Feminism is no longer about sexism at all

Friday, November 5th, 2010 · 70 Comments »

Via Echidne, check out this hilarious definition of feminism offered by WisCon (an allegedly feminist science fiction convention):

Feminism is many things to many people, but one way to describe it is as a belief in the social, political, and economic equality of all. Feminism is part of a larger constellation of movements seeking social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, ability, status, or belief.

Notice anything? Like maybe the fact that this definition of feminism doesn’t even mention discrimination based on sex? We have “gender identity” and “sexual orientation,” which covers the GLBTQ crowd, but what about just plain old sex discrimination? Apparently, equality regardless of sex just isn’t on the menu.

Notice anything else? Like maybe the fact that this isn’t a definition of feminism at all? Feminism is a movement and political philosophy that addresses the systematic oppression of females because they are female. What WisCon is offering up instead is just a general definition of liberal social justice. Sexism isn’t even mentioned.

Imagine a paragraph like this, definining gay rights as “equality for all” with no reference whatsoever to gay people or sexual orientation or homophobia:

The gay rights movement is many things to many people, but one way to describe it is as a belief in the social, political, and economic equality of all. Gay rights are part of a larger constellation of movements seeking social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sex, creed, ability, status, or belief.

It’s fascinating the extent to which women have been shamed out of even claiming a movement to address sexism. We just aren’t allowed to have that. Too strident. Too pushy.

(And of course the people who insist on this sort of woman-free definition of feminism are typically the same people who write nonsense asking “who stole feminism?”)

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70 Responses to “Feminism is no longer about sexism at all”

  1. Boner Killer says:

    I’m SO glad that you posted this. I had a friend for a while who was a self-described feminist, but yet she found nothing wrong with exploitation or BDSM shit, she never critiqued any institutions other than ones that oppressed the LGBT community.

    Feministing.com is a perfect example of what you’re talking about. They rarely, if ever, mention sexism, which is such a huge friggen issue for feminists, i don’t know how it gets ignored or how the definition has changed so much.

    Great post!

  2. myiq2xu says:

    Were there any women as WisCon?

  3. tinfoil hattie says:

    If WisCon can just claim the definition of feminism, then so can I. Feminism is for and about women. Period.

    There. Nyaah, nyaaah.

    (rolls eyes)

  4. Gayle says:

    It’s completely regressive, another variation on the idea that women should take care of everyone else before themselves. The left has co-opted this idea and foisted it on younger feminists who simply haven’t lived long enough to recognize how conservative and anti-feminist it is.

    It’s utter BS, but it’s worked. And Feministing isn’t the only website espousing promoting this in the name of “progressive” feminism.

    The jokes on them.

  5. Gayle says:

    Oh, they’ve even gone as far as to say women don’t exist. At all. It’s all in our minds.

    Can you imagine someone saying African Americans don’t exist and actually getting away with it?

  6. SYD says:

    Unbelievable!

    No wonder we can’t gain ground with this kind of BS being spouted by the “intelligensia.”

  7. Unree says:

    Amen, Violet and commenters. Especially Gayle for pointing out how young women with good intentions have been played.

    Try this at work or school or home, wherever you spend your day: Bring up an instance of sexism. Any kind. Just talk about a particular woman being mistreated because she is a woman. Chances are you’ll get pushback, denial, or an attempt to change the subject.

  8. Violet Socks says:

    Typical absurdist responses:

    1. “Are you saying racism and homophobia aren’t important?”

    2. “Are you saying feminism means we have to ignore all other forms of injustice?”

    3. “Are you saying I have to pretend I’m not black/brown/gay/disabled/poor/Muslim/Jewish/etc.?”

    Whenever I see one of these clusterfucks in action, I’m always amazed at how people are just so incapable of logical thought. It’s like, hello, Logic Train. Please pull into the station now.

  9. Violet Socks says:

    And Gayle is right: it’s profoundly anti-feminist. The heart of sexism is the unspoken assumption that women aren’t human. Not the way men are, at least. There’s Man, and all his great history and his discoveries and his evolution and his logic and his justice and his important causes and so on, and then there’s the breeding stock over there, the vagina animals. That the same justice and even logic should also apply to the vagina stock as to the Men, the Humans, is of course impossible.

    This is why women who have been brainwashed into this sort of self-abnegation see absolutely no problem with there being discrete, focused political philosophies to combat racism, homophobia, anti-semitism (all of which affect Men and therefore humans) but no such focused political philosophy to deal with the vagina situation.

