Lefty Resource Library

Posting articles as I go

Tag: feminism

Beyonce, Emma Watson, and feminism

“So, can we please stop trying to make Emma Watson the new feminist icon of the universe? She’s not there yet. She’s still learning, I think, just like Beyoncé, who, by the way, rarely even gets the benefit of the doubt from white feminists, let alone hailed as feminist queen of all things, when her feminist expressions are less than perfect. (Imagine if Beyoncé got up at the UN and gave a speech that centered men in the fight for gender equality. The white mainstream feminist skies would rain down hellfire upon us all. Well, some of us, anyway.)

“I hope that as Emma Watson continues to grow into her feminism she’ll chuck these unfortunate approaches. But, frankly, it’ll take a lot more than that for me to see her as the “game-changing” feminist she’s being called. Where’s her analysis of racial justice and its necessity in ending gender inequality? What does she know about misogynoir? Does she understand that wealthy white women like her are often oppressors of women of color and/or poor women in the world? Where’s her understanding of transfeminism? Can she explain to the UN, or anyone else, why violence against trans women needs to be centered in our work against misogyny? Does she know and can she articulate that ableism is woven into not only gender inequality, but every form of oppression that exists? And, importantly, does she understand that as a white woman she is granted access and taken seriously by mainstream feminism in ways that a woman of color wouldn’t be and why, then, it’s necessary for her to step aside and make room for women of color to be heard if gender inequality is ever to be eradicated?”


‘The only thing common to experiences of rape is the presence of a rapist’

‘At 17, I mixed vodka and passion pop at a friend’s party and woke up the next morning in a spare bed, clothed with the remnants of a half empty cup of coffee next to me and no memory of the night before. I was not raped. Through my early 20s, I drank cask wine at house parties and crashed in beds with male friends. I was not raped. At 28, I spent nights on end in bars in New York with men I did not know, drinking beer and whiskey and wine, before walking home by myself through midtown Manhatten. I was not raped. The first time I hung out with the man I now live with, we sat up until 4am drinking wine on his couch. Later, I fell asleep on it while he slept in his bed. I was not raped.

‘The only thing common to experiences of rape is the presence of a rapist. Alcohol is not a precursor to sexual assault. It may be present (although most often it isn’t [since most rape is perpetrated by families and partners/exes]), but it doesn’t cause rapists to rape. It is perceived opportunity, entitlement and the casual enabling of a society that pins responsibility on women to avoid sexual assault that allows rape to continue at levels not properly examined or even targeted. But still we say, women – if you don’t want to be raped, put down the bottle, all the while forgetting that even if this did work it still wouldn’t stop rape.


Men’s Rights Activism – feminism as red herring

‘If white men are finding themselves adrift in an uncertain world, it is not the fault of feminism, or of anti-racism. Just because the rise of a new wave of feminist and anti-racist campaigning has coincided with the collapse of modern economic certainties, it does not mean that one caused the other. But instead of getting angry at the state or at the systems that deny working people of every race and gender the right to a decent living, some prefer to kick down – at women or minorities, who must surely have taken all the good jobs and safe places to live.’


Surveillance, gender and power – NSA v. the male gaze

Really interesting and eye-opening article about surveillance over the oppressed, particularly women, via social media; and about sexism and tech (and libertarian etc.) ideologies; and about the workings of power.

‘Reporting on these issues tends to be gendered by default: NSA surveillance is considered relevant to tech’s core constituency of technical men, while sexism in tech is covered as a women’s professional issue rather than a technology one. What goes unexamined is the way that both surveillance and sexism in tech are functions of power in technology, and that surveillance (as well as its analog prototype, the male gaze) has a long history of affecting “the other” differently than those in power.

‘The outrage over NSA surveillance has occurred and received massive coverage not because the deployment of technology for citizen surveillance is new but because white, technical, American men have finally become targets of the surveillant gaze rather than its aloof masters.

