Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Proud To Be", a Superbowl Day Message about a Racist Sports Team Name

Even neoconservative white men are capable of understanding it is wrong and oppressive to use racist slurs or honored names for sports team mascots. I hope within the next couple of years, all the egregious team name-calling, from high school to college to professional sports, has vanished, leaving Indigenous people in the U.S. with that much more regard and respect from Anglos.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

*Feminist Action Alert* for Joanne Shenandoah (Wolf Clan member of the Oneida Nation), Activist against Human Rights Abuses and Native American Music Award winner

photograph of Joanne Shenandoah with husband Doug George-Kanentiio is from here

I wish Joanne all the support necessary to obtain the liver transplant she needs. I thank Brenda Norrell @ Censored News for alerting me to this with her blog post. Everything that follows in this post is from this gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/joanneshenandoah

Joanne Shenandoah is a wolf clan member of the Oneida Nation, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois) Confederacy. She is the mother of Leah Shenandoah, the wife of Doug George-Kanentiio, the sister of five siblings and the daughter of the late Maisie Shenandoah, Oneida clanmother, and Clifford Shenandoah, an Onondaga chief. She is a composer and performer,  Native American Music Award winner, the co-chair of the US Attorney General's Task Force on Preventing Child Abuse on Indian Territory, has acted in films, written music for documentaries, sang at seven Native American US Presidential inaugurations, recorded 17 award winning albums, donated thousands of hours to communities and those in need and taken an active part in combating human rights abuses while becoming an advocate for universal peace. She has represented her people on many commissions and before many forums. She sang at the Vatican to honor St. Kateri of the Mohawks and for his Holiness the Dalai Lama. She was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in music from Syracuse University. She has performed at the Parliament of the World's Religions; whenever asked to use her talents she has responded.  

Joanne contacted a serious abdominal infection this past summer which spread to her liver and resulted in its gradual failure. She has endured 4 long hospital stays and was in an induced coma for two weeks. As a result of the infection her liver is failing and she has been placed on the New York State liver transplant list. She is now subject to infections and pnuemonia while waiting a transplant. The waiting time for a transplant in New York may take a year or more leaving Joanne subject to repeated cycles of illness. The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida does transplants at a much higher rate than in New York and is willing to take Joanne, meaning the operation and healing period is greatly reduced and she may return to good health. The Clinic requires the total payment to be made at the time of her acceptance into their program and the cost is comparable with other transplant centers. The key is how soon this can be done. The longer Joanne waits the greater the stress on her physical health. She needs to undergo this procedure as soon as possible. The cost for the transplant, prolonged two month stay and all associated procedures is $450,000.00 which goes directly to the Mayo Clinic. Joanne's family and friends are trying to reach this amount through insurance policies, catastrophic resources provided by the Indian Health Service and donations.

Joanne has been a beacon of light and inspiration for Native people everywhere. Her diginity and creativity has inspired and affected e she has met. She has been particulary sensitive to children and women of all backgrounds. A transplant means she can return to performing, to sharing her music and culture around the world. It means she can live. Her family is initiating this effort on behalf of one of North America's most wonderful talents. Their gratitude, and that of Native people everywhere, will be immense.  We cannot allow this light to be diminished.
[To be part of this effort, please visit this website: https://www.gofundme.com/joanneshenandoah]


Friday, February 5, 2016

River of Flesh and Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction, an introduction


image of book cover is from here
From Speaking Tiger Books:

SUMMARY

River of Flesh and Other Stories brings together twenty-one stories about trafficked and prostituted women by some of India’s most celebrated writers—Amrita Pritam, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Indira Goswami, Ismat Chughtai, J. P. Das, Kamala Das, Kamleshwar, Krishan Chander, Munshi Premchand, Nabendu Ghosh, Qurratulain Hyder, Saadat Hasan Manto and Siddique Alam, among others. 
Jugnu, in Kamleshwar’s ‘River of Flesh’ (‘Maas ka Darya’)—stares at a lifetime of servitude as age and disease take hold; Ismat Chughtai creates the unforgettable character of Lajo in ‘The Housewife’, a carefree young woman who must conform to society’s idea of decency, or risk being branded a whore; in ‘Heeng-Kochuri’, by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, a boy growing up near a red-light area discovers the adult world of patrons, connoisseurs and customers—as well as savouries offered to young boys as bribe; and in Manisha Kulshrestha’s ‘Kalindi’, a son looks in through a window and his life falls to pieces around him. 
An unprecedented anthology—for its subject, as well as for the range of authors and translators who are part of it—River of Flesh and Other Stories offers a harsh indictment of this practice of human slavery, too often justified—and occasionally glorified—as the ‘world’s oldest profession’.
Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