  10. votermom says:

    Wiscon was in the news recently for rescinding it’s Guest of Honor invitation to one of my favorite fantasy/sf authors, Elizabeth Moon. She is a Marine vet and writes fiction featuring strong women. Her “sin” that caused a lot of Wisconites to clamor for her to be uninvited is a livejournal post that said talked about the ground zero Mosque and said that as immigrants, Muslims should make more of an effort to assimilate. A lot of her blog readers called then called her raycist, and she got piled on so she started shutting down the comments. She then got labelled persona non grata.
    It was instructive to watch the shunning process in action on lj.

  11. Violet Socks says:

    Do I have an M word filter?

  12. votermom says:

    I just assumed that’s what kept it in lag because spammy over at the confluence does.
    Oh, just clicked the echidne link and saw she mentioned Moon — but I want to say that I read that lj post and it was not by any stretch an “anti-Muslim rant.” It might be said to be anti-multicultural diversity (being in favor of assimilation), and I wouldn’t have called it a rant at all, being presented as an well-thought-out argument. It may be a wrong argument, but it was not a rant.

  13. votermom says:

    Um, maybe? Because I used it again and it caught me again. :)

  14. Violet Socks says:

    I don’t think I do. And I have no idea why all of a sudden you’re getting in the spam filter. It’s weird.

  15. Sasha CA says:

    Her “sin” that caused a lot of Wisconites to clamor for her to be uninvited is a livejournal post that said talked about the ground zero Mosque and said that as immigrants, Muslims should make more of an effort to assimilate.

    You mean the “mosque” that is neither a mosque, nor at ground zero? As for Muslims being immigrants, that’s one hell of an assumption. Many Muslims aren’t immigrants at all, at least not in the usual sense of the word (i.e., meaning first generation immigrants). And what does she mean by assimilate? Convert to Christianity? Not practice their religion? Do you have a link to the blog post that caused the uproar?

    Now, regarding Wiscon’s definition of feminism, I’ve seen similarly ridiculous definitions, but this is the first that doesn’t include sex discrimination at all on the list of oppressions. Wow. Feminism without women’s rights, that’s really something. I mean, I’m already used to every other type of oppression trumping gender-based discrimination and violence in certain “feminist” circles, but usually they have the good sense to at least mention sexism.

  16. Carmonn says:

    I’ll never forget the flap at Feministe about defining the Sean Bell case as an explicitly feminist issue. Not as an important issue, not as something everyone of goodwill should care about, but as a feminist issue.

    It was amazing to see, when it was pointed out that this simply isn’t the case, young women arguing that Bell had a mother and a wife.

  17. Sasha CA says:

    I also used the “M” word and appear to be stuck in spam land as well …

  18. snow black says:

    “Vagina animals”! Priceless. One for the ages. So much more vivid than “sex class”.

    Long may you blog.

  19. anna says:

    I’m going to write to them in protest. At the very least they need to include sex discrimination.

    I hope you all write to them in protest too (this convention is held yearly so its crappy definition is still being used).

  20. anna says:

    If you would like to ask WisCon to change their definition of feminism, write to : eCube35@wiscon.info

    The definition is part of their “statement of principles,” so you might mention that so they can be sure of what you’re referring to.

    Good luck!

  21. kiuku says:

    whenever men see women doing something, anything, they immediately think “this should be for all of us”; they get jealous. They want feminism; they want to pretend to be oppressed for the sake of doing something as a group; it’s a fantasy for them; they wouldn’t actually want to be oppressed along with bogarting Feminism. Anytime a woman does something, there is the subconscious idea that it’s for everyone; like you’re cooking em dinner. That’s why I see women get plagiarized more than men, as the concept of female ownership does not compute in mens’ brain. It’s “for everyone” or it’s distasteful.

  22. kiuku says:

    or you know it was just a slow wearing down of Feminism with onslaughts of “but what about the men” and not enough calling out of “but what about the men” and women seeking male approval by proving that she’s all for “but what about the men”

  23. Crowfoot says:

    A part of what’s so frustrating for me is how close they are, but getting it backwards. Feminism deals with the oppression of women, but women are also of colour, GLBT, Jewish, poor, disabled, etc. So a feminism for all women needs to understand how these other bigotries interact with sexism. But that still means that feminism is about fighting a bigotry based on being female – it is based on the flesh, the way racism is, but also based on (perceived) behaviour, the way homophobia is (meaning people who are female are discriminated against, but also people who are “womanly”, as that links back to the inferior female state). It’s like they see the intersectionality, but then ignore women :-/

    Or if I’m going to be really generous, maybe they thought it was a given so didn’t need to be mentioned? Unlikely. Subconscious sexism ftw :-(

    As an aside, I read Moon’s essay and I thought it was racist, yeah. I hesitate to mention it because it’s a derail, but there are legitimate criticisms to be made there.

