April 16, 2008

Some context.

I wrote what I wrote in response to all those feminists who, during the Full Frontal Feminism blow up, kept insisting over and over again that if “WOC” want book deals, they should “go get it them themselves.” That publishers weren’t skimming through the blogosphere looking for just anybody who’s a good writer. That you had to work for a book deal—you had to fight for it, show a little initiative, stop complaining, just do it. JUST. DO. IT.

As if there were no such thing as racism—as if there was no such thing as racism that is alive and well and present in the most cellular of spaces. As if simply opening a proposal and viewing the odd name at the top of the proposal doesn’t influence how the person reading that name will understand the rest of the proposal.

I wrote what I wrote to all those people, to all those feminists, who insist that short of refusing publication (and what good is that?) there is little to nothing feminists can do to stand in solidarity with other feminists who are not as privileged as they are.

I wrote what I wrote to say that there either is a feminist movement or there isn’t—and if feminists can’t even be called on to point to the work that other feminists are doing—if simply pointing to a whole sphere of pro-immigration bloggers (because, to be clear, I stated pro-immigration bloggers and men and women bloggers of color NOT brownfemipower) who have been blogging incessantly about this is too much work for feminism—well, then there’s no fucking feminist movement.

That if dabbling into and getting to know an actual community working in a certain way is too much work for feminism, then there is no fucking feminist movement.

That is what I said.

What I did NOT say:

I never said that I own the idea that gendered violence is the way to understand immigration.

I never said that I want credit for coming up with the idea that gendered violence is the way to understand immigration.

I never said that I came up with the idea myself.

I never said that it’s important to recognize that I had the idea first. I don’t give a shit who came up with the idea first—even if it WAS me. I don’t give a shit who thought of what first. I don’t fucking want credit for anything outside of existing. (For those who care, what I really said: There’s a lot of women of color (and men of color!) who have talked about immigration. There’s a lot of women of color and men of color who have examined how sexualized violence has been the foremost result of the “strengthening” of borders. There’s been a lot of us who have insisted for a long time now that immigration is a feminist issue, goddamn it, get your head out of your ass.

I even wrote a whole speech about it (link not available–BUT for those who DID see the speech, do you happen to recall that long list of LINKED work at the beginning of the speech?).

Which is why it was startling to read a recent article about how sexualized violence against immigrant women is directly linked to using dehumanizing terminology like “illegal alien” without one attribute to any blogger of color, male or female, in the entire essay. There is even an earnest declaration about how paperwork is the true problem of immigration (bureaucracy of paperwork anybody?) coupled with a declaration that immigration is a feminist issue.

I do not accept that the author of this article made a mistake in not publishing any links to the work already being done by pro-immigration bloggers, nor do I accept that the author came up with these ideas all on her own.)

I did not name X because although I was pissed off, I did not want a discussion about “what is stopping feminists from coming together as feminists” (aka movement making) to be turned into “bfp hates X and bfp is ugly and fat and bfp is jealous and bfp should shut up and get her own fucking book deal and bfp is trying to patent the fucking idea that hyper militarization of borders=sexualized violence against women.”

This was NEVER ABOUT FUCKING BROWNFEMIPOWER except in the sense that I BELONG to immigrant communities and I BELONG to pro-immigration blogger community and I BELONG to the women of color community and I THOUGHT I belonged to a feminist community.

This was about women of color constantly being written out of feminism, being written out of our own communities BY feminism—then being beaten up by feminists with JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT, JUST FUCKING DO IT YOU LAZY SPICS.

(I want to pause here to note three things: 1. Do you realize how fucked up it is that for some reason it is “wrong” for a woman of color to want the same advantages that white women get for doing the same work? 2. Do you realize how much it sucks (worst thing possible) that I have written about media justice for two fucking years and there is STILL a whole group of assholes who claim to have been regular readers and can somehow manage to say with a straight face that I want to “own” ideas and/or steal ideas from others? and 3. Do you realize how much it sucks (worst thing possible) that even when I do my best to state my anger WITH THE FULL RECOGNITION that what I am saying may hurt somebody and thus ACTIVELY work to PROTECT that person while still expressing my anger–I am STILL berated for being angry, mean, judgemental, too harsh–and furthermore–I should EXPECT the attacks that I get? Do you recognize the problems with telling a woman of color that she can not even show anger at *anonymous*?)

