The hashtag #WhiteFeministRants was started by @RaniaKhalek in response to The Nation piece on “toxic feminism”, a piece that purposely obscured structural power differences and racism within feminism as to why the responses (to various stunts by White feminists) from women of colour do not always have a “nice tone” and are thereby deemed “toxic.” I previously posted about that article and shared an important quote from another response piece to that article. The tweets I sent above were specific to Black women and experiences with mainstream feminism because that’s my experience as a Black woman, but of course Black women aren’t the only ones repeatedly marginalized in these daily hit pieces, within feminism and within society itself. But the role of anti-Blackness within such friction cannot be denied either.
If we’re going to have an honest conversation about problems in feminism (which simply reflects White supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy itself, “feminist” label or not) but cannot discuss why some womanists/Black feminists, women of colour who are feminists, trans women, sex workers, poor women, disabled women etc. respond to these hit pieces and structural exclusion and oppression because of White Feminism/mainstream feminism's proximity to the State and distance from the oppressed, then things like what I mentioned in the tweets above (which is not really hyperbole…at all) need to be included in claims of “toxicity.”
I do not randomly tweet White women. Other than a handful who are kind to me, I don’t talk to too many online about topics of any significance. I don’t have any White women friends offline because of the abuse I experienced at their hands in high school, college, grad school, a decade of corporate America and social groups/gatherings/in public. So I am not running around planning to be “toxic” to White women or White feminists specifically. I don’t troll them or anyone online. Sometimes I discuss their harmful work and I don’t always tweet them directly. I focus on my life and my work, but that work includes deconstructing racism and how this (among many other identity facets) differentiates how we experience gender. And racism amidst feminism does not get a pass nor am I doing so because I want some kinda “White approval” that they deny me. So this idea that I could ever talk about it “too much” or should ignore it and grin, smile and tap dance for White feminists is an idea that will not ever be valid to me.
Oh and by the way, when they’re saying things like what I mentioned in my tweets above—reinforcing White supremacist narratives and norms about Black women as feminists, mothers, writers etc.—that stuff hurts. I understand that Whites think that Black people—especially Black women—do not experience pain in the way Whites do or at all (as actual research has confirmed their thoughts), that is actually a White supremacist lie with centuries of history used to justify the dehumanization of Black people. These things hurt. And while their “feelings” get “hurt” by critiques that I make of their racist, White supremacist, anti-intersectional, purposely obscuring structural power type of pieces, planning and action, their lies about who I am as a Black woman threatens my life. There is no “both sides” that “goes both ways” when one “side” has White supremacy—which they do not use their feminism to deconstruct—supporting them.
Related Essay List: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism
legitimate criticisms of feminism:
-transmisogyny and the lack of inclusion of transwomen
-the racist history behind it and the lack of inclusion of woc
-ignoring and invalidating women with disabilities
-pretty much anything that falls under lack of intersectionality
-internalized misogyny and girl hate
-promotion of political lesbianism
illegitimate criticisms of feminism:
-a feminist was really mean to me once
-they’re sexist against men
Every man’s part time job must be combatting these perceptions, and the harms that arise from them.
What’s a search engine know, anyway?
Jesus this is powerful.
This ad campaign tells such an important story.
notice how Russel T Davies saw his companions as women
and Moffat saw his companions as girls
I think that says a lot
Not to mention that the Doctor named Amy/Clara whereas Rose/Martha/Donna earned their titles. It’s a subtle distinction because, technically, Amy “earned” her title by being a girl who did wait, but it’s the impact of these monikers that’s troubling. Rose became the Bad Wolf when she ended the Time War, Martha became the woman who walked the Earth after saving the planet, and Donna was the most important woman in the universe because she saved it. Both Amelia and Clara have been heroic and saved people, but their titles don’t reflect that. Their titles reflect who they are to the Doctor—not who they are as individuals.
Very good point! They lose their autonomy when the Doctor becomes the decided factor in their titles, instead of going out and earning them for themselves.
Seanan McGuire went on a very long, very excellent rant on Twitter this morning, and I felt it deserved to be organized.
According to the professor of my young adult fiction writing class, John Green is the revolutionary who brought back the young adult novel and made reading and writing cool again.
Bravo, dear Mr. Green, and thank you for making it possible for me to read, study, and enjoy your work as a class requirement.
Okay, this actually makes me pretty upset?
(That is not your fault, how-could-i-ever-hope, so this is not directed at you!)
But YA writing has been “revolutionary” and integral to many young people’s lives for years and years and years. Tamora Pierce wrote her first series in the eighties and it is still highly influential and beloved today. Laurie Halse Anderson’s beautiful and powerful novel Speak was published in 1999. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was published in 2004 and won a landslide of awards. Walter Dean Meyers, Carolyn Mackler, Angela Johnson, Madeline L’Engle, Judy Blume, Christopher Pike, Margo Lanagan, Lois Lowry, MT Anderson, Markus Zusak, and many more were already publishing amazing, influential, much-beloved YA books in the early 2000’s and before.
Looking For Alaska, John Green’s first novel, was published in 2005 — the same year the first Twilight book was published. LfA won the 2006 Printz and started quietly making waves, as literary novels often do, but didn’t really “break out” until much later after he’d gained a following. It became an enormous following, do not get me wrong, but there’s a timeline here.
Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series, but the boom in YA? The point around 2005 where it EXPLODED and started pumping out book after book? It was because of that series. Whatever your feelings about it are, it blew open the doors for publishers to take bigger risks and try different things in YA. It proved a YA series could, in fact, be “the next Harry Potter.” (Fun Fact: Meyer and Green have the exact same literary agent!)
