Some feminist self-reflection

Blogging is not always easy. Your growth (and mistakes) as a writer and activist are documented for the world to see. You become public in a way that often feels dehumanizing. But with these things comes incredible privilege and opportunity.
I feel so lucky that I get to do the work that I do – that I was able to write two books, that I can go to conferences where I meet amazing feminists, that I can travel to colleges and speak about a subject I love, and that I’m able to make connections and work with activists and organizers whose work I respect so much. Not many feminists get these opportunities, and I’m grateful for them daily.
The recent happenings in the feminist blogosphere concerning racism have had me up nights. For the last few months – whether it was the issue of appropriation, feminist presses, or racist imagery – my stance for Feministing has been one of “let our work speak for itself.â€? Let’s make sure we pledge to do better, to do the work instead of just spouting the rhetoric. And I continue to think that this is important, and that Feministing’s body of work does walk the walk. But I’ve been remiss in not writing something more personal and more complex sooner – because as much as Feministing is a group project, I recognize that my profile is a bit more out there these days. (Of course, I want to echo a sentiment Samhita posted about long ago, which is why my name has been the one most associated with Feministing and the importance of looking at that in a critical way.)
But I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own role in all of this, which has brought up a ton of personal issues for me – specifically regrets I have. And this is something I’ve been mulling on for a long time, but felt scared to write about. But after all of this, the silence is just weighing on me, and I feel like I have to say something.


When Feministing began, I not only wanted it to be a site that debunked popular myths about feminism and made the movement more accessible to young people – I also wanted it to be a site that embodied the intersectional analysis that was so important to my real-life academic and activist work. How we do this – and how we can do it better – has been the center of many conversations with Feministing bloggers, and our off-line allies.
I also wanted this to be a site that held the mainstream feminist movement – whose history of privileging the voices of white, middle and upper class straight women is still very much alive – accountable. But I think that I’ve been focusing so hard on changing mainstream feminist institutions, organizations that I saw as the ones with power, I ignored how a blog (or a book, or a person) could have that same power and do the same harm that I was working so hard to stop. For that, I am truly sorry.
I know there’s damage that’s been done that won’t be undone. Not a day goes by, for example, that I don’t wish I would have handled the criticism of my book cover differently. That I would have listened rather than just reacted. (Seriously, re-reading that old thread just makes me plain ashamed.) I was super excited to have a book coming out, and I let that trump the very reasonable criticisms of the cover. I was quick to dismiss and ignore, which was beyond shitty – it was silencing.
And while I think some of the criticisms of my work – be it Full Frontal Feminism or Feministing – have been right on, I’ve felt others have been off, or unfair. But either way, I should have listened more closely to them all. And I didn’t.
It pains me when I read posts that say I’ve “ruinedâ€? feminism or marginalized the voices of women of color. And, to be frank, I don’t think that I have. But I also recognize that it’s not really about what I think or feel. The fact that others have felt it is proof enough for me – and enough to make think about the kind of feminism I want to be part of and the kind of feminism I want to put out into the world. And, of course, I want to do better – and I will.
I have no illusions as to why my work has gotten the press that it has. The media likes nothing more than a young sassy white feminist who is mainstream-friendly. I know that there is work out there being done that is more nuanced and cutting edge – because I see it all around me. That’s not to say I’m not incredibly proud of the work I’ve done. I am proud. I know that Feministing and FFF have made changes in people’s lives, and that warms my heart every day. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the work that we are doing and the women who I’m fortunate enough to blog with. But I also believe in our ability – and my own – to do better.
And here’s how I plan to. I promise to listen to critics of my work – even when it’s painful, even when I don’t agree, even when I want to tear my fucking hair out. I’ll listen more than I talk. (Which, for those of you who know me, is not always easy!)
Seal Press, who has supported me in amazing ways – not many other presses are keen on publishing curse-laden feminist books for young women – fucked up. I am horrified that racist images were allowed to go to print, and that it went unnoticed for as long as it did. In my continuing work with Seal (the purity book I’m working on is with them) I promise to hold my editor and publisher accountable to their apology and promises of action. I only want to work with a press who understands that anti-racism is a central part of feminism, and I truly believe that Seal can become that press.
I promise to be personally proactive about the pledges Feministing made as a group: when linking, to privilege blogs with smaller audiences and those with greater expertise than my own; to make alliances with grassroots and other organizations who are doing antiracist, and community-building work; to use our new community site to create a safer space for readers; and to hold Feministing and the other work I do to the same – if not higher – standard that I’ve held mainstream feminist organizations and activists.
I promise to think of more ways that I can be a better advocate for women, even when that means shutting the fuck up every once in a while to let someone else talk. (I realize not all of these things are as tangible as I’d like them to be…so I also promise to think more about what I can do that’s actually measurable.)
It’s time that I stepped up. After a certain point – a certain amount of readers, a book deal, whatever – I should have realized that I’m no longer the feminist I was a couple of years ago. I have a bigger responsibility than I expected, and maybe was even prepared for. But I believe in this work – in blogging, in feminism, and in the power of online activism and media to change the mainstream paradigm. And I hope that you believe me when I say that I’m listening, that I know that I’m accountable to my readers and feminist allies, and that making feminism better is the most important work of my life.
Note: I’m aware that this post is very personal, and very much about me. I’m not trying to center the conversation – which is so huge – on myself. I just wanted to be open about how I’m feeling.

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97 Comments

  1. exlitigator
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I am a 40 year old white male, a contributor to the site, have bought both your books and just want to say relax. I think a lot of the controversies in the blogosphere (your book cover, Amanda’s artwork, etc) are overblown and destructive. Yes we need to be aware of our mistakes, prejudices and wrong assumptions, but a lot of the vitriol is counterproductive. A circular firing squad is a bad thing. Peoples work and blogs and thoughts are not going to be perfectly PC all the time. As a liberal, I get upset when the media focuses on trivialities like Wright and Obama’s flag pin. But when we get in a feeding frenzy over Sheena cartoons and sexy book covers we are doing the same thing and feeding the stereotypes that the right has of us. I am sorry any Nader or Green Party supporters, but the Democrats are not the same as the Republicans, we live in the real world and need to reach real people.
    I teach High school in a suburban district and the female students opinions about feminism, equal rights and even self respect horrify me. Voices like yours and Amanda’s and Feministing are needed. I forget the source of the quote, but Fuck em if they don’t think your wonderful.

