A BLOG

Beside/s: Wake up White Feminism!

  1. Nancy Fraser’s interview in NYTimes: A Feminism Where ‘Lean In’ Means Leaning on Others
  2. Brenna Bhandar’s and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome

A summary of Bhandar’s/da Silva’s argument found in the comments (yes, comments can be helpful!):

1 — The White feminist position she [Fraser] writes from (and calls feminist) could not have been tricked by neoliberalism because it is no different ontologically. That their programmes and projects were appropriated is due to the fact that they were ‘appropriate’ to a liberal programme.
2 — The call to them was not ‘check your privilege’ but wake up and smell your fundamentally liberal ‘coffee’!
3 — We also say that the feminist predicament she describes — which is of a certain feminism — it is only that of a certain feminism which has refused to rethink itself even after over 100 years of statements, analyses, etc that show how limited its understanding of the construction of patriarchy it is.
4 — What we say then is not that Black/​Third World feminisms are better but that they have advanced (continually ignored) critiques of capitalism which, because of how (and that we didn’t say explicitly but is implied) racial and colonial subjugation, demarcate a political (as well as ontoepistemological) position that signals the limits of any emancipatory (racial, gender-​sexual, etc) project that is not a radical critique of liberalism.

So it is Important to Think

Every so often I revisit the work of Michel Foucault. His theories on power, truth, ethics, problematization and care are central to my own vision of practicing an ethics of care on and offline. Today, I came across Foucault’s “So it is Important to Think.” Here are two passages that I want to ruminate on and remember:

Stupid Institutions think too.

There is always a little thought occurring even in the most stupid institutions; there is always thought even in silent habits. Criticism consists in uncovering that thought and trying to change it: showing that things are not as obvious as people believe, making it so that what is taken for granted is no longer taken for granted. To do criticism is to make harder those acts which are now too easy (456).

a fragment of autobiography:

Every time I have tried to do a piece of theoretical work it has been on the basis of elements of my own experience: always in connection with processes I saw unfolding around me. It was always because I thought I identified cracks, silent tremors, and dysfunctions in things I saw, institutions I was dealing with, or my relations with others, that I set out to do a piece of work, and each time was partly a fragment of autobiography (458).

Troublemaking Role Model: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Yesterday I posted about Serena Williams as a troublemaking role model who, when asked why she wasn’t smiling and happy in a post-match interview–a question that is imposed of women all the time, resisted the demand to be a polite good girl and challenged the reporter’s right to even ask the question. This morning, while scrolling through some old tweets, I found another example of refusing to be smiley and likable: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her talk at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards:

I think that what our society teaches young girls and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists to shrug off is that idea that likability is an essential part of the space that you occupy in the world….That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes and make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that is bullshit.

Yes it is.

Troublemaking Role Model: Serena Williams

Reporter: Serena, you just won the match, and … normally, you smile when you win … you laugh. What happened tonight, is it because you beat Venus or because you’re thinking about [the next match]? What’s wrong?

Serena: It’s 11:30 … to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now, and I have to wake up early to practice. And I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions. So … you’re not making it super enjoyable. [laughs] Just being honest.

I love Serena’s response. Makes me think of my problematizer, Smile of Die! from a few years ago.