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Single Issue Feminism

October 24, 2010

Is not a luxury/choice/privilege non-white, poorer, fatter, older, and disable women (the majority of the female population) have.

TBL has this post.

  1. October 24, 2010 3:57 am

    I don’t even necessarily think lesbian, poor, fat, black, or disabled women are talking about all kinds of things that are “not-sexism”, while the straight, professional, skinny, white, young-and-able-bodied women are all just talking about sexism. I think that lesbian, poor, fat, black, and disabled women are looking at sexism from all of those perspectives and appreciating the fact that sexism affects all women differently. On the other hand, the glamor girls are looking at it from the straight, professional, skinny, white, young-and-able-bodied perspective and shouting to the world that they are instead looking at it from an entirely female perspective. That is, instead of saying “as a straight, professional, skinny, white, young-and-able-bodied woman,” they just say, “as a woman.” Their perspective is just as narrow an intersection of circumstances as anyone else’s, but they’re encouraged to think it’s only the women on the opposite end of the spectrum who are speaking from an intersection of multiple axes of oppression.

    It’s like, for some reason speaking about lesbian women’s experiences is being intersectional, but speaking about straight women’s isn’t. Speaking about fat women’s experiences is being too intersectional and diluting the cause, but speaking about skinny women’s experiences is just speaking about sexism. Talking about black women’s experiences is tiresome and not really about sexism but racism, while speaking about white women’s experiences is not tiring and only about race and not about sexism. How does that even work? If it’s true of one end of the spectrum, it’s equally true of the opposite end. And simply not mentioning the straight, white, middle-/upper-class nature of their focus doesn’t make it any less a discussion focused on the intersection of straightness, whiteness, and wealth with femaleness.

    It is really strange to me that these women can’t see just how obviously mired in white male values they are.

  2. October 24, 2010 8:14 am

    That’s all true and so well said and what a damned waste. I keep thinking they know better. Sometimes some of them say they do acknowledge other realities and want equality, but then then slam down any attempt to make that possible. They would rather insult, humiliate, and oppress than just do the simple thing of wanting/making an equal, loving Lesbian community for us all. I don’t understand it. What are they so afraid of? And then some act so hurt and put upon, as if those who want equality have hurt them. It is so classic — how the oppressor/privileged deal with the oppressed. They can see it if men do that to them, or some see how het women do that to them. And why don’t they identify with the most oppressed Lesbians? That’s not hard to do at all.

    I don’t understand why they don’t welcome all Lesbians/Feminists for their own selfish reasons. When it’s just the most privileged, it is so boring. It really is. And it’s so exciting to share the ideas, feelings, and cultures of other Lesbians — all those other experiences.

  3. October 24, 2010 8:56 am

    I don’t know how someone could internalise white male values more than thinking you represent ‘woman’ more purely if you are straight, professional, skinny, white, young-and-able-bodied.

  4. October 24, 2010 9:23 am

    And in order to maintain this narrow (male-pleasing) focus, they have to actively exclude and oppress other female voices (including using their writing and work without acknowledgement). As Kitty says, it’s all so misogynistic.

  5. secondwaver permalink
    October 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    They’re prioritizing heterosexual females over lesbians, too, even though they mostly are lesbians themselves, by speaking out for “feminists/feminism,” not for “lesbian feminists/feminism.”
    Straight feminists dilute their allegiance to feminism by giving care/energy to males.

    • October 24, 2010 3:20 pm

      They are definitely prioritizing heterosexual women over lesbians there. And not even just because they won’t focus specifically on lesbian feminists/feminism. Certain of the commenters over there, Sheila G and Undercover Punk for two, make it a point to pay straight women compliments on their etiquette and sisterliness, with Sheila G going so far as to say that she’s come to prefer the company of middle- to upper-class straight women to lesbians who might swear or lack an appreciation for fine brandy and cigars. Then there’s the fact that Undercover Punk dismissed as “brashness” and “sassiness” Factcheckme’s blatant disrespect, ridicule and condescension toward Bev Jo on that thread, while accusing Bev Jo of making demands about the kind of conversation Undercover Punk should have on her blog (which is just reactionary, defensive, and juvenile). And, well, rainsinger has said outright that she finds confronting straight women about their hatred for lesbians to be divisive. The atmosphere really couldn’t be anything other than white, middle-class and heterosexual.

  6. October 24, 2010 8:48 pm

    That’s so true, Margaret, TBL, K and Val. I have never put “Feminist” in my writing before these recent months without attaching “Lesbian” to it. That’s because my best ally on a certain horrific thread was a woman who is not a Lesbian at this time and who I love dearly. But her loyalty seems to be to Lesbians. Until fairly recently, for decades I have related only to Separatists, but now have non-Separatist friends and even some bisexual (never seen them with a male though) and het women (mostly the wonderful Rat Community) friends.

    Sorry to go on, but that’s to explain what a shock this journey has been. My life and soul are Lesbians though, and just now, on diana’s thread coming from Val’s brilliant article, there’s a bisexual who’s said Never-het Lesbians have privilege over het and that all Lesbians who exclude bisexuals oppress her. She’s ignored what I’ve written, including insisting that it isn’t a choice. Of course it is!

    Aaaak, I wanted to transfer what I wrote to here, but can’t find the thread again.

    I’m reading down — oh my god, Sheila actually said she prefers class-priviled het women for cigars and brandy? Is she nuts? Who the fuck would want to be around cigars? I don’t know alcohol, but can you imagine being drunk with class-privileged het women? Horrifying! My few dear het women friends are so nice partly because they’re so poverty or working class and we share our love of little ratties, and any medicines or herbs we need.(Their beloved rats, including doing huge rescues of disabled rats if the way one of these sweet women uses to escape having any time with her husband. Another said that her husband said, “It’s me or the rats,” and she laughed her head off about how he could leave then because she loved her rats so much more and didn’t need him at all.” These women are lonely for love, which rats are good at giving — far better than men.

    Sorry again to go on, but that’s to explain the unusual exceptions I make after decades of relating almost only to Separatists.

    Thank you so much, Margaret, for describing what FCM did to me. I can’t believe I participated in all that crap. I feel like I have PTS after first the attacks and ridicule from “dirty white boi” on one thread, then the other thread where I was bullied and ganged up on and blocked (and where I believe they are still going on oppressing us), to finally Punk’s. I think I always believe there is someone in these group threads/blogs who needs the support. I need to be with those who really care about Lesbians and who have decent politics.

    Anyway, you explained it beautifully. Thank you for rescuing me!

    • October 25, 2010 1:54 am

      Oh, Sheila didn’t say so in this particular thread, but she’s been saying it for years, on various blogs, and in emails. She is notoriously classist. I’m sure I could pick a few gems from that particular thread – she can barely write a whole paragraph without looking down her nose at poor women and women uninterested in climbing a corporate ladder – but I haven’t really wanted to go back and read it again.

      And you’re right about needing to be around lesbian-centered women with good politics. Rare as it might be, there are good allies out there who can respect and empathize with women less-privileged than themselves.

  7. Level Best permalink
    October 25, 2010 3:03 pm

    OMG, Kitty put up a picture of a rich white-lady tea party! That is so appropriate!

  8. Level Best permalink
    October 25, 2010 3:04 pm

    BevJo, you sound like a wonderful woman. I look forward to reading your blog.

  9. October 25, 2010 9:14 pm

    Thank you, Level (do you have another name?) You sound wonderful too.

    My blog only has a few things on it for now, but dear Kathy and diana are typing out our book to be online.

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