  2. jrirwin
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Jessica,
    While I admire your willingness to listen to any and all criticism, I’d just like to suggest something. My first day as an undergrad, I was in a language and logic course, and the thing that changed my life the most was the list of logical fallacies that we discussed. I’d suggest checking out Wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies, printing it, and keeping it somewhere that you’re likely to look at it from time to time. Sometimes, knowing that unfair criticism falls into one of those fallacies just makes it not sting as bad, no matter how ad …womenim it is. Looking at that list, too, is helpful with writer’s block. (I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to talk about an issue, and I haven’t been able to put into words WHY I felt it needed discussion until I sat down with my list and realized that the logic behind the issue was what was wrong with it.)
    I hope it helps!
    Much love,
    Another Jessica

  3. jrirwin
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Jessica,
    While I admire your willingness to listen to any and all criticism, I’d just like to suggest something. My first day as an undergrad, I was in a language and logic course, and the thing that changed my life the most was the list of logical fallacies that we discussed. I’d suggest checking out Wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies, printing it, and keeping it somewhere that you’re likely to look at it from time to time. Sometimes, knowing that unfair criticism falls into one of those fallacies just makes it not sting as bad, no matter how ad …womenim it is. Looking at that list, too, is helpful with writer’s block. (I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to talk about an issue, and I haven’t been able to put into words WHY I felt it needed discussion until I sat down with my list and realized that the logic behind the issue was what was wrong with it.)
    I hope it helps!
    Much love,
    Another Jessica

  4. waxghost
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    exlitigator, I don’t think it’s helpful that you dismiss real concerns as “overblown”, “destructive” or “vitriol”. I also don’t give a rat’s ass what stereotypes we are feeding.
    And Democrats are not the same as Republicans because we actually think, examine our own belief systems, listen to other people’s viewpoints, and alter our own as necessary. Calling the very real concerns of very real people “overblown”, “destructive” and “vitriol” strikes me as far too similar to sticking your fingers in your ears and singing loudly because you’re being told something you don’t want to hear.

  5. Ayla
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    I feel so frustrated right now because I feel like this is the first time in a long time that I’ve had questions I don’t even know how to ask.

  6. jrirwin
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Argh! I apologize for double comment posting. I just got a mac, and the PC-to-Mac conversion (i.e. no double clicking) is still a hard concept three weeks out.

  7. Katie Marie
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    i find nothing more feminist than the ability to critically examine oneself in hopes of further improvement. isn’t that what we ask of society at large?
    I greatly appreciate your frankness and respect you more than i already did, and want to thank you for being brave enough to make your self-criticism public.

  8. heathersf
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Jessica:
    I don’t know. I really had a lot of belief that you put intersectionality and awarness of privlidge in your work, but over the last few weeks I’ve lost most of that belief.
    Your non-addressal of Seal Press’s outrageous behavior on black amazon’s former blog is approval by silence.
    Seal Press’s “apology” that you reference is a backhanded farce.
    This comes off like, well, this has gotten so big i better say something…so, here goes.
    Why didn’t you rebuke Seal Press for their racist statements about women of color?
    Plus, I don’t understand why when you link to others who are work you describe as more nuanced or cutting edged, then the links are to women’s reproductive health sites.
    Reproductive health is an important issue…but i’m confused because while i’m sure you work on many issues, it seemed like your referencing your work blogging. so it seems like way more appropriate would be some links to people who are blogging?
    i dunno. your response to this whole thing rubs me wrong, and makes me wonder if it’s always been this way here. I know the comments get racist and arrogant pretty quick but I figured thats because this is, in some ways, like an intro to feminism site.
    but i feel like your muted reaction to these events really changes how i view you and this site. it makes me wonder what i missed before. if i just hadn’t been around long enough, or if, because i really admired you, if i was blind to other dismissals of concerns of poc and sidestepping of responsibility. i think as an author out of seal press and as a (way well known, come on now, we all know feministing is big name) gold star feminist name, you have a clear responsibility to address these events.
    so i don’t know.
    i’m pretty nonplussed about you and this site right now.

  9. MirandaJay
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    I wish Sahmita would take over the blog.
    Does it make anyone else uncomfortable that Jessica’s sister is one of the editors?
    I’m glad you finally said outloud you realize part of the reason why the mainstream media picks up on your work is because you are cute, white and well dressed and not because you have anything edgy or new to add to feminism. I think you are right to be proud of being able to make a living off of writing, but it’s good you understand why you REALLY got on to the colbert show.
    We don’t live in a meritocracy, we live in a sexist world where a woman’s looks matter and her worth is reduced down to her sexuality and you are, so ironically, benefiting from that.
    I think if you really wanted to do something powerful you’d take a stand and not ever do any mainstream media like television.

  10. Posted April 30, 2008 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Tending towards quiet presence for much of my blogging life… which is years now, I have to comment on all this.
    What are we all committed to? Is there a line that is drawn in every circle of connection about the “right” and the “wrong” of things and who lives in what camp? Can it be that being ignorant of each others’ unique perspective based on where we were born, what color we are, or if one position is tougher than another, provides chasms of misunderstanding? Is there any room for honest or even dishonest mistakes?
    At the risk of being ousted before I even embark on reply – can we bury the hatchet and recognize that all women suffer from inequities, and all women struggle – regardless of what race she is? I’m tired of the camps that are so defined in every aspect of humanity. We are all a part of the same fucking planet, and we have to find ways to support and understand each other. What value are we providing by cornering each other and making each other wrong. It just sounds like a whole lot of victim bullshit and there’s really no space for it…
    I am older… almost 50, and I saw first hand the value that early feminists brought to a conversation that wasn’t happening. I witnessed the glaring inequities women struggled with – my mother couldn’t even get a fucking credit card for god’s sake! Are we really going to further feminism if we continue to waste our time fighting with each other?
    Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced the impact of patriarchy – elaborately. It also doesn’t suggest that my experience is less problematic… So, can we stop keeping score and stand together as human women who want significant change, who can forgive and move on, who can show an example of what being a community could really become?
    There’s room for all of this and when someone apologizes for her lack of awareness, can we accept that as a powerful statement of intent to do better?

  11. Ayla
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Oh my…I just read the Seal Press comments from blackamazon’s blog. Sick sick sick. And definitely needs to be addressed!!

