Friday, May 22, 2009

MRA, Feministing, and Racism

I’ll bet the above is a bit of a shocking title.  Here’s the background knowledge that you need to be aware of.  May 19th was Malcolm X’s birthday.   He is a man that I have a great deal of respect for.  I had intended to write a post regarding his work with the women of the Nation of Islam, however time got the better of me and I simply posted his eulogy which was written by Ossie Davis.  That day I roamed around the blogosphere and noted that he was not mentioned on either Feministing, Feministe, or Shakesville.   In my opinion this is not a small oversight.

The next day Samhita put up a post a feministing wishing Malcolm a happy belated birthday and as I read it, I became angry.  My issue is not that the post was poorly written but that it fell once again to Samhita to cover an issue that is important to POC and that the post was a day late.  The following is the initial comment I left on the thread.

As much as I love the work you do Samhita, I must say that I am angry that this post is a day late. I also wonder why it fell to you to acknowledge the importance of Malcolm X and not one of your fellow (read: white) bloggers? I roamed around the blogosphere yesterday looking for references to Malcolm and not surprisingly there was little to no mention of him except on black blogs...gee imagine that. Malcolm X is ignored by many because he makes them uncomfortable much the same way as people who profess to love MLK cannot seem to quote him past 1963 gee I wonder why that is (yes huge snark). This kind of purposeful erasure or a day late and a dollar short recognition is exactly why WOC get pissed and feel unwelcome in feminist spaces.

This was the beginning of a very hostile thread in which once again Feminsiting readers decided to play racist bingo because they could not handle being called out on their privileges.  The expected responses, angry. irrational, racist, etc., were delivered almost on cue.  If you can stand to wade through the muck the comment thread is a great lesson in how not to be any ally to POC.

I had no intention of writing about this incident until I read a link from sent to me by Samhita.   Normally, I find the lunacy of the MRA’s quite hilarious because of the twists and turns they make to try and attempt to make their illogical rantings appear to be reasoned and well thought out discourse.  This time I have to say that I actually found their commentary illuminating.  ( I know, I know, don’t worry I will explain)

Bitchy Black Feminist feels White Feminists don't coddle her enough

But this post was not good enough for uber bitch "Renee". She runs a shit website called "Womanist Musings" (she refuses to call herself a Feminist because she thinks they don't kiss the ass of "people of color" enough) where she complains endlessly about how everything is racist.

Oh no she didn't! Notice that the comment got +14. It seems a lot of bitchy white Feminist readers are sick of the Renee's bitching. Later, another white bitch states:

black white or brindle they are all bitchy - it comes from their personal sense of pique when they deem their dereistic entitlements are not realised upon which they dump their malice on the nearest target usually men

Renee is a racist.It's not just a one way street lady.

anyway, back to Renee. She is an extremely angry, and possibly mentally ill, mega bitch BUT I can understand her anger. She knows and understands what oppression really is but the arrogant, liberal white bitches on Feministing cannot stand seeing a black woman playing the victim card against them. In their opinion, the victim card is the exclusive property of (white) women and the only people who may be accused of racism are their political rivals.
p.s.: one person on Feministing who really is a racist is Samhita. She hates white people and unlike blacks, her ethnic group lacks any legitimate gripes against whitey.

It is a clear a public disagreement between women who advocate the end of patriarchal domination is amusing to these trolls, however I think it is important to look deeper than their entertainment.   As I read over the vitriol that they aimed at me one thing became very clear, they have much in common with many of the over privileged pearl clutchers in the feminsiting thread. (no I will not apologize for using that term so don’t ask) You will note that they use the exact same trigger words that many of the feministing commenters did, in fact they could share a bingo card.

Angry, mentally ill, victim card, racist

These are the words routinely thrown at WOC when we dare to challenge white privilege. Isn’t it interesting that the so-called liberal and social justice minded feminists at feministing have so much in common with the MRA?  The only difference between the MRA and feminsting commenters is that they don’t pretend to be allies or care about the equality of others.  

When women of color refuse to take on the label of feminist many suggest it is because we either don’t agree that gender is a site of oppression or that we have privileged race over gender.   The problem is that as people of color race is very much a part of who we are and were we to ignore the impact of race we would be  denying an essential part of our identity.  Feminism has more than a perception problem, it has an issue both historical racism and current day unacknowledged racism.

As an individual, I do not expect perfection.  I have made my fair share of all to  public mistakes, however at least I have had the decency to apologize when I have been in the wrong.  How many times are prominent feminist sites going to continue to  either erase us or marginalize our issues without at least having the ovaries to admit what they are doing?  How many times are they going to allow their comment threads to turn into all out race based attacks without intervening?  If WOC matter, why aren’t your comment threads safe places for us to engage? 

If I am angry, it is because I am human.  To be the continual victim of racism would enrage anyone and yet our legitimate anger is seen as  negative.  Let me tell all you Missy. Anne Pearl Clutchers out there this, you may hate Sapphire but she is a product of your ignorance, your desire to privilege, and your power. She will not go gently into that good night until WOC have our due. 


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