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Archive for the ‘internet feminism’ Category

Y’all I’m really struggling with this attempt to displace vaginas from feminist conversations. Honestly, I don’t think this is the move.

Here’s the thing: feminism taught me to love my vagina. (Hip Hop) Feminism gave me the courage to use the word “pussy,” when I need to make requests in the bedroom. (Cues Missy E.) But feminism a la bell hooks also taught me about the historical politics of “selling hot pussy.” Feminism taught me years ago not to feel embarrassed about telling y’all a period story and gave me the structural analysis to think about why we ask women and girls and all people who have periods to hide them or feel shame about them. Even in 2017, I still have to walk into women’s and gender studies classrooms and tell my intro students about the historical reasons for period shame. Their faces still turn beet red – all of them.

But also: we live in a world that doesn’t love vaginas. Vaginas are structurally maligned, and considered the property of men. Just ask your new president. Let us not forget the transvaginal ultrasound fiasco of a 5 years ago, when several states tried to make it legal to put a phallic like ultrasound probe into a woman’s vagina against her will. In a hierarchy of genitalia, penises are chief. Vaginas are near the bottom. And then the genitalia that intersex people have labor and languish in epistemic obscurity, by which I mean, that up until only the last few decades or so, science chose not even to acknowledge that penises and vaginas aren’t the only configurations of genitals that exist.

When I think about what it would mean to build a Black feminist framework which decenters the pussy, it gives me pause. The call is of course to decenter cisgender Black women from Black feminist frameworks. Again, this move, and the ways in which, in far left social justice spaces, such moves are assumed to be a clear mandate, a clearly desirable end of our politics, gives me pause.

From The Crunk Feminist Collective with “Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now: The place of vaginas in black feminist theory & organizing”.

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But the pathology that’s animating these viral conspiracy theories is different. It’s a determinism of a far more granular sort: It assumes, quite improbably, that the Trump team knew exactly what sort of thing would happen after their every move, that they were only testing out the details. As if Jared Kushner could see through time, as if Stephen Miller could read our thoughts. Its universe is one that’s programmable. To adopt their own hermeneutic stance: What’s really going on, underneath all the layered lies, and what little puncta might give it away? The most notable clue here is that neither Zunger nor Fuentes are political analysts or journalists or academics or even civil servants. Instead, both come from the tech industry.

Zunger is on the privacy team at Google; Fuentes was behind LevelMoney, an app since acquired by Capital One. They belong to a particular class, with a particular way of looking at the world. Silicon Valley doesn’t really approach politics as a sphere of competing social interests, a space in which people have the ability to make collective demands and collectively alter the conditions of their existences, but as a system—something with an input, an output and reams of complex programming in between. Whenever the tech world turns its attention to politics, there’s always the hint of this nerdish fascination for system: an inattention to what politics actually is or does, but a fetishization of efficiency, the latent notion that all these 18th-century structures really should just be replaced with something you can download on your phone.

From Sam Kriss’ “Liberals on the edge of a nervous breakdown” in Politico Magazine.

All this is a sign of a political immaturity that continues to stunt the growth of the American left.

Were liberals on the march? Yes! And thank god. The movement to resist Trump will have to be a mass movement, and mass movements aren’t homogeneous — they are, pretty much by definition, politically heterogeneous. And there is not a single radical or revolutionary on earth who did not begin their political journey holding liberal ideas.

Liberals become radicals through their own frustrating experiences with the system, but also through becoming engaged with people who became radical before them. So when radicals who have already come to some important conclusions about the shortcomings of existing system mock, deride, or dismiss those who have not achieved the same level of consciousness, they are helping no one.

From  Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s “How to build a mass movement” in Jacobin. 

 

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Here, thanks to Sonja at Broad Joy949 for podcasting one of my panels from the Feminist Writers Festival. (The panel also includes Petra Bueskens and Viv Smythe).

Some of the topics discussed in this special panel was how trends and characteristics in current online feminism intersects with economics and the historical ‘dance of capitalism and feminism’ and how it at times has very unhealthy outcomes.

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And as Latoya Peterson has written, this is intertwined with an overreliance on (immediate) feelings for determining our direction. Sometimes, the more we try to tune into our feelings the less clearly we see the world. When interaction is sustained, the expression of feelings (good or bad) in response to a piece can be a catalyst for connection. But when writing is not a platform for community, the comments can lack the necessary investment required to make them either consistently ethical or considered. There is so little listening and so much projecting.

In this climate, the catharsis of battles between feminist writers tends to be held above the hard work and generosity of building solidarity. Collectivism, which involves making sense of many perspectives, is lost to an ever-failing quest for consensus. Approval and redemption is sought over complex struggles and structural solutions.

