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My little pony feminism

So its been an interesting few days on the old interwebs as various privileged white feminists have explained why intersectional feminism, or an intersectional praxis is wrong, along with all those mean pesky black feminists who insist on speaking before their betters. I will not be linking to the lewis or the Burchill piece, as @RedlightVoices explains here, click bait is all the New Statesman seems to be doing these days, and well Burchill is Burchill. Along with Gia and other banknotes feminists in the UK, and white feminism as a whole there is a kick back against the idea there is any oppression other than being a woman.

The idea that race, class, age, disability (whether that disability is visible or not) being trans, or not conforming in other ways to gender norms of patriarchy is an oppression seems so blindingly obvious to me that I have been struggling to work out quite why people like Helen Lewis or Julie Burchill are so determined to defend the idea there is nothing worse than being a woman. Why are they also so enamoured of the idea of shared girl and womanhood as a fact erasing as it does the experiences of WoC?

The only explanation that makes any sense is that being a woman is the only oppression they face. That might sound a little no shit sherlock so let me unpack it a bit. Imagine growing up being told, and believing that if you work hard, be a good girl and follow Daddies* rules you will one day achieve your dreams. Then you grow up and discover that Daddy lied, those things aren’t enough.You live in a society where women are paid less, where your work is appropriated by male collegues, where men treat you just like the sluts Daddy warned you about. “Its not fair” you scream, and determine that something must be done!

These are oppression of course, and matter, but if the only black spot in your life is that Daddy wouldn’t buy you a pony you come across more as Veruca  Salt than fighter for social justice, which is precisely where white feminism is at right now.  It seems heresy to say it but there are worst things than being born a white privileged cis able-bodied women in the global north. Shocking I know! Currently white feminism is attacking intersectionality because it challenges this idea. Like Veruca Salt these feminists can only see their personal oppressions and think that anything that has happened to them is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman. Daddy not buying that pony is a tragedy, because it is their tragedy.

Of course these feminists are not, largely fools, they are aware that moaning that they only get one seat on the Question Time panel or that their pumpkin spiced latte was slightly too hot doesn’t present the caring sharing face of feminism they want you to see. Which brings us to the myth of shared womanhood. When your oppression basically is that damn pony a handy way to appear more concerned and less egocentric is to say you are fighting for all women. They want to perpetuate the idea that somehow their struggle for breastfeeding rooms in all waitroses is going to liberate the victim of multiple rapes in the Congo so that we listen to them. Of course they cannot explain quite why making their slightly uncomfortable life even better will directly help her, but look, shared womanhood, so it will.

Some have suggested that the current rash of fuckwittery is a kind of death rattle. I am less optimistic, patriarchy (and these feminists are determined to uphold patriarchy so they keep getting the head pats from Daddy) is powerful and has a habit of giving women just enough room at the table to keep them quiet. The Carolines, Glosswitches, Bindles, Gias, Burchills, Kats, and Lucys, all white women who follow in each others footsteps to that coveted seat at the table may be beyond hope, but we do not need to despair. Bring aware of their dog whistles, their egotism, their what about me ism and white tears means we can more quickly say no, no to their click bait and claims of abuse. No to their campaigns and blogs about trivialities, and most of all no to their demands that we supply the pony daddy lied about.

*yes Daddy may be a metaphorical reference to patriarchy, do keep up. Then again they may just all have Daddy issues, it would explain a lot.

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26 comments on “My little pony feminism

  1. Laurelai
    February 21, 2014

    Oh snap.

    Like

  2. Cathy Brennan
    February 21, 2014

    Monster
    by Robin Morgan

    Listen. I’m really slowly dying
    inside myself tonight.
    And I’m not about to run down the list
    of rapes and burnings and beatings and smiles
    and sulks and rages and all the other crap
    you’ve laid on women throughout your history
    (we had no part in it — although god knows we tried)
    together with your thick, demanding bodies laid on ours,
    while your proud sweat, like liquid arrogance,
    suffocated our very pores.
    Not tonight.