  24. Crowfoot says:

    Sasha CA, here’s the link to Moon’s post.

  25. Violet Socks says:

    Feminism deals with the oppression of women, but women are also of colour, GLBT, Jewish, poor, disabled, etc. So a feminism for all women needs to understand how these other bigotries interact with sexism.

    I think a “feminism for all women” just needs to acknowledge that there are intersections, and that the particular flavor of feminism practiced by various groups of women will be shaped by those intersections.

    I have never seen the following argument:

    “Civil rights deals with the oppression of people of color, but people of color are also female, GLBT, Jewish, poor, disabled, etc. So a civil rights movement needs to understand how these other bigotries interact with racism.”

    It’s every bit as true as your statement on feminism, but it’s an argument that never, ever gets made.

    Like this argument never gets made:

    “Gay rights deals with the oppression of gay people, but gay people are also of color, female, Jewish, poor, disabled, etc. So a gay rights movement needs to understand how these other bigotries interact with homophobia.”

  26. anna says:

    You’ll never get anything done if your movement tries to help everyone at once.

    Feminism is about women having equal rights with men. You personally can support every good cause, and I hope you do. But the gay rights movement only fights for gay rights, and the latino rights movement only fights for latino rights, and the women’s rights movement should only fight for women’s rights. Not because the other causes aren’t worthy, but because every cause deserves its own movement, including women’s rights.

  27. Violet Socks says:

    Exactly. Can you imagine someone saying to an oncologist:

    “Why aren’t you working on ALL diseases?”
    “Because I’m working on cancer.”
    “But don’t you think other diseases are important?”
    “Yes, of course, but I’m focusing on cancer.”
    “Why don’t you work on heart disease? Doesn’t that kill people too?”
    “Sure it does, and there are cardiologists for that. But oncologists work on cancer.”
    “Don’t you realize that people can have both heart disease AND cancer?”
    “Yes, and they’ll need to see both me and the cardiologist.”

  28. JeanLouise says:

    As an aside, I read Moon’s essay and I thought it was racist, yeah.
    *******************
    Why did you think the essay was racist? I view Islam as a religion, not a race, as members of various races, as I understand the term, adhere to Islam.

  29. Violet Socks says:

    The conflation of Islamophobia—or even Islamic criticism—with racism is a pet peeve of mine.

    It’s certainly true that the right is full of people who do, mistakenly, think all Muslims are brown, and that all brown people might very well be Muslims, and that they’re all probably terrorists.

    But the leftwing response to this is often just as asinine. They also seem to think that all Muslims belong to the same race. And they further seem to think that any opposition to Islam is racist.

    It’s just a ludicrous situation. My own family includes a Persian branch with members who are acidly critical of Islam. Can you imagine the absurdity of their being accused online of being “racists”?

  30. Crowfoot says:

    I think a “feminism for all women” just needs to acknowledge that there are intersections, and that the particular flavor of feminism practiced by various groups of women will be shaped by those intersections

    Yes, that’s basically what I mean. I’m just elaborating in that I think we need to recognize how other bigotries can bring differing flavours of sexism (though it’s all the same shit sundae), not just differing flavours of feminism. Which is perhaps implied in what you said. (I may need more coffee)

    I think, too, that it can be very difficult to split up the ways all this shit impacts us, those of us getting it from different directions. Bringing intersectionality into one’s theorizing makes for complex and multidimentional thinking. That can be tricky. So we see a lot of that either/or, rather than both/and. Wiscon leaders stop mentioning sexism because they need to be aware of the other isms. And, because I do think that women are the ultimate Other/Irrelevant, the ism that impacts women as women gets dropped, even when they can see the other isms together.

    As you say, no one makes this argument elsewhere. Though they should. At least in so far as recognizing intersectionality, and how that plays out, not in this “lose the focus on your movement” pressure that women always are under.

  31. Violet Socks says:

    I’m just elaborating in that I think we need to recognize how other bigotries can bring differing flavours of sexism (though it’s all the same shit sundae), not just differing flavours of feminism.

    Yes, that is absolutely true. Sexism is expressed very differently in different cultural settings and when applied to differently-situated women. But the way to make feminism applicable to all that is to strip it down to its essentials: women getting shat on in some way because they’re women. Instead, what third wavers do is just pile on more and more detail: there’s this way and this way and this way and this way and this way, and we all must be equally attentive to all of them.

    That’s simply not how you do intersectionality. The gay rights movement, for example: people getting shat on because of their sexual orientation. Leave it that simple, and it can apply to white gay men in Venice Beach or African-American men on the “down low” or Hijra in Calcutta. Each group will interpret their intersectional experience as necessary.

