a guest post from bfpThank you so much to Donna, who has so kindly offered her space to me. I can't express how much I appreciate your constant support Donna, thank you so much.)
Samhita has an opinion about FFF and there are a few things about her opinion that I would like to discuss.
First. Intersectionality. Samhita feels upset and erased because many women of color bloggers are upset about Jessica’s book, Full Frontal Feminism.
I myself was very upset about the book—to the point I made several nasty remarks about it. For this, I apologize. I have a real substantial critique of the book, which I’m not going to get into here because I want this to address Samhita and not Jessica. But suffice it to say; at the time I made my remarks, I was in the middle of a personal crisis that I am still recovering from. So while my remarks have some substantial critique in them—at the same time, yes, I did say that Jessica sounded like a valley girl. And I was pretty aggressive even outside of that comment. For that—I am sorry.
Having said that, I personally (other woc bloggers have their own opinions) take issue with the idea that “intersectionality” and “inclusivity” are in anyway linked. I furthermore take issue with the idea that a “lack of inclusivity” is the main thrust of the problem with Jessica’s book or with feministing.
There seems to be this idea that if women of color are “included” that we should then shut up and leave it alone. The author did the best she could, and that is that. In her post, Samhita conflates intersectionality with inclusivity (as do MANY defenders of this book). That is—Samhita personally writes about intersectionality thus feministing is “inclusive” and therefore, her “voice as a women of color is integrated to the greatest extent that ANY voice can be integrated into a blog.”
A big problem with this logic is that “inclusivity” is not the answer to the problems white women face. Jessica’s book alone demonstrates that. So why is it the answer for the problems facing women of color? An even bigger problem is that the final outcome of an intersectional analysis was never “inclusivity” to begin with.
Intersectional approaches were used by radical women of color feminists to not just more accurately and thoroughly name a problem—but to come up with solutions to those problems. Thus—the goal of radical women of color feminists was not to “include” women of color in an already formed movement whose goal was to get better wages for upper class white women. It was to eliminate colonialism because it created the prison industrial complex that imprisons impoverished native women whose land the government wants. They did this in many ways—some of them being, for example, refusing to participate in the not-for-profit community and organizing feminist freedom schools.
To bring it back to feministing and Jessica and FFF and Samhita—sure, women of color were included in FFF and women of color are included in feministing—but is that inclusion doing anything to improve the quality of life for women in any of our communities--or on a less grandiose scale—to improve the quality of blogging experience for women of color bloggers?
In other words—intersectionality as used to name problems is fine—but the important part of intersectionality comes when it’s used to FIND ANSWERS. Is inclusivity really the answer to the intersectional problem of poor queer black women being thrown in jail because she can’t afford her medication and she attacked her children? To link it to Jessica’s book—is inclusivity really the answer when imprisoned teenage female youths (a devastating problem that is permeating through vast populations of native, black and latina communities) are forcibly put onto Depo-Provera and raped by prison guards? Is “getting on birth control” and “masturbating” really the answer to these youths—who, in general, also reject the term “feminism”?
In short, women of color are brought up lots and lots of times as a part of the “problem”—but we are patently ignored as “not part of the target audience” when it comes to solutions. If we were “included” in the solution of women not identifying with “feminism”—FFF would be a completely different book and feministing would be a completely different site.
I also want to address the idea put forth by Samhita (and many many maaaany of Jessica’s supporters) that women of color bloggers are “hating” on Jessica.
I met Jessica from feministing and Amanda from pandagon at the NAPW conference earlier this year. I liked both of them a lot. Especially Amanda—who, for the first time, made me see why people think southern accents are sexy.
At the conference, I joked with Jessica about the size of her boobs, talked at length with Amanda about Texas/Mexican border issues and living on farmland—I liked them both a lot, and was really happy to that I met up with them.
And then I got back home, and continued blogging and continued to be pissed off by Amanda’s analysis of X and Jessica’s understanding of Y.
It is possible to heartily disagree with and dislike what a person says in a blog and how the represent themselves on that blog and to really like them in the real world.
The disagreement women of color bloggers have with Jessica/feministing has never been about how much we hate hate hate Jessica. Ever. It’s been about how we have been treated and how our community has been treated.
Samhita says that it is a shame that one thread at feminsting defines all of feministing. Of course, she is referring to the thread in which former blogger, Nubian, was attacked for her views on the book FFF.
Besides the fact that this one thread (while it is pointed to often) does not represent the entirety of the problem that many woc bloggers have with feminsting (Nubian was attacked multiple times on multiple threads, including an interview that she contributed to and the FFF thread, Bint Alshamsa and Black Amazon were both attacked as well, to the point that Black Amazon and Nubian were accused of being the same person. And that’s not even getting into the actual content of feministing) there is also the point that while this singular thread may have been just a thread to Samhita—a member of our community (the radical women of color feminist blogging community)—a leader that opened a truly radical space whereby queer black women specifically and women of color in general had their views represented and honored in the blogosphere—was attacked on multiple threads by multiple members of the feministing community. Attacked to the point that Nubian DOES say these multiple attacks were a contributing factor to her NO LONGER BLOGGING.
Something that was "just a thread" to Samhita contributed to an irrevocable loss to our community that has not and probably never will be filled.
But it was just a thread, after all, and it’s a shame that feministing is being judged by that one thread.
I myself think it’s a bigger shame—a fucking devastating injustice—that unabashedly radical queer black feminists have one less blogger in the blogosphere. That unabashedly radical queer black feminists now know what will happen to them if they speak out on a blog dominated by “liberals” that are “trying to learn more” about WOC issues. And yes, I will go there, because it’s intimately connected, even though nobody wants to admit it—what will happen to YOUNG queer black feminists if they speak out.
Shortly after Nubian was attacked, she stopped calling herself a feminist. She called herself a womanist and changed the blurb on her site to reflect that. She was 24 at the time—an age that all of us women of color bloggers have been told, is considered “young.”
She stopped calling herself a feminist as a direct result of the virulent racism she experienced at the hands of white feminists that “want to learn” about women of color issues—many of which, came to her site directly from feministing.
I wonder if she is the “target audience” of Jessica’s book?
In the end—I agree with little light—this has been a long time coming (whatever “this” is). Contrary to popular opinion—radical women of color bloggers don’t expect Jessica, feministing, or Samhita to be “everything” to all of us. But we do expect that if you’re going to “include” us in the problem, that you “include” us in the answer. And when you only show up to our blogs to defend Jessica or to lambast us for not “defending you” (when you have had scant little to say about any of the various attacks that any of us have been on the brunt end of, including being outted along with your child, being threatened with dick slappings and fist fuckings, being told you’re a part of a “dirty race,” and being endlessly confronted and challenged and talked down to by white feminist women) well, I’m sorry, but that’s not creating an answer that any of us can live with.
At this point, I can only say that I hope, Samhita, that there is some answer out there somewhere that all of us can get behind.