Feminism, Essentialism and Blogging

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Heart from Women’s Space/The Margins posted some thoughts about differences and feminism at Genderberg well worth excerpting here:

Does anybody see the way blogs and blogrolls seem to break down along color lines? Lesbian/het lines? Western/Third World-Global South lines? It’s a problem.

We just can’t afford this in this new resurgence of radical feminism (for which I am honestly so grateful). We can’t afford to make that mistake this time around. The world is much smaller today than it was in 1970, for one thing. And as Germaine Greer said in a quote I have on my boards, in so many words, we ain’t seen nuttin yet. White Western feminists have had the privilege of serving the longest revolution, not of leading it. When female power really breaks forth, it will break forth in Thailand, in China, in the Middle East, where women have nothing to lose because they’ve lost it all already. If we want to be part of this — I do, and hope I live long enough to see it, though Greer says I won’t — we have to walk alongside all of our sisters, I think, working to understand all the ways they experience subordination on the basis of sex which don’t look quite like the ways we, as (mostly) white feminists, experience it.

What Germaine Greer was talking about in the quote I referenced was her belief that the day will come, in the future, when women in China, the Middle East, Thailand, Africa, will simply, in huge numbers, be fed up. The revolution that happens then will be unlike any we have so far experienced, in numbers, in magnitude. We already see this happening in Africa where women are staging protests against oil companies and getting arrested for it, and where they are creating and defending woman-only villages like Umoja Village. I am with Greer on this. I don’t think any nation, including the U.S., will be able to stop this female power when it breaks forth. It won’t be coming out of government bodies, it won’t have anything to do with nations or national policies, the U.S. won’t be setting any pace for anything; this will be about again women and girls, being fed up and hitting the streets, just to begin with.

… I think it is wrong-headed for white U.S. radical feminists to in any way minimize the significance of the different experiences of women of color and white women. I don’t think it’s up to us as white women to tell women of color that they should focus on prostitution and pornography, if at the same time we are unwilling to consider issues which *are* radical feminist issues to them, even though they might not be to us. That’s where we have to listen, pay attention. A huge example of white radfem blindness in this area is all the brouhaha over Cecilia Fire Thunder’s plan to create a women’s clinic on the Oglala Sioux reservation. In other words, when women of color do something which we figure might directly benefit US– like building a women’s clinic in a state that has outlawed abortion (SD), we are right there with our support. We’re down with that. But where the hell were we 10 or 15 or 20 years or 30 years ago when Native Women were fighting for Native American sovereignty rights which would have enabled them provide the health care to Native Women which as white women we have taken for granted all along? We weren’t anywhere. We couldn’t be bothered. But now they are supposed to view us as their allies, because we want in on something they are doing? It doesn’t work that way. Native American women’s reproductive rights are both a radical feminist issue and an issue of Native women’s tribal sovereignty rights. We, as white American women, aren’t directly affected by the way Native women are treated, but these are *women* and we say that we are woman-centered. If we are, then we have to CARE about Native Women’s tribal sovereignty issues because they affect Native women. Again, this is one of SO many similar issues and our behavior around this kind of issue is what alienates feminists of color, keeps them from radical feminism, and results in the way blogrolls and blogs break down along racial and ethnic lines.

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