Monday, June 04, 2007

The Luxurious Feminist Read

Your Mind Never Goes Out of Fashion

Support Your Local Feminist

Value Your Mind and Your Body

Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History

Si Quieres Paz, Lucha por la Justicia

Fem/i/nism n. the polcity, practice or advocacy of political, economic, and social equality for women.

These bumper stickers are on my cork board. I’ve gathered them throughout the years and even put one on the back of my car:

Women are great leaders. You’re following one.

Bumper stickers are great. I love their brevity. They’re not all significant. They take commitment and a decent amount of self-assurance. Bumper stickers almost always elicit some form of reaction from me.

The only bush I like is my own.
My boss is a Jewish carpenter. (Jesus reference)
My kid beat up your honor student.

Bush/Cheney ‘04
Militant Agnostic
I don’t know and you don’t know either.
Abortion stops a beating heart

The addictive quality of bumper stickers is the immediate gratification, and usually, ease of understanding.
They’re straight to the point, directed, and pretty unapologetic.

I’ve been wondering if it’s possible for my feminist mind to arrive at such a place. Is it possible to sum up a whole load of feminism into a bumper sticker model, just enough to hook people in? Just enough to interest them? Could I come up with some quick elevator saying that could encapsulate the ridges of intellectual depth, compassionate fire, and steel will of feminism?

Probably not.

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time in a used book store, always seeking out someone’s disregarded treasure. In the “Women’s Studies/Gender Studies/ African-American Studies” section of ½ Priced Books, there are zero books about women of color, other than one from, obviously, bell hooks, shelved under African-American Studies.


I know, it’s just a used bookstore, but it furthers the evidence that most of the books that explore woc feminism, alternative to whitemainstream feminism is N/A. (either not application or not available, you choose)

I’d like to think it’s because they are being devoured and cannot be torn from the clasping hands of readers, but I doubt that. I’d like to hope that, someday, woc feminist theory is no longer separate from feminist theory. Today, that is not a reality.

The more I read and understand the feminist canon, the more indifferent I feel toward publishers, the academy, and press houses. MENTIONING, SIDEBARRING, REFERENCES to what is happening to women of color is not, is not, read: IS NOT equated to inclusion.

What more can I say on my own blog about this issue? I think, perhaps, I have run out of periods and may start abusing question marks and exclamation points. Books are books and, in simple existence, somewhat elitist. Of the estimated 1 billion people in the world deemed illiterate, TWO THIRDS OF THEM ARE WOMEN. And research has found that there are two significant factors that contribute to a women’s longevity: access to clean water and literacy.

Access to clean water.


Not health care. Not voting rights. Not abortion, vitamins, food, nor sun block.

Water and literacy.

This does not mean that other issues and challenges are not necessary – like stopping violence against women, reproductive rights, safe shelters, and equity in the workplace. These reside at the crux of the Movement, and yet, a simple combination is ignored when it comes to survival: water and the ability to read, comprehend, and learn deeply.

It is very easy to get swept away, myself included, in political theory, academic jargon, and bumper sticker confidence to prove points while attempting to move mountains. But my devotion is to women of color, all women of color. The women who are dying everyday in the dust of death, left to rot in open fields, and raped in every way a women can be violated. The simple fact remains that the Movement does not have a propensity to ignore woc, it flat out DOES ignore women of color, everywhere, in any part of the world, in all parts of the world.

The incarcerated, the poor, the ostracized, the wandering, the lonely, the ill.

I cannot fit that on a bumper sticker. And even if I could, what would that do except further gratify the need for everything to be overly simplistic and easily solved. Especially in feminism.

Books, I know, as an avid reader and writer, can be agents of social change. They possess a magical and sometimes unexplainable force to transform lives, instigate ideas, and halt the ignorant to think again. Books though, as an activist, are not the only answers. How can they be with so many women with limited access? What good is theory or a bestseller if it primarily translates onto clean hands, Microsoft Word quoted papers, and book circles with candles and wine?

I convict my own self in this interrogation, but I refuse to be part of a Movement that fights for an equality that presupposes and benefits only those who can decipher the tongue of privileged text, no matter how inclusive it claims to be.

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