    I’m tired of listing your triumph, our oppression,
    especially tonight, while two men whom I like –
    one of whom I live with, father of my child, and
    claim to be in life-giving, death-serious struggle with –
    while you two sit at the kitchen table dancing
    an ornate ritual of what you think passes for struggle
    which fools nobody. Your shared oppression, grief,
    and love as effeminists in a burning patriarchal world
    still cannot cut through power plays of maleness.

    The baby is asleep a room away. White. Male. American.
    Potentially the most powerful, deadly creature
    of the species.
    His hair, oh pain, curls into fragrant tendrils damp
    with the sweat of his summery sleep. Not yet, and on my life
    if I can help it never will be “quite a man.”
    But just two days ago on seeing me naked for what must be
    the three-thousandth time in his not-yet two years,
    he suddenly thought of
    the furry creature who yawns through his favorite television program;
    connected that image with my genitals; laughed,
    and said, “Monster.”

    I want a woman’s revolution like a lover.
    I lust for it, I want so much this freedom,
    this end to struggle and fear and lies
    we all exhale, that I could die just
    with the passionate uttering of that desire.
    Just once in this my only lifetime to dance
    all alone and bare on a high cliff under cypress trees
    with no fear of where I place my feet.
    To even glimpse what I might have been and never never
    will become, had I not had to “waste my life” fighting
    for what my lack of freedom keeps me from glimpsing.
    Those who abhor violence refuse to admit they are already
    experiencing it, committing it.
    Those who lie in the arms of the “individual solution,”
    the “private odyssey,” the “personal growth,”
    are the most conformist of all,
    because to admit suffering is to begin
    the creation of freedom.
    Those who fear dying refuse to admit that they are already dead.
    Well, I am dying, suffocating from this hopelessness tonight,
    from this dead weight of struggling with
    even those few men I love and care about
    each day they kill me.

    Do you understand? Dying. Going crazy.
    Really. No poetic metaphor.
    Hallucinating thin rainbow-colored nets
    like cobwebs all over my skin
    and dreaming more and more when I can sleep
    of being killed or killing.
    Sweet revolution, how I wish the female tears
    rolling silently down my face this second were each a bullet,
    each word I write, each character on my typewriter bullets
    to kill whatever it is in men that builds this empire,
    colonized my very body,
    then named the colony Monster.

    I am one of the “man-haters,” some have said.
    I don’t have the time or patience here to say again why or how
    I hate not men but what it is men do in this culture, or
    how the system of sexism, power dominance, and competition
    is the enemy, not people — but how men, still, created that system
    and preserve it and reap concrete benefits from it.
    Words and rhetoric that merely
    gush from my arteries when grazed
    by the razoredge of humanistic love. Enough.
    I will say, however, that you, men, will have to be freed,
    as well, though we women may have to kick and kill you
    into freedom
    since most of you will embrace death quite gladly
    rather than give up your power to hold power.

    Compassion for the suicidal impulse in our killers? Well,
    on a plane ride once, the man across the aisle –
    who was a World War Two paraplegic,
    dead totally from the waist down,
    wheeled in and out of the cabin — spent the whole trip avidly
    devouring first newspaper sports pages
    and then sports magazines,
    loudly pointing out to anyone who would listen
    (mostly the stewardesses) which athlete was a “real man.”

    Two men in the seats directly behind me talked the whole time
    about which Caribbean islands were the best for whoring, and
    which color of ass was hotter and more pliant.
    The stewardess smiled and served them coffee.
    I gripped the arms of my seat more than once
    to stop my getting up and screaming to the entire planeload
    of human beings what was torturing us all — stopped because I knew
    they’d take me for a crazy, an incipient
    hijacker perhaps, and wrestle me down until Bellevue Hospital
    could receive me at our landing in New York.
    (No hijacker, I understood then, ever really wants to take
    the plane. She/he wants to take passengers’ minds, to turn
    them inside out, to create the revolution
    35,000 feet above sea level
    and land with a magical flying cadre
    and, oh, yes, to win.)
    Stopping myself is becoming a tactical luxury,
    going fast.

