Grumpy Cat Face: Good

by Belle Waring on January 10, 2017

I have been avoiding the internet for ages. But Belle Waring, what did you do instead? I went to ten followed by 100 zeroes doctors’ appointments, and I got exercise like a real person, and discovered that actually I rather like Adorno and Horkheimer when they are unfairly mean to Kant*, and I re-read Harry Potter. Also I played Animal Crossing on the Nintendo 3DS. So. Much. Animal Crossing. I recommend it very highly. I thought I could look at the internet again after the election. (Muffled sobbing from every direction). I still can only sort of deal with looking at the NYT. So this article was actually a happy surprise: Women’s March on Washington Opens Contentious Dialogues About Race. I thought, oh God, this is going to be tedious reading about how white feminists are alienating minority feminists by insisting that everyone needs to unify behind the most widely-supported goals and bell hooks needs to shut the f$%k up. But no! It’s about how minority feminists are throwing bell hooks quotes in everyone’s faces and insisting that concerns about racial discrimination be foregrounded even as women unify against the Trump administration! I thought I’d read depressing “this is why I’m not a feminist” quotes from minority women, and instead I’m reading whiny “I’m not marching if people are going to try to make me think about white privilege” quotes from white women. Progress!

Ms. Willis, a 50-year-old wedding minister from South Carolina, had looked forward to taking her daughters to the march. Then she read a post on the Facebook page for the march that made her feel unwelcome because she is white.

The post, written by a black activist from Brooklyn who is a march volunteer, advised “white allies” to listen more and talk less. It also chided those who, it said, were only now waking up to racism because of the election.

“You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too,” read the post. “I was born scared.”

Stung by the tone, Ms. Willis canceled her trip.

“This is a women’s march,” she said. “We’re supposed to be allies in equal pay, marriage, adoption. Why is it now about, ‘White women don’t understand black women’?”

Jesus, lady. South Carolinians who feel unwelcome because they are white–this is such an unlovely group of people to throw in with.

Now, I know plenty of people will respond to this with not-crazy concerns about maximizing turnout for the march being more important than intersectionality right at this crucial moment. But what if every moment is crucial? Does intersectionality ever get to be important? I think this addresses it well: “if your short-term goal is to get as many people as possible at the march, maybe you don’t want to alienate people. But if your longer-term goal is to use the march as a catalyst for progressive social and political change, then that has to include thinking about race and class privilege.”

And take it away march organizers:

For too long, the march organizers said, the women’s rights movement focused on issues that were important to well-off white women, such as the ability to work outside the home and attain the same high-powered positions that men do. But minority women, they said, have had different priorities. Black women who have worked their whole lives as maids might care more about the minimum wage or police brutality than about seeing a woman in the White House. Undocumented immigrant women might care about abortion rights, they said, but not nearly as much as they worry about being deported.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ll see from commenters here a lot of argle-bargle about how caring about trans people cost Democrats the election and we need to tone down the gay, and tell bell hooks to shut the f@#k up, also, too, generally. But to the extent that one is being serious about appealing to the white working class, a feminism that serves only the needs of educated white women with relatively high-paying jobs ain’t going to get you nowhere on that front either. Maybe doing the right thing can also be politically expedient?

*John would like to object here that Adorno can dish it out but he sure can’t take it. I haven’t read enough [thin-skinned complaints from] Adorno to evaluate this claim but it seems not implausible. Still, the dishing. So dishy. ‘Do you know what the Critique of Pure Reason reminds me of? De Sade.’ [I note for the benefit of readers that this is a paraphrase but I will post on the topic soon.]