    Whereas the third wave feminist approach would be, “Okay, now we’re all going to simultaneously tackle the Hijra and the Venice Beach people and the African-American men and their families and poverty and homophobia and Will and Grace and the caste system and British colonialism and Republican budget cuts in California and the rate of imprisonment among African-American men and anti-Semitism….and if you want gay rights, you can only do it by simultaneously focusing on all these things no matter where you are in the world.”

  32. quixote says:

    This is such a downer. I love (loved?) WisCon. I’ve only been to one, and even wrote a longish blogpost about it because it impressed me so much. And now this.

    Sort of puts the nail in the coffin, because the whole Moon business really bothered me too. I went and read her post when the whole flap broke. It’s been a while, so my memory may be wrong. My general impression is that she was very careful not to talk about Muslims generally — so, no, it didn’t strike me as racist. Her point, as I understood it, was that if you insist on a discriminatory, sexist culture, why should there be an expectation of tolerance for that from the wider, less-sexist culture around you? That was the idea behind the need for “assimilation.” It was clearly reasoned, and it’s a valid question.

    As far as I’m concerned, disagree with her reasoning all you want, and show where it’s wrong, but shouting her down and punishing her for speaking out does not demonstrate any kind of respect for rights.

    So I was PO’ed then, and now more proof that they’ve lost the clue.

    Aargh. Just … aargh.

  33. quixote says:

    (Eep. My comment may have wound up in the spam filter. ??)

  34. Violet Socks says:

    I wish to clarify that in my comment #30, I wasn’t referring to anyone here. I was just expressing my irritation with a widespread phenomenon.

    I read the Moon piece Crowfoot linked to. I wouldn’t call it racist, but I would call it Islamophobic. Or maybe Islamo-ignorant. She writes as if “Muslims” are a single group of aliens who are coming to our shores, seeking to be allowed in, and who must prove themselves as good citizens. But Muslims are something like 25% of the world population. They range across almost every country on Earth; they’re Americans, Canadians, Bosnians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indonesians, Malaysians, Arabs, Nigerians, etc., etc., etc.

    Moon is right that there is a powerfully anti-woman component of traditional Islam, especially the Middle Eastern variety, and also that traditional Islam is oppositional to the separation of church and state and other “Enlightenment” values. But she mixes all that up with the people who want to build the mosque, which I don’t think is accurate.

  35. sas says:

    OK ….I have two thoughts….

    1. That definition of feminism by WisCon doesn’t mention the words female or women.

    With that definition, WisCon is willingly and/or intentionally marginilizing women and their struggles…striking in its openness.

    An “oppressive” definition whic further serves to opress…

    Or

    2. WisCon is dumber than a stump and needs forgiveness, because he/she TOTALLY doesn’t get it……

    Hmmmmm

  36. Violet Socks says:

    People, I have no idea what’s going on with the spam filter. I haven’t touched a thing. I think Akismet (the external spam eater) is going haywire.

    Her point, as I understood it, was that if you insist on a discriminatory, sexist culture, why should there be an expectation of tolerance for that from the wider, less-sexist culture around you?

    If that was her point, then I would agree. But just now reading the essay, I don’t feel that she made that point terribly well. It was muddied by the focus on the mosque and the whole othering tone.

    I personally have no problem with insisting that religion bow to the basic human rights and liberties that our country values. People aren’t allowed to do all kinds of things that their religion calls for, from sacrificing animals to marrying multiple wives to denying their children medical care. I say good.

  37. anna says:

    Hey Violet, do you have a degree in anthropology or history? You always seem to know all these obscure subcultures (like hijra).

  38. anna says:

    Also, there are feminists within every religion, including Islam. There are people (mostly women) who consider themselves devout Muslims and don’t consider sexism to be an integral part of their religion. So if you say “oh we must be sensitive to Muslims and allow them to force female children to wear veils”, for example, you are saying that Islam is more important than women’s rights and children’s rights, even if some women and children are Muslims, and also you are holding up the most sexist version of Islam as true Islam.

  39. kiuku says:

    Anne: I think Violet is Immortal.

    I want to challenge WisCom. The first “all” should be replaced with “women” because the next line is about how it’s part of a larger constellation of movements. I think it can be classified in with other movements, not necesssarily that it’s part of something greater than itself. Feminism happened on its own for its own purpose and often runs lateral to other movements, or counter to other progressive movements. I see a lot of underprivileged males associate with feminism but only because they are operating under a male privilege that says women are a resource for them, and they want these Feminists to band with them to eradicate for instance classism, something that affects them, but they have no intention of ending sexism, and you see this with the democratic party, liberal male ideology where women are sex toys, concubines, and little else.

