I am going to be fairly honest Emma Watson has never really interested me. I am not a Harry Potter fan and I haven’t seen much of her work as an actress. But I know deep down that the main reason why I have never really cared for Emma Watson is because she represents everything that I am not. I am not a white heterosexual middle class woman whose clean cut is adored by the public and the media and is what society wants me to be. Instead I am a poor black woman from Peckham who is solely just seen “ghetto”, “ratchet” and a “thot”. I am highly aware of 4chan threatening to leak nude photos of her because of her speech which I honestly believe is cruel and extremely misogynistic. However, I will not ignore the fact that the reason why feminists especially white feminists and the media are not criticising the problematic nature of her speech is because of her high power status as a white heterosexual cis middle class.
Lack of intersectionality
Emma Watson states when she researched the word feminism and she noticed it has become unpopular. According to Emma Watson she is “among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive”. In this case Emma Watson is extremely wrong. The idea of feminism being associated with hating men is soley rooted in lesbophobia. How many times have you heard “you are a feminist oh shit you must be a lesbian and you totes hate men lmao” from a random dickhead when you tell them you are feminist? Emma Watson speech continues to erase women who are more marginalised by her by simply not acknowledging that is black women who are constantly trapped in the one dimensional racist trope of being as a strong angry black woman. We have already seen how detrimental this trope is with the New York Times article about Shonda Rhimes. It is the strong angry black woman trope that silences us and dismisses our cries when we are sick and tired of everything that is a result of our double oppression.
“What about the Men?” Feminism
“What About the Men” feminism is a current trend within white/mainstream feminism. This type of feminism advocates that women should make spaces for men in feminism and should essentially pander to men. I strongly disagree with “What About the Men” feminism not only is this idea extremely patriarchal and kyrichal but as a black woman I do not see why I have to make the space for men especially for white cis heterosexual men when their spaces are virtually everywhere in all aspects in society. Black women have been constantly marginalized and not accepted in the feminist movement from the very beginning. Instead of white feminists trying to remove the overt racism in the feminist movement, creating spaces for black women and stop using intersectionality as a buzzword they would rather focus on praising male feminists and creating space for men. Emma Watson has been guilty of dismissing Beyonce’s feminism because it “pays too much attention to men” even though that is not the case and it is actually HER feminism that is male centric. This all just shows how feminism continues to fonder anti-blackness and further alienate black women.
Malcom X was asked by a journalist when he founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity if white people were allowed to join. Malcom X simply replied that white people were not allowed to join the organisation because as black people we had to sort out detrimental impacts that white supremacy has made on black people. The same rhetoric goes for feminism. Men should use their privileged position to make society accessible for women it shouldn’t be the other way around.
So much Westernisation…
Let us all remember that this speech and the HeForShe campaign is for the United Nations. The UN (like IMF and WTO) promote the strong fundamental idea that the West is civilised and any country that is not Western is deemed as uncivilised, savage and barbaric. These racist and imperialistic stereotypes of the Global South is inherently linked with the idea that people of colour in the Global South need to be saved and most importantly saved by white Westerns. The white saviour complex allows white Westerners to get away with not taking responsibility for the fact colonialism is the main reason why the Global South is suffering. Emma Watson’s speech and campaign does not acknowledge the fact it is capitalism and neo liberal policies that has constantly harmed women of colour in the Global South rather than benefited them. For instance in the past the use of modernization theories in development polices actually created gender inequality and contributed to the oppression women in the Global South face today. Emma Watson does not even pay any respect to African feminists and African women who have continued to fight for their own liberation which is deeply rooted in black womanhood livelehood. At the end of the day it was African Women in the Congo who had to fight against modernisation theories destroying their agricultural livle. Why didn’t she use her privilege and platform as a celebrity to reaffirm African women and African feminists who have fought for their liberation rather than Hilary Clinton?
I am so done with this type of feminism getting praised all the time. I am not here to educate/pander to men or let white feminists dismiss me and other black women’s feminism simply for the fact we are black. The more this continues to go on the more I think I should follow down the path of womanism because at least my struggle to exist in a white supremacist, kyriarchal and capitalist society with be fully understood and I will be accepted with open arms.