So to see that someone who knows literature, someone like a collegiate literature/writing professor, is saying that John Green is THE revolutionary who “brought back” the young adult novel? Oh my god that makes me so upset. It discounts all the hard-working and incredible authors who have been writing YA before it was a moneymaker, before it made you “cool.” Of which John Green is a part, to be fair, since his first novel came right before the boom and he is a literary writer, which is not the most lucrative of book markets, typically.
Caveat: this is not a “let’s crap on John Green post,” because that’s not how I feel and not how I roll. I do not want to discount that John Green IS influential and he (and his work) DOES resonate very strongly with A LOT of young people. This is not me trying to say that he’s not an important piece in this puzzle, because he is.
But do you see my problem here? Do you see why I get so PISSED OFF when people scoff and handwave and shit all over YA, but then they go, “Oh, but John Green! He’s the Savior Of YA! Without him, it would all be pointless drivel or it NEVER would have been cool to read and write again!”?
It’s discounting a class of novels (those written for young people) that is HUGELY HUGELY HUGELY influenced and written by ladies and minority writers who can touch the hearts of young people. It completely discounts the pop culture powerhouse and influence of the Twilight series, whether or not you think it’s “great literature.” Which I personally do not, but my opinion of its literary merit does not affect the fact that it was HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL. If you’re going to give a single person all the credit for “bringing back” YA and making it “cool” (which is a flawed premise to begin with, but whatever), it should probably go to Ms. Meyer, if we’re honest.
Just… WHARRGARBL. STOP HOLDING UP JOHN GREEN AS THE ONLY YA AUTHOR WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE, WHO WRITES POWERFUL BOOKS, WHO GAVE READING BACK TO KIDS. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT. You can love and admire someone without attributing that kind of power to them, especially when it’s at the expense of other incredibly talented individuals. Many of whom happen to be not white guys.
Wow that got intense.
ALL OF THIS.
And can we talk about how conveniently, the supposed savior of YA is a guy? Can we talk about how the three best-selling YA series in the past few decades—Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games—were all written by women, but John Green is the one that saved the genre? Can we talk about how incredibly culturally influential Harry Potter has been, how many young kids only got into reading because they wanted to read Harry Potter, how fan culture around Harry Potter has spurred on a new generation of writers, and yet John Green is the revolutionary?
Can we talk about how the only reason people freak-the-fuck-out about YA being “dominated” by female authors writing for girls is because traditionally, “YA for boys” was just called “literature”? Can we talk about how Tamora Pierce and JK Rowling are YA but Patrick Rothfuss and Lev Grossman are Serious Fantasy?
Can we talk about how this is not just a YA issue? How the incisive cultural commentary of Jane Austen is even now dismissed as vapid chick lit with male students barely deigning to force themselves through it for an English credit, but Tolstoy and Flaubert and Ibsen, who also wrote about romance and social constraints placed on women and unrequited love and the treachery of upper class society, are revered?
Can we talk about how stories of boys becoming men are called Bildungsromans and make their way to syllabi around the continent, but stories of girls becoming women are called shallow and insubstantial? How Nora Roberts has to write her wildly popular In Death series under a male-sounding pseudonym while John Grishom and Dan Brown pump out book after book after book that are literally just the same plot with different character names to great acclaim?
Can we talk about how, of all the romance that exists on the market, Nicholas Sparks’ formulaic saccharine “dude with a boat and a puppy” drivel is the stuff that gets adapted into movies year after year after year?
It doesn’t surprise me that the prof would laud Green over all the writers who came before him who paved the way. Literature writers, by and large, skew male. And they tend to write about books written by men, and tend to interview those male authors. If all you know about YA is the stuff you got in mainstream reporting in the last few years, of course you would think that nothing worthwhile in YA existed before Green.
But if I were in that class, and the prof exhibited so little critical thinking about the state of the industry and its social politics and understanding of literary history, I would definitely think thrice before taking that professor’s word on anything else.
I love John Green’s books, and I can’t stand Twilight, but it would be Meyer that I would credit with the revival of the YA genre,
It’s the only positive thing I’d credit her with, but it is her achievement.
Why can’t this just be an issue about women of colour, though? Why is it every damned time black women and women of colour bring up issues around how we’re talked about in the media, how we’re represented and the kinds of characters the mainstream lets us be, it has to be turned into an issue about ~all women*･゜ﾟ･*☆
Oh, wait, it’s cause by doing that we don’t have to examine how women of colour are treated in mainstream storytelling, how we’re only allowed to fit into a few narrow archetypes, either hypersexual or completely desexualized, sassy and full of Coloured Wisdom™ or ignorant and helpless, we’re there to offer support to the white female lead but we never get to tell our own stories. How we never get to exist for ourselves, back then we took care of your kids and cleaned your homes, today we take care of you and help you clean up your messes.
It means that white feminists don’t have to examine their own racism and how one of feminism’s oldest traditions is throwing women of colour under the bus. It means they can turn the attention to where they feel it really belongs, on them and their own problems without thinking twice about how ideals of white femininity and womanhood and the protection of those ideals can and has been used to abuse, marginalize, oppress, steal, rape, and kill women of colour and people of colour in general.
There are so many issues about how women are represented in media. But right now we’re not talking about that, white feminists need to learn that not every damned issue about sexism has to do with them, the world does not revolve around you. This isn’t ignoring some larger problem~ because this specific problem is pretty damned important and worth talking about.
Right now we’re talking about women of colour and whitewashing and how we can have universes with wizards and dragons and magical swords but it requires too much imagination to imagine that a black women can be a Queen, can be beautiful and beloved and cherished, can be seen as worthy of protection and desire and as a symbol of ideal womanhood.❞