    It would make sense if the first “all” is replaced with women, and then say it’s part of a greater constellation of movements that seeks equality for all. Maybe they simply made a mistake, however I highly doubt it, this definition ERASES women. First it’s for everyone, and secondly it’s not even its own movement but part of many movements.

    and then I disagree that Feminism is about economic equality for all. That sounds weird. Certainly it lauds the end to all slavery. But it’s economic equality for women, because women are economically oppressed, but we don’t want socialism or communism necessarily; just equal opportunity and fair pay legislation.

  40. Violet Socks says:

    Kiuku is correct. I am immortal.

  41. Sameol says:

    I think it’s funny that Moon’s piece is chock full of othering, stereotypes, and collective blame, yet it’s ostensibly about the moral duty (of some) to consciously contort and defer to avoid causing any type of reasonable or unreasonable offense to anyone. Because who could predict that sentiments like “I do not dispute that many Muslims have all the attributes of civilized persons” might not be received with gratitude?

  42. octogalore says:

    Violet — I’m glad you’re still fighting this good fight.

    It’s interesting that when feminists try to throw all oppressions into feminism, they often do a disservice to women of all colors. For example, in the legal field, a recent article on treatment of women professionals looked at both women and minorities. But because they had defined their mission as sexism+racism, they skipped real intersectionality. They looked at women vs men, and then POC vs whites. They didn’t do any independent focus on, say, Black or Latina or Asian women compared to men of the same race and white men. So in widening their focus to all POC, they didn’t look specifically at the POC of specific interest in an intersectional view of feminism: WOC.

    Similarly with Sean Bell. In calling this issue, really about a black man, a feminist issue, allegedly because of his female relatives, they denied these women any kind of central focus. Apparently, bit parts are still OK. Thought we were past that in the 70s; guess it’s coming back around under a new fashionable guise.

  43. sam says:

    When I feed thirdwave intersectionalism through my angle of prostitution abolition, a familiar and cynical familiarity rears its head.

    If thirdwave feminists were as pro-sex worker as they claim they would read the research and come to different conclusions than “legalize and regulate.” I’ve watched them obstinately refuse to read the research while preferring anecdotes from their book-writing industry pals. My observations have led me to believe libfems aren’t asking what they can do for sex workers, they’re asking what a minority of sexee, successful sex workers can do to boost liberal feminism. Prostitutes don’t need legitimacy under patriarchy, feminists do.

    Prostitutes have more legitimacy in men’s lives than other non-relational females. Fathers have brought their sons to whorehouses for centuries, bachelor parties are a male rite of passage, and the proliferation of prostitution, pornography, strip clubs, phone sex lines, and the pornification of Western society generally is proof that for men it is very legitimate that women be whores. We hear about “sex workers rights” but men have long been all right with women having the right to fuck and suck any man with a buck.

    What is not legitimate is feminism. There are no father & son iconic moments which include women who seek equality with men, no male rituals of any kind involving feminists unless you count males getting together to harass feminists at TBtN Marches and similar events.

    Careeristing feminists crave the legitimacy prostitutes are given in the network and cable TV shows they star in, millions of websites, hundreds of porn satellite channels, Broadway musicals based on them, cover stories in the biggest magazines, NYT bestselling memoirs, starring roles in b-zombie and Hollywood movies, rock songs and other poet paeans to the holy whore, etcetera. Sasha Grey is a million times more well known than any feminist under 40, and Gloria Steinem has nothing on Jenna Jameson’s wealth or cultural clout.

    Back to intersectionalism, I used to work with liberal and radical men on causes that affected all of us. I stopped when I realized my comrades kept recoiling at the thought of explicitly including women’s rights in our work. It was like they pulled out a can of Cootie Protection whenever the pink bitchstink of feminism threatened to taint their noble causes.

    Liberal feminists ache for their movement to be taken as seriously as black rights, gay rights, religious rights, etc. I ache for that too, but as a radical woman who hitchhiked a lot in her foolish past, I’ve learned that hitching rides with men doesn’t offer the benevolent, no-strings-attached lifts that men provide each other.

  44. Allison says:

    I agree with a lot of the points here, but I do disagree with your statement in the OP that says that “Gender identity covers the LGBTQ” crowd. Yes, in many ways it does. However, it also does go a long way in covering women, too. I am a cis-gendered woman, therefore according to the WisCon definition, feminism serves me. While the word “sex” is an omission, separating sex from gender is important and subtle. “Gender identity” doesn’t just refer to people who are trans. We all have a gender identity.

