Racism; Censorship; Disunity by @jacobinism (and some thoughts by QRG)

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Feminism, Freedom of Speech, Identity, internet, misandry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

feminism_q07

Happy New Year!  I hope to introduce you to more writers, thinkers and do-ers  in 2014. Maybe I’m a bit tired of the cut of my own jib, or maybe I’ve suddenly gone shy(!). Either way, I think engaging with a variety of perspectives is always a good thing.

An independent-minded UK-based blogger/tweeter I like is Jacobinism. He has begun the year with a thought-provoking post entitled Racism; Censorship; Disunity. He puts forward the view that the ‘Left’, and ‘intersectional’ activists and writers within the Left, can be blind to oppression and violence unless it comes from white people. To illustrate his point he uses a case study from within the feminist blogosphere, where a young feminist woman was attacked and then censored by ‘intersectional’ feminism, for her views.  Jacobinism writes:

‘There is a damaging idea fast gathering influence on the Left that – like a lot of contemporary postmodern Leftist thought – urgently needs dismantling. This idea holds that racism is only possible when prejudice is married with power.

The corollary of this premise is that racism may only travel in one direction – from the powerful to the powerless – and it is therefore nonsensical to discuss, still less condemn, racist attitudes expressed by ethnic minorities. In the West, racism is the preserve of the white majority who use it – often, it is claimed, unconsciously – to sustain their advantage and to oppress those they deem to be ‘other’. In the geopolitical sphere, meanwhile, this racism is the preserve of the world’s wealthy democracies and is expressed as Orientalism, Military and Cultural Imperialism, and Neoliberalism, all of which are used to dominate and subjugate the Global South.’

Jacobin’s discussion of the feminist ‘storm’ that illustrates his points is probably best read in full. To give a flavour of the ‘case study’ here’s some extracts from his post:

‘On 20 December, the feminist writer and activist Adele Wilde-Blavatsky published an article in the Huffington Post entitled Stop Bashing White Women in the Name of Beyonce: We Need Unity Not Division. Wilde-Blavatsky’s post was a rebuke to those – on what she described as the post-colonial or intersectional feminist Left – who use identity politics and arguments from privilege to delegitimise the voices of white feminists speaking out about the abuse of women in the Global South and within minority communities in the West…

The response to this argument from the bien pensant Left ranged from the incredulous to the vitriolic.

In the comment thread below her article and in a storm which overwhelmed her twitter handle and her hashtag, Wilde-Blavatsky (who tweets as @lionfaceddakini) was derided with accusations of arrogance, ignorance, bigotry, racism and cultural supremacism. She was advised that she had not listened sufficiently closely to authentic voices of women of colour.  Others declared her to be beneath contempt and an object example of white feminism’s irrelevance. She was accused of using a fraudulent call for unity as a way of advancing an argument from white victimhood. It was demanded that she immediately re-educate herself by reading various academic texts on the subject. Her “white woman’s tears” were repeatedly mocked, as were her protestations that her own family is mixed-race. And, of course, there were the predictable demands for retraction, penitence and prostration…

To accept that one’s unalterable characteristics can play any part in the validity of an opinion is to submit to the tyranny of identity politics and endorse an affront to reason. Arguments about rights and ethics must be advanced and defended on their merits, irrespective of who is making them. There is no other way.’

I applaud Jacobin for taking on this thorny subject, and for referring to feminism in doing so. Not only do feminists find it difficult to have aspects of their dogma questioned, they find it particularly hard to stomach coming from a man. But I have a couple of points to make that disagree with his argument.

1) All feminism suggests men are ‘innately’ powerful and women not.  I agree with Jacobin  that actions should not be protected from criticism simply due to the identity of those taking them. But I am wary of Wilde-Blavatsky’s  allusions to patriarchal culture and behaviour in her criticisms of violence against women in ‘the Global South’. Isn’t the term ‘patriarchy’ a way of playing ‘identity politics’ too? Don’t men get dismissed by feminism in general for having views on gender because of their ‘unalterable characteristics’?

2) All feminism reinforces the gender binary There have always been tensions within feminism and different schools of thought within the ‘movement’. However as I have said in my ‘controversial’ piece Against Feminisms, all feminists rely on the binary of man v woman with ‘man’ being found powerful, oppressive and so not worth listening to. And so

‘ feminist theorists such as bell hooks and Julia Serano and Beverly Skeggs, even when they are referring to other divisions such as ethnicity, class and transgender identities, are still relying on the reification of the man v woman binary to support all their arguments about gender.’

