*I know the following post is very elementary in nature. I just feel the need to break a few points down into smaller units. My post’s long digressions may not do anyone but me any good. Nevertheless, I have so much swimming in my head that I need to get it out.
Today when I was processing the comments in the Mary Daly thread, including the allegations about Daly’s racism, I wondered why is it so difficult for people (to put it softly, but really, our audience is women, and more than likely it is white women concerned about Daly’s possibly blemished reputation) to accept the fact that a woman can have faults and still be admired. Mary Daly does not have to be perfect for her contribution to feminism to be acknowledged. It does not have to be proven that Mary Daly was not a racist for women (all women) to appreciate her work. Both Margie and Soulsistasoulja publicly identify as black women and both have acknowledged reverence for Daly’s work.
Whenever anyone feels a need to defend something, I think she or he should ask themselves what is motivating his or her desire. What is at stake? For instance, if I defend a fat cat banker and someone calls me on it (or even if I am not called on it), I should examine why I am defending a fat cat banker. Do I identify with fat cat bankers and want to assure their position in the financial world? (Please kick me if I ever do actually show signs of identifying with fat cat bankers.)
I was wondering what analogy I could use to get my point across, and I think I have one that works. Of course, I must use disclaimers. First, I am by no means saying white feminists are men or rapists (for some women, men and rapists are one in the same, and I respect that opinion, but for my analogy, I will separate the two, –to a degree). Second, I am not saying white feminists are men or rapists! And third, working toward eradicating racism does not drain feminism. Devoting time and energy to the tyrannie movement does drain feminism. Women come in all races. Tyrannies are men. Discussing and fighting racism is in fact feminist. Indulging mentally ill men is not feminist. I hate when white feminists dismiss racism as a diversion similar to trannie-ism. Racism is about females. Trannie-ism is about males. To dismiss them in the same vein is to imply that to concern oneself with the plight of black women (yes, black women. We must go to the root, not stop along the branches and leaves) is as unproductive as concerning oneself with men. One may ask, “If I fight racism, am I not fighting for men? There are men of color.” Well, one could also ask, “If I fight against rape, am I not fighting for men? Men are raped too!” But that is not the focus. The center point is to exorcise racism from feminism. If doing so garners positive residuals for men, so it does. The necessity is to remove the barriers among women.
Every woman knows how rape has been propagandized as being something a strange man does to a hapless victim he plucks off the street. This propaganda allows “nice and good” men to escape the suspicion and label of rapist. However, women know different. We know who rapes in addition to those boogeyman rapists, don’t we? Black women, white women, Asian women, Indian women, we all know who rapes! Men in general rape. But it sure benefits men for women to believe it is only strange men who are a threat to women, doesn’t it? All the while “nice and good” men are above suspect, women will continue to be oppressed by men en masse. En masse, because there are far more “nice and good” men interacting with women and causing them harm than there are strangers on the street doing the same. Slow and steady wins the race comes to mind. If you do not agree with me thus far, you could at least agree that rape causes both mental and physical pain for women, and for many, everlasting mental and physical pain and that rape is used as a tool to keep women in their place. What better way to maintain control than to have unchecked license to control. How can one question the motives of a “nice and good” man when he is so obviously not a boogeyman rapist? And when/if he is never questioned, then why would he ever question himself? Why would he give up a structural advantage? Why would he ever admit what he is doing is rape?
White women have structural power over black women, not to the degree that men as a collective have over women as a collective, but, power over nevertheless. Here is where I am going to bring a metaphor into my analogy (an analogy that is not finished yet). If a white man has 1000 privilege dollars, a white woman has 100 privilege dollars, and a black woman has 10 privilege dollars, and the one who has the most money is considered the most privileged, who has the most privilege? Well, obviously the white man. Now we could say that the two women together have less privilege than the white man, because 100 + 10 is only 110. 110 is less than 1000 to be sure. Now, what some people seem to fail to understand about privilege is, people can have privilege and not be lavished in luxury (or power or whatever appropriate concept applies). Privilege simply means more than. Although 100 is not as great as 1000, it is more than 10. That is the fundamental relevance. It is more than. And if that 100 is aiding the 1000, then the 1000 has the privilege of 1100. If the 100 draws on the privilege of the 1000 it may not have the full privilege of the 1000 but it does have more privilege than the 10. If the 1000 is ignored all together, the 100 is still more than the 10. Meanwhile the 10 is just 10. Alas, I’ve grown tired of this metaphor and need to move on before I become discourage with other digressions racing through my head.
The existence and subsequent proof of the stranger boogeyman who rapes women help disguise the power “nice and good” men utilize to maintain their position over women. White women (yes of course white men too, but I am trying to approach white women’s racism in feminism) have their white supremacist (or KKK, skin head, etc) as their boogeyman. In my analogy, a “racist” (when discussing white feminists) is the stand in for the “nice and good man.” However, somewhere along the line, white feminists, when defending themselves against racism assertions, strategically melded the term racist to mean the same as white supremacist. What better way to shut down a conversation than to pull the old “You are calling me the worst thing you can possibly call me” line. Technically, I guess one could argue that racist and white supremacist are one in the same. However, I am using the two terms to denote a difference in degrees. White supremacist (or KKK, skin head) is someone who actively spouts racist propaganda and is actively involved in terrorizing and tormenting oppressed groups, etc. Whereas a racist is a person who does not actively explore her privilege and/or is indifferent to structural advantages/disadvantages and is prone to lump together dynamics at work that are in desperate need of dissecting. For example, this: “FCM, your girls on a bus analogy is great. It clearly reveals both girls are affected early in life. It does neither of them any good to cling to the other or to rail at the other because they share the danger, even though they experience it in different ways.” Denying racism and failing to recognize the significance in difference is painful. It causes pain.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is, when white feminists defend their racism (or the racism of other white feminists) they appeal to the existence of the boogeyman white supremacist to prevent themselves from having to examine their privilege and power over black women. “I am not a member of the KKK, so there is nothing I need to change.” And/or, “I don’t have the power white men have, therefore, I cannot oppress black women.” This technique is similar to the way “nice and good” men refer to the boogeyman rapist to protect their privilege and power over women. “I do not go out and rape women, so I am not a rapist.” Wheels are spun and nothing moves.