Intersectional Feminism: Because Feminism Is For Everyone

(The above image is from this article, which I also recommend reading, though I disagree with the idea of rejecting a widespread movement and ideal because some people in it are detrimental to the cause or simply don’t seem to grasp what the cause is about)

Feminism is great. It’s about opposition to the social and cultural forces that cause so much injustice in our world. Pernicious patriarchal societal forces tell people what they should and should not be, how they should behave, and how they should interact and regard one another, with many roles determined purely by the biological sex of the individual.

In other words, some things are for men and some things are for women, and in 99.99% of those instances, these socially prescribed gender roles favor men. Men getting paid more and having more power, with the lives of women revolving around men.

That’s patriarchy. It’s absolutely gross. It’s not a conspiracy by a cabal of bearded old men who sit around contemplating whom and how to oppress in order to keep themselves in power. For the most part, the presence of the patriarchy in the modern world is just the product of thousands of years of human stupidity. And a lot of tradition is involved.

And there’s a lot to it. This cultural force has an awful lot to do with men controlling families and, specifically, controlling their wives and daughters (and children in general being regarded as property). The modern and very real effects of patriarchy range from slut-shaming to street harassment to the many layers of rape culture to the proportions of men and women being much less than representative in most professions. It impacts how people are expected (and even allowed) to dress. It impacts what classes students are encouraged to take in school or what arts they may feel open to pursuing.

What the patriarchy does best of all is probably double-standards.

It’s wonderful that feminism exists to, essentially, be the solution that dissolves the patriarchy. All joking aside, feminism is not about women being better than men, or about women taking over the world and ruling it. Though the jokes are quite entertaining.

Like I said, entertaining.

Here’s the thing—for the majority of the Twentieth Century, study in the West of feminism (and, particularly, feminist movements) had to do with Western women. It had to do with white women. It had to do with straight women. And it had to do with cisgender women. Which is all great, if you’re a Western white straight woman whose female gender identity and expression happen to match up with female sex organs.

Not so great for, um, everyone else. In particular, women who are not white. If you point out that Third Wave feminism is noted for expanding the scope of the feminist movement to include Women of Color, LGBT women, and women from different social and economic backgrounds, then you’re right. But you should also consider that viewing feminism and the history of feminism from that perspective means that you are basically viewing feminism from a white/straight/cis perspective.

Unfortunately, as with a lot of LGBT Rights issues, sometimes a lot of important issues get overlooked when it comes to feminism—essentially, people who are campaigning for human rights and for social justice kind of forget to be inclusive. Sometimes, it’s a calculated PR campaign targeting an audience that may have a racial bias. And sometimes it’s an oversight.

If your feminism is not intersectional—if your idea of feminism does not consider and include people who are different from you—then you are not doing it right. I do not only say this because the demographic of “women” includes women of so many religions, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, body-types, and economic levels (though that should be reason enough). I say this because the patriarchal ideas of ownership and the ongoing fight for women to be recognized as peers and equals is very relevant to matters of racial equality and LGBT issues.

Unfortunately, while some people may not consciously view them as separate issues, some white feminists can neglect to include . . . well, everyone else . . . in their feminist promotions.

This article, regarding a topic on Twitter (#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen), is really on-point (though it mostly just contains images of select tweets and a few editorial images).

Sometimes, you will see a promotional image or an image for an article about feminism discussing how feminists come from many different walks of life. The message loses some of its meaning when the image is of a bunch of white girls.

Sometimes, well-meaning feminists see religious garb worn by some women as oppressive. May the religion that gives a reason for a head-covering (I’m not speaking exclusively of Islam, here) be patriarchal in its origin and in many of its values? Absolutely. But being a feminist does not mean that you may not cover your hair, or your entire body—in fact, being a feminist does not need to impact any aspect of your appearance or what you do with your body, except that you should do it for you. A law requiring women to cover their heads? That is unjust. A woman wearing her own head-covering of her own volition, for any reason, is not a woman in need of rescuing.