‘Few mark this “transparency” as a mode of surveillance, because the surveillance Facebook enables is “social” — a matter of seeing how people look at parties, not watching them in the name of the state. Yet it is a mode of surveillance, with women as its primary target [most profiles views are of women, most people viewing and creating pages are men, according to data], and their photographs and Facebook walls driving the vast majority of site usage.

‘Just like the consumption of publicly available data, the illicit consumption of data tends to be gendered; anecdotally, all cases I know of where engineers have been disciplined for abusing their data privileges involved unauthorized access to women’s profiles. In this, the typical mode of exploitation of social media data by social network employees mirrors the most frequent form of data exploitation by NSA employees:what is code-named LOVEINT, in which an NSA employee illicitly spies on a love interest.

‘It is only with the revelation of NSA spying that white men have suddenly had to grapple with being forcibly transformed from watchers to watched.

‘the political ideology of Silicon Valley refuses to imagine power as an unequally distributed feature of our society. The discourses of “meritocracy” and “transparency”, in fact, work to flatten a notion of political difference in their very definition, invoking a world in which hierarchies of power– the asymmetrical ability of one group to affect others– simply don’t exist.

‘What surveillance and sexism have in common is a pattern of de facto exploitation of people who don’t control the technology. They are allowed to exist through the unchecked, often unacknowledged power of a few who are in power over the many who are not. 

‘Regardless of whether the tech companies or the government “win” the battle for control of this data, the majority of people who freely contribute this data won’t win.’


‘The Not Rape Epidemic’

The essay that finally awakened me to rape culture, and a deeper feminism and equality activism generally.


White feminism

‘Every single time women of colour talk about “white feminism” or “white feminists” within the context of discussions about the way that the mainstream feminist movement privileges whiteness, we deal with an onslaught of defensive white women insisting that they personally are not like that, and would you please say “some white women” and not make generalizations?

‘What those women fail to realize is that by making that request, they are exemplifying Mikki Kendall’s #solidarityisforwhitewomen battle cry; by once again insisting that a conversation created to facilitate discussion about the issues of WoC, be centered around the feelings of white women.

‘”White feminism” is the feminism that doesn’t understand western privilege, or cultural context. It is the feminism that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.

‘White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit. It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.

‘When I talk about “white feminism,” I’m talking about the feminism thatmisappropriates womanist thinkers like Audre Lorde to declare that keeping white women’s racism in check is “bashing.” I’m talking about the feminism that cheekily denounces “twitter feminism” as useless, without considering that twitter is the main medium through which less economically privileged women (usually women of colour) can put their feminism into practice and gain access to and engage with like-minded women. I’m talking about the feminism that publishes an articleadvocating for forced sterilization, completely disregarding the way in which forced sterilization was used as a tool of genocide against black and native women. I’m talking about the feminism that thought holding a writer’s retreat at a former slave plantation was a swell idea. I’m talking about the feminism that throws women of colour under the bus in thequest for body diversity and acceptance. I’m talking about the feminism that thinks barging into a Maasai community and “breaking barriers” is feminist, disregarding the work that actual Maasai women are doing to help achieve equality on their own terms, and obliviously parading its class privilege along the way. I’m talking about the feminism that insists that “Muslim women need saving” and refuses to acknowledge that cultural differences mean different, culturally specific approaches to feminism and equality. I’m talking about the feminism that thinks not “leaning in” is the only thing standing between women and economic success. I’m talking about the feminism that defends The Onion when it calls a little black girl a “cunt”. I’m talking about the feminism that celebrates Tina Fey, Lily Allen and Lena Dunham, but tears down Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Rihanna. I’m talking about the feminism that pats itself on the back, but doesn’t apologize after supporting a known abuser of WoC feminists who confesses to his transgressions. I’m talking about the feminism that did all these things in the space of one year.

‘I’m talking about the feminism that disregards the fact that whiteness is a privilege that is not afforded to all women.’


Classic ‘are you a feminist’ diagram

Shows how calling yourself a feminist isn’t actually necessarily the same as calling yourself someone who believes in equality (e.g. those who believe in focussing more on men’s issues aren’t feminists, even if they can be allies)