To move on–In my post I wrote the following analogy:

It would be like Jung learning everything he learned from Frued, opening a school in which he teaches all of Frueds theories, and then refusing to attribute anything he teaches to Frued, refusing Frued a job even though Frued can not find a job any place else, denying all of Frued’s students entrance into his school–and then keeping all the millions of dollars he makes off of using Frued’s excellent ideas to himself.

Now, people have chosen to focus on the end point_-”keeping all the millions of dollars he makes off of using Freud’s excellent ideas to himself.” People have chosen to say that THIS is what I must have been most concerned about. That I want the millions of dollars myself. That I am Freud and I own psychoanalysis. I can understand why people would think that—(no, wait a minute, I can’t, because anybody who is a regular fucking reader should know better, especially given my continuous “Move outside the master’s house” posts that I’ve done) but I will give that it is what we are trained to think of as the most important thing in this world. And I was not around to clarify what I meant.

But, just as with black amazon and her fateful “fuck seal press” comment—it’s interesting that I wrote a whole post in which I clearly stated:

1. there are clear racialized reasons why women of color are never and will never be the sought after by big companies, named as the leader of feminist movements, asked for interviews etc

2. that white feminists bear a responsibility (that they are NOT accepting and in fact are actively rejecting) to negotiate power and create spaces (while working alongside or a step behind marginalized communities) in which power is de-centralized

3. As a result I do NOT consider myself to be a part of any fucking “feminist movement” because to me, feminism requires diversity (We have a responsibility (especially in the undergraduate years) to demonstrate to ALL students, no matter what their identity is, how to interact with the critical thinking of people who think differently than they do. To bring this a step further, however, feminist academics who are actively aware of how power plays out in very negative ways in the classroom, have a very specific responsibility to those students who have little to no power. The very basis of feminist scholarship/academic training is to dismantle and/or redistribute the power structure within a classroom and the academy. Women’s studies is nothing more than an articulation of this demand–women WILL be studied. Men will NOT be the focus of all academic work. Thus, women’s studies professors (and all other ethnic studies, disability studies etc depts) have built the commitment to diversity within a classroom into their very existence–so I feel no qualms at all about insisting that women’s studies professors (and instructors, lecturers, adjuncts etc) are *required* to show diversity within the classroom through the texts that they teach.)

And even though I wrote this whole post about those three points–the only thing people heard was “She thinks she’s Freud and she wants money/power/recognition.”

No, actually, I know I’m brownfemipower and I want to end violence against women. And I wanted to do that with all the women who keep insisting to me that we are all in this together and we have common problems that we have to work against and we’re all sisters, and there is such thing as a commonality of experience between us all—as I said in my original post—I thought feminism was important because it brought women together (I had thought at one time that feminism was about justice for women. I had thought it was about centering the needs of women, and creating action in the name of, by and for women. I had thought that feminism has its problems but it’s worth fighting for, worth sacrificing and sweating and crying and breaking down for.)

But how can it have “brought us together” when my implicit goal in feminist centered media justice is to write erased communities into existence—and the result of the work of the ‘sister’ down the street is the erasure of the same communities I’m working to write into existence? (And no, I do NOT accept that I or any other fucking Latina out there should just be “grateful” that our work is being talked about while we remain hidden in the shadows. Even now, as a person who explicitly rejects feminism, I KNOW that Latinas have the right to demand that the work we do not be hidden in some dark silent space that nobody talks about and everybody avoids even as everybody else eats all the fruit that we pick. Yes, even Latina writers have the right to fucking unionize and come into the light.)

There is no “feminist movement” because the work being done is not just conflicting with the work of other “sisters”—it’s directly negating it.