  12. alicepaul
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    “I think if you really wanted to do something powerful you’d take a stand and not ever do any mainstream media like television.”
    Really, Miranda Jay?
    So what is Jessica supposed to do, stay in hiding because she’s attractive? What a feminist thing to suggest, that a woman’s success came from her looks and sex appeal instead of her brains and talent. Telling women to make carreer or life choices based on our physical appearence is, um, Total Bullshit.

  13. Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    At the risk of being ousted before I even embark on reply – can we bury the hatchet and recognize that all women suffer from inequities, and all women struggle – regardless of what race she is?
    I understand the sentiment you’re expressing completely. However, it’s not as simple as “burying the hatchet”. Racial and class privilege do exist (I benefit substantially from the former and moderately from the latter), and feminists and feminist institutions aren’t immune from either.
    Let’s reframe this for a second, and perhaps this will illustrate the problem with the “let’s bury the hatchet” sentiment:
    Let’s say, instead of a feminist blog, this were a labour blog or the like, and someone brought up the way in which male privilege operates to marginalise women and women’s interests within the context of the labour movement, and a man were to suggest that we “bury the hatchet”.
    The problem with burying the hatchet, as I see it, is that the issue has already been buried for a pretty long time. Sometimes you have to dig up the hatchet, look it over closely, and work to reach conclusions on what the hatchet is all about before you can re-bury it.

  14. Posted April 30, 2008 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I think if you really wanted to do something powerful you’d take a stand and not ever do any mainstream media like television.
    Bollocks. A few years ago I was one of the team who organised Ladyfest Dublin, and there were a few other members of the steering committee who didn’t want any mainstream media coverage at all, despite the fact that several of the journalists writing about the festival in the mainstream media were, like me (I wrote about it for the Irish Times), actively involved in the festival and were highly unlikely to write about their involvement in it in a negative way. By refusing all mainstream media, you often just end up preaching to the choir rather than reaching new people. Some of my fellow committee members didn’t really care about reaching some teenager in Meath who doesn’t have access to tiny Dublin zines and punk gigs, but as far as I was concerned, those kids were exactly who I wanted to know about Ladyfest. There’s nothing powerful about just talking to your friends. There’s something powerful about bringing feminist ideas to a mainstream audience who might never encounter them otherwise.

  15. K
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    I forget the source of the quote, but Fuck em if they don’t think your wonderful.
    Oh Yeah. I think it was in the “Hubris” issue of “Narcissism Monthly”. I believe the actual article was titled, “You’re Mommy Still Thinks Your Shit Don’t Stink”.

  16. K
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Sorry that should be “Your” not “You’re”…bad edit.
    And somehow it didn’t get…
    Jessica clearly wants honest feedback so why try and shut down those taking time to provide it?

  17. Jessica
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    heathersf, I’m sorry you feel that way. I haven’t addressed this until now not because “this has gotten so big,â€? but because I had to do a lot of self-reflection to get here. And of course it was difficult for me to rebuke Seal – they helped me get my start and they’re a huge supporter of my career. But I still think they need to be held responsible for their racism, and that’s why I pledged to hold them accountable as one of their writers. And I wouldn’t work with them if I didn’t think their apology was sincere – I’ve had many conversations with Seal in the last few days and I feel confident in their willingness to look honestly and themselves and change.
    As for the links – I just wanted to provide some links to organizations I admire; it had nothing to do with my work blogging. In any case, I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, or other readers with this post. I’m just trying to be as honest as possible.
    MirandaJay, my sister Vanessa co-founded the site with me – so this isn’t exactly nepotism. And I’d like to say, yes I’m acknowledging part of the reason I got media attention – but I’m not going to self-flagellate myself. I got on Colbert because I had a book out and my publisher worked hard to market it, not because I looked good in a skirt. And while I’m certainly not going to refuse to do any media – I do think it’s important that I (or other folks with media opportunities) pass on those opportunities to other feminists, those with more expertise, or those who don’t normally get that exposure.

  18. MirandaJay
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    “What a feminist thing to suggest, that a woman’s success came from her looks and sex appeal instead of her brains and talent.”
    Well, I would agree, but I guess I don’t think Jessica is all that talented and that was my point. The national media attention she gets is not, in my opinion, anywhere equal to the amount of talent she has. I THOUGHT she had said she felt that way, too? This is what I was really responding to: “I have no illusions as to why my work has gotten the press that it has. The media likes nothing more than a young sassy white feminist who is mainstream-friendly. I know that there is work out there being done that is more nuanced and cutting edge – because I see it all around me.” You know, she DID write a book, and that is something, but that book isn’t all that interesting, edgy or important, in fact I don’t think I got anything out of it at all. It really is “a primer” but I thought bell hook’s “feminism is for everybody” is an even better primer, that’s what got me into feminism. Isn’t bell hooks just an all around better read than Jessica Valenti? Why aren’t we giving young girls THAT book? Does Jessica introduce any new ideas or theories in FFF?
    No, obviously you looking good in a skirt isn’t the only reason why you were on the colbert show (when he made that crack about Susan B Anthony and your book cover, I died laughing) you did write a book. But I don’t know, I kinda thought that with this statement you were saying you were aware that the book got so much attention in part because you are easy to market, which includes white and cute.
    It’s not about punishment. It’s about actively refusing to take advantage of your white privilege. And as a WOC, I would be really moved by a white woman refusing the privileges she’s granted. I guess that’s not happening, though.

  19. Jessica
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    MJ, like I said – I absolutely acknowledge that a lot of the press has been because I fit into a mainstream-friendly standard. But I don’t think that in recognizing that, I have to say that I don’t value the work I do or think that it’s not important. I know it is.
    It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the response I’ve gotten from young women across the board about FFF has been overwhelmingly positive – and I believe I can be simultaneously proud of that while being cognizant of the different ways my privilege works.
    I also think it’s really problematic to say that I’m not refusing my white privilege if I think my work is important and deserving of attention.

  20. alicepaul
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    MJ, I have to agree with stellanova. Without mainstream media coverage or attention, any modern social movement is just preaching to the choir. It’s utterly unproductive to actively refuse opportunities to share ideas with people who may not be familiar with feminism.
    Don’t you realize you are suggesting that a woman’s level of “cuteness” dictate her political and professional work? I find this unacceptable in any context.

