gender trumps race
Why does this statement bother me so?
Because it is ridiculous to lay claim to the idea that all women are oppressed on equal terms, simply because they are women. Obviously, oppression is more complicated than that and I personally think that gender does not trump anything. Instead, there are interlocking systems of oppression that women face based on gender, race, class, sexuality, religious background, nationality, citizenship status and so forth. It is very naive and very, very 2nd wave-ish to say, “well, gender trumps race.” I can’t even understand how one can come to such a conclusion.
In the case of the current Duke scandal, some folks feel that we must pay attention to the issue of gender before race since, she is a WOMAN and was allegedly attacked by MEN. However, I don’t see how we can only pay attention to her as a woman, or as just a black woman, or even as a economically disenfrachised black woman, for that matter–all of her identities must be taken into account. Her race is already determining who believes her and who doesn’t, how bad of a parent she is (the myth of the bad black mother), and it’s determining how she is
misrepresented in the media. Additionally, we must not forget that we exist in a media saturated world that continuously reproduces negative images that deem black womens bodies as disposable sex objects. It is all too impossible to deny that those images do not play a strong part in concluding how she was/is/will be treated by men of all races. Furthermore, if one believes that gender trumps race in this specific situtation, then they deny the harm of the racial slurs that were hurled at the dancers, which I personally see as a form of violence towards these women–no matter what.
I also can’t possibly see how gender would trump race, since gender roles are constructed alongside race and class lines. I grew up learning not only how to be a female, but how to be a black female–and I think for other women of color in this country, it is impossible not to formulate a race conscisouness of being “less than whites,” alongside a gender consciousness of being “less than men.” Therefore, our racial identity and racism play a major role in our negotiations of how we experience gender. On the other hand, white women grow up to learn how to be white and female–which basically boils down to a white race consciousness that is formulated on the basis of having power within a system of white supremacy. So then, of course to some white feminists, gender would trump race, since they are not impacted by racial oppression.
Moreover, the argument that “gender trumps race,” also ignores the fact that women of color see men of color as necessary allies in the struggle against “the patriarchy.” Men of color do have a complicit relationship with fostering the oppression of women based on gender differences, but, we cannot ignore the fact that these same men face similar oppressions due to the color of their skin aside from their gender. In the case of the Duke scandal, if it were men of color who allegedly attacked a woman of color, issues of race would still be in play and I still wouldn’t see how gender would situate itself in a hierarchical position above race, or vice-versa. Rather, we would have to take into account how race functions within the specific racial group to understand fully the scope of the attack, what should and can be done about it, ways to prevent future attacks on women, etc.
Finally, if gender trumped race, there would be no need for black feminism, for third world feminism, for chicana feminism or for women of color feminism. Generalizations about “the patriarchy” and the oppression of women in a heirarchy based on gender, only ignores the multiplicity of the number of oppressions all women face that are not soley based on gender. However, to some white feminists who face gender oppression in exchange for racial privilege, gender does trump race.
This is also posted on my blog.
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beautiful, nubian! Just beautiful.
Great post! It has always bothered me when people claim that one oppression trumps all others.
Great post – incidentally where does the ‘gender trumps race’ quote come from?
I missed this sentance the first time I read it and it bugs me, it may be nitpicky, and it seems anytime anyone uses the term second-wave, or particularly third-wave I have to argue. But to describe ‘gender trumps race’ as very very 2nd wave-ish totally ignores what was happening in the American feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s, how many different things were happening. It seems ridiciulous, to me, to subsume the many different sorts of political activism and organising as if they shared one ideology.
i understand that the 2-nd wave has it’s own historical context, which is why i can’t understand how some women in 2006 still follow outdated ideologies–that was my point.
and i realize a number of different movements were taking place, but from my understanding, most of them had a similar goal of addressing gender oppression of women:
sisterhood is global slogans
lesbian seperatist feminism
An older, black, woman feminist friend who fought for equal rights in the 70s said the ERA did not pass because the (white) feminist movement excluded black women. That was the second wave. If anyone knows this history, I’d like to hear about it.
The Third Wave was coined and founded by Rebecca Walker who is half black and Alice Walker’s daughter and it’s ironic and sad that the third wave is not much less racist than the second wave.
I’ve decided to post my reply to the historical stuff on my blog – I don’t want to derail this thread.
To get more back on topic I find the use of a ‘trump’ as the verb in the quote you gave really interesting. Firstly because the cards metaphor really seems to trivialise the issues that we’re talking about. But secondly because it does treat oppression as such seperate categories (race is clubs, gender is hearts, class is spades, everything else is diamonds).
