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Please bear with me for this long post. I've been thinking and pondering for a long while today, and for the past few days, about recent goings-on here at babble.
A note to Vision Artist. If you're still out there, please come back if you feel you have contributions to make. I've said it before, and it bears repeating again, that your contributions here are vital.
I'm not writing this as a moderator, I'm writing this as an activist, a feminist and an ally.
I'd like to talk about why feminism means more than using a gender lens to examine oppression, and why women of colour and First Nations women often have men as our allies, since the men in our communities share at least some of our oppressions.
Understanding the world as being gendered, and seeing how gender oppression is cross-cultural, cross-historical, etc, can lead down the road to "The only way to understand oppression is to first understand women's experiences". In many instances I agree with this. If we were to take the words, experiences, wisdom, ideas and stories from women first, and formed policy, decisions, actions based on that, we would have a different world. And when I say women, I mean all women.
We can also say "The poor, across nation, across gender, across all cultural divisions are the most marginalized, and it's struggle against the power-holders and the ruling class that we should all unite against". Again, yes, there are many historical moments when such ideas have found action. Check out Central America.
We can use race as this lens. We can use sexual orientation. We can use physical and mental ability. We can use age. We can use capacity to speak and be spoken to in your language of origin in the country in which you live right now.
And all these analyses are true.
We cannot insist that only one is true, for all time, for always, and for everyone and for every situation. Not only does this do the analysis and possible action a great disservice, it then forces the position that if one disagrees with this tactic, then one disagrees with the project.
I've done cross-sector ally work in both my paid and unpaid work for over 15 years, and there's far less struggle when we are in agreement about the project. That said, I work with very few organizations in which white men play leadership roles. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] There, now I've outed myself as never having worked with the NDP. [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]
Nonetheless, white men who are my allies, who understand the privilege that is granted to them, know that their learning, like everyone's, is never over.
Women of colour cannot use a gender-only lens, because a gender-only lens works from the position that the other aspects of a person's identity are un-problematized (there's that word again, sorry. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] ).
Example: I made a non-joke in a Conrad Black thread, saying that threads about Conrad Black are threads about gender, race, class and sexual orientation. They are. They are about the dominant position in each of those places, and the assertion of the non-problematized identity of those positions. I'm happy to see him go down, as he's one small oppressor in a line up of a whole lot more.
What if I say "Women experience racism"? Which I do all the time, to mess with people's preconceptions. I mean "women of colour", who are of course included in the term "women", but are certainly not included in the phrase "Women should make equal money for work of equal value that men do". Yeah? You want to make as much money as a Tamil taxi driver? A Sudanese dishwasher at the Royal York Hotel? I didn't think so.
Every time anyone uses the word "women" in such a way, they discount, intended or not, the majority of women on the planet. If I challenged every feminist on babble every time the term was used in this way, I'd have no babble allies left. And I'd be very tired and crabby.
I'm lucky to have men in my family, my chosen family and my community who are allies, who struggle, who suffer from classism, racism and homophobia, just as I have women in my community with the same experiences. I will not choose a feminism that doesn't have room for them.
There is no "pure" gender analysis. I will not subscribe to a feminism that says there is.
Great post, bcg.
Originally posted by Michelle:[b]Great post, bcg.[/b]
Michelle, please check you PMs. Thx.
I read it, so I might as well respond publicly. I haven't kept as good track of all the forums you've been asked to stay out of or which ones I've relented on, and I haven't been consistent. But there seems to be a consensus among the women and people of colour on this forum that your interventions in the feminism, anti-racism and aboriginal issues forums are less than positive, and you were clearly baiting and goading in that other thread in rabble reactions. Given your history on this board in those forums, I think it's time for you to stay out of them from now on.
Originally posted by Michelle:[b]But there seems to be a consensus among the women and people of colour on this forum that your interventions in the feminism, anti-racism and aboriginal issues forums are less than positive[/b]
A "consensus"? By whom? Scout, writer, and remind?
Originally posted by Michelle:[b], and you were clearly baiting and goading in that other thread in rabble reactions.[/b]
I proposed a positive step that could be taken to address men interferring with threads intended to be discussions among women. The "baiting and goading" that occurred was from a couple of people who jumped on that suggestion like it was moronic and unworkable...not to mention all of the other horrible adjectives my suggestion attraced. Please look at their comments.