The other reproductive rights:
- The right to not be sterilized against your knowledge
- The right to not be sterilized against your will
- The right to not be coerced into sterilizing yourself in order to gain citizenship, relief from imprisonment, change a gender marker, etc.
- The right to determine how you will give birth
- Placeholder for rights regarding adoption which I don’t have the ability or energy to articulate right now
- The right to not be forced/coerced/tricked into selling your child? How about that one?
I throw around the phrase “intersectional feminism” around a lot, and I think a lot of other people do too. I just want to make a quick post/guide if you have ever been confused about what that means.
- intersectionalism is associated with 3rd wave feminism (some argue it is post-3rd wave)
- yes, there are different waves of feminism: the first is best associated with women that fought for basic rights like voting, land ownership, etc. second wave is about 60s-80s (some argue 90s) with more militant activists, that challenged sexuality, gender roles, etc.
- it’s important to note that generally first and second wave feminism more times than not, excluded women of color. this is why you see black feminism.
- third wave feminism is relatively new. this wave introduced intersectionalism which looks at the way in which sex, gender, class, race, disability, etc can interact with each other and create or enforce institutions of oppression.
- if you are a white intersectional feminist then you should also be a white ally because you recognize that WoC face different oppression than your own. You should also seek education and ways in which you can stand with WoC rather than speak for WoC.
- if you are an intersectional feminist then you also challenge the ways in which already withstanding institutions of oppression can be connected to other social issues (i.e. michael brown: class, race).
If you have any questions or anything to add than feel free to ask/message me. And more importantly if you would like to open up a dialogue on any of these topics, I’d love to! It’s really important to know what you stand for.
Intersectionaility/intersectionalism was named by Kimberlé Crenshaw who studied intersectional theories and is a prominent figure in critical race theory. It’s important to know that this term came from a black woman.
First and second wave feminism excluded women of color, disabled women, and trans women.
Many black women and other women of color are involved in Womanism. Not just black feminism. Womanism centers black women and was created by Alice Walker. Womanism looks at issues of race, class, disability, and sexuality in white feminism. White women cannot be womanists. White women already have feminism and do not need a second movement that includes them. Non-black women of color can be womanists but must consistently check their anti-blackness and deconstruct their prejudices.
Striving to be an ally to women of color, trans women, disabled women, and nonbinary people is great and necessary, but it needs to be remembered that the term “ally” is individually given to you and not one that you can place upon yourself.
If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color?
What is the theory behind racist feminism?
If you actually cared about men’s issues, you wouldn’t tack them on as an afterthought to a woman’s conversation: You’d instead be actively engaging in dialogues that explore the nuances of men’s problems in society. You wouldn’t simply wait until a woman is speaking and then shout “Yeah, men too!” You’d talk about these things independently and give men the attention that they deserve as individuals, instead of waiting for a woman to do the work, shouldering her aside and then insisting that men be given a spot on the stage too.
If you actually cared about women’s issues, you wouldn’t demand that they give up their space. You’d recognize that conversations by women and about women are perfectly valid. When a woman is talking about her personal experiences and the way social pressures have affected her life, you wouldn’t allow her to be interrupted or derailed. You wouldn’t actively talk over her or steal away attention, focusing on issues that are outside of her point, until the conversation drifts so far away that you aren’t even discussing women anymore.
So both now and in the future, my answer here is going to remain the same: Can we talk about everyone?
We’re still talking about women right now.
I just needed to give a special shout out to how great & useful these words were(via newwavefeminism)
Some of the work bell hooks’ has done as available on the internet for personal education and reference. Certain books that were up are gone and I’m looking about finding them again. In the meantime if you need them, contact me by leaving a message with your email address in the submissions box and I’ll email them to you. If you find anything, please contact me as well. The most updated version of this list will always be here.