The point that intelligent commenters have been making over and over again is that the Duke rape case shows the way that gender, race and class work together.
Black men are natural allies to black women, while white women are privileged. Black men got the vote before any kind of women did, though realistically white women were able to use it effectively much much earlier, even though they got it later. When black women are abused by white men, it’s a political act–and I’m not being sarcastic—but when black men abuse black women no one wants to talk about it.
Long before protohumans crossed oceans and discovered people of other colors, men discovered they could beat up women and make them afraid and obediant. That includes black men, who had an additional excuse white guys don’t: they have truly suffered. Yet they inflict their suffering on black women. When they do it to white women, it’s something we should all ignore, except if we want to call white women liars. Within oppressed groups, the men inflict their abuse on the women to assert the only thing they’ve got: manhood. Black women may consider black men their allies, but I wonder if that includes the kind of guys who are sexist in the way as white guys. Because that’s what it boils down to.
Talking about rape, race, and black-white feminism never brings up the thing that lurks underneath: men of color can be sexist, too. None of the black feminists want to touch that one. Instead they want to talk about white female privilege and how black men are their allies. Maybe it’s a privilege to look at a sexist guy and see just the sexist and not the skin color and not give a shit, either. But standing by your man or men in this case…..
None of the black feminists want to touch that one. Instead they want to talk about white female privilege and how black men are their allies.
you don’t understand and you never will–unless you weren’t white. too bad. your privilege makes you so blind and hostile. get off it.
i am soooo done posting on this blog. i can’t stand the hostility of the very conservative so called feminists on this site. peace ya’ll
Wait, are you saying that feminists of color do nothing to address sexism and violence against women in their own communities?
When black women are abused by white men, it’s a political act”“and I’m not being sarcastic…but when black men abuse black women no one wants to talk about it.
men of color can be sexist, too. None of the black feminists want to touch that one.
Are you kidding me? Yes, of course black men abuse black women and can be sexist, but to say that no one is talking about it is demonstrably false. Do you even bother to read black feminists?
I can’t believe some of the hostility that Nubian is facing here.
i think thats what ginmar is saying, and sadly, she is so mistaken.
nubian aka blac(k)ademic
Actually, other than Ginmar, most of the folks who have been hostile to you aren’t feminists.
Nubian, obviously you’ve gotta do what’s right for you, but I hope you’ll reconsider and keep on guest posting. Although Ginmar has been hostile, other posters here, imo, appreciate what you’re saying – Radfem, Lanoire, RachelS, Curiousgirl, Charles, myself, and others. And you can’t just use the people who post comments to judge your impact – for every person who posts a comment, there are hundreds of lurkers who read the posts but not the comments.
If the current set-up isn’t working for you, maybe we could discuss changing the ground rules. For instance, if you want to set limits on who can post on your threads – the way that a lot of my posts are marked “feminists only” – you can do that.
But let me add to that: If you feel you have to go, obviously I’ll respect that. I’m grateful for the guest posting you’ve done here, and I feel awful that it’s apparently been a lousy experience for you.
Excellent post. Most of my women friends don’t identify as feminists for reasons included in it.
I don’t know who said that but I know it’s not true. Black women and Latinas in my own city are at the forefront of activism in their communities that address these issues, especially violence against women and girls. But their activism isn’t strictly gender focused as White women’s would be, because they face multiple oppressions and all of them factor into the sexism they face as women. For issues like rape, for example, it’s impossible to separate race and gender. For one thing, the criminal justice system(which would prosecute these rape cases) doesn’t treat all races equally, whether the individuals are men or women. But I guess if they aren’t fighting for ALL women(read White women) then either their activism doesn’t count? That’s offensive if anyone believes that.
They are also fighting against the massive contributions racism and classism(being poor) make in terms of the violence that happens. They are also at the forefront of activism to improve health care and screening of heart disease and cancers for women in their communities, again fighting against the racism in health care as well as the sexism.
The problem often is, is that White women have an assumption that if Black and Latino women are not fighting the fight that the White women want or believe in, then they are not fighting for women’s rights. This assumption is false.
who has said men of color can’t be sexist? That sounds like a strawman to me.
(excerpt from original posting)
This says a lot on this issue, very well imo, in a way that is very easy to understand.
I think that the rise of more multi faceted immanent dicourse in our society is at the heart of the matter imo. A very similar thing is currently going on the literary ‘canons’ of university institutes, whereby a particular group united by a common cause identify yet more ‘gaps’ wherein to assert previously neglected agency.
