More Hell, Fewer Dahlias: The Musings of a Radical Feminist.

Posts Tagged ‘intersectionality


Please stop telling me to subvert my identity to keep you happy.

I thought we were past this, solidly into the third wave, maybe emerging into the fourth, realizing that women of color, queer women, disabled women, imprisoned women and every other woman had their own voice to add to our movement. I really thought you were done telling me that my identity needed to be sectioned off and isolated into pockets of activism. You’re telling me I should suppress being queer in order to further a movement that represents women, yet if you have your way, won’t represent me. But I’m pretty sure I’m a woman. I’m also pretty sure that the trans women I know are women too, and that your definition of woman and female are woefully inadequate, insulting, and just another way to perpetuate your tired stereotypes and patriarchy approved message of racism and homophobia.

In other words, fuck you sociology class.

Love,
R.F.L.


“Men’s bodies are commodified too!” “Men can understand the female experience!” “Men’s genitalia are stigmatized, just like women’s!”

I really think this is  just another way of turning feminist dialogues into being about men and their oppression. Oh noes, it happens to them too!! Which can easily be turned into, “see, they understand what its like!!!”

Nope. Not at all.It happens to the general population, but it specifically and systematically targets women on a large and deeply rooted scale and men can not understand what it means to live that, because they do not live with that reality. Bringing their oppression and experiences into the discussion is another way of the privileged group exerting their privilege.

Example: I’ve been involved in a conversation on Livejournal where the experiences of people with “black” names, like “LaShawn” are treated negatively in job situations due to their names, either by not being called for interviews, but being called when submitting the same resume under Shawn, or by customers while working in telephone positions and giving their name and getting requests for “white” or “nonethnic” personnel. Suddenly, it seemed like a large storm of white people decided they needed to share their experiences with their names barring them from opportunities: a welsh girl in America’s name being spelled a more American way. A white woman named Monica (said Moe-knee-kuh, not mohnikuh) having her named said incorrectly in a waiting room. These events have little to NO significance in the context of discussing the systematic oppression of people of color through name/stereotypes, so it is totally inappropriate for these types of stories to drown out the voices of the people actually living this experience, and it is an example of them using their privilege to continue the oppression, HOWEVER unintentional it is.

That’s what I see whenever I hear “well men’s bodies are stigmatized too!” or “Men don’t feel good about the wage gap!” or “my boyfriend says…” in feminist discussion. It is just another way of shifting the focus off of the people who need to be doing the talking by making the problems less gender specific (“it happens to men too!”), thus marginalizing women even further.


FYI: If you google “sex worker photos” or “indian sex worker photo” you can get here. Hm. Also “rape schedule.” I like the third search term the most but oh well, can’t win ’em all. I’m calming myself by thinking that maybe these people were looking for photos of sex workers as they really are: people with families, work, bills to pay, etc and not for any sort of porn purposes. Don’t disabuse me of this notion plz! It is possibly valid.

PSA: So I’ve been fighting the sexist language battle for sometime, with various people and places. Saying “she’s got balls,” “be a man,” and using slang terms for vagina (“cunt” “pussy”) as insults is supporting a sexist culture. Recognizing where these terms come from, why we use them as such, and the systems we are supporting while using them is important.

I’m sure someone much better verses in linguistics and language/culture relation can elaborate/disprove/whatevs this little PSA, but there you have it. It is 2:35 in the morning and I am done with finals, people!


As a freshman in college, I took a woman’s studies class. No problems, right? At the time I didn’t consider myself radical, but the seeds were definitely there, and I was definitely a feminist. I’d been calling myself one since I was nine years old, knew everything about Gloria Steinham, and just assumed I’d have no trouble in the class.

I ended up dropping it after seven weeks, switching advisors out of the women’s studies faculty, and never setting foot in another women’s studies class again.  There were some things wrong with the class: it was mostly freshmen, so the level of discourse wasn’t very high and people didn’t know how to respectfully disagree and were still adjusting to a discussion based seminar style class.  But reading my journal from those seven weeks…wow. Some of the things that were said, and how I interpreted them, weren’t conducive at all to fostering a level of respect for all women. Some quotes from my journal:

“Apparently my stay at home mother set back feminism by having a career, getting married, and continuing her career until she had children. I mean, it’s not like her and my da decided, TOGETHER, for mum to stay home because they wanted us to have the attention and support after school that they didn’t always have. Nope! Women shouldn’t make conscious decisions about their life, apparently, especially not with male input. Everyone can afford a nanny or daycare while mom works and have it be a good financial decision.”

“Did you know my Da controls the finances in my house, gives my mum an allowance, and obviously spends the rest drinking and carousing with loose women? That’s what men who have stay at home wives do. All of them. I brought up my parents as an example, and apparently I’m wrong, I didn’t live in my house for sixteen years or anything, watching them pay the bills and make all financial decisions together. I must have missed all the loose women parading through and my mother’s overt oppression. And obviously I’m not at college, because all men with stay at home partners FORCE THEM to stay at home and all female children will be made to do the same! Oh shucks, guess I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy into thinking you’re all crazy!”