Also, most uncomfortably of all, there is the White Savior idea. It’s the idea of a white person coming to the rescue of an oppressed racial minority. It’s a bizarre masturbatory, self-congratulatory aspect of white storytelling and it produces films like The Blind Side or The Help. You know, movies in which the message is “thank goodness that these black Americans had white ladies to fix their problems!”

Like I said: uncomfortable. It’s a problematic (and offensive) message.

Feminists should know better than most to be conscious of the privileges that they enjoy in society but others do not. That applies to straight feminists, cis feminists, wealthy feminists, and it certainly applies to white feminists.

Feminism is not just for any one group. Feminism wants to make the world a better place for everyone.

Feminism is for everyone.

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Stand With Wendy

If you get your news from, well, major news outlets, chances are that you have no idea who Wendy Davis is. She is a state senator from Texas who, on Tuesday, spent thirteen hours filibustering a piece of anti-choice legislation. SB5 aims to not only ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, but to raise the requirements for clinics where abortions can be performed to such a level that the law would effectively shut down all but a handful of the state’s clinics.

Texas has over twenty-six million residents. This is a big deal for millions of American women. With a Republican majority in the Texas senate and Governor Yosemite Sam Rick Perry unlikely to veto any anti-choice measures, the only way to stop SB5 from being passed was with a filibuster.

Each state has its own specific regulations for its state legislature. On a federal level, filibusters can go wildly off-topic (we have all heard stories of entries from a phone book being read) and can even be performed without anyone actually standing and speaking. In Texas, filibustering means speaking on-topic without sitting, leaning against your podium, or taking a break.

So that is what Wendy Davis did. For thirteen hours. She received three “warnings,” being accused of going off-topic (in once case by discussing Roe v. Wade, because, you know, that’s so unrelated to a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose?).

She was then prevented from filibustering further, but her allies in the senate then began asking questions on procedure and arguing against Wendy being silenced (to stall for time). When the questions failed, crowds of onlookers began chanting so loudly that the senate was unable to call a vote until after midnight (the deadline).

Now, just to clarify, this was not followed by major news outlets. But this was livestreamed. It was all over Twitter. If you don’t take Twitter news seriously, you should know that it’s not just for gossip or Arab Springs or hearing about earthquakes before everyone else. #StandWithWendy was trending, worldwide, above almost everything else.

While there are millions of wonderful, pro-equality, and tech-savvy baby-boomers in the world, this image best represents my thoughts on the livestream:

This is really, truly important. My dashboard on Tumblr is usually full of fandom images, funny images, and occasionally beautiful people in various stages of undress. Tonight, it was all about Wendy Davis, Texas, and the filibuster—from images or a few words of support to my friend’s wonderful thoughts on the filibuster and how people view Southern politics. Twitter was no different. It was beautiful.

We followed the filibuster, we followed the debate on procedures, we followed the protest as the senate Republicans desperately raced against time.

To the collective outrage of hundreds of thousands of people who were viewing this live (I listened to the livestream for hours, like a radio show, while doing other things), the senate “passed” SB5, though it was after midnight. Which is illegal. And they stamped the official time as 11:59. As some people phrased it, they “mansplained time to a clock.”

As if no one would notice.

It was only while I was already writing this post that the closed-door session announced that, despite their best efforts, they could not get away with “passing” SB5. Because, officially, they were determining if it had been passed, but they were actually determining whether or not they could get away with their time-altering shenanigans (time-travel irritates me in science fiction, so you can imagine that I was not delighted to see it used by politicians to break their own rules—rules that had been so important to them when a female senator was breaking them).

But SB5 failed. Thanks, in large part, to Wendy Davis.

The reaction of the crowd of Texans who had gathered was thunderous applause.

Guys, this was a great example. We’re all excited and nervous about today, when we’ll find out how the SCOTUS has ruled on issues of marriage equality. But it is important that we also remember that tonight was a victory for Texas women. Which means that it was a victory for people.

Finally, this post would not be complete without me adapting a Star Wars quote to this situation:

PS: It is 4AM and “Wendy” and “Texas” are both still trending. Worldwide.

