Acid attacks on the rise in Columbia.
Egyptian women, protesting sexual assault in Tahrir Squarre, are sexually assaulted.
Greek political candidates come to blows…man throws water in woman’s face, another woman swats the man’s arm with a newspaper in defenses of first woman, and the man 1.slaps the second woman’s face, then 2. Punches her in the face twice with a closed fist.
But other than THAT, sure…women enjoy full equality, safety and global freedom.
America the Beautiful.
truth. AWESOMENESS. #hillary2016
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How many times have I screamed and raged and frothed and muttered and generally raged about abusers, privately, publicly and/or online? LOTS.
My brother was arrested on a simple misdemeanor (it sure is anything but simple) domestic assault charge today. He hit his wife, my sister-in-law, while she was holding my niece, their 3-year-daughter. He hit her more than once, and this was not the first time he hit her…just the first time she called the cops.
There are so many variables: they are both unemployed (and unemployable). He has drug abuse issues. Their emotional Intelligence/maturity is low. They got married and had a baby before they were ready. They have (literally) no money. My parents, their main financial and emotional support system, have gone south for the winter. There are infidelity issues.
But what it boils down to is, if it were anyone else, I would have told that woman to get the hell out long ago, and never look back. Once an abuser, always an abuser. It is HIS fault, not hers. Period. End of story. Violence is never the right choice.
And I still believe that. Without a doubt. I’m so livid, so immeasurably pissed off at my brother i can hardy thnk straight. But how do I LIVE that, when it’s my own baby brother who’s the asshole abuser? Is there rehab for assholes? How do I make sure my niece is ok and knows I love her, when my SIL is frankly, scared to let her see me, for fear my brother will somehow intervene?
I’ve never really loved my SIL. We don’t have much in common, and we’re not that close. It feels really weird to “take her side”. But I am clearly not on the side of her abuser.
But her abuse is my brother. I can’t just ignore him. My whole family will be affected by this. What do we say to him? Do with him? Should we be harsh, give ultimatums? Should we offer help (what help can we offer?)
I am so angry at him for being such a…bad person. He is choosing to be a person who does bad things, and I hate him for it. But when I look at his face he is clearly unhappy (and he should be). What do I do? Do I do anything?
I feel like this is where my feminist rubber hits the road. And I’m trying to recite all the mantras, remind myself of what I’d say if this wasn’t my little brother. I have no interest in making excuses for him. Right now, I wish I’d left him to rot in jail instead of bailing him out, but I was so shocked, I just went and paid the stupid money.
I am truly afraid I’ll abandon all my feminist principles when it comes down to it. That I’ll cave in and enable him. I have the most ridiculously overactive imagination, and it tells me he could be a danger to himself, and any cruel or angry words I dish out could only add fuel to that fire. I’m not a fighter…I don’t chew people out or yell and scream in peoples’ faces. It’s not in my nature. But maybe I need to nurture that side of me, and really let him have it???
I feel so lost. My heart is breaking for my sweet niece, and I want my SIL to know that I mean what I say when I tell her she did the right thing, and that it’s not her fault.
I haven’t even talked to my brother yet, or heard his “side of the story”. He didn’t even call to thank me for bailing him out…he texted to say “thanks, I got a ride home.” He’s too afraid of what I’m going to say, I’m sure…too much of a coward, like most abusers. Do I even care about his version of events? Will I even be able to believe a word he says? Do I want to believe him?
What does a feminist do when her own family, her once sweet little brother, turns out to be the abuser? Right now, I think this feminist is just going to cry.
Most guys, we can recite all of The Godfather, we can recite all of Caddyshack, we can do those kinds of things. Women, by and large, can’t. You guys can say “you complete me”, and that’s about it. And I think it’s because in the history of movies, there have been fewer quotable lines spoken by actresses than actors.
Post with 15 notes
When I hear accusations of racism leveled against feminism in general, and white feminists in particular, I admit that I feel some level of defensiveness, and I want to explore why. Because I claim to be a feminist, I NEED to explore why. This is my honest attempt to do so.
1. I feel defensive because I am a white feminist.
2. I feel defensive because I don’t want to be one of THOSE white feminists (the ones who don’t get it). I want to stand with women of color, differently-abled women, fat women, poor women, immigrant women, LGBTQIA women, etc. and be an ally in every way I can.
3. I feel defensive because I have a crippling need for approval. The idea that I could be criticized for trying to be the best feminist I can be, which is a central identity marker and deep-down, passionate, near-religious commitment of mine, terrifies me. The fear that I could be called out for being wrong on something so incredibly important to me is enough to paralyze me. I acknowledge that this is my ego talking.
4. I feel defensive because I abhor drama, and also I am really annoyed by attempts to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In other words- I actually DO want us all to get along, and I want people to recognize that rarely do all members of a group actually think or feel the same way. Because some white feminists are ignorant of racial implications of their activism, does not mean that all are. I feel generalizations are generally unhelpful. (*smile*) I also recognize that the origins of stereotypes are often kernels of truth. One might generalize white feminists as racist because one has indeed encountered more than one, even more than a few, white feminists who are racist.
5. I feel defensive because I see both sides of activist movements like SlutWalk. I see the empowerment wrought by reclaiming a slur, and I see the discomfort and hurt caused by ignoring the racial implications of that slur. I especially empathize with activists who have spoken out against the sign carried by one SlutWalker which quoted the Lennon/Ono sentiment that “Women are the N* of the World”, and I wholeheartedly agree that it contributed to an atmosphere which would have felt unwelcoming and unsafe to me if I were a woman of color at that march.
6. I feel defensive because I feel guilty.
7. I feel defensive because my voice feels too small to make a difference. What am I supposed to do about it? I’m nobody.