The question is for me; at what point will the increased individualisation of groups stop? We establish a feminist group on campus say, then one person identifies the need for a black feminist group on campus, then within that someone identifies a need for a black bisexual feminist group. We have a russian doll effect here which looks at least theoretically like it will descend into mere individualism. I imagine that a lot of white feminists, as shown in this brief discussion, take exception to the remark that they are ‘priveleged’ because they identify first and foremost with their status as women. I imagine there will be a black, bisexual, feminist woman who would argue that Blackademic is in some way priveleged for simply not being the same as herself and having more agency as a ‘straight woman’.
Yet these labels seem crass and reductive. They seem to strike a chord within us that makes the hair stand up. Perhaps the problem lies in our adoption of group identity IN RELATION TO other groups, as much as we’d like to deny it. Just a thought.
By the way Blackademic I didn’t mean to be so prescriptive about your sexuality. I merely tried to highlight my point through example.
The view that any type of oppression/discrimination/hatred trumps another forgets that they are all symptoms of the same problem. And that problem is exploiting groupings of people for our self-interests and then using those same groups as scapegoats.
This underlying system harms even those who aren’t oppressed/discriminated against or hated because it creates a toxic environment. Unfortunately, many see this toxicity as being caused by those who don’t quietly let the toxic system hurt them by staying in their proper place.
Many who want to deny racism/sexism/etc are likely scared that the unjust system will turn on them. The last thing they want is to be treated the way they treat those they discriminate against.
I haven’t been hostile, I’ve been angry. I guess the irony of you getting angry at folks for bringing up Tawana Brawley—something I agreed with you on—-leading to a discussion about how white women are liars escapes you. You can’t defend one group of women from sexism by using it on another group of women, and that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.
Men of color do have a complicit relationship with fostering the oppression of women based on gender differences, but, we cannot ignore the fact that these same men face similar oppressions due to the color of their skin aside from their gender.
What kind of language is fostering the oppression? And yes, we sure as hell can ignore these guys face oppression if they turn around and oppress other people specifically women. Once they start hurting women, they stop being oppressed themselves. That paragraph right there is exactly what I’m talking about.
Men have never had more than a temporary grasp, historically speaking, of the feeling of always having been possessions, something women have never been free of, in any culture. Regarding women as possessions has been a male right through history. Women have never entirely broken free of it, but the price tags on those valueable hymens differ according to the shelf we’re placed on.
I’m reminded of the Central Park Jogger case, in which justisfied hostility toward the racist white policemen and male columnists translated itself into unjustified hostility toward the uncsconious victim, to the point where Peter Noel, a writer for the City Sun, wrote about the perfection of her body sarcastically, as if the culture that valued such things as her was her fault.
And if I don’t get it it’s becuase I don’t think any man, anywhere, is more important over any woman anywhere. I don’t care what oppressions he’s suffered. Once he hurts a woman he’s not an ally.
This might all just be a linguistic issue, so bear with me.
Your above paragraph almost assuradly supports a view towards gender “trumping” race — as, in order for it to work, race would have to be a monolithic and singular experience for all non-white women, regardless of actual race and global location. The single common denominator is feminism, not race — not unless you codify race to an almost meaningless degree.
Similarly, your two preceding paragraphs could read to be an assertion that race “trumps” gender — which I’d be surprised to see you asserting. Say, for instance, in the case of the young woman alleging rape in the Duke lacrosse case — you say this:
You are right, all of her identities should be taken into account — but for all very different reasons. Ultimately, she was raped. Rape is a crime against gender (more precisely, it is a definer of gender), it is not a crime against class or race. Race (and class) however, are what created the situation in the first place: a situation with expectations placed on the woman and her behavior because she is black and because she is poor (relatively). Similarly, although the rape occurred because of her being a woman, it is most likely her race and class that will affect her testimony, perceived veracity, and the course of the trial.
So yes, everything is intertwined.
I really don’t like the idea of any oppression or discrimination trumping another — yet I find rape to be such a singularly repugnant and sticky social structure, that I support focusing on gender first with a willingness to be critical of all other social factors (even oppressions) that come into play. Men in a rape culture benefit from that culture — and for every black man who can wipe his brow and say “at least I’m not a black beotch” or who refers causually to women who perform sexually for him as “ho’s”, the core issue is gender and the situating of women, based on sex, into the category of fuckable/rapable/disposable.
Black women need black men as allies, as lesbians need gay men as allies. To me it would be foolhardy to assume that my common oppression with gay men makes me socially equal to them.
