11 July 2014

Manifesto of a feminist, in brief

**This typically has not been a space in which I air my political views. I try to stay on the topic of poetry, printing, and books. But there are some things I need to say that are central to who I am on the subject of feminism that have steadily bothered me more and more and more. Today, I've reached a breaking point. These are things that seep into every part of my life including the obsessions listed above. Bear with me for this one post, please.**

FIRST OF ALL: I am a proud feminist. 

HOWEVER, from the beginning there has been this ugly underbelly that at some point was given a name: White Feminism. KEEP READING. This is not a name for feminists who are also white. This is a dangerously clueless movement polluting the greater, beautiful cause. That only understands feminism through the lens of the middle-class white woman. This lens has no capability for peripheral vision and, so, the White Feminist cannot understand why women of color still have issues regarding race and class and prejudice and discrimination, or why all of these issues are inextricably interconnected with feminism. White Feminists' propensity to approach all issues of race with defensiveness automatically shuts down further conversation, and the issue dies in stubborn discord and divisiveness. They create a brick wall down the middle of feminism and put everything that makes them uncomfortable about inherited privileges on the other side. 

SURE, the feminist who is white faces issues of sexism, just like our feminists of color. But we white girls DO have privilege of race. Acknowledging that privilege does not denigrate the legitimacy of your feminism. So stop running away from it. It will make you uncomfortable, sure, but you're a woman which means you're incredibly strongso suck it up. When you do face up to your own privilege, it will open you up in a way that allows you to listen to an experience that is not your own and learn from it. Listening and learning from mistakes makes you a better person and a better feminist. None of us are saying that being born white makes you a bad person, so please stop crying victim, White Feminists. You are not being attacked. You are being asked to stop talking for a minute and listen. And then, take a few minutes to absorb and reflect. Reflect on yourself and be honest. Have empathy. You don't have to respond right away. And remember: granting legitimacy to the experiences of another person does not de-value your own. That's not what this is about.

THE THING IS: As feminists, I feel we have a responsibility to respect the legitimate differences in our experiences, as well as the similarities. Feminists who are white should be supporting their (our) fellow feminists of color in bringing issues to the table that affect them in a way that is unique to them. That doesn't create divisiveness within the feminist movement—the refusal to provide that equal respect does.

DO YOU SEE? Equal. Respect. That's all it's ever been about.

**This has been a test of the emergency alert system. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming**


No comments:

Post a Comment