Even though one of the identifiers I use for myself is “first-generation” and if I were asked to check an “ethnic-background” or “racial heritage” box on the census I’d choose white, in the land I come from we capitalize Aboriginal and First Nation. And their communities aren’t “Indian reservations” or referred to as “tribes” (unless, of course, that’s how certain communities have stated they want to be identified as by us colonizers): they’re Capital “N” Nations. Unfortunately, the Feminism in the land I come from is also capitalized with a big fat “F”, and that’s a problem.
I know in my heart of hearts that I’m not the only white person dealing with knowing that current discourse around race as it intersects with patriarchal/hegemonic modes of theory and action (such as the above-mentioned Capital F Feminism) is just not happening. But when faced with calling out Feminism on not being able to DEAL with race like so many that have come before, I have felt kind of alone, and if only because most recently I’ve started to get it more and more.
I will always be so humbly honoured to have been part of Feminism FOR REAL and have made a conscious effort not to say very much about my involvement or to go hog wild looking for attention (because me being white means this isn’t JUST about me!). Sure, I got Jian to mention it on Q, but I felt like at that point someone (white) had to say something. You see, Feminism FOR REAL hit bookshelves around the same time that Margaret Wente said we didn’t need Feminism any more and that an adolescent girl was gang raped in Texas. Sure these are big stories, front page of the patriarchal media and referred to by Feminist bloggers almost as often as you’ve heard the words Charlie and Sheen strung together in a sentence since this side of Valentine’s Day.
Despite all the Feminist broohah surrounding International Women’s Day and the incredible launch for Feminism FOR REAL in Toronto, and the incessant tweeting going on, the big Feminist blogs have yet to comment on the text. Feministing. Bitch. Bust. The F Bomb. Feministe. Zip. Nadda. I’m not here to speculate about why they haven’t yet tackled Feminism FOR REAL, just wanted to say that I’m disappointed that there wasn’t any representation or recognition from the presumed-heavyweights on this text. These blogs should have been on it (new, feminist “theory” text in a sea of mainstream texts = GOLDMINE for nerdy Feminists) and maybe could have given FFR some room to exist as a book about Feminism (because that’s what it is) instead of being “just” a book about race and all the otherness in the shadow of Capital “F” Feminism (even though that is also what it’s about).
Feminists and Feminisms have a responsibility to the movement and to our comrades to sit with the discomfort and weaknesses and to storm through the hard stuff to figure it out. By denying contemporary racial hierarchies in Feminism or society “at large”, or even just ignoring the issue at hand by not being invested in it in the first place, Feminism is making a grave mistake. The “movement” will just continue to be represented as a white upper middle class women’s (aka FEMALES-only; exclusive of other identities) movement, when the point where you intersect with however you define Feminism is tenuous, ever-changing, and so rewarding and ridiculously FRUSTRATING all at the same time.
If you have a blog or access to a venue where anyone will listen to you deal with the storming of figuring out your role and my role as continuous colonizers (or your experience being colonized or seeing someone else being colonized), this is your call to arms! Write about the book if you’ve read it, write about the snippets you’ve read,
or just write about what it means to be a feminist (if you identify as one) and what it’s like to be in the shadow of the Feminist monolith and golden rule.