The amount of hatred for males and women who chose other options than what they had chosen or would choose in the future was scary. At the time, I was particularly interested in what I’ve heard referred to as “Kitchen Feminism.” You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the women formulate a plan and then coax the males into the plan, giving them all the credit? I was so proud of the women in that scene. They lived in a patriarchal subculture, but managed to do what they wanted anyways, and make decisions for themselves. Do I wish they’d said “Hell no, we aren’t taking this,” walked out, and formed a Greek Women’s Collective complete with lending library? Of course. But that didn’t happen. And instead of being proud of their ability to stretch and challenge their culture while still maintaining a respect for it, my women’s studies class was the environment that faulted them for not starting up the lending library right then and there. The lack of respect for women’s choices (including starting families young, not attending college, having large families/not using birth control, being involved in sex work, just to name a few from those seven weeks) was suffocating. I had to get out, and I did so.

I stopped calling myself a feminist. I wasn’t going to degrade other women and limit their options to fit an upper middle class white worldview. After relating these experiences in a safe space with other feminists, radical and not, I came back to self identifying as a feminist, but the whole experience has made me incredibly wary of academics in feminism.

Except for Mary Daly, who I sort of want to be one day.

Things on my To Blog About Post It: The US Military and Abortion, Alter Boys: Why I’m a Bad Angry Occasional Catholic But Not Really, Tech School Men: Women’s College Doesn’t Equal Lesbian Training Camp, Feminism Reading List, Why Mary Daly Rocks, and Sweetie, You’re a Feminist: A Rant On The New “F-bomb.”

I also have enough Econ HW to kill a cat, so I bid you adieu.


When someone calls you out for a privileged comment, it can be hard to realize that you were in the wrong. After all, everyone you know uses that word/you didn’t know it meant that/you didn’t mean it THAT way/you weren’t doing it on purpose/other people are too sensitive, right?

Wrong.

This has come up lately with the word “gypped” in my experience. Gypped is a racist term against Roma. When we use the term, we further the prejudice against the Roma and the stereotype that institutionalized the word and made it part of our vocabulary. So let’s imagine a dialogue right now:

Mary Sue: “That vendor gypped me!”

Becky Jean: “Mary Sue, gypped is sort of a racist term. Do you mean he cheated you?”

Mary Sue: “I’m not a racist! How dare you! Everyone uses that term, it’s not about black people or anything!!! Why are you attacking me, you’re not perfect!!!”

Becky Jean: “I know you don’t consider yourself a racist, but the language you use can betray your actual beliefs, so you need to be careful. I’m not attacking you, I’m informing you so that you can look into the term and eliminate racism from your vocabulary, so your words match up with the lifestyle you want to lead. The term refers to a stereotype of the Roma people, often referred to as Gypsies, and they suffer a lot of discrimination and hate, so we need to not further that with our words.I’m sorry if you felt attacked, that was not my intention.”

Now ideally, this is where Mary Sue calms down a little and says…

“Oh, I’m sorry I got so upset. Racist is such a scary term, and I immediately jump to my own defense. I was scared of my beliefs and words not matching up. Thanks for telling me. I know you don’t mean that I hate others, just that we live in a racist world and need to be conscious of our speech. Are there any other terms like that I should be aware of? We can help educate each other.”

Or…

“It isn’t racist!! I don’t even know any gypsies, and everyone uses the word!! You’re oversensitive, and you can’t save the world!!! I didn’t MEAN it, so it shouldn’t matter!!”

And here is where you want to cry, or start poking them very hard in the eye, right?

Well, violence is never the answer, and though crying might help you feel a bit better, it should probably be saved for when you can hug a puppydog and rant about the injustices of the world to your stuffed animals and significant other.  And since right now, Becky Jean wants to come away from this conversations positively affecting Mary Sue, we’ll skip the crying.

Ganieda, one of our lovely commenters, linked me to this excellent post entitled “How to Discuss Race and Racism without Being a Jerk.” My favorite part is the part she quoted to me, during yet another of my epic rants about NOT BEING ABLE TO GET THROUGH TO PEOPLE AND GETTING FRUSTRATED

“Intentions aren’t the only thing that matters.

(Last one, and it’s short.) Suppose I step on someone’s foot. They say, “hey, ouch, you stepped on my foot.”

My proper response is, “Gosh, I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful.” Depending on the situation, I might add something like, “I was looking for my kid’s sneaker that she always kicks off,” or “I’ve got something in my contact,” etc.

My proper response is not, “Well, I didn’t mean to step on your foot, so why are you angry?!” “

This is a great example to point out to Mary Sue. You can explain yourself, you can ask for reassurance that the person calling you out isn’t considering you a Bad Person, but you have to show that you realize that your intention is not the be all and end all of the term and that it has a greater affect than “just being a word.”

Which is why Mary Sue’s explanation of not knowing the term’s severity and feeling attacked is a lot more valid and provides a lot more discussion than “well I didn’t know!!! you’re oversensitive!!!”

Another great example is a few posts earlier, in my Yay Spain! post. A commenter called me out on the image of Spain I’d put out. I apologized, agreed with her that my words did not get across my intentions, and explained what I exactly meant. Voila! Did it feel good being called out? No, I felt bad about unintentionally perpetuating a harmful stereotype by not using my words in a clear manner. But I drank some lemonade, felt sad for a minute, then sucked it up and responded. And I learned from it.

Now, if you’re wondering why I have a very long post on racism, the answer is intersectionality, and because the following tips can be used with sexists as well! Along with ableists and homophobes and sizeists and…..

More about intersectionality this time. Off to eat pizza bagels!