Originally posted by Michelle:[b]Given your history on this board in those forums, I think it's time for you to stay out of them from now on.[/b]
So, what exacly is that "history", Michelle? The blow-up in June with remind was addressed back in June, no? I was given a two-week "vacation" from babble. What has happened since that time that now justifies a ban from FF, anti-racism, and the FN forums?
And, as I pointed out in the thread yesterday, the last time I participated in the FF in any significant way, it was positive [b][i]and you acknowledged that at the time[/b][/i]. Since then, I have had little, if any, participation, other than reading the threads with some regularity.
So, my first PM question is still pertinent: You're banning me from those forums [b][i]now[/b][/i] for my comments from yesterday?
[ 07 November 2007: Message edited by: Sven ]
Sven, don't know why you decided to pull other babblers into this by name. I can see why you'd ask Michelle where the consensus came from.
That you are using me and others the way you are is really objectionable. It comes close to a smear.
Just sent you a PM on this subject, Michelle.
[ 07 November 2007: Message edited by: Red Winnipeg ]
Originally posted by Michelle:[b]I read it, so I might as well respond publicly. [/b]
Looking at this thread now, where BCG's most awesome post has been sidelined, making it public might have been a bad choice.
It has left those named, belittled, as if our opinion is worth nothing in the face of his mighty person. This is especially distasteful as it is our women's voices which count in respect to the feminist forum. Though apparently, it is not thought so by Sven.
Thank you BCG, you have noted many things well worth deliberating upon.
[ 07 November 2007: Message edited by: remind ]
No, actually, Sven, it's a cumulative thing. You just don't participate well in the feminism forum and you seem to rile up the very people we want to hear more from in the forum - feminist women. I just found two threads where I told you to stay out of the feminism forum, and then you made exactly the same argument, which boils down to, what for, because of what I did today? And each time it's a smaller thing, so I relent and say, okay, fine, you have a point.
The previous thread is one of those times.
[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=24&t=001231]This thread is another of those times.[/url]
[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=24&t=001184&p... this thread.[/url]
[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=24&t=000335]I didn't even notice this offensive one in the past.[/url]
And while I don't have time to go searching now, you've been asked countless times to stop dominating the conversation in threads in the feminism forum. I think you just need to stay out of the feminism forum from now on.
Caissa, I didn't receive it.
Not only have you done that BCG, you've made me feel guilty (and that's a good thing because it leads to positive change). I think you've said a lot which requires not only soul searching but re-reading, understanding and reaching out. So thanks for that. Not many people can do that, (except my profs) but you have and that is wonderful. It's like a surge of wonder and introspection and I love that.
Michelle,I just got an error message saying your box was full.
Sorry. Just deleted a bunch of stuff. (Sorry, folks, if I deleted your private message without responding. I've read them all by e-mail.)
Excellent post BCG. Michelle, could the posts that do not relate to BCG's OP (including this one even!) be moved to a rabble reaction thread? I feel like BCG's topic has been derailed before it even had a chance and any any new (to this thread) babbler will still have to sift through the off-topic stuff, which just makes it harder to get to the substance.
Thanks for responding to my OP, Michelle, remind, Stargazer and Summer. I would love to hear more from all feminists, women and men, about my thoughts and the issues that brought them about.
Originally posted by bigcitygal:[b]Thanks for responding to my OP, Michelle, remind, Stargazer and Summer. I would love to hear more from all feminists, women and men, about my thoughts and the issues that brought them about.[/b]
I thought your post was even more insightful than usual, and made me think of something that I have wondered about. FN and POC often find themselves in conflict with the tendency to seek heirarchies of oppression and how that sets them apart from many others who might otherwise wish to be allies. Numerous times I have been aggressively challenged by activists who claim the dominant voice in FN issues, because they participated in a protest or a barricade at some point in their lives, or have an FN relation. Or otherwise, in questions of the primacy of gendered or racialized struggle, an impasse is sometimes met. I think that within the North American context the different historical paths which have brought us to Turtle Island must be acnowledged.