    Secondly, Sam, I’d like to make a distinction about prostitution and feminism. You say that “Prostitutes have more legitimacy in men’s lives than other non-relational females.” I disagree. Prostitution has legitimacy, but not prostitutes themselves. Valuing the intellectual options of prostitutes isn’t exactly part of the trope you’re describing.
    Saying “There are no father & son iconic moments which include women who seek equality with men, no male rituals of any kind involving feminists” is also untrue. I’d suggest that far more than dads taking their sons to whorehouses (which, by the way, does ANYONE know someone who did that?), a common element in a boy’s life is their father teaching them about courting women, about marriage, about sharing work loads (sometimes this looks like decidedly anti-feminist “men’s work and women’s work, but increasingly not), about fatherhood, and all the rest. While the word “feminism” may not be explicitly part of this relationship, most men born after 1955 realize that the old tropes no longer apply and that most marriages look a lot more feminist than they used to.

  45. Adrienne in CA says:

    You’ll never get anything done if your movement tries to help everyone at once.

    Totally. Yet I remember the scads of discussion around a women’s movement/political party, and how quickly the Justice Party concept got swamped with concerns that were not exclusively feminist ones. To me, that was an illustration of how hard it is to get WOMEN — even the ultra-feminist women who congregate here — to stand up for “just” us.

    Yeah, Justice = Just Us! If only we could crack that nut, we’d have a chance.

    *****A

  46. Gayle says:

    “Gender identity” doesn’t just refer to people who are trans. We all have a gender identity.”

    No. That doesn’t cut it.

    “I’d suggest that far more than dads taking their sons to whorehouses (which, by the way, does ANYONE know someone who did that?). . .”

    Yes.

  47. kiuku says:

    I agree. there’s no such thing as a gender, IMO; only sex, and even that can be ambiguous.

  48. Violet Socks says:

    I agree with a lot of the points here, but I do disagree with your statement in the OP that says that “Gender identity covers the LGBTQ” crowd. Yes, in many ways it does. However, it also does go a long way in covering women, too.

    I think perhaps you are missing the point or perhaps I wasn’t clear. Or both.

    When I said “that covers the GLBTQ crowd,” I meant “that covers the discrimination experienced by the GLBTQ crowd on account of being GLBTQ.” That’s the issue at hand: certain forms of discrimination. Not whether any of those listed “cover” women, because of course ALL of those listed apply to some women. Women are half the human race, hence women suffer all forms of discrimination that men experience: racism, classism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc.

    What is signally missing from WisCon’s list is discrimination on account of sex. And that is most certainly not the same as discrimination on account of “gender identity.” To put it bluntly: if you find yourself being raped in a war zone, it will be because you have a vagina. Not because of whatever “gender identity” you have.

  49. tinfoil hattie says:

    “the pink bitchstink of feminism”

    That is just … I bow to you for that one, sam.

  50. votermom says:

    The conflation of Islamophobia—or even Islamic criticism—with racism is a pet peeve of mine.

    Agree. In fact Hillary Clinton in August issued a statement against Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, a religion that originated in Persia and has approximately 300,00 members within Iran at them moment. I imagine whenever they complain about their persecution by the Muslim theocracy they are just being raycist, huh.

  51. lalala says:

    Why did you take down so many links from your blogroll?

  52. K.A. says:

    Gender identity was queer theory’s first step in an evolution away from an oppressive binary system. However, it was only the first step, and deserves a load of criticism for the ways it reinforces binarism. I personally don’t have a gender identity. The gender behaviors associated with each are randomly assigned and have nothing to do with sex. I don’t have a man brain or lady brain that either matches or doesn’t match my sex. If I were to wake up tomorrow as a man, there would be challenges for me to get used to (e.g., don’t make eye contact with strangers a lot because I’m now seen as threatening/creepy), but I would get used to it.

    There is a lot of woman-hating bullshit in queer theory. But that doesn’t mean criticisms of it are advocating for the misogyny-based oppression that “gender queer”-people face!

    A more accurate related concept is gender non-conformity; many people, which by definition includes but is not limited to transfolk, are oppressed by their refusal to perform gender and/or their discomfort with it. I would be one of them. I DO NOT HAVE A GENDER IDENTITY.

    While feminism should always keep in mind that intersectionality is important so that women facing other oppressions, e.g., racism, homophobia, and gender-nonconformity, are adequately represented in the diverging ways they experience misogyny, we have to be wary of this blatant shaming of women for having the audacity to be outspoken about sex-based hatred.

    We have to stop this woman-hating cooptation of the entire movement!

  53. Violet Socks says:

    Why did you take down so many links from your blogroll?

    I haven’t removed any links. It’s a feed-reading blogroll, and I set it to show the last 15 instead of the last 20 for performance reasons.

  54. K.A. says:

    Here’s some more of that in action:

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/11/actual-headline.html

    The obnoxious headline in question is “Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate.”