  21. MirandaJay
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    You know what I think is problematic? White privilege.
    I’m just going to go ahead and tell you how I feel when I log onto feministing, on a emotional level, so you know where I am coming from. I see all these flickr pictures you have of yourself and your friends, and you are drinking cocktails in fashionable clothing and I read your writing, and I wonder why it is you get so much attention when you don’t really say anything new or groundbreaking. And I read other bloggers who aren’t you, who aren’t cute and white and the only conclusion I can come to is: classism and racism. I don’t really think you are either of these things, but your success feels to come from those systems and it fucking frustrates me. I hate that you are the face and voice of third wave feminism, the most visible and successful as far as I can tell. It feels unfair and I resent you for it. I hate that you defended Amanda Marcotte, I hate that you are sitting here saying you want to do better and recognize but you still think that your massive success is totally deserved because of your merits. I hate that you are saying you think seal press fucked up but you won’t talk too much shit about them because you know they gave you a book deal and you can’t shit on them otherwise you’ll be ungrateful.
    I hate that you get to benefit from the system and then say “oh yeah, I know, it’s so horrible and unfair isn’t it, I totally see it all that white privilege I get afforded” but you still benefit from it! You wont stop benefiting from it, ever. You don’t even want to stop, you equate not benefiting from it as “self flagellation”.
    I NEVER hated feminism, I NEVER questioned the label feminism until I started reading this blog. Even until a few weeks ago I defended the label “feminist” On that post about if the label feminist is important, I said it was, I agreed that it was. I am serious. I never even really saw the whole feminism is just for white women thing. Not in any article or book I ever read. It’s only been after reading this fucking website and all the comments that follow any post that involves race that I have wondered if all the criticisms of feminism were valid after all. I thought it was interesting that someone said you ruined feminism, I didn’t really think anything of it, but as I am writing this, I definitely feel like feministing.com has ruined feminism for me. I’m 26 and have been involved in feminism since a teenager and you know this is really hard but I think that I am done with the feminist movement as it exists.
    I know that this post is emotional and personal and you probably feel attacked but as I am writing it I am realizing that this isn’t for me, that feminism isn’t and maybe never was for people like me and that I was a moron for not seeing it.

  22. 007femme
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read all of the comments but I’ve read enough. And I have certainly read enough comments on other posts.
    Why is it that when race is brought up in a feminist context the same horribly alienating and destructive dialogue is said? Throughout the comments I have read there seems to be a trend here of saying things like this has nothing to do with feminism or well they may have done/said something racist but I know they are good person that didn’t mean it and they don’t have a racist thought in them or that it was something they missed, etc. It seems like if the post is about something misogynistic that a man has done and a commentor tries to defend/excuse away the offense, their comment is ripped apart for trying to use the “Good Guy” defense or a straw man argument. Or even if it has been shown over and over that people have tried to show why something is racist, the fact that they are repeatedly dismissed by the offender is ignored.
    I use to think the internet was kind of weird…like how can people build communities or find connections through it? But after recently moving across country (to city where I do not know anyone) and working from home, the internet became that for me. This was the first blog I read that was passed on from a friend and I found solace, safety and community from it. Shoot I even commented a few times. And it was the other commentors that made that a reality for me.
    But now, after the continued repeat of comments like these (and tons of other examples) I don’t feel safe or wanted or understood. I feel isolated, upset and angry. But most of all sad, because I just don’t think I have it in me anymore to deal. I have tried just to read posts, but that comment link is forever calling, so I think I need to hang up for now.
    Sorry for the long (therapy) post.

  23. Ayla
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    MirandaJay, at the risk of saying something that might make you feel worse (totally not my intention but sometimes I stick my foot in my mouth) I just wanted to say that Jessica Valenti or even feministing.com or even the feminist blogosphere as a whole does not represent the entirety of feminism. Not even close. I understand the problems with racism here perhaps better than ever after reading your post, but I know that not everyone feels the same way about what’s going on around here lately. Not everyone is OK with a limited vision of feminism. I’m not and I’m a white feminist. A white feminist who thought, up until a few days ago, that most people were on the same page with me. I’m done with seeing feminism through the foggy lens I had before and at the same time I’m more convinced than ever that I am and will always be a feminist. If someone wants to come in and try to appropriate a word of equality and turn it into some kind of narrow, classist, racist, bullet-point activism, that’s their choice but it’s not mine. And though I may not have such extensive company on this side of the fence as I thought, I know I’m not alone.

  24. Jessica
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    So of course I wrote a long comment and it disappeared.
    MJ, I get it. You don’t like me – or what I’ve come to represent to you, more accurately. That’s fine. Though I do think that commenting on my “drinking cocktails in fashionable clothing” is kind of unfair. (And not that I have to defend my social life, but I don’t exactly put up pics of me chilling in PJs working online 24/7. A few pics of me out is not what my life is. On the contrary.)
    As far as you feeling my work isn’t new or groundbreaking: I think that it’s not so much what I’m saying, but how I’m saying it that’s resonating with people. My project is making feminism more accessible to younger women, and I am proud of the work I’ve done there.
    I am allowed to have complicated feelings about my success. I am allowed to be proud of the work I’ve done while still recognizing the ways I benefit from white privilege (or lookism, class, etc).
    And you’re allowed to hate all the stuff you mention – I don’t think it’s unfair of you to feel all of those things. I do think it’s unfair, however, for you to suggest that unless I essentially disappear from public view, that I’m a bad feminist, or person, or whatever.
    That said, it pains me that you feel feministing ruined feminism for you. Truly. I don’t know how to respond to that, really, but of course I wish it wasn’t the case.
    Btw, if you’d like to hash stuff out in private (or stay here, either is cool with me!), feel free to email me: jessica@feministing.com