Assuming that this is *the* problem(and I strongly disagree it is) I don’t think it will stop if there is this expectation that gender trumps race for all women.
That all women must identify their primary oppression as sexism(as White women define it).
That if they don’t do so , they are viewed as not really being feminists and in fact, instead are diverting the movement and dividing it into “splinter” groups that are seen as hostile to White feminists(who define them of course as being hostile to “women”)
Is creating all these different groups, really a problem? Or is it a problem because White women are excluded from them or do not have a say in running them? I’m asking because it was at the point when “feminists” broke off into “Black feminists” that your outcry about the rampantness of individualism began in your posting. Where is the outcry about the lack of inclusiveness of “feminism” for many women? No where.
Who gives a fuck? On a race level, it’s true and if the shoe fits, stop throwing a tantrum every time you get called on it and learn from what people are telling you instead. I know first hand that it’s not easy to do this, but it does get easier with experience and lessons learned. This can also apply to White women who are oppressed by sexual orientation, classism and ableness and made to choose to *prove* their loyalties.
If feminism doesn’t give women the freedom and the right to define themselves the way they choose then it is no better than the patriarchy that it is fighting against. In fact, it is mirroring the enemy.
You do have privilage if you can put gender first. Why? Because you don’t have to stack your gender oppression with your racial oppression and any other oppressions you face in your life.
The problem is when our discomfort over having to face our racial privilage trumps the racial oppression faced by women of color that directly or indirectly benefits White women. It is NOT the responses women of color have to the behavior of White feminists.
Shock trumps reason
Violence trumps passiveness
Hate trumps compassion
Pity trumps help
Men have never had more than a temporary grasp, historically speaking, of the feeling of always having been possessions, something women have never been free of, in any culture.
Men who have been enslaved from birth probably have a better grasp of that feeling than you give them credit for. By the civil war, to use the American example, there had been at least 6 generations of slavery. If my dad and his dad and his dad and his dad and his dad were all property, I think that “historically speaking” we’ve got an impression that we’ve always been property. Going to other cultures, there are much lengthier (because not interrupted by emancipation) chains of possessedness.
Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to say.
I have to say one thing, though there’s so much I could say. This is in response to Qgrrl. Bear with me if it’s been said 100 times: rape is a crime of race as well as gender. Rape is a frequently-used weapon in genocidal campaigns; it has a long a reprehensible history in the United States as a tool to enforce white racial dominance.
Men can also be raped. Rape is a (covert) tool of the prison system used far too often to keep men (predominately Black, as it happens) in line. Admittedly, this isn’t too pertinent issue in the Duke case, but I think it should be remembered.
I didn’t state that it was the ‘problem’, I stated that it was the ‘matter’ meaning the underlying philosophical issue. Every individual could claim to be less priveleged than the one in front of them in a queue at the bus stop if they so desired, but this assertion of other ‘groups’ being more priveleged than others is contentious in a society where we stress respect for individual circumstance. I use white feminism as an example, black feminism could be logically used also by someone who takes exception to the way their characteristics as an individual are not catered for the way they like within that group. There is no explicit agenda from a white feminist pespective here, just a questioning of the way people view themselves as a ‘group’ opposed to another.
I think the PROBLEM lies in the assertion that ‘you cannot understand because you are not X’. This viewpoint has always been vehemently upheld by radical feminism when applied to men – how does one view this assertion with regard to the issue of race, class, sexual orientation, how many packets of biscuits we buy on a thursday? There comes a point where a certain ‘respect’ for a groups’ space to speak descends into people muttering to themselves in their own room because no one can truly relate to them. We can listen to that individual speak and respectfully absorb what they have to say but cannot discuss this with another human being because we do not understand them, and them us.
Yet the radical feminist community to me appear to be united – and imo. I believe this to be due only to the fact that they converge upon an over riding political/moral/cultural viewpoint – that it is most important to be a woman before anything else. Without that agreement I think we are encouraging the bolt to be slammed home.
A problem with this analogy is that Black women partner most often with Black men and have children with them.
Also, I didn’t think there was an assumption made that sharing a common oppression(racism) meant that Black men and Black women were socially equal to each other. I think BA stated that there were gender inequalities between men and women but that they could not be separated and treated apart from racial inequalities shared by Black men and women. I do not see how having gender trump race would be a solution to these gender equalities between Black men and women. I think you would have to address racism as well.
(thank you newbie for your post.)
Rape is a crime against gender, but it can also be used against a race or ethnic group. It is used in other places as a tool of ethnic or racial genocide, for example. It was used by White men against Black women in this country under slavery. It is a weapon of colonization, as well.