- Ain’t I a Woman (pdf)
- All About Love: New Visions (pdf)
- Art on my Mind (ask through email)
- Beauty Laid Bare: Aesthetics in the Ordinary (google doc)
- Black Looks: Race and Representation (pdf)
- Black Women Intellectuals (pdf) (from Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life with Cornel West)
- "Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness" (pdf) (from Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics)
- "Cool Cynicism" (pdf) (from Reel to Real
- Cultural Criticism and Transformation (youtube video, part 1)
Also: Transcript (pdf)
- Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance (page 366 or type in page 406 of 795)
- Ending Domination: The Struggle Continues (youtube video, full)
- "Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression" (pdf) (from Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center)
- Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics (pdf)
- "Feminist Class Struggle" (article, though pdf download available through the link) (as I understand, excerpted from Feminism is for Everybody)
- "Feminist Theory: A Radical Agenda" (pdf) (from Talking Back)
- "Ice Cube Culture: A Shared Passion for Speaking Truth" (ask through email) (chapter 12 from Outlaw Culture, an interview with ice cube)
- "Is Paris Burning?" (pdf) (Chapter 9 of Black Looks: Race and Representation
- Killing Rage: Ending Racism (pdf) and the opening essay (pdf)
- Love as the Practice of Freedom (pdf)
- "Marginality as site of resistance" (pdf)
- Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (pdf—parts of the book, anyway)
- "Postmodern Blackness" (pdf) (from Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics)
- Remembered Rapture: Dancing With Words (pdf)
- "Romance: Sweet Love" (pdf) (from Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, 4th Ed. By S. Shaw and J. Lee)
- Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace. (pdf)
- "Straightening out Hair" (article)
- Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (pdf)
- Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (pdf on the web!)
- The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators (pdf)
- Understanding Patriarchy (pdf)
- Where We Stand: Class Matters (pdf) Also here.
- We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (pdf).
- Her talk at Louis & Clark college from 1 February, 2006 here.
To note, this is meant in particular for those people who’d like to educate themselves but don’t have the resources to get these books for themselves. bell hooks has put a lot of work into these, and it would be horrible if you could afford to buy the books and didn’t.
More online resources here.
Edit as of 23rd June, 2014: list updated (and alphabetized). Many thanks to wretchedoftheearth, elainecastillo, grim-dark, erosum, mmmajestic, andreaisace, ebookcollective, cantbereallif, ericstoller, sittinghereinbluejayway, nebulaemporium and other people through emails who all helped add links and resources.
And: this is a killjoy formulation. I learnt this from being a killjoy: so much of what I learn begins with this experience. So: there is a disagreement. Say two parties disagree; they do not affect each other well. They argue, perhaps. And: she becomes disagreeable. That this becomes her quality teaches us how we can receive qualities by those with whom we are in relation. Yes, rather like things. Qualities can stick; they become sticky. Once a quality is sticky, she is stuck with it. She becomes “known” as disagreeable. When she is stuck with it, she is stuck. Once she is stuck, and there is a disagreement, stickiness becomes quickness. She is quickly assumed as the one behind it.
Another way I have put this: there is a social agreement around who is the cause of disagreement. When things are in agreement, they tend to recede from view. To become a cause of disagreement is to block what is assumed as the flow of communication. There she is: the feminist killjoy. In the way, getting in the way. She stands out; she stands apart.
And so: she has a quality of being disagreeable, a quality that becomes hers. She acquires the quality of a relation when the relation is negation. She too becomes hard, we might say. She becomes no, not. To avoid being the quality of a bad relation (in order not to be a bad relation) she might have to become more agreeable. She might have to soften her character. She might have to become more pliable. I have called this duty “to become agreeable” the happiness duty.
THE FEMINIST UTOPIA PROJECT: A FORTHCOMING ANTHOLOGY FROM THE FEMINIST PRESS
Too many of us know too intimately the ways sexism constrains our lives, limiting our opportunities, harming our bodies, reducing us. Often unspoken, though, is the way misogyny limits our imaginations. The ubiquity of sexism comes to feel like the inevitability of sexism. Electoral politics narrow our ambitions to preserving the rights we are told we can have rather than mobilizing for what should be.
So where and when do we envision?
The Feminist Utopia Project pushes us to dream bigger. And weirder. To want more. To move beyond critique and to imagine omnivorously.
We are currently compiling radically imaginative essays, short fiction, poetry, and artwork that answer the question of what a feminist world would look like. These contributions will root themselves in history and experience to invent and demand a better future. We hope that this anthology, in offering a diverse collection of utopias, will inspire American feminists (as well as potential feminists) to imagine their own visions and reach for unprecedented possibilities.
People, not ideas, will build our utopias. But the first step toward a feminist world is to imagine it collectively. Join us.