For me, this shit has all been about community. I did not expressly state this in my original post. I was angry enough at the time that I really didn’t flesh out my ideas fully. Having since had the time to think things through more carefully and surf around several of the blogs that are talking about this—part of what I was trying to say was that feminists have a choice in deciding what community they belong to. And they are implicitly choosing to stay away from and otherwise distance themselves from communities that make them uncomfortable or worried for any reason. This has consequences for the communities that they refuse to work with. Most importantly, it has consequences because WOMEN belong to those communities that they refuse to work with.

A former commentor on my blog that I used to really respect (labyrus) made several comments over at Hugo’s about how I am really stealing all my ideas from the anarchists and the indy media makers out there. That he doesn’t think that “WOC” have the right to decide for the rest of the blogosphere what is “stealing” and what isn’t. These are not uncommon sentiments. I’ve seen the same sentiment coming from a lot of people I thought would at least ask me what I meant.

The fallacy in Labyrus’ (and other people who support and agree with Labyrus) argument is the unstated idea that my connection to the indy media making community is in any way similar to X’s connection to pro-immigrant bloggers or women and men of color bloggers.

I work with the Allied Media Conference—the largest gathering of indy media makers in the U.S. If Labyrus had paid any attention to my blogging, he would know that I actually do most of my organizing with the AMC these days not Incite!. As a result, I constantly linked to Indy Media makers throughout the world, have a working relationship with several indy media makers offline, always pushed work coming out of indy outlets about any major happening in protest/resistance making before going to mainstream sources, listed “alternative news sources” in my blogroll, promoted indy media events like the AMC before I was even a part of it, and have actively worked to intermingle my idea of “media justice” as I understand it (which was heavily informed by the theories of Andrea Smith—as I stated NUMEROUS times on my blog) with “media justice” as indy media makers understand it. An example—when I was blogging heavily about Oaxaca—I rarely, if ever, had extended commentary of my own about any of the events. I spent most of my time scouring indy media sources for links to articles and pictures. Narco News and El Enimigo Comun being the two biggest sources for information.

And finally—when I came back from WAM—the first post I wrote ended with a grateful thank you to Indy Media folks that I organize the AMC with and who were instrumental in recruiting me to their ranks. Oh, and look it that—I even went over to the AMC website and wrote a post over there thanking them for creating the space that they created. https://alliedmediaconference.org/node/1268

I have chosen to be a part of the indy media community. I have chosen to say—I will settle my organizing roots in this community because for whatever problems it has, it is a community that I believe in and that I think has the answers. And because I am a part of the indy media community, I am aware of the way power works for and against indy media makers and I am constantly on the look out within my own media making for ways to negotiate the power that works against and attacks indy media makers. By way of example, I spent a lot of time blogging about how indy media makers in Mexico were and continue to be violently attacked by the Mexican government. A large part of the reason I refuse “media reform” is because I see the extreme violence indy media makers are dealing with simply because media reformists refuse to make mainstream media accountable to the people rather than the governments and corporations they serve. And while I personally refuse media reform—I also don’t necessarily think it is all or nothing—I have given props to “indy media makers” working within mainstream news (such as Seymour Hersch and others). I see what they are doing and think they aren’t actively working against indy media makers, even if they are “mainstream’. To me–that’s what a “movement” is–it’s agreeing on a common goal and working together towards that goal. It’s agreeing that if you choose NOT to be a part of common goal making that you do not actively work *against* that goal.

The thing is—I thought that those who were a part of a “feminist community” were held to the same sort of standards. That when a woman of color says that she will not be published thus the white women who are published need to spend more time than they feel comfortable talking about the needs of women of color—THEY WOULD DO IT. That they would say “It’s the least I can do” or “What else can I do” rather than JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT. Because we are all in a community together and we all are working to create something that challenges and dismantles gendered violence and inequality, right? And if it takes writing a book that does not assume all women are staying away from feminism because they are white and privileged and just don’t get it—well, ending gendered violence and inequality is worth it, right? Working together towards a common goal, right?

It just took reading Hugo’s response for me to realize that I was fucked up wrong. That feminism’s goals and my goals are completly and totally opposite of each other. That in feminism’s eyes “dismantling” gendered violence= “shifting” gendered violence.

How else can you explain, “You better prove it” “What am I supposed to do, silence myself?””She thinks she’s Freud” and “She just wants the million dollars without actually working for it.”