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Suicide On-Air?

photo of radio pictures
A radio station in Dublin, Ireland hosts a nightly program where callers can ask questions and talk to the DJ. A caller rang FM104 Phoneshow , identified himself as “Jay” and told the station we was standing on the ledge of a bridge with a knife about to kill himself and he wanted to speak to the host, Jeremy Dixon. The phone screener informed Dixon of the situation and Dixon and the station decided to put the call through in the hopes that Dixon could talk the man down.

The Irish police and the man’s parents were called to the scene, traffic was halted and a very emotional Dixon tried calming down “Jay”. “I’m not qualified to deal with this,” Dixon said while on-air dealing with this intense situation. The caller eventually hung up, and around midnight he was talked down from the bridge. The whole incident got #104FM trending on Twitter with people weighing in on what had happened. Some were calling the airing of this call “distasteful and voyeuristic” others were on the side of the station.

People tweeted that this caller had pulled this stunt, on the same bridge four times last month and that the radio station had done nothing to halt his actions. Dixon tweeted that he was “completely drained” after the call and said the next morning that the station had “no other way to deal with the call but to air it”:

He wanted to talk to FM104. He didn’t ring anybody else, he didn’t ring his family, he rang FM104. … When someone rings and they feel as desperate and that, there is only one thing to do and that is to talk to them. … Hopefully it has worked.

This explanation has done little to put of the fires on social media with one person tweeting:

Patrick Abbott@patrickabbott

This smacks of what happened recently to those crank call radio DJs in Australia and the nurse in the UK. No lessons learned#fm104

And the other side of the argument:

erin large@erinmollylarge

#fm104 had NO choice in broadcasting that call. They risked their license for it. He threatened suicide if they didn’t! WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!

The station has said that after the incident that its staff would receive training for how to respond to suicidal behavior. Where do you stand on this? Should FM104 have aired the call?

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The Sandy Hook Discussion: “But I Think The Gun Helps”

photo of president obama talking about the sandy hook massacre pictures
This post is, perhaps, a bit more of a rant than most. So . . . enjoy.

The horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was a national tragedy.

I think that that is one thing on which most of us can agree. I will not regurgitate the upsetting details here. Because I want to talk about the response to the shooting—the things on which we do not all agree.

A lot of people are blaming the lack of access to mental health services in many places in the US.

A lot of people are blaming the easy access to guns throughout the US.

There are some loony people who are blaming outlandish things. I mean, for one thing, the idea that prayer being “banned” from schools is responsible for the shooting would be an absurd and, frankly, insulting concept even if prayer were banned in schools. But, I mean, it is not. I went to public school. Some students pray before they eat their food at lunch. My high school did not, to my knowledge, have an Abstinence Club, but there was a Fellowship Of Christian Athletes and they certainly prayed. I know that students might pray fervently and silently before, during, and after taking particularly important tests. Some students pray during the raising of the flag in the morning, though for the life of me I have no idea which school club or what is responsible for doing that.

What people complain about being banned is mandatory prayer in schools. And people complain about exclusive prayer in schools. When you go to a friend’s house and his or her family prays before a meal, it is polite to remain silent as it happens and to wait before you eat and perhaps to hold hands—depending upon the customs of your friend’s family. That’s called being polite, and you are at a friend’s house of your own volition. School is a very different situation. No mandatory, teacher-led, or student-let classroom prayer could ever be “non-denominational” enough to not exclude at least some of the religious students. And, oh by the way, not all students are religious at all. There is no need to bully students of minorities (or majorities) by excluding them. Formal and informal student-groups and afterschool clubs are more than sufficient for any student religious group.

I have even heard some proponents of “bringing prayer back to our schools” speak as if those students (and parents) who object to institutional prayer in schools are invading parties. That is not the case. Even if that mattered, I know that my family has been in this particular county of this particular state since before the Civil War. We have not invaded anywhere recently.

Interestingly, Mike Huckabee and the Westboro Baptist Church (that’s the “God Hates Fags” group) seem to have similar views on the shooting. Mike Huckabee has blamed “taxpayer-funded abortion pills” (his concept of reality is a little shaky) and other signs of the US having laws differing from those of conservative Christianity for the shooting. The Westboro Baptist Church (that’s Fred Phelps’ thing and, oh by the way, he is …

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