About and from the editor, at the Ahmedabad Mirror:
Ruchira Gupta (b 1964) , award-winning founder of anti sex-trafficking organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide, has just edited and published a River of Flesh and Other Stories, sub-titled The Prostituted Woman. The stories are translations from the work of Premchand, Manto, Amrita Pritam, Baburao Bagul, Qurratulain Hyder, Ismat Chugtai and others. "Every story," Gupta says, "reveals the absence of choices prostituted women and their un-prostituted sisters face in and outside marriage. While the trauma and brutality of prostitution is exposed, so is the subordination of women through marriage as a cultural caste system." 
"The average age of a girl pulled into prostitution is between nine and thirteen years...They are put through a process known as 'seasoning', in which they are beaten, starved, drugged...and made to believe that they are repaying the small loans of five or ten thousand rupees which their fathers have taken...According to current research, the physical and mental consequences of the repeated body invasion that prostituted women face is so extreme that these girls and women suffer from higher rates of psycho-social trauma than even war veterans."

Pro-Rape "Neomasculinist" Activists On The Run

Getty image of Ricky Nelson and John Wayne is from here

A story is trending right now that isn't new and isn't a trend. But it is disgusting and horrifying. It is being covered by mainstream media like BuzzFeed, International Business Timesand The Guardian. From The Guardian:
The leader of a self-described neo-masculinist movement has cancelled a series of meetings planned for cities worldwide on Saturday because he “can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend”. 
Daryush Valizadeh, who goes by the name Roosh V, posted a brief statement on Thursday apologising to his “supporters” whom he said were “let down by my decision”, but said he “could not stop men meeting in private groups”. 
Meetings were planned in 43 countries, including Britain, where planned gatherings in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Shrewsbury raised concern among police chiefs and MPs. 
Nearly 80,000 people signed an online petition calling for Roosh V’s group, dubbed Return of Kings, to be banned from the UK after they advocated women being banned from voting, described a woman’s value as dependent on her “fertility and beauty”, and that women with eating disorders make the best girlfriends.

Before the events were cancelled, shadow Home Office minister Sarah Champion MP demanded that Theresa May take action against the group using hate crime laws. 
“Rape of women has increased by 41% in the last year. I’m appalled that the government [is] sitting idly by whilst a group who believe women are pieces of meat without any rights are allowed to spread their poisonous ideology in the UK,” she said. 
“As far as I’m concerned Return of Kings are encouraging violence against women and girls. This should be viewed as a hate crime and the government and police should use our existing laws to deal with it swiftly to show we won’t accept anyone promoting abuse.”
The irony is that these men think they aren't safe to promote rape. The are apparently safe enough to commit it.

All women are the targeted objects in this rape culture, and anyone raped in the U.S. or UK is viewed as being both emasculated and feminised for having endured the violation. Rape is also a common tool of colonial invasion as are other forms of spiritual and material theft, occupation, and sadism.

Rape and trafficking are radical profeminist issues because girls and women are the primary population of the harmed and the horrified. The harm and the horror isn't natural, or a God-given right, or socially inevitable. And so some activists organise to stop it.

New to me is the term, 'Neomasculinism'. For masculinism to be 'neo', as in 'neofascism', doesn't that mean it had to go away for a few decades? This certainly hasn't happened with masculinism--it has ruled the West for far more than decades. The practices being promoted are not simply manifesting a typical patriarchal value system. With old-fashioned and neo masculinism, white male supremacist 'sex' tourism re-enacts the actions of millions of colonialist rapists over 500 years. The men who engage in such procurement and pimping, buying and selling, owning and slaving of human beings--disproportionately women and girls of color--are normal men, not psychotic monsters. These men advocate and do what the Western World stands for: building its oppressive strength and identity on the backs and the rest of the bodies of the poor, non-privileged, and female, primarily. But also by degrading Black people, Jews, lesbians, and gay men. There's a lot more going on than misogyny.* What appears at the following website is fifty shades of vile, combining misogynoir and anti-gay arguments with antifeminism and anti-Semitism.

*Daryush Valizadeh: Top 10 most insane quotes from Return of Kings leader Roosh V.