  25. Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    *hugs feministing*

  26. SociologicalMom
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I have a couple of things to say here.
    First, I am very happy to see your self-reflection, Jessica. I don’t read it as a request for absolution or declaration of automatically being a perfect writer/feminists. But I appreciate and admire the pledge to keep working on the issues that have been raised.
    In addition, I am really glad that PoC have been commenting and giving their dissenting opinions, in this and all threads. As a White woman with all the attending privileges, I want to hear about it and I’m grateful to everyone who is willing to put themselves out there on issues about which they are probably very burnt out. I consider it an important addition to the work I’m doing on my own to learn more about race & ethnicity and how to use my own privilege (which I can’t give back, no matter how much I may want to) to make society better for everyone. Again, thank you.
    I also want to say that I can understand the frustration with it, but I don’t think it’s fair to tell people to stop offering Jessica support for the same reason I don’t think it’s fair to tell people to stop critiquing her. Some of the more personal or emotional support might be more appropriate via personal email than on a public thread, but it’s still valid. Acknowledgement of Jessica as a human being who might be hurt by this is a good thing- as long as we are being equally empathetic to others who have been hurt by the issue in other ways.
    Finally, I want speak to the issue of repetitive posts about things like sexist media. Yes, sometimes comments threads read like strings of “oh my god, me too” statements. But when I read these, I assume that this means that blogging is fulfilling an important need- showing people new to feminism that they aren’t alone. Some of us may have classrooms and groups of friends and families in which we can say the basic stuff like this- others of us do not. For these people, the simple realization that they are not the only one who thinks an advertisement is horribly sexist is a powerful moment. It can lead to a lifetime of critical thinking that might otherwise have been drummed out of existence. I don’t see the usefulness in telling people that their “aha!” moments are trivial. If you’re at another point in your personal feminism, fine. Contribute at your own comfort level. Allow others to do the same.
    I think that’s about all for now.

  27. MirandaJay
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I wish feministing hadn’t ruined feminism for me either.
    It’s not so much the blog that did it as it was interacting with the community here. My involvement had really only been through reading, and seeing how the majority of feminists behave has made me decide that I, like, 007Femme feel unwanted and not understood.
    Feminism really isn’t for the impoverished or the colored and the community that is feministing.com, not just the bloggers here, have taught me that.
    Over the year or so that I have been regularly reading here, I have seen person of color after person of color make this declaration and I thought they were being melodramatic at the time, but now I realize they had just reached the point where they couldn’t handle it anymore and neither can I.
    I think it’s nice of you to have responded but I don’t feel that I have anything left to say, especially if you are going to tell me what’s fair and unfair.
    Thanks, Ayala and 007femme! It feels better knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  28. Jessica
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    MJ, I’m not telling you anything except my opinion. Again, I am truly sorry if feministing – as a blog, a community, whatever – has hurt you.

  29. 007femme
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    MJ (or anyone else that wants/needs to continue these dialogues more in-depth off-line) I created a “fake” email. You can email me there if you want so that I have your email addy privately and then I can share w/you my actual one. They don’t call me 007 for no reason! j/k
    wordword007@gmail.com

  30. funkygroove
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Not every voice that is a feminist one will encompass everything that is feminism. I mean to say that if I am a woman of colour, I can make an effort to be as inclusive of possible, but really, I can only offer my experienced perspective, which is that of a woman of colour. Just like if I am a white feminist, I can try my hardest to be as inclusive as possible, but ultimately, can only speak from my experience. Which is why it is SO important for women of colour, queer women, etc. (any perspective that is not mainstream) to offer their voice to that body and viscus of matter that is feminism. Dropping out doesn’t do anything. It only gives more power to the mainstream voice. There is nothing productive that can come out personally assaulting that which might frustrate us. As a woman of colour, MirandaJay, continue to tell it like it is!

  31. funkygroove
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    For me, one of the saddest things to witness is progressive, left-wing movements becoming immobile due to self deprecation. While it is important to continually have these discussions, it is just as important to see boundaries between the personal and the political. There is no reason to get mean. Understanding takes time and effort! 007femme, what a great idea — if you feel your voices are being overcrowded, move over and keep talking. Don’t turn misunderstanding between common goals into personal barriers that immobilize you. It’s so sad.

  32. waxghost
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I really hope that the women of color who have spoken up in this thread like Miranda Jay don’t leave! I hope you stick around and keep critiquing this blog and forcing/helping it to grow in as many ways as possible. Your voices are so valuable, and I wanted to post to let you know that I, for one, would miss these dissenting opinions if you left.
    One of the things that this thread has got me thinking about is my own privilege, how to recognize it and not let it stop me from thinking about things that are hard for me to think about. I wrote a little essay on it that I’m posting on Daily Kos tonight (I hope that’s alright – I’d post it here if I could), in the hopes that my thoughts will convince some other people with privilege to pay more attention when those who aren’t privileged speak out, and I hope that some of you can join us, even if just to critique what I am saying.

  33. H.Beth
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    So, apparently the “I’ll try not to react, but to listen” thing lasted about a day or so?
    I want to second what Miranda Jay said about white/class privilege, and how she feels when she logs onto feministing. I’ve thought many of the same things before but never knew how to say it (although, I personally wouldn’t go so far as to say feministing ruined feminism for me).
    Its really quite annoying that MJ brings up a good point – - like your refusal to say anything too harsh about Seal Press b/c ‘they support your career’ – - and all of the sudden her concerns are boiled down to “oh, I get it, you don’t like me”
    Uh… no. I’m not going to rehash what MJ was saying but it was a little more nuanced than you’re giving her credit for.
    I just HAD to point out that you’re doing exactly what this blog post said you wouldn’t – - instead of really reflecting on what she’s saying about your privilege you have already jumped to “don’t judge me, I swear I’m not THAT privileged, you must just not like me”
    Already, some of her concerns are “fair” and some are “unfair” – isn’t that a little silencing and condescending?

  34. Jessica
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    H. Beth – I am listening. But I’m entitled to my opinion, to disagree, and to point out when some criticisms aren’t about my work – but personal.
    I absolutely understand the concern over my relationship with Seal Press – and as I wrote in the post, there is no doubt that they fucked up, that they allowed racist images to go to print and that they have a lot of work to do. But I do believe in them – not just because of their support, but because of conversations I’ve had with them to make sure that they were serious about the promises of action they made.
    And agreed, MJ has valid concerns – many of which I believe I addressed in the post and follow up comments. (But of course I’m happy to elaborate more here, if you want specify what you’d like to hear more about…)
    But you can’t possibly think that I’m going to sit back and agree that I’ve contributed nothing to feminism or that I should just go away? I believe that I can listen to, acknowledge, and learn from criticism, while also participating in the conversation and giving some push-back.
    But perhaps you’re right – maybe I should just let this thread go and not insert myself until I’ve had some time to think about it all and absorb it.