What I see here are women of color objecting to the prioritization of gender over race while White women stating that is the just the way it is…because it’s rape. I would be frustrated too! I see White women proclaiming their concern that no one cares about Black women who are raped(including other Black women) but then when they are challenged by Black women on the issue, refuse to listen to their viewpoints from the perspective of…Black women!
I’m saying, Radfem, that is appropriate given certain circumstances to look at gender before race. I am not saying that by looking at gender first we ignore the implications of racism.
Even when used as a tool of genocide or colonialism, it is women and women’s bodies being raped. To ignore that is to erase certain realities of being female-bodied.
[as to the issue of men get raped too: it is most often when female bodies are not available and the men being raped serve as pseudo-women, therfore it is still about gender (and not sex), as gender is a patriarchal system of power-over].
Where? I see you badly misinterpreting what could be an interesting and challenging discussion just to make white women out to be the devil. IOW, race trumps everything, all the time, from your perspective. And I don’t think that’s good either. I think we can have these conversations without resorting to diametrically opposed positions, no?
IOW, from my opinion, it is just as sloppy to think or theorize that race is more oppressive than sexism. What makes the discussion interesting, and important, is delineating how and when and to whom race comes first, or gender comes first. Painting one segment of the population as clueless is reductive and a finely tilted slippery slope. You may say that White women are operating out of privilege when we can place gender first — but why is that something to be ashamed of? I am white — that’s what I know. And I do put gender first. But not all the time.
Nubian, saying one or the other trumps doesn’t make sense. You also left out class, and that is something our culture judges us on as well. It is far worse in our culture if one is a woman from a lower socioenomic class than a man. I think you were unfairly labeling Ginmar as hostile. She makes valid points. Just because a man is black doesn’t mean he’s on your side. There is certainly sexism amongst African American men and sexism that is praised look at how some rap videos treat women, I’ve seen some condemnation of this amongst African American feminists. Nubian, I think you are assuming Ginmar and all white feminists are hostile to you. We aren’t.
Ciardha, I don’t think Nubian was saying that either one “trumps” the other. And although she didn’t address class issues in this particular post, that doesn’t mean she thinks class issues aren’t important. No one talks about every possible way people are privileged in every single post.
As far as I’m aware 90% of all violent crime on this planet is performed by men – not women. No such dichotomy can, for all that I know, be found between any two groups of different colour or ethnicity.
Thus, although I think the choice of words was far too flippant, I agree that gender is a more pervasive part of our identities and behaviour than identifieing/being identified as black, white or any nuance in between.
This does not mean that we can ever disregard issues like class and ethnicity or that gender is always the factor in question. It all intersects and feeds off eachother in an ever changing dynamic that really needs to be studied more.
Still, I find arguments on who is most disadvantaged completely unproductive unless we believe there is a limited resource of involvement going around an needing to to be shared out between causes. I don’t believe that is the case. Surely most of us are here to share experiences and thoughts and support eachother in our daily struggle?
I’m not understanding why anyone thinks there’s necessarily a categorical hierarchy to oppressions. I’d argue that what is generally necessary is to view gender and race (and sometimes other oppressions, such as class, etc., depending on context and which are relevant) laterally, simultaneously, and in relation to each other. Sure, we sometimes need to pick them apart and view them individually in order to understand how nuances of each may be operating, but that does not mean they must be hierarchized. This alleged necessity to view various oppressions hierarchically seems like a reproduction and reinforcement of the very same patriarchal structures that generated them in the first place.
Call me naive, but I honestly don’t understand any rush to claim that one characteristic must always trump the other, all the time, everywhere. Saying “race trumps gender” or “gender trumps race” strikes me as mixing together yellow and blue paint and claiming that the results always produce some variant of one or the other, but never the color green.
Who or what is served by demanding that we each choose a primary oppression that fits every circumstance ?
yeah, but who’s saying that Alsis? Who’s making this claim? Even Amp calls for a generous reading — well at least for the WOC, ginmar, apprently b/c she is white, should know better.
Look, saying that feminists are (as a group) claiming that gender trumps race is like saying MacKinnon or Dworkin said that all heterosexual sex is rape. … or that all men are rapists.
Well, it’s hard to have that challenging and interesting conversation if I’m being told I’m making white women “out to be the devil.” Just using that terminology simply because I disagree that ALL women should have to define gender first is an automatic dialogue interrupter as well. It means that it’s okay to talk about White women as being oppressed by gender, but not as potential oppressors by race. That’s the only way that women can participate.