    Here’s a list of what is wrong with the headline/article:

    There’s a lot of fail in this piece: The gender essentialism. The disappearing of partnered-but-not-married parents, as well as traditional but not “traditional” (where “traditional” is a dog-whistle for a privileged white conservative fantasy world) family structures, e.g. intergenerational child-raising. The backwards framing of institutional racism, endemic poverty, an inequitably prosecuted “War on Drugs,” a broken educational system, the outsourcing of industrial labor jobs, and a corrupt welfare system that tacitly encourages broken families as the “simple arguments for why so many black women have children without marriage,” while heterocentrist slut-shaming is somehow the cutting edge of sophisticated debate.

    I could swear there is something else besides racism, heterocentrism, and classism going on here.

  55. K.A. says:

    I think the more likely it is that sexism is based on a woman’s femaleness in particular, the more readily 3rd-wavers try to downplay its relevance to the oppression of women. Because if it doesn’t have anything to do with a transwoman, it simply is too impolite to mention female oppression in genderqueer-subscribing company. That was my point of quoting it at all.

  56. Linkspamming into a brick wall (9th November, 2010) | Geek Feminism Blog says:

    [...] Feminism is no longer about sexism at all: It’s fascinating the extent to which women have been shamed out of even claiming a movement to address sexism. We just aren’t allowed to have that. Too strident. Too pushy. [...]

  57. kiuku says:

    all iconic moments in men’s lives include the oppression of a woman or women.

  58. sam says:

    I think the more likely it is that sexism is based on a woman’s femaleness in particular, the more readily 3rd-wavers try to downplay its relevance to the oppression of women.

    At first I was inclined to agree, then I remembered abortion and reproductive rights. My guess is those issues are too immediately pressing in their lives to ignore with as few consequences as other ignorances.

  59. K.A. says:

    They get enough support from liberal men on abortion et al, not because liberal men care about women’s humanity, but because of the way they use liberal women for their own expression of misogyny.

    Bottom line, “feminists” will always factor in men’s comfort and support in how hard they will rally for their own personhood.

  60. K.A. says:

    Notice in both instances, on reproduction rights and oppression of the female sex-not-gender in particular, the comfort of the male-bodied is factored in prominently, which is why both instances have different outcomes!

  61. gxm17 says:

    Whereas the third wave feminist approach would be, “Okay, now we’re all going to simultaneously tackle the Hijra and the Venice Beach people and the African-American men and their families and poverty and homophobia and Will and Grace and the caste system and British colonialism and Republican budget cuts in California and the rate of imprisonment among African-American men and anti-Semitism….and if you want gay rights, you can only do it by simultaneously focusing on all these things no matter where you are in the world.”

    Perfect analogy. “Inclusion” all comes down to including men. Because men are the default, the very definition of human is male. Women, the vagina animals, are chattel, mere accessories. And we can’t focus on the female accessories and ignore the male humans who own them.

    Androcentric cultures, androcentric religions, androcentric myths and androcentric languages perpetually enforce the ideal of women’s lowly status as imperfect men. Of course, feminism can’t be just about women, and it only took three waves for the narrative to be reshaped into the androcentric cultural norm.

    It always saddens me that one of the biggest obstacles feminists face is other women who just can’t see past the fallacy of the male default. They’ve absorbed it too deeply. And if they give it up, they risk losing themselves. If woman could stand together, and see ourselves as innately whole, we’d be able to face down, and overcome, the death culture called patriarchy.

  62. Violet Socks says:

    If woman could stand together, and see ourselves as innately whole, we’d be able to face down, and overcome, the death culture called patriarchy.

    gxm17, I love your whole comment. But this one sentence I disagree with. Perhaps it’s a question of semantics. I think what women need to do is see themselves as human. Not “stand together,” because I think that’s extremely unlikely given the state of human civilization. Women are half the human race, and we’re no more likely to all “stand together” than all men are.

    What we women need to do is fully absorb the fact that we are human. That sexism is a type of human oppression, and can be dealt with like other human oppressions.

    It’s the failure to grasp this essential truth that makes so much third wave feminism incoherent. Go to any thread where third wavers are discussing how Sean Bell is a feminist issue and global warming is a feminist issue—not important issues, which they certainly are; not issues everyone should care about, which they certainly are—but explicitly feminist issues. Notice all the generalizations that are stated as absolute truth: that feminism must include everything of interest to any woman, that sexism can never be analyzed separately in any way from racism and classism, etc. etc.