3) Feminism is more ‘united’ than it seems I will write more on this another time, but my view is a lot of the ‘conflicts’ in feminism are not exactly fabricated, but they’re superficial.  Feminism does have common characteristics.  I find this ‘flowchart’ that was doing the rounds online recently, laughable. But it does indicate a basic worldview that I would suggest all feminists share to a large degree. It also illustrates clearly how not being a feminist is unacceptable and derided by feminists of all stripes (click image to enlarge):

FEMINIST-570

I don’t want a young woman writer to be censored for having the ‘wrong’ outlook. But I think young men are ‘censored’ from expressing their views on gender before they even begin. Gender studies and media output on gender are dominated by versions of Wilde-Blavatsky. I don’t privilege (‘white people’s’) racism over gender but I don’t think gender inequalities function how any feminist presents them. If that makes me persona non grata at some dinner parties who cares? I can have my own party (and the booze is always great)!

Comments
  1. Mandy Marcrappy is just as racist as anyone who posted on IMF, she just hides it better…

    http://dearwhitefeminists.wordpress.com/update/

  2. oh, and in cess pool ‘murika…

    it was funny how one day Zimmerman was a white dude, the next a mexican with black blood… depending on who you asked and which version of the “truth” they needed to fit their little ideology…

  3. oh, and I pretty much saw how fake it was when femmies pretended to be all for Trayvon Matin but any other day of the week, a low status male in a hoodie was Shrodinger’s Rapist.

    http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/

  4. ….

    this won’t make me too popular but…

    If you look at the blogosphere, there are a bunch of nutcases like Chuck Rudd, Jack Don-0-van, Matt Forney… etc. Some of them link to nazi/White Nationalist sites. They worship the “religions” of “game” and HBD (psuedo science that is comparable to phrenology.) They are wrong about many things but right about one-it’s not just white people who are racist. Anyone whose spent any time around the “wrong side of the tracks” will have seen that (some) Mexican’s hate blacks and (some) blacks hate jews. Also different Asian groups hate each other. In ‘murika, you can only mention white racism in polite company.

    –However– modern American feminism couldn’t exist without white supremacism. That’s part of the reason inane womyn like Marcotte, Lindy West and Jill Filipovic are given such a big microphone and their problems are seen as the world’s problems. Ironically, it is also why Typhon Blue and Girl Writes What are such prominent speakers in the so-called M(H)RM. Sharper thinkers like stardusk and Barbarosaaa are far more obscure. This, I suppose is intersectionality where white womyn are put on a pedestal.

  5. Thanks for the response QRG. A quick note:

    “1) All feminism suggests men are ‘innately’ powerful and women not. I agree with Jacobin that actions should not be protected from criticism simply due to the identity of those taking them. But I am wary of Wilde-Blavatsky’s allusions to patriarchal culture and behaviour in her criticisms of violence against women in ‘the Global South’. Isn’t the term ‘patriarchy’ a way of playing ‘identity politics’ too? Don’t men get dismissed by feminism in general for having views on gender because of their ‘unalterable characteristics’?”

    By some, undeniably. But AWB welcomed my own. But you are right that my arguments about race can be mapped onto arguments about gender. A number of commenters have noticed this parallel and pointed it out.

    My essay was specifically about a controversy within Western feminism. I tend to share your hostility to vague allusions to a nebulous ‘patriarchy’ in the West where equality of men and women is enshrined in law. This is not to deny the existence of sexist views/attitudes any more than the existence of racist ones, but to resist a conspiratorial explanation. However, in countries and cultures where gender apartheid and the subordination of women is institutionalised, I have no such difficulty.

    I can see no problem in recognising this so long as men are not disqualified from speaking out about these outrages to equality or fighting it on an egalitarian point of principle. And while I disagree with her theorising about a global patriarchy, which for me undermines the conclusion to her censored piece in TFW, in practice I have seen no evidence that AWB would seek to shout down such voices in practice.

    As I speculate in my piece, she is perhaps torn between a powerful universalist impulse and learned relativist theory. However, the universalist impulse is far stronger from what I can see. Without it, I don’t think she would be capable of withstanding the abuse she has received for defending it.

  6. Hi stonerwithaboner and Jacobin
    thanks for your comments and for the post, Jacobin!

    There’s lots to think about. and selfishly I am preoccupied with stuff to do with my own hum drum life at the moment. I will definitely get over it and get back to you soon.

    QRG
    x

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