If you believe I’m making the White women to be the “devil” all the time, then you are badly misinterpreting me. But if you wanted to shut the door to any reference regarding White feminists and race privilage, I guess you did.
What makes the discussion interesting, and important, is delineating how and when and to whom race comes first, or gender comes first.
I agree that it is very interesting until the loyalty tests are given to women who don’t put gender first. Then it ceases to be so. When it comes to “painting” women, how is stating that on this or that issue, this is a crime of gender, or this is an issue of gender(but we’ll allow for some analysis and thus acknowlegement of race and class) any different than trying to cram woman into a category largely defined by White feminists and our own interests?
You have the right to do so if you choose. Why not allow other women the same right to choose what they put first and listen to them, rather than tell them how wrong they are to do so? Like they don’t understand what it’s like to live their own lives and their own experiences, which admittedly are different from your own. Like their perception of rape as a crime of gender AND race is not valid simply because it disagrees with your own? Why should women who can not and do not wish to separate the two be told they *have to* to participate equally in discussions on this issue?
I’m not saying that race trumps gender all the time. I’m simply expressing irritation that the decision on whether it does or does not, should or should not for ALL women, rests on the assumptions of White women, with White women scolding their Black sisters if they disagree with their views. That’s one time when feminism ceases speaking to me.
Qgrrl, I never meant to imply that every White feminist said what ginmar said. But her quote is heading the topic, after all. Cut me some slack here. You’ve been on some of the same feminist spaces I have where any number of White feminists basically felt they had a duty to demand that WOC “choose” gender as a defining factor over race, all the time, everywhere. You remember when Gentile White feminists played the same games with Jewish women like me. So, no, I don’t think that demand from certain White feminists is an urban legend on par with the misattribution of “all sex is rape” to some radical feminist writers, not by a long shot.
It doesn’t matter to me if another White woman “knows better” or not. Ginmar has been all kinds of places and seen all kinds of things which I haven’t. The same applies to Blac(k) and to you and to probably most feminists I meet. The key isn’t to “know better” but to concede to your sister that you don’t know everything, because none of us do. I want so badly for us to really hear each other, more than we usually end up doing.
And where in the hell am I telling them how wrong they are? Unless you’re switching between the singular you and the plural (which I tend to do), I’m not sure how to take this. And I don’t get this “you have the right to do so if you choose.” You’re the one saying that white women do this, white women do that, as if that color of whiteness automatically, across the board, accrues the same level of racism to all of us white women. So whoa. Now you’re going to say that I have a choice? That it isn’t my skin color afterall?
I have my viewpoint, much of which is founded on my lived history as a white woman. It informs me, sometimes in some really excellent ways. I also firmly believe that there is no hierarchy of oppressions… which strangely enough includes racism. What I object to is the gross misinterpretation of what ginmar and others are saying about women, rape, lies *and* race. In my initial post here, I tried to point out how easy it is, when not even trying, to premise one oppression above another, and then I went on to say that sometimes this is a necessarcy and timely tool. That does not mean any one oppression continuously and historically will always “trump” another. For others to keep insisting that this is what “white” “feminists” are doing is intellecutally weak.
Alsis, I hear you. But what about what is going on right here? right now?
Which “white feminists” are making these claims?
I’m not fucking with you, Qgrrl– though it might seem that way. It’s just that I don’t follow how ginmar is being misinterpreted. She did write, “gender trumps race,” and cited cases in which the hierarchies built into the former overrode the hierarchies built into the latter. I’m not denying that in those cases, she could have been right, but she made it sound as if these cases were the blueprint for every case of rape and other violence against women that has ever come down the plank. If she wants to clarify that she meant to say something more nunaced, why doesn’t she ?
She also wrote: “…but when black men abuse black women no one wants to talk about it…” But how does she know this ? Does it follow that because the faces at Take Back the Night rallies, or what have you, are all or mostly White that WOC aren’t talking about it at all, anywhere ?
It might seem intellectually weak to you, but it seems like a pattern and practice that has occurred a lot in feminist discourse as alsis has said in her post. I find that in itself, weak.
Well, many women may beg and have begged to differ that. Historical examples were given, to explain this.
So is the worst or the singularly repugnant and sticky social structure in oppression to be relegated to being defended by gender first? And any lessor ones, well maybe gender can be equal with race or below it? Are we substituting one heiarchy for another? My concern is that for each woman, rape might be a different experience that affects them as a gender but also as a race or ethnicity and pushing one definition of what kind of crime rape is. And having this defined for ALL women by women who have put gender first.