    My hives rise more frequently, stigmata of my passion.
    Someday you’ll take away my baby, one way or the other.
    And the man I’ve loved, one way or the other.
    Why should that nauseate me with terror?
    You’ve already taken me away from myself
    with my only road back to go forward
    into more madness, monsters, cobwebs, nausea,
    in order to free you — men — from killing us, killing us.

    No colonized people so isolated one from the other
    for so long as women.
    None cramped with compassion for the oppressor
    who breathes on the next pillow each night.
    No people so old who, having, we now discover, invented
    agriculture, weaving, pottery, language, cooking
    with fire, and healing medicine, must now invent a revolution
    so total as to destroy maleness, femaleness, death.

    Oh mother, I am tired and sick.
    One sister, new to this pain called feminist consciousness
    for want of a scream to name it, asked me last week
    “But how do you stop from going crazy?”
    No way, my sister.
    No way.
    This is a pore war, I thought once, on acid.

    And you, men. Lovers, brothers, fathers, sons.
    I have loved you and love you still, if for no other reason
    than that you came wailing from the monster
    while the monster hunched in pain to give you the power
    to break her spell.
    Well, we must break it ourselves, at last.
    And I will speak less and less and less to you
    and more and more in crazy gibberish you cannot understand:
    witches’ incantations, poetry, old women’s mutterings,
    schizophrenic code, accents, keening, firebombs,
    poison, knives, bullets, and whatever else will invent
    this freedom.

    May my hives bloom bravely until my flesh is aflame
    and burns through the cobwebs.
    May we go mad together, my sisters.
    May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
    be the death of all pain.
    May we comprehend that we cannot be stopped.
    May I learn how to survive until my part is finished.
    May I realize that I

    am a
    monster. I am

    a
    monster.
    I am a monster.
    And I am proud.

    https://sites.google.com/site/monsterbyrobinmorgan/

    Like

  3. Cathy Brennan
    February 21, 2014

    I hope someday you figure out what you are doing isn’t women’s liberation, sis.

    Like

    • Laurelai
      February 22, 2014

      I hope one day you figure out what *you* are doing isn’t women’s liberation Cathy. For fuck sake your job involves the literal oppression of single mothers. Shut up.

      Like

      • jemima2013
        February 22, 2014

        indeed, i think daddy bought her the wrong colour pony

        Like

    • jemima2013
      February 22, 2014

      thanks for the poem, which makes my point perfectly, as does the fact a corporate lawyer who defends payday loans companies thinks she is oppressed

      Like

      • Cathy Brennan
        February 22, 2014

        You don’t understand Class:Women. Your hyperfocus on individuals is not feminism – it’s narcissism.

        I’ve said nothing to you about my personal feelings, nor would I, as I am not an exhibitionist. Lots of exhibitionism in your “feminism” as well.

        You need to re-read that poem.

        Like

  4. jennifer branson
    February 21, 2014

    Agree with the above . We are still sisters.

    Like

  5. jennifer branson
    February 21, 2014

    What I mean is, I agree with Cathy’s comments.

    Like

  6. cartertheblogger
    February 22, 2014

    So, posting a lengthy, tedious poem that would shame an amateur recitation and then making an assertion unsupported by argument is debate now? Heaven help us all…

    Like

    • jemima2013
      February 22, 2014

      it is laughably bad whinining isnt it,

      Like

  7. channellightvesselautomatic
    February 22, 2014

    Jemima. If you don’t think women are oppressed as women, you’re not a feminist. It’s that simple. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      February 22, 2014

      your reading comprehension leaves a lot to be desired, try reading it agian

      Like

      • channellightvesselautomatic
        February 23, 2014

        No it doesn’t. Yes, you give lip-service to the idea that the oppression women face as women is ‘of course’ oppression. And then you go on to merrily caricature a whole bunch of women – whose social circumstances and life histories you actually you know nothing about – as whiny little princesses. If you think working on changing attitudes towards victims of sexual violence, or campaigning about the number of women killed by their partners, or drawing attention to street harassment, or challenging the representation of women in public life (shock! because you show no interest in representation do you, that’s just for blue-blooded banknotes feminists!) or even simply writing about those things because they matter to you, is the equivalent of having a tantrum because daddy didn’t buy you a pony – then you don’t think women’s oppression as women is meaningful.