Daryush, or Roosh V., is a leader in this particularly 'no-apologies' manifestation of pro-rape activism. This one rape tourist has self-published the "how to's" of travel and gross sexual assault, region by region.

Because the typical values beneath his honesty are so despicable, he is viewed by some on the left as an 'extremist'. For example, from Wikipedia:
In a March 2012 report on "The Year in Hate and Extremism", the Southern Poverty Law Center included Roosh in a list of manosphere sites which it described as hateful and misogynistic.[20][21] His inclusion on the list was reported by several publications, some of which mocked the inclusion for being extreme.[11][22][23][24]Business Insider's Michael Brendan Dougherty opined that the SPLC was undermining its credibility by listing Roosh.[25] In response to criticism, the SPLC later clarified that it was not labeling the sites as members of a hate movement, but wished to draw attention to "specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence".[26]
The problem with colonial rapism and its proponents isn't the fact that they are hateful or extreme. I wish they were extreme, meaning less 'status quo'. Rapists adore committing acts of violation and enjoy reinforcing stigma against people targeted for rape. This isn't extreme. It is an utterly normal occurrence. The heterosexual husbands and boyfriends who enjoy violating their wives and girlfriends are not 'abnormal'. The procurers and buyers of 'sex' deepen the dehumanisation of people targeted for rape, but not in ways that mark them as unusual. They sometimes travel great distances to do it, but they also do it locally. Normally. It's not that hate isn't often part of the degradation; certainly it is or ought to be experienced as hatred--or at least gross disregard, disrespect, and abuse. But we know many people love the people they abuse, and that many abused people feel loved by their abusers.

Categorising rape as a 'hate crime' would be useful in the U.S. and the reason it hasn't happened is because, it is argued, the courts would be clogged with rape cases, newly prosecuted as hate crimes. Never mind that most rapes aren't reported. Or that most people don't have access to good lawyers, or experience with the criminal justice system, or only know it as a place to be revictimised. Or that rich men pay off victim after victim. Or that most rape tourism, organised by folks like Roosh V, is effectively unprosecutable. At the same time, calling rape a hate crime, makes sexual subordination into the crime of men mishandling negative emotions, or understands the problem as a kind of virulent bigotry. Better the term for the category of felony be "subordination crimes".

I think the real problem isn't men's emotional problems, or even bigotry; it is masculinism--the sexual entitlement, structural power, gendered privilege, and cultural belief in the right to violate others--whether old-fashioned or neo.

As a post-script, here's a group of boxers who have a message to deliver to these rapists.

I enjoyed seeing this very much:


Monday, February 1, 2016

New Reports on child trafficking and slavery

graphic is from here

This month marks the 198th anniversary of Frederick Douglass's birth. He was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. 


 "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong." 
Frederick Douglass

From Al Jazeera, January 31, 2016, this report on trafficking of Syrian children in Europe.
More than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have disappeared in Europe, the EU police agency Europol said on Sunday, fearing many have been whisked into sex trafficking rings or the slave trade. 
Europol's press office confirmed to Al Jazeera the figures published in British newspaper The Observer. [See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/30/fears-for-missing-child-refugees]
The number relates to the past 18-24 months. 
Brian Donald, the agency's chief of staff, said that the vulnerable children had disappeared from the system after registering with state authorities after their arrival in Europe. 
"It's not unreasonable to say that we're looking at 10,000-plus children," Donald told The Observer, adding that 5,000 had disappeared in Italy alone. 
"Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don't know where they are, what they're doing or whom they are with." 
Donald said there was evidence of a "criminal infrastructure" established since mid-2014 to exploit the refugee flow. 
The Observer reported that Europol found evidence of links between smuggling rings bringing people into the European Union and human trafficking gangs exploiting migrants for sex and slavery. 
"There are prisons in Germany and Hungary where the vast majority of people arrested and placed there are in relation to criminal activity surrounding the migrant crisis," Donald said. 
More than one million migrants and refugees, many fleeing the Syria conflict, crossed into Europe last year. 
"Whether they are registered or not, we're talking about 270,000 children," Donald told the paper.
"Not all of those are unaccompanied, but we also have evidence that a large proportion might be," he said, adding that the 10,000 is likely to be a conservative estimate.
READ MORE: Syrian children struggling to eat in Istanbul  
____________________________________________


