Friday, February 4, 2011

So Long Jessica Valenti, I Won't Miss You

Alright, a look through the archives will show that I have long been critical of Feministing.  I no longer read Feministing and so I learned about Jessica's departure, from a post Jill wrote on Feministe.  Once again, Valenti and Feministing were deified, though that site has been full of fail for a very long time.  Let's be clear shall we, Feministing has a history of transhphobia, classism, lesbophobia, racism, and cissexism.  There have been countless boycotts over the years and none of them were started because people felt welcome at Feministing.  Valenti has been loathe to be held accountable by her critics. As the editor-in-chief, the buck stops right at Valenti's door and while she may not want to wear the burden of her creation, facts are the facts.

Jill suggests that Valenti has been "great at giving opportunities to other writers," and I suggest that Jessica has trotted to the top of the line on the backs of marginalized women.  Do you think if Valenti were lesbian, trans, of colour, or disabled, that she would be where she is today?  What Valenti is, is a good business woman.  She realized that there was a void in feminism and used the rise of blogging to her advantage.  All along the way, she has traded on her ability to be a part of mainstream bodies to make a living. Instead of truly tackling the -isms, she has directly benefited from them.

Rather than challenging people to change and disturb norms, everything that Valenti does supports them.  I won't miss her at Feministing, because I no longer read it, and I certainly will not read anything else that she does, because I am tired, absolutely fucking sick and tired, of women like her being given opportunities that marginalized women are not.  There is nothing special about Valenti other than the fact that she was in the right space at the right time.  She is like every other professional feminist, dedicated to promoting herself. 

In her good bye post at Feministing, Valenti says:
As you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing on the site much the last few months. This is largely due to the early arrival of my daughter – my and her health were both tenuous, and I needed to focus on getting us better. This time away from Feministing provided a lot of room to reflect, and – as sad as it makes me – it’s become clear that it’s time to move on.
This decision is partly logistical; I’m working on two new projects that require my full energy and attention. I’m in the process of writing a book on parenthood, Why Have Kids?, for HarperCollins – a fun but daunting undertaking my first year of being a mom! I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be writing a weekly column, Body Politics, at the iPad newspaper The Daily, which is launching today. (My columns will also be available online; I’ll tweet and post the urls as they’re published.) I’m thrilled to have these new opportunities and want to give them my all.
The minute I heard that she was pregnant, I knew that it would not be long before she started adding her special spin to motherhood.  There isn't a female identity that the woman isn't willing to profit from.  You know, part of giving up privilege and making room for others involves shutting the hell up.  Motherhood is always spoken about as though it is a universal experience, and yet any marginalized mother can tell you that this is not correct.  Do we really need another straight, able bodied, White cis woman of class privilege, giving us her view on motherhood? A simple glance at the books on feminist motherhood at seal press reveals that Valenti fits right in.   The truth is, I could give a fuck about hearing what another White woman like Valenti has to say about being a mother. It may sound cruel to you, but it is the truth.  I am tired of White women being made the standard and being allowed to speak on behalf of all women.  If Valenti stays true to her history, which I have no reason to expect that she won't, it will be another clusterfuck of exclusion. We will just call that business as usual.

Let's face facts shall we, now that she has made a name for herself, there is no real reason for her stay at Feministing.  She has outgrown it with her celebrity, and taking on the role of expert mother allows her to enter a very large publishing niche that is already overpopulated with White women.  I simply cannot celebrate this and I cannot support this.  I have watched for too long as WOC and other marginalized bodies have worked hard in obscurity to have their motherhood recognized.  Time and time again, I have seen how the label of "mommy blogger" is denied to marginalized mothers, our identities purposefully erased.  I suppose that when there is money to be made, this is not an issue of consideration for Valenti.

I will just keep it short and sweet because the more that I write, the angrier that I get.  Goodbye, Jessica, and I hope not to see or hear your voice again.  I know that this is wishful thinking because your history has made it clear that profiting when others are struggling is something you hardly find problematic.  I would like to ask one favor, though I know it will be impossible for you to fulfill: take a moment and think about what you are doing to perpetuate the divide between women like you and marginalized women and how taking on the role of the great mother is extremely hurtful.