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Intersectionality is Not a Trend

1 Apr

One might hope that the widespread introduction of a concept that is meant to put your experiences and those of others like you at the centre of conversations about social justice and equality might have the positive side effect of actually including you in the conversation. But unfortunately, that has not been the case with intersectionality. 

Over and over again, I have been in nearly all-white spaces where the term I have come to rely upon to help me articulate the experiences of women marginalised by mainstream white feminism has been utilised liberally by said white feminists. They then go on to further marginalise and other those who critique them with such commentary as, “We have received the criticism that our spaces are too white and middle-class. We don’t know what to do about that. So if you want it to change, you do something about it.”

It seems that it is simply too difficult for most white feminists to organise an event with any true awareness of intersectionality. A space where they and their perspectives are sometimes, not even for the whole time, not placed at the forefront and where other women, whose lives and experiences do not resemble theirs, are explicitly invited to sit at the table. To give a keynote speech. To lead a workshop. To sit on a panel as more than a token person of colour. ‘Positive discrimination’ is fine for the organisers if it benefits them personally in terms of hiring or promotion. But when it comes to intentionally changing the demographic of their cis white straight middle-class and able-bodied feminist space, they think it is just one step too far. 

But although it is clear that all these privileges tend to blind our fairweather feminist friends to a homogeneity that is a source of frustration, at best, and pain and trauma, at worst, to intersectional and postcolonial feminists with an analysis rooted in social justice and liberation movements, the salt in the wound is when they co-opt our language (but not our ideas, as they don’t understand those) and use it shamelessly, with no intentions of applying it or putting it into practice. When they pepper their conversation with “intersectionality this” and “gender, race and class that” and continue to centre issues that are important to them, such as how they are represented in the business media, or the continuity of the (white) gender pay gap, while completely ignoring the rallying cries from the lips of true intersectional feminists speaking out about disproportionate numbers of Black and Latina women in low-paid jobs, the thousands of Black women who go missing every year and the ceaseless violence against trans women of colour. When their examples of sexism faced by women in business include the recommendation to “not have curly hair” and they remain silent on the experiences of girls whose Afro-textured hair gets them suspended or expelled from school. When they are invited to speak on intersectionality and they do not pass on the invitation to someone whose life is lived at the intersections, whose expertise and theoretical knowledge is informed by a practice she cannot escape.

Intersectionality is not a trend. Neither is it a tool that can be equally wielded by all. Reading a few articles or listening to a couple of talks doesn’t mean you “get it.” In fact, the more you get it, the more you realise you have left to learn. This is because it is actually more like a frame, a window into a world of experiences different from your own. In order to see through it, you have to step off of the beaten path and peer closely through panes of glass your privilege cannot help but cloud. If you can acknowledge this, then respect those of us who live on the other side of the window, and stop taking up so much room announcing “I get it! I see what you see!” Instead, step back, give us some air, and make space for us to speak. 

Video

Body Love – Mary Lambert

31 Jan

“The time for us has to reclaim our bodies.”

We love you, Mary Lambert. Thank you.

16 Days of Action to Support Survivors of Domestic Violence

25 Nov

refuge logo - pink outline of a supporting hand. caption reads: for women and children. against domestic violence.

Every year, the 16 days between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November and Human Rights Day on 10th December are internationally recognised as 16 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women.

Sisters of Resistance is participating in fundraising efforts for Refuge, the UK’s largest charity for survivors of domestic violence. Every day, they help more than 2,000 women and children who experience domestic violence, providing emergency accommodation and emotional and practical support.

A gift of any size can help:

£2 could provide an emergency pack for a woman fleeing a crisis situation.

£5 could help advocates secure an injunction against a violent partner.

£10 could allow an outreach worker to visit one woman in her home or a safe location to develop a safety plan, advise on housing and employment

£25 could pay for psychologists to work with 12 children and help them to overcome the trauma of abuse.

Please help us to resist the effects of domestic violence by supporting this charity’s vital work.

Make a donation here.

Thank you!

Drop the Case against Marissa Alexander

1 Oct

from the Free Marissa Now Facebook page:

YOUR URGENT ACTION NEEDED!

DEMAND THAT FLORIDA OFFICIALS DROP THE CASE AGAINST MARISSA ALEXANDER!