8. I feel defensive because I feel like we should be past all this. But clearly we’re not. Which is primarily the fault of feminists with white/ability/hetero privilege who keep making the same mistakes, over and over again.
9. I feel defensive because I know good and well that I was ignorant of the troublesome and painful racial history of the feminist movement when I first embraced the label. I was blissfully unaware, and didn’t even know how much I didn’t know. It took time (LOTS of time) and a certain level of serious dedication to learning more, of which I feel proud, and hours and hours and hours and HOURS of listening to my elders, for whom I’m so thankful, and a lot of simply paying close attention, for me to get to the level of understanding I now have, which is still not enough.
10. I feel defensive because I feel like I don’t have any sisters to stand with. My midwestern city is so small (100K, give or take a few thousand college students) that we don’t have ANY public activism to speak of. No SlutWalks. No Pride parades. No Hollaback chapter. No marches or sit-ins. I feel guilty that I haven’t started something myself. My excuse is that my job prevents me from having a public role in any sort of political issue. Indeed, my boss actually has prohibited me from things like running for the school board. (Clearly, I need a new job.)
11. I feel defensive because I heard someone use the term ‘retard’ yesterday, and I didn’t say anything. The last time I said something when I heard someone use a slur (in this case, ‘that’s so gay’), I made them cry, and I ended up being the one apologizing. This made me angry.
12. I feel defensive because I’m scared that amazing feminists are forsaking the term ‘feminist’ out of anger and frustration and lack of faith in the movement, and I feel like if we lose our critical mass, we really have no chance.
13. I feel defensive when I read comments about how we (the royal we) are allowing our nation to abuse poor, non-white women around the world in our name. I do not feel that blame should be placed on solely feminist women in this case, white or not. I feel defensive because I hate what my country does in my name, that I don’t even know about, and I don’t know how to stop it without a lot more money than I have, the opportunity to travel to somewhere I can’t afford, or the brilliance to write scathing and inspiring prose to be published on some leftie blog and get retweeted around the world. I have none of these things. I have a Tumblr no one knows about and 277 Twitter followers. I guess I have to start somewhere. But I feel defensive because my reflexive response is to insist that good intentions are enough. I feel defensive because I know that my silence = consent (h/t to Morgane Richardson @Morgane_R for that tweet today).
14. I feel defensive because I am often too literal a thinker. My natural inclination is to categorize, organize and classify in order to break ”wicked problems” down into manageable bite-sized pieces. I know I need to practice more nuanced critical thinking, because wicked problems defy categorization, and intersectionality is real.
15. I feel defensive, because frankly, sometimes it still takes someone else pointing it out before I realize, “A-ha! Now I see why XYZ is problematic!” Even someone like me, who truly, honestly, is trying to check my own privilege every single day, trying to think critically about the messages in the media every single day, trying to find opportunities to talk with others about the pervasive reality of sexism and misogyny and racism every single day…I miss things, because of my privilege. And I feel embarrassed by my remaining blind spots.
16. I feel defensive because I know I am naive to the struggles of so many women and men, and I hate being naïve. I’ve always thought naiveté was insipidly unattractive. I want to know, to be informed, aware.
17. I feel defensive because I am often overwhelmed by inequity, unfairness and the knowledge that humanity is hurting itself and the planet worldwide.
18. I feel defensive because I am often inspired by the amazing thoughts, words and actions of women and men around the world who are trying to create and advance equality for all.
19. I feel defensive because I’m afraid I AM one of those white feminists who don’t get it. I’m afraid my privilege blinds me, and that I will unintentionally hurt others with my ignorance. I generally avoid any lengthy public statements about my feminism, preferring instead the simplicity of Twitter’s character limit, because I fear I will say something ineloquently, or say the wrong thing altogether. I acknowledge this is an excuse.
20. I feel defensive because, while I acknowledge and embrace intersectionality, I feel a little bit fraudulent doing so, because I “only” experience oppression based on my gender and sexual orientation. I feel uncomfortable with the “Who’s more oppressed” framework, but also realize that intersectional oppression is deeply relevant to any understanding of why we have not yet achieved equality.
21. I feel defensive because I want to empower women, especially marginalized women, to be leaders and take on leadership roles, but I don’t feel that I HAVE any power to impart upon others.
22. I feel defensive because I want to do my part to work against racism within the feminist movement, but I don’t know what to do, other than what I’m doing right now. I recognize and honor that educating me about undoing my racism is NOT the responsibility of people of color. I feel defensive because I feel guilty that I’m not being active enough or creative enough in seeking ways to combat racism within feminism.
I don’t know if my fear and defensiveness is a symptom of my age (I am 31, and I sincerely hope some of my fears will fade as I continue through my 30’s and into my 40’s, hopefully garnering more wisdom along the way…), or my geography (literally and socially far from those well-known and impressive feminist activist spaces I so admire), or maybe simply: my privilege. In any case, even though I am no leader in the feminist movement, I believe it’s important that I examine the reasons why I take criticisms of feminism so personally and why I react the way I do. I hope this glaringly honest self-reflection, and continued listening to others with an open mind and heart, will help me discover new ways I can be an ally and stand with marginalized women despite my geographic isolation, financial limitations and fear of making mistakes.
I don’t WANT to react to continued accusations of racism toward mainstream white feminism, because I don’t want feminism to BE racist, I don’t want “mainstream feminism” to BE white, nor do I want white feminists to be short-sighted, closed-minded or ignorant of the implications of their privilege within feminism. I yearn for a movement that truly fulfills feminism’s promise: where all women feel safe, supported, heard and acknowledged for their efforts, experiences and ideas. I feel like we, women, need to get this right. I won’t stop trying to get it right. I hope I can. I hope we can.
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