For many of primarily Eurpoean background, the history of class and gender based oppression has a strong personal ring, while for others, the primacy of racialized oppression is far more significant. As well for many FN, the history of European hegemony was in fact the instrument which brought about the destruction of traditional gender roles, which for many of us were considered to be highly egalitarian. Thus, for many FN analysts, feminist analysis is not of transforming historically founded roles, but rediscovering traditional honoured roles that were forcibly put down by overt racist programs, and determining how to heal communities uprooted by the ongoing colonial excercise.
For many others in the POC community, the history of traditional gender and community roles have been largely obliterated and reconfigured in the context of massive historical violence and forced relocation throughout the history of colonial power and post-colonial economy, and cannot be analyzed without simultaniously acnowledging the overarching effects of historical and present racism.
I think it needs to be admitted that for peoples of such different sets of power, no common 'theory' of opression is possible, as historical effects of power and oppression have been expressed in such different ways. This is not to say that points of empathy and understanding is not possible, nor that alliances cannot be forged. In the end, we all have capacity for empathy - as long as those who have historically dominated the discussion are willing to give up a little more space at the table.
Wow Makwa, well said.
Bumping this so that feminists who want to respond in a more detailed way can do so. Please note that I will have limited access to the internet until Sunday night.
There's so much I'd like to say. But right now, I'm having difficulty pulling together plans for breakfast, let alone a worthy response. My personal life is kind of crashing around me, in both good and bad ways. So it goes.
bcg, just know that I'm taking all this in. This is a really important thread, and is a real help as I develop a new website that I hope will reflect the position outlined in the OP.
Many thanks. To you too, Makwa - and everyone else who has addressed the OP with the respect it deserves.
I was at the Malalai Joya talk in Toronto Tuesday. One white woman got up and started talking about "her" girls in Afghanistan, and her investment in their education not being wasted - as an argument for keeping Canadian "peacekeepers" in that country.
The reaction was immediate and hostile. Rightly so. I heard the male voices as allies. I did not consider her one.
This is not to say that points of empathy and understanding is not possible, nor that alliances cannot be forged. In the end, we all have capacity for empathy - as long as those who have historically dominated the discussion are willing to give up a little more space at the table.
In my opinion, this bears repeating. Thanks, makwa.
Makwa: I think it needs to be admitted that for peoples of such different sets of power, no common 'theory' of opression is possible, as historical effects of power and oppression have been expressed in such different ways.
I agree that there's no common [i]theory[/i] of oppression, as the phrase "anti-oppression" is entirely inadequate to describe all the ways in which oppression is manifested. I used that phrase all the time in my work, and am fully aware of its shortcomings.
But good theory should reflect action/reality, not supersede it, or become more important than it. And I say this as a huge "theory-head".
So in fact, yeah, there are actions and groups that effectively incorporate aspects of gendered, racialized and class marginalization.
I attended a book launch last Thursday night for a book called [i]Doing Anti-Oppressive Practice: Building Transformative Politicized Social Work[/i] edited by Donna Baines with an afterword by Akua Benjamin. It was held at the Toronto Women's Bookstore, my home away from home. I forgot to post the announcement here on babble, not that they needed the publicity as the place was packed. If anyone is interested in this kind of thing (paging NR Kissed!) I suggest you pick up the book, or if you're in Toronto and are trustworthy, can PM me re. borrowing mine.
Notisha Massaquoi, Executive Director of Women's Health in Women's Hands, read briefly from her piece. Seamlessly, since these are her experiences, she shares 3 transformative moments that she calls "transformative disruptions". All of these moments contain elements of oppression via gender, race, class, maybe age. She names race as predominant.
From her chapter:
A transformative disruption is so powerful that it freezes you with overwhelming emotion. It can either shatter you or transform you. It is that moment when no theory can save you. It is that moment when you have to decide whether this experience will move you forward and transform your practice or silence you.
[ 12 November 2007: Message edited by: bigcitygal ]
Excellent BCG Excellent.
I believe you have hit the nail on the head with both your opening and subsequent posts.
I will be posting that "open letter" soon, probalby after I'm done with my mid-term exams. Mainly becuase I trust that it will be provocative, and I want to be sure to be available to help debrief and deconstruct, so we can further the process of collectively de-colonising our minds.
keep up the good work.One love soul sister one love *hug*