Keeping in mind that the Western world, and the white First World is deeply invested in slavery and sex trafficking, we have this report from The New York Times, January 28, 2016:

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services placed more than a dozen immigrant children in the custody of human traffickers after it failed to conduct background checks of caregivers, according to a Senate report released on Thursday.
Examining how the federal agency processes minors who arrive at the border without a guardian, lawmakers said they found that it had not followed basic practices of child welfare agencies, like making home visits. 
The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened its inquiry after law enforcement officials uncovered a human trafficking ring in Marion, Ohio, last year. At least six children were lured to the United States from Guatemala with the promise of a better life, then were made to work on egg farms. The children, as young as 14, had been in federal custody before being entrusted to the traffickers. 
“It is intolerable that human trafficking — modern-day slavery — could occur in our own backyard,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the subcommittee. “But what makes the Marion cases even more alarming is that a U.S. government agency was responsible for delivering some of the victims into the hands of their abusers.” 
In addition to the Marion cases, the investigation found evidence that 13 other children had been trafficked after officials handed them over to adults who were supposed to care for them during their immigration proceedings. An additional 15 cases exhibited some signs of trafficking. 
The report also said that it was unclear how many of the approximately 90,000 children the agency had placed in the past two years fell prey to traffickers, including sex traffickers, because it does not keep track of such cases. 
“Whatever your views on immigration policy, everyone can agree that the administration has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the migrant kids that have entered government custody until their immigration court date,” Mr. Portman said. 
Continue reading this story

Friday, January 29, 2016

Update on "The Conversations Project: The Radical Inclusivity of Radical Feminism"


upper image is from here; lower image is from here 

To me an important breakthrough, I felt, in my work and that of others was the call to use the term white supremacy, over racism because racism in and of itself did not really allow for a discourse of colonization and decolonization, the recognition of the internalized racism within people of color and it was always in a sense keeping things at the level at which whiteness and white people remained at the center of the discussion.  — bell hooks
Quote, p. 68, Critical Foundations in Young Adult Literature (author: Antero Garcia)

[M]y vehicle was going to be truth: not a global, self-deluded truth, not a truth that only I knew and that I wanted other people to follow, but the truth that came from not lying.  Andrea Dworkin
Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant, page 21

There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference. 
— June Jordan
Quote, p. 220, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (author: Urvashi Vaid)


To the leaders and moderators of The Conversations Project:

It appears as though you disappeared a lot of my writing from the Facebook group without any direct notice or personally delivered warning that this would occur. For the record, I do not consider myself as having left the group, nor have I received any notification that I am barred. So I think appropriately, I consider myself a part of it. I'll steer clear of any presumptions, as I have been welcomed, quite recently, to continue to post there. But I feel like I'm getting mixed messages. As I think you know, from the start of my involvement, I stated that I will utilise my blog to process or expand upon things I have mentioned there. So this post is simply the latest, and is not intended to be the final analysis.

My last comment, for the record, was to share a link* as an addition to a relevant discussion within the group. This is, in fact, a five-part conversation on trans and feminist issues, which I'd entirely forgotten about. Here is the full series of conversations with Sara, which occurred in late 2010:

Part 1: https://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/11/sara-and-julian-discuss-transfeminist.html
Part 2: https://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/11/part-2-sara-and-julian-discuss.html
Part 3: https://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/12/sara-and-julian-discuss-transfeminist.html
*Part 4: https://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/12/sara-and-julian-discuss-transfeminist_03.html
Part 5: https://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/12/sara-and-julian-discuss-transfeminist_05.html


To the readers of this blog:

At this point, I've been in the group a full three weeks. A couple of days ago I thought there was a breakthrough in finally acknowledging what that group is and isn't designed to be or prepared to do. I saw that one of the creators might move forward with radical honesty--I appreciated her so much for this indication, but that got immediately thwarted by another member.

What the group cannot as yet do is deeply interrogate key aspects of gender because triggering occurs when several topics and phrases get raised. It also can't, as yet, get far because it doesn't seem committed to looking beyond white norms except to appropriate concepts, experiences, and cultural understandings of those we whites work so diligently to destroy. Sadly, racist appropriation of things like "inclusivity" and "intersectionality" are among many colonial white norms.

As one feature of The Conversations Project, there is a series of interviews with feminists or queer theorists. Some of those have been posted. At last glance, all the experts are white. The principal authors of the project are also white. (And the most vocal members of the group are white-identified.) The project itself is tethered to work and perspectives that cannot be anything but white-centric and so it loses all possibility of radical contribution to Feminist and Queer theory, unless you think more white supremacist theory is radical. But, for whom could that be true?

