shut your face-hole: thoughts from a n00b
I’ve been tromping creeping with an ear-trumpet through the feminist blogosphere for about a year now, and I’m experiencing my first live Feminism Kerfuffle™ in the form of a post by mai’a over at Feministe about children, motherhood, and, through comments, the role of WOC in mainstream feminism.
I include details of my short time in the blogosphere to make clear that I’m far from well-versed on the various discussions within feminism, and all of the amazing nuanced intersectionality that should come part-and-parcel with working for social justice (and, apparently, is widely sorely lacking.) mai’a’s original post focused on strictly adults-only spaces and how they exclude caregivers (and, in our society the majority of caregivers are women, thusly the practice excludes and oppresses women). I’m not going to talk about this, as I haven’t made up my mind about it yet. I want to focus on mai’a’s follow-up post, in which she talks about her experience of the label “mama” in different contexts, and what that means: specifically,
“being a mama is not a description of one’s biology or genitalia. it does not describe how many children we have nestled in wombs. it is not a description of age or even male/female gender.
it is who we are. it is what we do. it is love by any means necessary.”
From my n00b point of view, what I see happening in the comments is what I’ve seen from trolls on other, less controversial threads: women who identify as feminists are recoiling, digging their heels in, and fighting back – without consideration of, and in direct opposition to, the voice of the oppressed. Folks are practicing classic pearl-clutching: “What do you mean, you don’t identify as a feminist? Then why are you writing on a feminist blog?! Good heavens!” …aaaaand the critical-thinking skills have left the building. Faith tries to inject some perspective:
Here’s a thought: instead of getting offended by that statement, maybe you might want to step back and consider why someone like bfp would utter such words. Someone whom I’m guessing also believes very much in the full humanity of women everywhere. If even women like me who have identified as feminists for years are not offended by that statement, then maybe it’s time for some people to consider that maybe there are some very valid criticisms to be made about the feminist movement in general.
Of one thing I am certain: Mainstream Feminism Has Issues. And, though I don’t agree with other things in the OP, I agree with mai’a on this: “if your brand of feminism does not embrace and push to the forefront the critiques of itself, then i have no interest in your brand or your movement”. Folks are not engaging with mai’a’s critique; they’re just grabbing their Feminism badge and running for cover behind the brick Feminism barricade, flinging things like “you’re excluding and oppressing me by pointing out things that are problematic but don’t affect me so I don’t think about them! That’s not helpful!” at women who dared to step into hostile territory and speak truth to power.
Ellie provides an example of this:
Do these women owe me an explanation? No, not really. But I also don’t see how exclusion, whether it’s of them or of me, helps anyone here. I understand, perhaps the community has not always done the best job at including everyone, I can acknowledge that. But does it help any more now than it did then?
Imagine that statement coming from a Men’s Rights Activist. See the problem? Traditional feminist perspectives and practices are being called into question, and the practitioners cry “exclusion! silencing!” instead of thinking critically about the issue.
This is not the way to go about having a dialogue. This is oppression rearing its ugly head in a place where, though varied and opinionated it may be, the folks in power shut their mouths and the voices of the marginalized are finally, actively, heard.