  35. Commodore08
    Posted April 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Jessica,
    Here’s something I want to toss out to you regarding MirandaJay’s posts. These are some things I want to bounce off of MirandaJay’s posts, because I agree with a lot of her sentiment, but want to say more about WHY those sentiments matter and where they come from (for me at least, I don’t pretend to speak for MJ in any way)
    I LOVE that someone is marketing feminism in a way that appeals to the mainstream, so we can make feminism less taboo and get more of my peers interested. But what makes this hard to get excited about (and actually makes me as angry as MirandaJay sometimes) is that the fact that you are white and (as far as I can tell) straight and cute and fun and in possession of some expendable income and the spare time to think up cute and witty things to write and say is exactly what makes you able to do mainstream-friendly feminism. Does that make sense? I know part of it is about giving good, digestable examples of oppression (so much of this has to rely on consumer and representational examples), writing in a relatable way, being engaging but entertaining, balancing just enough anger with just enough flirtation, all these things in your writing and personality. I know these are components of what makes FFF and feministing so hip and happening and well, easily digested. But all those qualities are, for the most part, and not coincidentally, wrapped up in the bodies of privileged people. It isn’t a coincidence that you have repackaged feminism and you just happen to be insanely privileged. Your privilege is what has allowed you to do anything that looks like a repackaging. I don’t just mean your privilege has gotten you media appearances. I mean the new thing you brought, the thing that makes you proud of your work, is inseparable from the privilege you bring to the table.
    The thing is, I can’t blame you for these things. But seeing your success reminds me how uphill this battle is. We can’t talk about sexism, homophobia, racism, if we show it for the real ugly, reality that it is, and not if the people talking about it aren’t privileged enough not to threaten the mainstream? And you know what, call it jealousy, call it a “personal vendetta” or however you want to dismiss it. But feminism has taught us the personal IS political. jealousy is a condition created by material inequality coupled with consumer culture. I AM jealous of you. But because this has something to do with a very human emotion does not mean this isn’t a political problem or something related to feminist theorizing and activism.
    I’m jealous and angry, when I see your success with this new, online era of feminism stuff, but it isn’t YOU I’m mad at. It’s that seeing all your success reminds me just how messed up the mainstream is, and therefore, how many walls we’re inevitably hitting, that even repackaging feminism isn’t a true victory. That it has to be repackaged and that it can only be repackaged by a Jessica Valenti are horrible truths. It reminds me that while you’re recruiting great young feminists and getting good publicity for our movement, this does nothing to change the ROOTS of the problem, which is that this stuff has to be repackaged in a cute, white, straight body in the first place. It’s like…I don’t want you to just disappear and not do your work, because it does need to be done. And at the same time, watching you do your work hurts a lot, because I know it could never be me or any other woman with less privilege than you do the “mainstreaming.” So I’m not looking for you to apologize for being as privileged as you are or to “self-flagellate” or to disappear. For one thing, what good would it do? The house always wins. You stop your work, the house wins. You do your work, the house wins. (and by house I mean racist, classist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, ableist systems of power). But I do want to make sure you understand why your work is a major source of ambivalence, jealousy, and discouragement sometimes. I can’t recommend a course of action to you regarding any of this. But I think the fact that so many commenters and bloggers in the mainstream white blogosphere expect us to set out some path for you to follow that will make this all better or even start to make it better, is part of the thinking of a highly privileged person. It’s expecting that certain truths can’t possibly exist if they don’t also provide a good solution that will excuse you from any negative views or any wrongdoing. I’m sorry to say that as an underprivileged person I’ve learned repeatedly in life that that just isn’t how the world works. When you aren’t part of the house you start realizing you can’t expect to win…(by the way, I’m not accusing you specifically of trying to get such a fix-it list out of your detractors, it’s more like a pre-emptive thing for other commenters who might go there)
    …I really apologize for the length of this post and I regret posting it in advance, because I’m not particularly articulate or good at conveying complex thoughts…ugh…
    And FYI, I don’t think you should just sit back and absorb, by the way. I know these conversations are painful. But they’re productive. And I’m not here to attack you. I’m here to have a conversation…and part of being able to have a conversation requires that I own up to the anger your career incites in me sometimes. And please believe me when I say I don’t like that fact any more than you do.

  36. Qi
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Feministing: The Fox News of feminism
    Seriously, Commodore08 and MirandaJay have had some very interesting comments here. But I think it’s a mistake to be too pessimistic about how “packaged” or toned down it takes to succeed. The fact that more people are waking up to the notion that it’s better to have a President who speaks eloquently to us than one who talks down to us is a good starting point. People will be people, but there is progress.

  37. CourtneyEMartin
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Commodoreo8, thanks for that totally lucid (please don’t apologize while being ridiculously articulate) explanation of the dynamics at play here. As I was reading the rest of the thread and trying to figure out a way to participate constructively, I kept thinking about the duality of realism vs. idealism. On the one hand, as so many of you are pointing out, we live in a fucked up world. It is still racist, sexist, classist etc. etc. This discrimination is rooted in hearts and minds and institutions alike. So all of us, as much as we need to focus on pulling that out at the root and dismantling fucked up systems, have to meanwhile, live and work in them. So how do you do the most good?
    I think Jessica (and any feminist who has privilege and some mainstream recognition) is forced to articulate a very complex answer to that question on a daily basis. For example, when I was meeting with publishing houses to try to sell my book, I knew they were making sure I was “TV ready” (i.e. not fat). That bothers me to this day, but I also saw it as an opportunity to get in, get a deal, and then use that privilege (along with my privilege of not being fat in a society that hates fatness) to rail against lookism.
    I think there are parallels in Jessica’s work, though she speaks just fine for herself on this.
    My hope for this conversation, and just about every one I have about intersectional feminism, is that we build understanding and not tear one another down or silence one another. In this thread I’ve seen really destructive assumptions being made–about who Jess is, about who feministing reaches (not everyone feels comfortable commenting, especially in these kinds of threads), about what all WOC experience (I’m white, but I would hate if anyone tried to speak for my experience just because they were also white) etc.
    I’m not going to devolve, as Commodoreo8 said, into: Okay how do we solve it? I know that’s spuriously simple. BUT, I am going to ask: How can we humanize one another, acknowledge complexity, and foster understanding? That’s where social change always starts, in my opinion.