Gender, there, has appeared to me to be understood as social and psychological, with political meaning as well. And also scientific, using the work of some neurobiologists to note there are not two 'discreet' genders. But that has never been claimed among radical feminists I have known for decades. The dimensions of gender not well-addressed there are the economic, racial, and patriarchally sexual.

Making room for some marginalised voices is identified as radical--and marginalised voices should certainly be heard. But bringing in usually excluded perspectives while not challenging the oppressive norms or exclusionary practices in the center of the room is also designated as radical. I have disagreed.

To date, the group has refused so much of the depth and dimension of Radical Feminist herstory, such as the more radical theories and activist efforts by white women and women of color; it has created an unfortunately narrow breadth of inquiry, even within an already stifling white discourse. An interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon avoided addressing the core issues in MacKinnon's work, such as the maintenance of sex inequality through harassment, degradation, and speech acts. All of Andrea Dworkin's insights on battery and rape, on occupation and subordination, have been ignored.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that if a group doesn't, together, welcome dealing substantively with such sharp white activists' work, the work of brilliant women of color would be completely occluded. Beyond marginalised. Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Winona LaDuke, Patricia Hill Collins, Vandana Shiva--all radically feminist writers of theory and art, practitioners of activism, have not been welcomed and are viewed as off topic, too tangential in focus. Have we not heard precisely this excuse during half a century of feminist discourse--and for many centuries?

The Facebook group pays lots of liberal lip service, however sincerely, to the problem of racism and the value of women of color. But the group, as a whole, or through its leadership, will not acknowledge the degree to which it is a white supremacist space. (If you have not as yet, I invite you to read the first quote that introduces this post.) If anyone from that group, or beyond it, wants more detail, just ask, in a comment here, and I'll explicate several points of critique.

Sadly for me, and as mentioned above, it appears someone there has already removed chunks of those critiques, while giving me no notice of that occurring and no opportunity to collect my work before deletion. This speaks to a problem with ethics and process. And smacks of passive-aggressive censure. I welcome whoever did it to own up to that, in a blog comment, or to otherwise explain their reasoning below. They have endeavored to communicate clearly in the past, so I hold out hope for this occurring here in this case.

My perseverance in seeking to address several limitations within the group was seen as distracting from a stated purpose. But to even believe such a direction amounts to a distraction, means one is willfully committed to a lack of knowledge about gender politics in colonial patriarchies. I'm arguing that not even the most privileged of us can afford to ignore how white manhood and capitalism combine with misogynoir and anti-Indigenism to create patriarchal rape culture. And to grasp it, those of us who are white have to learn about others and ourselves from writers like hooks and Collins. As another white member stated there, to my cheers, white people cannot lead us.

I am reminded daily of the refusal to acknowledge the meaning and force of our whiteness. The refusal was tangible there. Blatantly visible in a number of ways. But denied, which is often enough the first line of defense. (And hopefully the only line.)

In short, the group has not been radically feminist, or radically inclusive, if being either means centering voices and theories of women of color and non-binary POC. Nor has it been one that could go far or deep with its conversations. Here's one example: To ask what is patriarchal about the majority-white conflict between what is termed T--Fs and liberal trans activists, was effectively verboten. To ask which of the dynamics and practices participate in rape culture: forget it. No go. Not even a dead end: nothing paved to even get to a dead end. Partly, the reason had to do with triggering, but not by being triggered by men's violence, per se.

Fundamentally, I think it is a support and education group for a few white trans* people who are trauma survivors. I fully support traumatised people gathering in spaces where they, themselves, define and determine the parameters of their own safety. But the only trauma discussed was committed by white natal women. When the most harm you've experienced as a white person is from a few white Radical Lesbian Feminists, one could argue you've somehow managed to avoid the brunt of what patriarchy forces on people. When the harm is interpersonal to the point that the perpetrators have names (and just a few names), I'd argue we are in the realm of a kind of abuse that is not what attempts to kill most women. Most harm is structural, systemic, institutional, including the interpersonal or intimate expressions of it. To the extent the harm named there shows up in institutions, it is due to its application by white men, not white women. Or it is directly caused and controlled by men across ethnicity.