    Now do a mental substitution: for example, substitute “racism” or “homophobia” or “anti-semitism” for “sexism” in any of these sweeping generalizations. Substitute “civil rights” or “gay rights” for “feminism” in any of those sweeping generalizations. Immediately, the sentences make no sense. (“Sean Bell is a gay rights issue!” “The fate of the polar bears is intrinsically tied up with the civil rights issue and what it means to be African-American.”) And of course the people in the thread would never make such statements: Sean Bell is not a gay rights issue, and polar bears aren’t African-Americans.

    These mental substitutions also generate other, extremely interesting sentences that you never, ever hear expressed: “The civil rights movement offers me nothing because as a Black woman, I cannot separate my femaleness from my blackness.” “The gay rights movement, in order to be effective, must focus on all the intersectional oppressions that affect gay people: racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and anti-Semitism.” The people in the thread would never make these statements, either, because everyone understands that fighting oppression doesn’t work that way. Oppressions are, to some extent, like diseases: they need specialists. And the most effective way to combat any form of oppression is not by trying to solve all world problems simultaneously, but instead by focusing your efforts specifically. The civil rights movement in the U.S. blatantly ignored sexism, even though half of African-Americans are female (and in fact the civil rights leadership in the 60s and 70s was dominated by sexists), but it was effective and relevant precisely because of its clear focus on racism. With its mission to combat racism, it was relevant to all people of color, regardless of what other “intersections” they were experiencing.

    So why do people magically forget all this and make ridiculous statements about feminism? Why do they resist the knowledge that feminism is about ending a particular form of human oppression (sexism)? Why do they instead act as if feminism is some sort of women’s club that must focus on everything of possible interest to women, and since that includes men and all their issues, then of course feminism is about all of that too (and polar bears)?

  63. Violet Socks says:

    One other thing: if memory serves, Feministe’s reaction to the Sean Bell blowback was a post entitled something like “Ew! Other issues in my feminism!” Naturally they think that it’s outrageous and selfish and evil to think that feminism is about ending the oppression of females as females. In other words, they think it’s outrageous and selfish and evil for there to even be a movement focused on ending the oppression of females as females. Their attitude might be summed up as “Ew! Women in my feminism!”

  64. anna says:

    Third wave feminists seem to confuse “this is a cause that affects women” with “this is a feminist cause.” But they only do that with feminism; they wouldn’t say “Some gay people are poor, female, disabled, and so on, so the gay rights movement simply must dedicate plenty of time and effort to helping fight for the rights of the poor etc, or else they only care about rich white gays.” It’s understood that fighting for gay rights will help all gay people. But when it comes to women, you can’t just fight for women’s rights, you have to lump everything else in.

    I wish I could remember the exact quote or who said it, but it was something like “Feminism means caring for every issue, prison rights and disability rights and the poor and freedom in Tibet. And then, when everyone else has eaten and left the table, maybe the women will get a few crumbs- after they’ve swept up, of course.”

  65. anna says:

    Quoth feministe: “Ewwww! You got your other issues in my feminism!”

  66. scube' says:

    oh man, so many good points I dont know where to put myself! Thanks!
    You have inspired me to write about a related conversation!

  67. Ani says:

    Violet,

    Thanks so much for still being here and keeping this discussion alive. I’ve written a book on the subject (covering the Hillary campaign through the 2010 midterms) and I’m currently working to find an agent for it. I, too, am exhausted with people defining away the problem with phrases like “post-feminism.” Looking away from a continuing problem just ensures more of the same biased behavior the next time a woman steps up to the plate.

  68. gxm17 says:

    Violet, you are correct. I was trying to agree with you and I really mangled the point I was trying to emphasize. Men, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, seem to have an unspoken understanding that they are all part of Team Patriarchy, and they are united (oftentimes even the ones claiming to be pro-woman) with the understanding that they are the very definition of human, and that women are lesser creatures.

    Conversely, around the world, women are raised to identify with an androcentric ideal and, in turn, to demonize, marginalize and ridicule other women, especially those who do not adhere to their cultural restrictions. (Your post on the Mother Jones cover aptly illustrates this point.) I think many women find it very difficult to contemplate, much less agree with, the heretical notion that women are fully and completely human and we don’t need men, or their “issues,” to make us whole. It’s a terrible Catch 22, a self-perpetuating self-hate machine. When I say that patriarchy will be the death of us, I’m not overstating my point.

  69. spring says:

    Race, nationality, religion, creed… all male patriarchies jockeying for position in the world and history versus each other. There [was] only one movement that was by and for women’s equality and rights, including its majority subset (mothers — the only demographic actually based on tangible difference). Gone.

  70. Links: November 14, 2010 « Against All Evidence says:

    [...] Leftist: “Feminism is no longer about sexism at all”; check out the great, ongoing discussions in the comments as [...]