  38. Jessica
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Commodore08, thanks for the comments. There’s a lot of food for thought there, and believe me – this is all stuff I’ve thought about too.
    What funny is that what it feels like to me is that this public narrative of who I am and what my feminism is has been not entirely decided by me – it’s been decided for me. Sure, I speak in an informal way and that’s deliberate, and I’m just kind of being who I am….but as I said to a friend last night in an email – if you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be described as the cute white straight mainstream feminist with an “expendable income” I would laughed in your fucking face. (And just a note, not to downplay all the various privileges I have, but I talk a lot about my class background – and present, frankly – in FFF. That may give you a better idea of where I’m coming from.)
    What’s especially interesting to me is that all of the things that you, MJ, and I’m sure others, are seeing, were the very same things that annoyed me about the young women I saw representing feminism in the media. So I know how you’re feeling – it’s just feels very odd to be on the other side. Because it feels like you’re talking about someone else. When people describe how they see me – or what the public perception of me is – I don’t know that person, she seems foreign to me. Because that’s not my life.
    And I appreciate this: “But seeing your success reminds me how uphill this battle is.” I haven’t thought about that a lot, and I should.

  39. Commodore08
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Courtney,
    That bothers me to this day, but I also saw it as an opportunity to get in, get a deal, and then use that privilege (along with my privilege of not being fat in a society that hates fatness) to rail against lookism.
    At the risk of greatly oversimplifying your very introspective response, I have to go back here to that completely overused but under-explained concept of the master’s house and the master’s tools. When Audre Lorde wrote, she wasn’t thinking specifically about mass media culture as one of these tools, so I’m going to take a little of my own liberty with her concept and flesh out why it applies here.
    If you think of this culture of mass media (one which wants to print a pic of the hip young feminist Jessica in a bar with a cocktail, one which wants to make sure you aren’t fat before you talk about body image, one which, I’m absolutely certain, would never put women with less privilege in the positions you and Jessica find yourselves in now, one which thrives on the cute white straight girl, and makes invisible the not cute, not white, not straight, maybe barely recognizable as a girl) as a tool which the master uses to build the house (oh look, my ridiculous metaphors from both posts are working well together here), you maybe start to question whether yours and Jessica’s approaches are indeed the best answer to that question. When you try to use these tools to reach bigger audiences, what you’re doing at the same time is legitimizing the master’s tool, you’re lending them credibility, and suggesting these tools maybe aren’t the ultimately exclusive mechanisms your very exclusive existence as mainstream-friendly feminists proves they are. So, reinforcing the credibility of the master’s tools is the first thing that happens when you try to do something like unravel lookism by benefiting from it.
    The other, more pernicious part of this equation is what happens on the consumption side of mass media. The God’s honest truth is that in spite of the young women and men Jessica’s book has helped convince feminism is cool and necessary, and probably the men and women of all ages you have touched and changed the thinking of with your writing, most people are only equipped to consume your media and take away from it the notion that cute white straight feminists girls are cooler than ever, they aren’t only cute and non-threatening on the whole, but they say bad-ass things AND they are able to do all this while being totally open-minded and considerate of people with less privilege too. Mass media produces and reproduces consumers who don’t have the equipment to truly engage with what they hear or take away anything more profound than that. That whole process of hearing you talk about your books or even reading your books, is wrapped up in the larger experience of being a mass-media consumer. It isn’t a forum which encourages engagement past the moment of consumption, and consumption is consuming personality and vibe, more than it is about consuming ideas. As long as this movement is going to have spokespeople, (and it will as long as we deem it necessary to try to rename the mainstream from within it), a few people are going to become (not through any desire of their own or failures as feminists, as Jessica points out) some of the master’s tools.
    I mean, you can’t possibly think the women who have taken different approaches to creating change, outside mass media, have opted for grassroots, local, more direct and raw and unpolished messaging, that they have only refused to play the mainstream game because they don’t have the privilege to get an “in.” Surely you can imagine that less privileged people are aware that the master’s tools sting and burn when they come down on you and know not to even touch them. If you were able to gain access to those tools it means that whether you want to or not, while you use them to take out a few nails on the long road to dismantling the house, you are complicit in reinforcing the larger superstructure of that house and making it look even less dangerous than it really is. I mean…that’s why the master chose the tools he chose. Because they work so well… I say this realizing there isn’t a literal racist, ableist, homophobic patriarch hanging out in D.C., plotting to make sure conditions stay adequate for his enthusiastic son to take similar power some day (though the Bushes make that less seem less crazy every day), but isn’t it reasonable to assume an apparatus created by and and still controlled by the privileged is more likely than not designed in a way that makes its very use reproduce its relevance?
    This isn’t to say your mainstream work as it is now has no value. I’m sure you could list to me some very valid examples of how it does good, and I probably could too if I cared enough to sit here and think about it for a minute. I’m sure reading this post makes you think I am indeed arguing for you and your work to disappear. I’ll reiterate I’m not. That house gets bigger and nastier whether you’re using its tools or not. And it’s not like we’ve developed a fast-working, wide-reaching tool elsewhere that doesn’t create the same problem. I won’t hesitate to say, though, that I think the stuff you’re doing where you’re actually talking to young women, (you mentioned being a mentor, Jessica mentions working with young women writers a lot) I know that doesn’t pay the bills and it is so small, but I think it’s probably the most valuable work you do as a progressive…you’re getting through to a person, and you’re doing it without showing millions of people how cool the master’s tools are. [this concludes my very tired reliance on such a corny and maybe not ultimately resonant metaphor]
    You girls are lucky I am sick and weak enough to be deemed a potential workplace safety liability today, because I think I only scratched the surface of things you address here and plan on writing again soon after I get a little rest (or wait, does that make you unlucky?) :)

  40. Nemo Dally
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Brave, if somewhat vague.
    Funny,
    All of the leaders that I hope were this publicly self-critical are silent.
    And the ones that I’d like to see righteous are thoughtful enough to second-guess themselves.