I guess women should be grateful that you are at least “willing” to consider all the other oppressions.
That is after creating a heiarchy for rape, which places gender first.
That’s a straw man from the other thread. I believe there was an assertion that some White women may have lied about rape by Black men. How that got interpreted defensively to mean ALL White women, I don’t understand. It seems that this statement of Some women lie= All women lie is more often a tactic used by MRAs. I guess the accusation that would normally be made against MRAs here can be tossed against women of color as well, who challenge the contention that White women never lied about rape, in cases where Black men were lynched.
Interesting, since the major thrust of the initial Brawley post was that a Black woman who was raped in Durham is being associated *at all* with one case where a Black teenage girl was believed to have lied(I don’t know the specifics of how this case turned out). Somehow it became all about White women being accused of lying ALL the time about rape.
What the fuck? Where the hell does this come from radfem?
I don’t think that defining rape as a crime against gender makes anything into a fucking hierarchy. Rape happens precisely b/c women are female bodied when rape is used as a class or racial tool (to include genocide). Its a simple matter of biology, not fucking hierarchies.
At this point you’re seeing what you want to see radfem.
I should have added a p.s.
P.S. Radfem, I respect you and your words a lot. I do not completely get how you are coming to the conclusions you are coming to from the entirity of my words here. Either I’m not doing a very good job of explaining myself, or you already have your mind made up.
Alsis, Ginmar is talking about our culture in general, and that includes liberal blogs. When it is talked about the black man is a celebrity ( Kobe Bryant, etc…) and the black woman gets the same treatment by the media (including liberal media) that white women raped by white men do. (William Kennedy Smith, etc…) We women (no matter our skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference or class) know the whole sick song and dance the media says and even some men who call themselves liberal are so quick to parrot – “She’s a slut, a liar, it’s her fault she shouldn’t have done/worn that”
I was just walking across campus (Duke Univ to boot) to the Chick Filet — it’s a late work night, needed dinner. So it’s the last day of classes for the undergrads, there are caterers setting up tents etc for the last day festivities, but it’s started drizzling and most of us are unprepared for the light rain. The woman walking next to me is a young black woman with long curly hair that’s starting to react to the rain. We both simultanesously walk past three black men who have been working setting up the tents and the one guy pokes the other in the ribs, points to the young black woman and says, clearly “looks like a jellyfish with herpes.”
I kept walking. I figured it was a black thing.
Robert, please. Are you going to pretend you’re totally ignorant of history? Christ, reading the old narratives about ‘the violation of the black man’s bed‘ made it very clear that a white man raping a black slave was regarded as a violation of the black guy’s ownership of her. Even in slavery, she was pulled two ways.
Ginmar, your response is a non sequitur. I would not presume to argue that black women’s oppression was not harsher than black men’s. That isn’t what you asserted; you said “Men have never had more than a temporary grasp, historically speaking, of the feeling of always having been possessions…”
I believe that men who are owned have a grasp of being a possession. That other people, who are also owned, had things even worse doesn’t seem to undermine that point.
I don’t think I should enter the wider debate, because I think that the specifics of this debate are about race and gender in the united states, and I don’t think that’s my discussion to have (I didn’t know who Tawana Brawley was, still don’t).
But I did want to say that I think that I think this statement is unbelievably racist, no matter what else is going on.
I think the use of “willingness” here shows that 1) a heiarchy exists and 2) that if women of color want to talk about how racism affects their experiences and views of rape, they have to park the “racism” talk at the curb if race and racism are not kept at their proper place, below gender.
Maybe not to you, but what about women who don’t want to call it a crime of gender first? What about women who can not separate gender from race when it comes to rape? To them, your response is well, it’s a crime of gender but I’m not creating a heiarchy. In your eyes, probably not b/c in terms of race and gender there may not be one.
In theirs, well that goes back to the original posting on this blog, and posts left at BA’s blog as well. That was my original point I’ve been trying to make from the beginning, about the time I was told I was demonizing White women, by associating them with being “devils”.
Q grrl, I respect you and your words a lot. I do disagree with what you have said here. If I’m seeing what I want to see, I’m not the only one.
How unbelievably ignorant this is! Do you presume that because you aren’t privy to these conversations they don’t take place? Are all the conversations and experiences of women of color defined by which ones you are privy to?
Oh, and btw, if Black feminists do not “want to touch that one” in the presense of White feminists, it doesn’t take much to figure out why.