        Like

        • jemima2013
          February 23, 2014

          1. when you agree with the bug, you really need to think about why
          2. when you ignore the particular oppression of WoC you really need to think about why
          3. When all you can do is uphold the status quo, you really need to think about why
          4. when you claim i do nothing to keep women safe, when i have been stalked, doxed, harrassed and threatened for what i do for women, you really need to think about why

          I said women face oppression as women, which you consitently are ignoring, however you want to claim street harrassment is the same as being a victim of FGM or having a fistula from rape in the congo, really? Really think about what you are saying.

          Like

      • channellightvesselautomatic
        February 23, 2014

        That is: 1. I’m saying that when you pretend that the only way women are oppressed as women is through the appropriation and undervaluing of their labour, and minor sexual harassment, you are lying. 2. Even if these were the only issues – the consistent millennia long appropriation of the labour of half the world’s population? Yeah, that’s not a pony.

        Like

    • jemima2013
      February 23, 2014

      with people like you about oppressing women in the name of feminism i call that a compliment

      Like

  8. channellightvesselautomatic
    February 22, 2014

    Also, feminists are whiny little princesses with a daddy complex? Do you know anything about how misogyny works?

    Like

    • jemima2013
      February 24, 2014

      i am not trans so that insult doesnt work for me, nice try though

      Like

      • greebo
        October 20, 2014

        How so? Misogyny is not something any woman is exempt from possessing. And ‘daddy issues’ has been used to discredit women like me (disabled, childhood rape survivor, poor, and gay) as liars and delusional fools only good for the nut house, despite my rape having nothing to do with my dad. ‘Daddy issues’ have been used as excuses so teachers and therapists to ignore my actual psychological needs. Because I’m not just irrational as a woman, I have the gall to be disabled too. Seriously though, white and non intersectional feminism is far more complex then what has been discussed by you and with far less misogynistic analysis. Yes, using ‘daddy issues’ to discredit these assholes, not matter how justified, is still misogyny and ties into a long standing tradition of discrediting disabled women with trauma (Freud blew off a ton of women who were most likely groomed by their fathers and male relatives as women with ‘severe penis envy and issues with their fathers.’ ) It is a deeply problematic misogynist buzzword with potentially ableist connotations, particularly if the women subject to it are or have been mentally ill. Please find a different way to express the problems of non intersectional feminism then this. This harmful and gross.

        Like

  9. Pingback: Bad-faith justice: ethics of the call-out | Sarah Ditum

  10. cigar
    April 11, 2014

    hello there,
    I am agree with you all the information which you published. I like this post so much. I want appreciate to you for this. great job.
    thanks

    Like

  11. Pingback: Bad-Faith Justice: Ethics of the Call Out | Jane Clare Jones

  12. Pingback: ‘Tory feminists’ like me are being bullied and silenced by left-wing socialists | Voices | The Independent | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

  13. BarleySinger
    December 13, 2015

    > Along with Gia and other banknotes feminists in the UK, and
    >white feminism as a whole there is a kick back against the>
    > idea there is any oppression other than being a woman.

    Anyone who thinks there is only ONE form of oppression worth dealing with (being female) needs therapy and a course in reality. There are tons of unique classes of people who get treated like crap on the basis of some nonsense “class” or another. The fact that SOME of those who insist their “struggle:” is the one single struggle of all struggles – and that some of those say this bull happen to be white (I am assuming from the quoted material) doe snot make their WHITENESS a cause of their stupidity, a cause of their ignorance or the cause of any other unfortunate part of their ideas.

    Idiocy knows no skin tone.

    THAT SAID.

    There is no such thing as “white feminism”. Saying that there is, is both racist and a misunderstanding of feminisms from the start and is dismissive of a very real history.

    So please, just get it into your head. The term “white feminism” is racist and divisive and it rips women apart form one another into separate groups, which does not help anybody.

    Do different people have different experiences? Hell yes.

    Are they unique. of course!