From “More practice, less perfect: how do we navigate the lion’s den of feminist discussion?”.

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Creating a political climate based on shame is an impediment to justice. Shaming is about control, not justice. The shame-rage spiral is an unsustainable burden that ensures that we are unable to mount substantive challenges to oppression. Unacknowledged feelings of shame will destroy us as individuals and as movements. Honestly, I don’t have a strong idea for how we can overcome the shame dynamic in our political spaces.  Thus far, Ngọc Loan Trần’s concept “calling in” offers the most hope.

From R.L. Stephen’s II’s “The Left’s Self-Destructive Obsession with Shame” in Orchestrated Pulse.

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See here. I’m one of the speakers but the loads more too…

Have you got your membership for the networking day yet? It’s just $80/45 for a whole day of feminist speakers – with 14 sessions to choose from.

We’re going to be chatting about everything from politics to fiction, decommodifying feminism to building your feminist community, genre to the politics of personal writing, publishing to mothering from the fringes, and so much more. Don’t miss out.

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Gorgeously humanising. 

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Andrea O’Reilly is the business. Here, below in the video, she is giving a talk on Matricentric Feminism at a conference in Rome.

Soon, Andrea O’Reilly is coming to Melbourne for the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference. She’s pretty much the queen of this branch of feminism and is responsible for huge leaps in my thinking over the last ten years. If you can see her speak it’s very much worth it. Buy a ticket, you can even get a day-rate ticket if you like. (The questions she is asking about feminism and our failure to properly include mothers around the 10 minute mark in this video are some of the big debates we’re having today).

Also, I will be on a panel at the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference with Anne Manne, Fiona Giles and Petra Bueskens talking about Mothering Under Neo-Liberalism. To say I am excited to be on a panel with these women, some of my favourite thinkers in the country is a huge understatement.

    

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This misses a couple of big points, maternal feminism for one, and probably misses the mark in taking on a target like Beyonce, however lovingly. Plus, as my friend, Helen pointed out, feminism holds itself to account in a way few other movements do. This means we can focus on criticism without recalling that it is also ok for feminists to specialise at times, or to just not have time and that doesn’t necessarily equate to a disinterest in structural issues.

But certainly, Sarah Jaffe’s “Feminism for Sale” in the New Republic describes the overlap of some areas of feminism with neoliberalism very well. This may be an especially useful read if you found Eleanor Robertson’s piece on liberal feminism too much, too soon.

I picked a side in this fight a while back, and so I have been waiting rather excitedly for Andi Zeisler’s new book, We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. (This is where I disclose that Zeisler has edited me in the past for Bitch magazine, where she remains creative director.) In a political moment that has seen thrilling, radical new movements spring up around racial justice and economic inequality, the fact that mainstream feminism still seems so enthralled with neoliberalism has been a source of deep frustration to many. And yet when we attempt to argue about issues, we get bogged down in battles over personality; pointing out that the liberation of a CEO does little for her nanny is likened to “trashing.” The personality trap is itself a function of the problem that Zeisler has put a name to in her book: marketplace feminism.

In the world of marketplace feminism, she writes, “the fight for gender equality has transmogrified from a collective goal to a consumer brand.” It is a world where “purchasing itself [is] a feminist act,” where status is confused with liberation, where freedom is measured in what we consume or who we control, where what we wear, watch, and wax is more important than what we organize and fight for. Under marketplace feminism, feminism is a commodity to be purchased, an identity to proclaim and print on a T-shirt, a litmus test to be applied to other commodities, rather than a collective social movement that aims to change the structures of a sexist society. The problem with marketplace feminism is simple: marketplace feminism is good for capitalism, but what is good for capitalism is not necessarily good for women.

Zeisler avoids entering the war of personalities. Indeed, up front, she includes herself in her critique, noting that we are inundated with feminist critiques of pop culture, many of which owe their lineage to her work at Bitch, which has been publishing “a feminist response to pop culture” since 1996, with articles ranging from “Amazon Women on the Moon: Images of Femininity in the Video Age” (by Zeisler, from the magazine’s very early days) to updates on the battle of pop star Kesha to extricate herself from her record contract, which ties her to the man she says abused her. Meanwhile, abortion restriction bills and “bathroom bills” aimed at institutionalizing discrimination against transgender people proliferate, the gender wage gap continues, and women are the fastest-growing part of the prison population. These are problems, she notes, that will not be solved by marketplace feminism. They will require collective political action.

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In the coming decade, feminists would gain a transformative foothold in public discourse through the democratizing force of the internet.

From Kate Groetzinger’s “How feminists took on the mainstream media and won” in Quartz.

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