Welcome to white noise!

First, BIG thanks to Maia for the idea of this blog as a place where white radical feminists can talk about our white privilege and its implications (oppression and racism). As radical feminists, we are in a great position to do this work, since race privilege/race oppression fits neatly into the corresponding template of sex privilege/sex oppression that we strive so fiercely to suvbert and usurp. There are many white-privileged feminists who have paved the way for us, but we haven’t been attending to them, in a focused way, as we have needed to. Hence, this space.

When women of color have a problem with Gloria Steinem’s recent op-ed, which white feminists are praising, it highlights the huge divide among us, among feminists. Though this divide has been largely invisible to white women, no highlighting is needed for women of color, because they say they have been experiencing it almost every time they interact with us–white feminists. This (I think) is why some have started identifying as womanists, and not feminists.

I hope that we will be able to come to a more accurate understanding of what’s happening among us, and in the larger world, too, insofar as our privilege goes–and its flip side, oppression. Understanding should lead to action. We already understand how power works; we can support each other as we move toward justice.

So, let’s talk!

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5 Responses

  1. So let’s talk about Steinem’s article. I just finished a conversation with a friend about the race-baiting that’s beginning to surround Clinton’s campaign. She knows she can’t beat Obama on the issues–he’s more progressive than her–and she’s frustrated by potentially losing the support of black people that Bill took for granted. So she’s stooping to trying to stir up race-based fear and hatred in white people in the hopes of winning. That much seems clear to me, and it’s despicable.

    Where I get confused is the part where neither Hillary nor Gloria represent me. I understand that it’s because white is the norm that I can afford to see all of us as individuals, not as “white women.” But as a separatist, I’ve chosen to do political work outside the mainstream arena. I EXPECT mainstream politics–including mainstream liberal blogs written by white people– to be filled with sexism, racism, white male supremacy, capitalist exploitation, etc., so it doesn’t surprise me when Gloria, Amanda, Jessica and their ilk come out with their ignorant obnoxiousness du jour. I interpret calls that “white feminists” (of which I am one, of course) ought to call Gloria (and Hillary as well) on their racism as attempts to pull me back into struggling with the mainstream, something I abandoned as useless some time ago. I don’t know whether I’m seeing things accurately there, or not.

    At the same time as I think Hillary is a tool of the patriarchy, I also know that it’s true that she’s been subject to vicious sexism, right from the beginning of Bill’s campaign. And I don’t think that’s fair, any more than it was useful, productive, fair of Gloria to launch an episode of the oppression olympics–despite her disclaimer that that wasn’t what she was doing.

  2. PS This is the same Gloria Steinem who refused to support Shirley Chisholm. WTF. Why does she (or anyone) think she has any feminist credibility whatosever?

  3. Hi Amy,

    I must admit I’m not following the election process too closely (hey, I don’t even have a vote). But your comments about separatism, doing political work outside the mainstream arena, refusing to get pulled into the sexist / racist / patriarchal battles of mainstream politics really resonate with me.

    I used to think I wasn’t interested in politics, because “politics” was something rich white men did, something that never really went anywhere or achieved anything for ordinary people. That remains true of mainstream, electoral politics (which is all about power and hardly at all about justice or fairness or love), but I am discovering that there are ways of being political without having to be terrifically interested in electoral politics. And that’s quite an exciting discovery.

    So great to see you here 🙂

  4. How do women like me – uneducated white low class women, easily dismissed by our lack of formal education, and our lack of confidence in using correct and effective language, and even more easily dismissed by any sketchy stuff in our background – how do women like us stand up to women like Steinem or Clinton, or any other wealthy educated white women? I dont feel like I have the ability or the power to do that.

  5. The good news is that most of us won’t have the opportunity to directly challenge women like that, because they wouldn’t give us the time of day!

    I guess what we can do is to voice our own reservations in our own community about what these women are saying, where we feel that they are out of line in some way.

    If we can articulate exactly WHY we have reservations, then we can do that. If we can’t – and sometimes it’s hard, you just feel icky but you can’t put your finger on why it makes you so uncomfortable – then we can at least throw the question out and/or look around to see what other feminists (especially in this context WOC) are saying about it. That can often make a bell ring.

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