  41. Commodore08
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Ok so, with the haze of medication finally wearing off and the benefit of some actually restful sleep, I just want to post on one more of the main ideas from Courtney’s and Jessica’s last posts. I realize I’ve written two monster posts, both of which seem to suggest there’s something wrong with your careers (at least as I conceive of them), and I’m second guessing whether that does any real good for you or if it’s driven more by my own need to get out some frustrations…Anyway, which brings me to my last points.
    I wanted to suggest a few possible responses to Courtney’s last question:
    How can we humanize one another, acknowledge complexity, and foster understanding? That’s where social change always starts, in my opinion.
    At first I thought, (being the impetuous type), ugh, is she really asking ME to tell her how to make HER life easier? What investment do I have in that?
    And then I read Jessica’s thoughts,
    What funny is that what it feels like to me is that this public narrative of who I am and what my feminism is has been not entirely decided by me – it’s been decided for me.
    And I thought, really?! Your identity and its significance are being defined by other people?! You don’t have control as an individual over what people think and assume when they see and read you?! Welcome to my world! But then I woke up, less drugged and better rested and more at peace and realized this was actually a good thing, because in fact, that I can relate exactly to what you’re saying means there’s hope for us to continue having a conversation here. Maybe, I thought, Courtney is talking about humanizing on both sides. How DO we do that?
    Well, first of all, from personal experience, I have to say it takes interpersonal interaction generally, the more intimate, the better, to help people understand that just like them, you are complex and feeling and flawed and human and real too. But having watched you all here, I think a possible alternative is creating a site of interaction which closely resembles actual direct, personal interaction. And that’s really what I think the blogosphere can be used to do. This post is a good start to doing that work, Courtney. But that you all substantively follow up to posts in comments sections rarely, compared to what people at smaller blogs can do, for example, is one of those barriers to actually utilizing the online community building potential fully.
    Maybe going back to my points about the master’s house, I do have to say I think the wider the scale you want to reproduce this intimacy on, however, the less effective it gets. Because people know real intimacy when they see it, and it’s hard for them to feel you’re just like a girlfriend they’re going to have lunch with if they know you’re simultaneously talking to and trying to address the concerns of thousands of other people, to sort of capture real, intimate appreciation with one enormous net.
    There are probably other approaches to making people see you as human…I mean, I can see people who are more familiar with those arguments posting about celebrity culture and how it causes this and how it can be subverted. This is just what comes to mind in the context of the rest of our conversation.
    So I guess the good news is I think you’re already doing some of what it takes and you’re more successful at it than others have been in the past. I mean, I doubt I would’ve posted what I’ve posted in this thread (which I hope you think treats you as a real human), if I didn’t at some point realize you are indeed real people who quite often read what your commenters write and consider them. Otherwise, writing all these things really would’ve been a selfish waste of time.
    And I guess this brings me to my last point, regarding how Jessica describes this as a sort of out of body experience because she used to be on the other side:
    What’s especially interesting to me is that all of the things that you, MJ, and I’m sure others, are seeing, were the very same things that annoyed me about the young women I saw representing feminism in the media.
    Jessica, I know after some of the harsh things I’ve said about how I view you and your career, it may be hard to believe this, but I do know you are different from those feminists you used to resent yourself. I do not think you have become them. None of those feminists were willing to have these conversations where they submit that they may be wrong and they may be causing problems. There was never the self awareness you have, or even the desire to be more self aware. You and Courtney and the other bloggers here have made a big step. Finally, someone whose career I hate has actually created a forum and an occasion for me to tell her I hate it. And what does she do? Shut down? Disappear? No. She listens. She has a conversation with me, indicating my opinion actually matters at least on some level. Don’t discount what an important step this is, because I can assure you, I don’t. I don’t think you’re the type of person who would get to the compliment and start to believe that makes none of the criticism offered above important to keep in mind. So this is me signing off on a kind (and possibly drug induced–new dose is kicking in) note: You’re my favorite high-profile, white, straight, feminist ever. If even I can give you credit when it’s due, you should make sure you can give it to yourself too…

  42. Qi
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Commodore08, do you have your own blog?

  43. Commodore08
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    No blog, Qi. I think I’m years away from having the time to write more often than on rare days like this… :)

  44. Posted May 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Testing.
    Previous post stuck in moderation for some reason…

  45. heathersf
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    commodore, that was a pretty thoughtful analysis, i appreciated it a lot.
    it caused me to self reflect on more areas that my privlidge as white extends to…being my mental fantasies. I’d never thought about how, in my wildest dreams, it is taken for granted that I could be where the women I read/watch/hate/admire/whatever are.
    As a young white straight female, when I imagine writing a book, there is not a cap on where it can go.
    I often imagine other things for myself besides fame or tv shows, pretty radically other things, but all the same, the option has never seemed completely out of the realm of possibility.
    despite my many personal failings.
    jessica, i also value that you responded to my comment and participated in dialogue here.

  46. daytrippr
    Posted May 4, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the most ironic things about “isms” is that they do tend to dehumanize. Why? Because they paint with a broad brush, as if all of group x must think in manner y. It is one of the things which turns me off of activism in general. However, how to be more educated and aware, without taking note of broad trends in culture? It’s a conundrum. I think it’s important not to get so lost in the “isms” that you stop approaching one human being at a time, as a unique individual. We learn individually first, and collectively, over time. This site is one of my absolute favorites, and you can knock it for being “consumer friendly,” just remember all consumers are people. People aren’t quite all the singularly thinking sheep that it can be handy to portray them as being. I see racial issues being raised quite a lot lately, I’m sure bc of the Dem primaries. Overall this has to be a good thing, however the conversation between the races, culturally speaking, is really just beginning. It’s not time to throw in the towel with exasperation. There seems to be a discussion that would be useful about when it’s useful to get more personal, and when it’s useful to step away from the personal. There are benefits to both approaches. However, it isn’t good to get so personal that you give up and walk away to a crowd which seems more suited to you. Joining with those with whom you are uncomfortable is the only way forward.

  47. Feminist
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice to hear, that instead of spending all your time beating up on feminist organizations that try really hard, every day, to make change, that you realized it isn’t so easy to make change, including changing yourself. Why not join feminist organizations instead of criticizing them? Make change from within them rather than making a career of criticizing them.
    You even blame feminist organizations for your recent behavior — since they were so bad, you had to spend your time criticizing them instead of looking at your own behavior:
    But I think that I’ve been focusing so hard on changing mainstream feminist institutions, organizations that I saw as the ones with power, I ignored how a blog (or a book, or a person) could have that same power and do the same harm that I was working so hard to stop.
    I hope some of your self-reflection will include whether beating up these organizations really helps women make progress — or not.

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