I’ve been seeing a lot of this in response to the women’s march. I kinda want to respond with a giant middle finger.
The controversy is that a majority of white women that voted (not a majority of white women total, BTW) voted for Trump. On top of that, within the feminist movement we often silence women of color or bring our own concerns to the forefront while ignoring the concerns of people who–because of their intersecting marginalized groups–have a much bigger concern.
I know I’ve seen it in activist scenarios. Women of color have a very tough time. They often get silenced. When they bring up ways that the movement is not including them, the white women will sort of hand wave it away.
And it’s terrible and unfair to them. Women of color are sexually assaulted WAAAAAAAY more often than white women. Women of color fear the police in a way that white women simply do not have to. Women of color have to be even more careful than white women because we tend to act like they are promiscuous no matter what they do. Women of color can’t “Lean in” the way that we instruct white women to because women of color rightly fear being labeled “uppity” or “pushy” or “angry.” I’ve seen people do it. A person of color has to be twice as calm and rational to be listened to, and even then they’ll likely be labeled angry and irrational and dismissed.
Racism is real, and white women can be remarkably oblivious to it.
How many of you spotted the irony here? Seriously. Look. I’ll give you a second.
Still not found it?
This “inclusive” list that everyone looks at to show how horrible white women are for ignoring the plight of intersectional members of their movement completely failed to even MENTION one group that I know for a fucking fact was marching.
Disabled women. Yes. women of color are more likely to be sexually assaulted than white women. The group with the worst sexual assault rate is Native women — 1 in 2, and almost none of the assaults are by native men–is appalling.
For women with disabilities that number is 4 out of 5.
If they’d even thought to include us the disabled portion of this would read:
I’m scared that I will die because I can’t find health insurance that will cover me for the way I was born. I’m scared of being sexually assaulted and no one believing me. I’m scared that I won’t be able to defend myself because people will think it’s okay to mock my disability instead of seeing me as a human being. I’m scared that the police will be able to shoot me, and no one will care because I’m subhuman to our administration. I’m scared that even the other marginalized groups will turn a blind eye to our suffering because even they don’t recognize that we are treated unfairly.
Surely women of color are nothing but inclusive, understanding of intersectionality, and defend us to the death!!!!
Not in my experience.
I’ve had women of color tell me that I needed to leave a feminist organization I was volunteering at because they “couldn’t afford” to have me screw up. You know, because as a person with a mental disability I surely can’t offer competent help!
One woman of color gaslighted me and convinced me that everyone else in the organization was trying to keep me from getting hired because she wanted to use me to further her own agenda. I’m pretty sure I was targeted because of my autism because she has autistic members of her family and she told me once how easy it was to fool us. Fortunately I found evidence that she was lying before I hurt people. When what she did was found out, she was not punished and I was told I needed “better boundries.” The organization didn’t care that a disabled woman was discriminated against.
The organization that banned me from reading to small children because they were afraid my autistic ass was a danger to the kids? That effort was lead by a woman of color who didn’t want me in her school because her students were all children of color and the school was dedicated to giving them a fair chance. She didn’t have time to deal with a retard! She was working of social justice!
I’ve never had to explain what sexism and racism is. I’ve never had to explain what homophobia and transphobia are.
I CONSTANTLY have to define “Ablism” Even when I do, I often get polite smiles and nods–even from people in the activist community!
I actually had one woman say “But we can’t treat people with disabilities as equals! They aren’t our equals!”
Or when they acknowledge that ableism is a thing, it surely can’t apply to me! My disability isn’t visible! Ablism is only against people in wheelchairs or blind people-or amputees! Someone with a mental disability doesn’t count!
Forgetting the fact that we are much more likely to be sexually assaulted, and much more likely to have our disability used as a reason to dismiss what happened to us. Also, we have the wonderful experience of working non stop to convince people that our disability is real and not just an excuse to be lazy!
Being oppressed doesn’t make us immune to being oppressors in turn. We are all shitty people in that regard. EVERY LAST ONE OF US.
This isn’t a struggle with just good guys and bad guys. Every member of this movement is a fallible human being. And each of us grew up in this toxic culture that encourages us to blame one another for our problems. There are no “perfect victims.”
And I HATE, absolutely H-A-T-E when people in the disability movement point out that a lot of their bullying and the discrimination they’ve received has come from non-white people or homosexuals or women, then use that to say that these groups deserve everything they get. It happens and it makes me sick. It doesn’t take away from the discrimination that they’ve experienced, but it’s shitty behavior that hurts all of us.
I don’t care what you’ve suffered.
We don’t attack other oppressed communities!
Because the Powers That Be enjoy it waaaaaaay too much when we fight with one another. It’s tempting. Fighting the actual oppressors is a whole lot harder than fighting a community that is slightly less marginalized than yours and sometimes unthinkingly joins forces with them.
In 2008, there was a huge backlash against African American voters because prop 8 was passed in California, and African American people showed up in record numbers to vote for Obama. Black people were blamed. There were a lot of homosexuals who were spouting some pretty racist rhetoric.
And ultimately destructive, because statistically, this group was a lot more likely to vote for equal rights than other groups with the same cultural pressures (i.e. people who went to church on a regular basis.), but no personal experience with systematic oppression. By acting like they were the cause of the injustice as opposed to a symptom of a sick system that pits marginalized groups against one another in order to maintain power over us all these activists were just fueling the system that keeps us all down.
They should have been reaching out to one another.
A majority of white women might have voted for trump, but blaming us is statistically unfair, and ignores the bigger picture. Namely, that we were much less likely to vote for him than men, and that I sincerely doubt the majority of white women marching are among the Trump voters.
Hostility toward these women is unproductive. It’s just feeding into the stupid system that encourages marginalized groups to attack one another as opposed to going after the actual sources of our oppression.
The truth is we are all bigoted assholes at times. It sucks. Living with oppression doesn’t make you immune to being a shitty human.
Not being a shitty person who oppresses other marginalized people is hard work! It requires compassion, self-awareness, and humility. It’s the work of a lifetime.
Yes. It was shitty that those women voted for trump.
Just like it was shitty for all of those African American people to vote for prop 8.
And yes, when this stuff happens, it’s totally fair to point out the irony.
But when you do this WHILE ignoring a marginalized community that is also suffering, and in many ways suffering worse than you . . . Well I have to work extra hard to not resent you. You are being a giant hypocrite, and you really should know better.
But I try to forgive. Because you are a human, and you are hurting. And it’s natural to give more weight to your pain than the pain of people who are not a member of your community. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s understandable.
Your pain is real, and the injustice you face is real. Just because I feel like mine is worse doesn’t make yours invalid. This isn’t a contest where only the person in the most shitty situation gets help. All of us need help, and we won’t get it when we are focused on how we’ve wronged one another.