I'm Late To The Party AgainSince I have been offline for the past few days, I missed a great post over at Having Read The Fine Print: But But It's Just..... This post is actually very complicated covering many issues and many discussions over different blogs at different times. The first section is about a post BlackAmazon wrote describing what she calls 'Sofia Coppola Feminism'. A commenter, Mnemosyne, took issue with the term over at Pandagon in reference to a post I made here, which linked to BA's original post. (See, complicated!)
There are three problems with Mnemosyne's comments. First, she didn't bother reading what either BlackAmazon or I wrote. Neither of us say that Coppola is or is not a feminist. We are talking about the characters and plot of her films which mirrors a certain type of feminist, the middle class American white woman who is completely blind to her white privilege, class privilege, and privilege as a citizen of a colonizer/imperialist country. This type of feminist has a knack for marginalizing others while centering herself in any discussion, and forgetting that everyone is not just like her. She will discuss racism, classism, or colonialism; but only to advance her own goals or make herself seem like she cares. That was the point of my post, the "Oh gosh, I know horrible things are happening somewhere in the world, and it makes me sad." while expending little or no effort to make a difference. Second, she used her objection to Sofia Coppola Feminism as a way to derail an important discussion, while at the same time proving herself to be a Sofia Coppola Feminist. She managed to dismiss the suffering of real women and children in New Bedford to center herself and her film degrees. Shannon does an excellent job of breaking it down over at Egotistical Whining. Third, instead of derailing and misinterpreting BA, she should have taken it up with her. The link was there to BA's blog, but the black woman wasn't worth engaging, it was more fun to bitch about her and take her words out of context at another blog than to ask the writer of the Sofia Coppola post to clarify or to tell her directly that she disagrees with her.
The next part I was clueless about and had to do a little research. It's about fan fiction. Some fans of Stargate Atlantis write their own stories about the characters and there is a tendency to put the two POC characters, Teyla and Ronon, in the role of servants or animals. The real SGA does NOT do this, these are major characters in equal or superior positions to the white characters. Also the sexuality of POC characters is written as the exotic other, kinky, strange, fetishized, subhuman, etc. The latest flare-up was about SGA, but this has happened with other fanfic too, and each time white people find ways to dismiss the objections of people of color. They are too sensitive. White people mean well and don't intend to be racist. POC should be nice when making observations, because God forbid we get harsh when confronted with racism. Witchqueen wrote an excellent post about characters of color in fandom and I think much of that advice could also be used when writing about real people of color or addressing us at our blogs too.
Next BA references a post BrownFemiPower wrote about racism she encountered at a writing workshop. This is one of the "liberal" forms of racism, playing let's pretend there is no racism in this country and that will make it go away! This strategy only serves white people, they can ignore their privilege at the expense of POC, it requires that they do nothing about racism and they still get to feel good about themselves since they are "colorblind". Meanwhile, racism is a part of our reality that we can't pretend away or ignore. Colorblind means that you do not see me or other POC and our issues, we're all the same as white people and therefore only white people's issues count in America.
The last reference is to a post RenegadeEvolution made about the movie 300 and a couple of posts over at Cuntensquirten. (Can I help it if I laugh out loud every time I type that? No, I can not!) This is the same white privilege as in the last example. It's the ability to ignore racism in a movie, music, artwork in order to enjoy it. BUT if you read all the comments you will also notice that it is more complex. I didn't feel the need to bash Ren because I know that watching a racist movie is not going to reinforce racist tendencies for her, what I didn't say is that I know it will for some. I still won't go see 300 for that reason. Also I enjoy comedies, but many American comedies are mean spirited. They are laughing AT someone, instead of laughing WITH someone. If it isn't racist mean spiritedness, then it will be ageist, or ableist, or classist, etc. In order for me to enjoy many of the movies I like, I will have to play the privilege card myself. I felt it would be hypocritical for me to bash Ren when I do the same thing she does in other contexts. BlackAmazon is making a couple of points here, first, if you are playing your privilege card, don't try to pretend that it's something else and that you are pure. You are getting your jollies at the expense of someone else. When that someone else comes by and says something about it, listen to them!
Every one of these examples is the way that white Americans invalidate our perceptions, observations, and opinions in favor of their own. As a white woman with two film degrees, Mnem says that only her opinion is valid and that neither BA or I can call any kind of feminism "Sofia Coppola Feminism" without even reading what we said! Not only that but now the women and children of New Bedford don't deserve the time of day since we used an invalid argument in favor of them. In fandom, people use all kinds of excuses for why the POC fall into certain racist categories, but they didn't intend for it to happen that way, so POC observations of this are invalid. As long as the racism is unconcious I guess the white folks deserve a pass. When BrownFemiPower wrote a story about a Mexican man and his white wife, there was a preference for the liberal white perception of colorblindness in order to remove the teacher's discomfort discussing race, and who gives a damn about BFP and her uncomfortable reality. And Ren felt she had to justify using the white privilege card, but there is no justification for it. When you live in a capitalist society there are always the powerful and the less powerful. Entertainment and art will come at the expense of the less powerful much of the time. You have to accept that for what it is, and realize that others will be hurt by the movie/book/artwork/etc you enjoyed.
BA is a black actress. The result of these attitudes by white Americans means that her parts will be limited. White America does not want to know her reality. They want parts for POC that fetishize them, or marginalize them, or hide them so that they don't have to confront their white privilege or racism.
That's why I liked this post so much. It covers so much ground and gives so many examples and in the end shows what the result is for a real person. How this affects BlackAmazon directly in her work.
I wanted to explain everything she is talking about because I know that everyone doesn't read exactly the same blogs. I didn't know about the fandom, for example. And I think the post is too important for people to miss out on, or not discuss because they don't know what she is alluding to. So if you haven't already, get over there and read and post comments too!