We were not discussing PTSD as arising from misogynist, institutionalised rapist violence. Or as emanating from racism alone, or from misogynoir. The forms of dissociation and denial I personally witnessed in that minority group have been raced white and were not assigned female at birth. (That is meant to be a deeply political, not an anatomical, point.)

Thus far, the group's efforts have had limited applicability to the actual world of oppression. This is partly due to mining only a few bits of some white radical feminists' work. Then combining that with liberally inclusive elements of white-dominated Queer theory. To be clear: the bits are veridical; the elements are estimable. But anti-feminism--the willed erasure of most women and the sources of their subordination and injury, ought not permeate radical pro-feminist conversations. It especially ought not delineate them.



Monday, January 25, 2016

femicidio, woman-killing, femicide

image of Mexco's disappeared and murdered women and girls is from here

The murder of women is but one course of action in the maintenance of globalised colonial male supremacy.

____________________________


A video about the atrocities.



____________________________


MEXICO’S MISSING AND MURDERED
The numbers are staggering: Six women killed every day, according to one organization. Over the past two decades, reports Brooke Binkowski in Mexicali, Mexico, the killing or disappearance of women has become so frequent, a new term has entered the country’s lexicon: femicidio

For more of the news story, please go to this website: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/mexicos-epidemic-of-missing-and-murdered-women/article25137141/

_____________________________

From one year ago today, from Censored News, with thanks to Brenda Norrell, link included below:

More Femicide Victims Identified from Border Graveyard
By Frontera NorteSur
Censored News
January 25, 2015

Women's/Human Rights News
The parents of Esmeralda Castillo Rincon recently heard sad news about their long-disappeared daughter. The 14-year-old had been missing from her Ciudad Juarez home since 2009, and the parents had waged a long campaign demanding her safe return.

On January 16, however, the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office (FGECH) notified Jose Luis Castillo and his wife, Martha Rincon, that Esmeralda's remains were among those of other female murder victims recovered from the Navajo Arroyo in the Juarez Valley bordering the United States in 2012 and 2013. [Read the rest of this news story here:] http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/01/more-femicide-victims-identified-from.html#more



What will the story be in another year?


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moving Beyond the Turf Wars, by Margo Schulter


PEACE Zone, Inc. artwork is from here

What follows is another note from the Turf War Zone of majority-white Radical Feminist and Trans Activist conflict. A few updates:

I consider Tee Eee Rr eFF--just the four initials together, to be hostile language, antifeminist, divisive, and whitemale supremacist. I won't use the term here. Margo doesn't spell it out either, as you'll see.

I have been and remain committed to supporting women's space. Including, Radical Lesbian Feminist space, as RLF's define and need it. Trans spaces, as trans* people define it. Nonbinary people's spaces. Intersex people's spaces. In a rapist patriarchy, I support any group of women or any group of marginalised people defining and defending their spaces of safety and sustenance.

This is a guest post, written by one of the women in "Radically Inclusive Radical Feminism" The Conversations Project facebook group: RIRFTCPFG? I need a good acronym, bad.

Her name is Margo Schulter. She has been part of Lesbian Feminist community and movement for a long time. Decades. 


Moving Beyond the Feminist "Turf Wars"

Julian, having read the "Turf War Zone" statement again, and assuming that this was written by one or more women who, like me, have white privilege, I'd say that we have the same problem on both or all sides: where is the visible and indeed liberating co-leadership of Women of Color, AFAB or trans and/or intersex?


What I'd ask especially my sisters on both or all sides of this "Turf War" with white privilege is this: "Hasn't this four decades of Cold War between sisters, with all of its turning of horizontal differences, tensions, and conflicts into ideologies that verticalize the oppression in the best patriarchal style, really been an exercise in ersatz white-male politics?" All while the promises and demands of the Combahee River Collective go unsupported or `benignly neglected' while we use racism, the Maafa (African/African-American Slave Holocaust), and intersectionality (a term that belongs to Kimberlé Crenshaw and Women of Color, and the rest of us need to share with great humility and respect) mostly as tokens and metaphors.

To make it clear, "verticalizing" here means turning some kind of difference or conflict between women, sisters who are targets of different forms of patriarchal oppression, into a vertical or hierarchical issue where one side represents more "real" or more "oppressed" women, and the other some kind of hierarchal "privilege" that makes them not quite women or not quite human.

