Monday, April 02, 2007

Feminism, Connections, and Whose Voices You Hear


picture found on amazon.

For those of you unfamiliar with new media and the intersection with feminism, there is a large explosion of women bloggers, feminist bloggers, and women of color bloggers. What's the difference, you might ask. Good question. And good questions often spit out complex answers.

There are women who blog about random things - work, business, gardening, family sorts of things. There are feminist bloggers who take on women and gender issues. Then, there are also women of color bloggers, who tackle issues of gender and women, but take an even more cerebral and, brave, I might add, step in publishing their CRITICAL thoughts of the world, especially the feminist world.

Jessica Valenti is the executive director and founder of Feministing.com (I won't provide a link, google it if you want), which is a high traffic area for feminists, activists, academics, and journalists. I emailed Jessica several months ago and she was kind in dispersing advice about writing, academia, and connection. She and I are the same age and I couldn't help but begin to devour blogs shortly after I found Feministing.

Joining the ranks of Jen Baumgardener and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta,, Valenti/Feministing and mainstream feminism is skyrocketing with its cultural punktified articles and seething sarcasm targeted at patriarchal practices and governing politics.

However, shortly after familiarizing myself with Feministing, I tripped and discovered the Women of Color Blog, Brownfemipower, and her axis of progressive persons of color; activists, academics, and writers, my favorite folks, who exercise and advise caution with mainstream feminism. The featured cover is Jessica's book that is coming out this spring. And I once again, notice the white skin tone of a book with FULL FRONTAL FEMINISM as its cover.

Sigh.

Oh, how many more white women writers with such certified feminist dexterity, empower their books with such titles and then dare to put a white woman's body on the cover? How many MORE books will do this? How many mainstream feminists will once AGAIN put a face (or hip) on the cover of a supposedly feminist book?

STOP EXCLUDIG WOMEN OF COLOR. STOP BEING NARROW AND STOP SHORT CHANGING FEMINISM. STOP THINKING YOU'VE GOT THE ANSWERS FOR ALL OF WOMEN. PLEASE BEGIN TO PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOKS CORRECTLY, WITH THE TARGET AUDIENCE IN MIND.

For individuals who think that a white naked hip is an appropriate cover for a book dealing with Third Wave feminism. For ultra-hip cool folks, who prefer high fiving other hands that agree with Whitestream feminism.

4 comments:

  1. Are white women absent of color? Can't color come to mean fair skinned, olive complexion, or tans well too? Acknowledging that life as a woman of brown, or red, or yellow color is different than life as a white woman- where can women unite as women. Some of us can't help it if we're white- and that means we first think white- just as those who are brown first think brown. Inclusivity is about realizing that the full spectrum of racial identity has much to offer. I went to a clinic today designed for black women. A black woman examined me and the shade of her mahogany hand against my pale pink flesh looked simply beautiful. But I can never understand what it is like to be mahogany. I can only covet it at times- and write from my perspective as pale, and pink, and unvivid as it is.

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  3. The term "women of color" has been coined and refers to non-white women. It is a term that spans both the political and personal. In the abstract, "white" is most certainly a "color," but in the genre of feminism and gender issues, women of color means, "non-white." The Women's Movement, "feminism," and mainstream women issues have a bleak history of inclusivity and have often used the term "women's experience" to supposedly unify all women, without hearing the narrative voice of women of color.

    I don't agree that white people first think white. Most don't prioritize race at all. "It [race/skin color] just didn't occur to me," is a phrase I have heard a hundred times over. Race is not on the forefront of people's minds. It comes later, much later. And as for brown who first think brown, and black who first think black, and red who first think red, and yellow who first think yellow - I simply do not agree.

    I believe racial, bi-racial and/or bi-cultural individuals with bi,tri-identities who are submerged in the "White" world, have experiences that are far too complex to think one "color" first. Their, my experience of the world is largely reactive, then sifting, and often difficult to navigate.

    "White" people usually do not live this.

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  4. Some of us can't help it if we're white- and that means we first think white- just as those who are brown first think brown.

    I think you're assuming that society looks at people who are brown the same as it does people who are White. That's not true. And because it's not true, it does impact how or whether we think of our racial identities first, last or even at all. And I don't think most White men or women think about their racial identities at all like awe said, but each day society still reinforces in us that it holds our racial identity as being better than others by how it treats people by race. We say things like, we don't see race in other people, we don't think about it, but it's our racial privilege that we don't have to. Nor do we have to be reminded of it.

    Even though in actuality, the race of White people is a huge factor as to how we're treated. We just don't attribute racial privilege to that. Often, we say it's just merit based discrimination to feel better about ourselves.

    If you're White and go into a store and are allowed to move freely to look at items, do you think of your race then? No, you just shop but your race is a reason why you can move around freely in a store. If you're a woman of color and you go into the same store and are followed around or ignored at the cashier while employees wait on a White person who just walked up first, or even insulted and subjected to racist remarks or slurs are you reminded of your race? Probably. Does it limit your movement in that store or affect how you are treated? In many cases, yes.

    I also think that you should go back and read the topic post again and maybe put your defensivenss aside, the kind we White women often have when we read an essay that challenges our myoptic view of the world and challenges it and our racial privilige.


    Acknowledging that life as a woman of brown, or red, or yellow color is different than life as a white woman- where can women unite as women.

    I think that this is an area that's very important to work on for White women to not just say it but fully understand it, but your first paragraph which belies the above statement did make me wonder if for most people who make this statement, it's easier said than done. That's very often the case.

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