked if he has ever hit a woman. He replied, "Women are not to be hit. They are to be hugged and caressed."

I don't know much about Charlie Sheen. Or anything, really. But that one sound bite is enough for me to determine that he is an asshole.