What happened to Unity and Solidarity?

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in feminism today. Perhaps it isn’t really a new phenomenon (and I would say that, unfortunately, it isn’t) but it’s bothersome nonetheless. Honestly though, why should the remarks of one feminist merit the eye rolls of others in such a blatant way? Let me explain where I’m coming from:

Right now, I’m working toward my MA in Women’s and Gender Studies. I am in love with my program – it’s interesting, exciting, and challenges me to acknowledge the problems of past and present feminist thought and encourages us to work through these issues. Academically, it’s wonderful and I love that it challenges me to look past my own notions of feminist thought to embrace and acknowledge others’ as well. So understand that my complaint here is not with the program or even aimed, necessarily, at individuals within my program.

What disturbs me, however, is the clique-ish way that people in my program react to each other. This extends outside of the program and into the community as a whole but here I will use this specifically as an example. When I’m in class and we’re talking about feminist ethics, or theory, or what have you, and people start rolling their eyes when others are participating in discussion it bothers me. When the clique members look at each other with derisive smirks at the expense of another, it truly makes me want to…well it makes me want to say a lot of things, really, depending on the moment. I’ve noticed things like this in the "real world" of feminism, LGBT activism, etc.
I want to know why, in the classroom and the community, there are a large number of people who resort to this sort of infantile and ludicrous behavior? I feel like I’ve time warped to junior high sometimes and I just want to scream. It hasn’t, that I know of, even really been directed at me. But, it bothers  me even more for it to be directed at others. What happened to intelligent discussion? Isn’t that what it should be all about? Don’t we have to intelligently discuss our differences in order to make any real change? Isn’t that the point? Honestly, even if I didn’t like someone on a personal level I don’t feel that I should behave so poorly while they’re making an intelligent point – while they’re exploring their own ideas and while we’re all trying to learn from each other.
I’m sure we’re all guilty of this at one time or another. I don’t mean to be standing on my self-righteous-soap-box here. But it happens consistently. Perhaps unity and solidarity were never a huge part of this movement…In my predominantly gay community, there is obvious discrimination against people who aren’t white, as though it is something they lack the "decency" to be. Issues of class and race and sexuality are not new to feminist debate. What I love about my program is that it pays attention to this. We talk about this. Haven’t we learned anything from this, though? No, perhaps it isn’t as serious a folly as the exclusion of others from feminist activism. Still, I find it troubling to say the least.
Aside from the issues of unity and solidarity, though, there is the thought: what point does sort of cattiness serve? Can we learn anything from it? Can’t we come at difference and dislike in an intelligent manner, at least? To state our opinions like (excuse the phrase that I hate) adults? Why all this type of in-fighting?
Mostly, my point in writing this is to ask:
Has anyone else noticed this? Am I overly concerned? And, importantly, what would be a good way to handle it?
And, maybe just a little, to make us all more aware of how we may be guilty of the same and what purpose this serves.
*Hops off her soap-box*
– In Solidarity,
Heather Riot; RIOTgamer

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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