    Would it be EXACTLY the same to be :

    1) an upper class woman in 1890, from a family that acts like they “own her” and who are trying to “marry her off” to create a financial alliance, and if she does not agree to that marriage then they will “cut her off” penniless (and she will probably have to turn to prostitution to survive)

    2) a poor black woman in Mississippi in 2015, who no access to birth control because of politicians who are fanning the flames of hate for quick votes

    3) a female who grew up in a part of Africa where bare female breasts meant nothing, and who went for the first 17 years of her life with no shirt on unless it was COLD… but whose family then moved as refugees – and she is NOW living in a part of the USA where people treat female breasts as :

    + things used to sell every item imaginable
    + body parts that must ALWAYS be kept covered up as shameful
    + and also *uncovered* to prove you are attractive???
    + FETISH OBJECTS…body parts only there for sex and if seen they are assumed to be an invitation to sex and always erotic.

    4) a trans/genderfluid person who is uncomfortable in the body they have, yet has no desire to stop having the physically female body they were born with, but WOULD like to NOT be forced into a “cis” gender situation just because they live in Nebraska, and would like TIME to sort out their own life without being pressured to conform to something they can never ever be.

    – of course these are different experiences.

    All of these are very different, and real and valid.

    It is also true that NO single human person (an author, a movie maker, a speaker, etc) is capable of encompassing all of human experience. Nobody can. Not in a single work (or in a lifetime of them). If a person does not address some piece of YOUR reality (perhaps a part you find especially confronting or painful) it does not mean they do not believe it is real. They are not being dismissive of your life.

    So – if you feel your “voice” or “experience” is not being heard… then start talking! Who knows, it might just help somebody. However … always keep in mind that no person should go through their life having their “trauma” make their decisions for them.

    So talk, write, make music, put on plays….but do not do so by creating divisions.

    We all (as people) need unity and equality, not groups that dislike one another and show no respect, over things like “white this” or “cis that”.

    There is no need to rip other people down to “feel valid” (because you were hurt by people) or for that matter, to sunder yourself with OTHERS into a homogeneous group (away from others) just to get your voice taken seriously.

    — and SOME HISTORY

    A ton of people who go on about “non-intersection” feminism (many of whom call it “white feminism”) were not even born at the time of MKL’s March on Washington, the Freedom Riders, or the era of the massive protests against Anita Bryant’s homophobia, and were not socially aware when Act Up were protesting against Regan’s lack of investment in HIV research.

    Many of these same people are quite insistent that none of those other groups got any help (or admission that they were real) from “White Feminists”.

    Well guess what? FEMINISTS were one of the major supporting groups in all of those social movements. Quite often women who would NOT have been “at risk:” had they kept their mouths closed (and thrown away their ethics) were right there standing up with people who WERE are risk, and WERE being mistreated. They did NOT have to take those risks – but they did.

    I know this to be the case, because I am a bit older. Also because my mother in law was one of the white southern women standing up with MLK. As a new bride in Mississippi, she and her husband marched, and protested and gave people a “place to stay” and “plan” – in their family home. They also marched against the Klan – publicly in the south. Their traditional family home had been a place for generations of their family (volunteer social workers) to educate and give aid to ALL the impoverished & oppressed people they could help. The result (for her and everyone else living there) was to have their names and their address published in the local paper (putting them all at very real risk). Their phone was tapped (because they asked that it be tapped, to keep them safe). There were active threats on their lives.

    The same woman, and my own spouse (who could choose to pass as CIS but refuses) have long had gay, lesbian, bi, trans friends.

    So learn your history. stop making silly assumptions based on the actions of a few idiots, and PLEASE… do not help promote the idiocy that says that “White Feminists” are not intersectional enough, and bloody well stop pointing out what RACE they are from. Race is an illusion of bigotry. There is only one race – the human one.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      December 15, 2015

      oh fuck off if carter had not approved this i would have just trashed it, you are an idiot. your reply is full of assumptions, prejudice and I regret the time i spent reading it. As for the idea you can erase the oppression of people of colour by pretending race does not exist, frankly, you need to go away and learn. I suggest starting here http://www.gradientlair.com/
      The one amusing thing about your purile ill thought through and insulting comment is you tell someone who has almost lost their life speaking out for sex workers to “speak more” on her own fucking blog,

      Like

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