Let's quickly sum up this white-male style of verticalizing horizontal differences among feminist and often Lesbian feminist women, AFAB and trans, and intersex too. The Gender Critical Feminist 
(GCF) school as I've seen it practiced has a woman/trans-"woman" binary in which "transwomen are not women" is a polite version, and "transwomen are men" a less nuanced version. In this approach, there's no need to sort out the often complicated questions of trans women as newcomers to the women's community who've had past male privilege and like newcomers generally need acculturation and resocialization and reeducation. Rather, trans women are by definition either nonwomen or actual men, inherent lifelong oppressors and invaders. That's one version of "us vs. them," which we'd expect in a Cold War based on an ersatz white-male style.

And another white-male approach is the "cis/trans" binary, which holds actually that trans women, here let's say specifically those of us who transition as adults, and are newcomers to the women's and Lesbian communities, actually have and deserve seniority because survivors of lifelong AFAB oppression in fact have "cis privilege." And AFAB Butch Lesbians who every day may face all kinds of risks and oppressions while I enjoy not only white privilege but Femme invisibility -- not to speak of Butch Women of Color like Sakia Gunn who was murdered in 2003 at the age of 15 -- also supposedly have "cis privilege."

What would happen if they gave a Turf War, and lots of women came instead to talk about sex class consciousness, the seniority of AFAB women who have endured female oppression their entire lives, the validity and juniority of trans women, the need for female and more specifically feminist resocialization and reeducation as a lifelong process for those of us with past male privilege as an ongoing experience -- and also the validity of autonomous affinity groups, events, and spaces within the larger women's and Lesbian communities which can draw their own boundaries however they choose?

Quickly, I'd add that just as the Cold War had its nuclear arms race, the term T**F itself has become a weapon that I'm sad to say some of my sisters feel somehow provides safety or strength or protection. The women in 2008 or so who invented the term weren't seeking to dehumanize or degrade, just to distinguish between radical feminist views, just as Lise Meitner in 1938 wasn't seeking to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki or put the world at risk for a genocidal nuclear winter or autumn when she and her colleagues discovered nuclear fission. But weaponization is what happened, and Greenham Common is the place to be for feminist women with sex-class consciousness: it's time to "Ban the Bomb!" And I'd add that the T**F missile is absolutely *not" some magical Star Wars system that will "defend" against some equally ugly rhetorical missiles, or at least missives using the delivery system of the social media, targeted against trans bodies that, through fully consensual surgery for example, don't conform to the patriarchal sex binary that "Gender Critical" theory is all too happy to wrap around itself.

And as Cary Gabriel Costello has eloquently written, intersex people are "collateral damage" (his term) in these weaponized Turf Wars. Intersex gets treated as a rhetorical token or talking point rather than a community and movement of people who have faced horrible infant and childhood medical abuse, all for being born under patriarchy with bodies that don't fit the sex binary. The unique reality of intersex oppression raises issues distinct from those of dyadic (nonintersex) people, including dyadic AFAB or trans people, but how many of us who are dyadic women, AFAB or trans, have really become the allies that we can and should be?

There are also nonbinary/genderqueer/intergender people, some also intersex like Hida Viloria, who get neglected or even derided in these "Turf Wars" as the contest as to "Who's the most oppressed binary woman?" (in the white privilege division of the Oppression Olympics) goes on. And nonbinary activists like Cerien are calling us on our binary privilege, a rant I hope that enough of us will be feminist enough to welcome.

But, indeed, where in all this is the co-leadership of Women of Color, that could help liberate us all from these crazy white-male games of horizontal aggression between sisters in the name of feminism? Where is the common sense of Flo Kennedy, Jeanne Cordova (who as a Lesbian Woman of Color in 2013 offered a sane solution to the Michfest controversy), or bell hooks? Maybe if those of us with white privilege really, really owned it and did a bit of self-impeachment of ourselves as "leaders" in the best Indigenous tradition, then we -- the "we" emphatically including Women of Color -- could come to grips with the AFAB/trans thing also and emerge as sisters and allies in women's and Lesbian communities with many autonomous niches.

Any theory or ideology that tells us that a given woman belongs either in no women's spaces or in all women's spaces is inherently suspect as ersatz white-male verticalization of one kind of another. But having Women of Color more prominently and tellingly present in lots more of those spaces just might help end not only the AFAB/trans "Turf Wars" of the last four decades and a bit more between feminist and often Lesbian women, but the larger "Turf Wars" waged by European and Euro-American racism since the mid-15th century against Indigenous Nations and People of Color around the world.