JUST DO IT YOU STUPID SPIC.

And when “it” (as in, the ‘movement’) all boils down to Just Do It—what other choice do women of color have but to say, fuck it—this is no longer about a “movement” but about making sure that you don’t ever fucking steal my shit ever again?

I support and honor the several women of color who’ve posted that the answer is not to leave, but to fight harder, with lawyers if necessary. I support and honor those women because they are fighting, they refuse to back down, they are organizing, they are sharing their strategies of not backing down with other black women and women of color alike.

But for me—a person who believes in media justice–the point was never to say I own this fucking material—but to say we must build a movement because the only way I and my community will ever have peace is if there is a movement. Those women of color who say they will not back down because they own the material—they are building a movement, just in a way that is different than I what I am doing. It may be different, but it’s not directly conflicting with what I am doing. And if they choose to call themselves feminists–well, I have a mouth and eyes that I can use to find out what they mean.

“Feminists,” on the other hand, are not movement building, they are actively destroying women and blaming those women for the destruction. They are saying the point of feminism is “equality with men” without even thinking to acknowledge that “equality with women” is just as admirable of a goal and maybe even possibly the first step to achieving the goal of equality with men. They are saying, Just do it, just do it, JUST FUCKING DO IT.

And so I withdraw myself from this “movement”.

And I reject and rebel at the label “feminist.”

I reject and rebel at the label “feminist” because I reject and rebel against silence and erasure.

I purposefully and deliberately burn all bridges to all people/movements with the purposeful and deliberate awareness that I will build bridges again, but ONLY WITH a person/movement and only if those bridges require no body parts to build.


And I do so without rejecting the absolute necessity of a gendered analysis of media justice, violence against and within communities of color, etc. Because if you think I haven’t noticed the gendered dynamics written all over this fucking blow up, you’d be 100% wrong.

One last note—to all those who are concerned that I’m just “giving up.”

I appreciate the sentiment. It’s one that I struggle with. I don’t want to just give up, I don’t want to “let them win.”

But at the same time, my goal has never been to “not let them win.” My goal has been to end violence against women of color. And while I think that erasing an entire community through words is violence—at the same time, I personally don’t think that making a battle about me and X and winning is the route I want to take to achieve my goal. I want to do something different—but I need time to think about what it is that I want to do. And I want to think about it from a position of health and strength—but let’s be real. Sifting through comment after comment and post after post about how I obviously think I’m Sigmund fucking Frued does not promote health and strength and clarity. It does nothing for me but waste time and energy and personal resources.

Furthermore, I can not relax and contemplate while I worry about how my own words are being used to destroy me in the blogosphere (yes, I noticed all the little rodents sniffing around my archives looking for evidence that I am a plagiarizing bitch that is just out to get white women).

Trust me when I say that I have treated my archives gently and with the respect they deserve.

I realize now that “feminism” and I stand in direct opposition to each other—that the feminists who aren’t actively working against me and my community are, like Seymour Hersch, few and far between.

This has caused a radical shifting in my thinking. A shifting that I have no desire to work through online—but that I need to think through before I can act. I am not giving up. I am just thinking. And resting. And reading my beloved books and soaking my tired dogs.

Cuz giiirls, my dogs are TIRED.

As I said in my last post—I will find you, and you will find me.

there is life here. anyone reading this is breathing, maybe hurting,
but breathing for sure. and if there is any light to come, it will
shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the
rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has risen.

affirm life.
affirm life.
we got to carry each other now.
you are either with life, or against it.
affirm life.

Love~~xo

ETA: I just want to say that it’s been made clear to me that in using the term “woman of color” or “women of color” to describe my experiences I am silencing and talking over other women’s experiences, namly other women of color who have no problems with the feminist movement as it stands.
I do NOT take back what I said about the feminist movement explicitly rejecting an anti-racist agenda. But I do profoundly regret that in saying “woman of color” and/or “women of color” I contributed to the silencing of women of color within mainstream feminist movements and the work that they are doing within that movement. I am very sorry to those women who have expressed this idea and please know that I am also thinking about your words as I consider what my future holds.


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