Write, call, fax, email — tell Florida officials to drop the case against Marissa Alexander. Stop the trauma — free this momma!

Mandatory Minimums

Last week the Florida Appeals Court overturned Marissa’s conviction because of extreme errors in the case: rather than being presumed innocent until proven guilty, Marissa’s persecutors put the burden of proof on her. This is opposite to the most basic principles of the U.S. legal system.

Call, write, fax or email State Prosecutor Angela Corey, State Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Florida Governor Rick Scott to demand that they drop the case now. Marissa Alexander did no wrong. Do not subject this domestic violence survivor and mother to another trial. This innocent woman has already served three years.

Here is preliminary information about how to contact these officials. More information and sample letters will follow soon. But please take action now and start spreading the word now!

Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Phone: 850-414-3300
Email: http://myfloridalegal.com/contact.nsf/contact?Open&Section=Citizen_Services

Angela Corey, State Prosecutor
Courthouse Annex
220 East Bay Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 348-2720
(904) 630-2400
Fax (904) 348-2783

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
(850) 717-9337

E-mail: rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

More information on Marissa’s case at the Free Marissa Now! Tumblr

20 Questions That Are Better Than “Why Don’t You Have a Boyfriend?”

23 Jun

Women under patriarchy are too often defined not by their own personal development and accomplishments, but instead by the stage they have reached in the patriarchal, heteronormative narrative of dating, boyfriend, live-in, engaged, married, children. We find that we and our wider circle of female friends are constantly subjected to questions regarding where we are on this timeline. This is a means of judgment and a primary way that others participate in socially pressuring you to conform, by constantly reminding you what is expected.

If you reject these questions or are not making what is deemed as the right progress, you are punished, othered, and excluded for your non-participation. In patriarchal society, single women are pathologized, especially as they get older. In contrast, being in a long-term relationship with a man is seen as “success.” But just being in a relationship doesn’t mean you are doing well.

In addition to being too personal for most people to be asking you, questions such as the below:

  • Are you dating?
  • Do you have a boyfriend?
  • Do you live together?
  • Are you engaged?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have any children? Do you want to have children?
  • When do you want to/are you going to have children?

are NOT IMPORTANT. They are irrelevant and useless as measures of how well you are doing in your life. The only reason anyone would ask you these questions is so they can assess and judge you against heteronormative, patriarchal criteria. They also use your answers to compare themselves against you and justify their own lives and actions.

Rejecting the intrusive list of questions above, we have created a list of 20 questions we can ask ourselves to assess our well-being. This type of self-evaluation is feminist, non-heteronormative, and has a balanced view of our relationships with ourselves and others, partner or partners, rather than basing all of our worth and well-being on a single intimate partner.

For the sake of coherence and convenience, we have sorted the questions into 4 categories: Relationship with Self, Relationships with Others, Space and Time. If you find yourself answering “no” to any of these questions, we encourage you to focus attention on these areas and take steps towards a healthier and happier you.

RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF

1. Are you happy?

2. Do you feel fulfilled?

3. Are you eating/sleeping well? Do you get enough exercise and fresh air?

4. What are the areas of your life in which you are challenging yourself to grow?

5. Are there any habits or patterns you would like to change?

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS

6. Do the significant people in your life treat you with respect?

7. Do you feel free to make your own choices?

8. How are your relationships with family and/or friends?

9. Do you know when it is appropriate or necessary to put up boundaries with particular people?

10. Do you have the capability and know-how to put those boundaries up and hold them?

SPACE

11. Are you comfortable and satisfied with your living situation?

12. Do the environments you inhabit make you feel alert and clear-headed/restful and peaceful?

13. Do you have a low-stress strategy for dealing with mess, clutter, and household chores?

14. What can you do to make your environment or surroundings better reflect you/your personality?

15. What can you do to make your environment more refreshing or relaxing?

TIME

16. Do you make some time for yourself every day?

17. Can you be spontaneous with your plans and decisions?

18. Are you spending enough quality time with family and/or friends?

19. When you are feeling highly stressed, pressured and overworked, do you take the time to address your needs?

20. Are you able to say “no” in order to avoid overcommitment?

Are you sick of being defined by your relationship status? What are some better ways you can evaluate your well-being? Any suggestions or additions to this list, please leave them in the comments below.