Well, we all experience oppression differently. You see, on a day to day basis, I get more racism than I do sexism, but sometimes I get a noxious blend of the two. But, I’m able to understand that just because I don’t get oppressed about my class, it doesn’t mean that classism doesn’t exist or other people may not get blends of classism in with other oppressions. I’m feeling rude, so like, if your touchstone for black culture is rap videos, please be quiet and go and interact with some black people? Please.
Also, like people can be your ally in one place and your adversary in another. I’m allied with white feminists about you know, being against rape, but I’m against them when they are like OMG! white priv like doesnt exist, you know?
i never said anything trumped anything. maybe you misread my posting?
second, i did mention class when i said we must take into account that the alledged rape victim was economically disenfranchised. but my point was looking at the comment left by ginmar claiming “gender trumps race”–so i focused mainly on those two issues.
this is so ridiculous. you just negated the whole history of black feminism–i am so offended. to me, that statement reeks of white privilege and only unearths the nasty ideas that some white feminists believe, that if they aren’t included in the discussions, then they must not exist!–just because we aren’t talking about those issues around you, does not mean they aren’t taking place. i urge to read some black feminists texts and step outside your comfort zone. or watch NO! the rape documentary. the whole film is about rape of black women by black men. or read some mark anthony neal.
what the hell does this have to do with anything?
And I meant willingness within the realms of openmindedness — of a shared discourse about all aspects, to include criticism of those aspects, from all points of view. It seems to me that most often discussion of race do not flow back and forth, they become one directional. And that might be because it isn’t historically possible yet to have an honest, open, and non-judgemental discussion between blacks and whites (i.e, whites still have miles to go in their listening/learning roles). It is my belief that part of the learning curve for both parties is a vigourous examination of our social situations, and that if one party is going to criticize the other party for making blanket statements (gender trumps race), then the same criticism can and should be levied against claims that the other party/affiliation (white feminists) are monolithically of a certain mind or opinion. That is what I mean by intellectually weak. It doesn’t say much. It tends to make people defensive. And it tends to make people not learn very much.
I don’t think it is safe ground to be on when white women cannot publically criticize black men for the role they play in perpetuating, not just black women’s oppression through sexism, but white women’s too. Being able to say that black men are rapists or that black men benefit just like white men do from our rape culture needs to be said. We cannot pretend otherwise. But simultaneously (i.e., my notion of willingness) is for that particular “benefit” or participation in the rape culture to be placed within the cultural/historical/social context of white on black racism, including the very unique history that black men faced in being lynched for rapes that never happened (to white women).
It was to point out the disutility of creating hierarchies of oppression.
In reality, I kept walking b/c it was raining. The insane amount of misogyny imbedded in this man’s comments stayed with me a bit longer thoguh.
IOW, in the split second of the mind’s reaction to a situation, one reacts to the ugliness first. I reacted to the sexism/misogyny. Maybe the young woman reacted through an entire sequence of experiences that I don’t know about.
It would, however, be insanely rediculous for me to have actually thought, or acted out, the concept of “oh, that’s a black thing”, premising race over sexism. (there was a considerable class issue occuring between the student and the workers, so I assume the possibility that the comment could have been racially or class motivated).
Did I miss something? Who said that black men don’t rape or that they don’t benefit from rape culture? At the same time, just because white women are being raped and denied body rights doesn’t mean that they can’t take part in racism.
Well, first of all, I’m not by any means the most savvy Caucazoid out there. However, I don’t see the point in equating liberal blogs with either the world at large or even with Black blogs. I know Black folks active in anti-racist and other social justice issues who nonetheless can’t abide what they consider liberal hypocrisy and thus avoid the term like the plague. So I would avoid assuming that the average liberal blog speaks for the average Black person I might run across on the street– even if their opinions have a superficial resemblance to each other.
I would also avoid muddying the issue by using celebrity cases interchangeably with most criminal cases. For that matter, the Duke case itself is not a celebrity case in the usual sense because while the White athletes may have some celebrity status on campus, they aren’t exactly celebrities elsewhere in the way that Bryant, Tyson or Simpson was. It’s true that in a case like Bryant’s, you will see White men and White media essentially giving a celebrity de facto Whiteness– a promotion, if you will. They are also in the process demoting the White acuser to the status of a [insert your favorite derrogatory racial term here]. Again, however, I think it’s a mistake to treat a wealthy, esteemed celebrity as if he went into a criminal case with the same status that an acused Black man would if he taught grade school or collected trash for a living.
I’m not arguing with that. One point I would make, however, and I saw this mentioned elsewhere, is that (for example) Bryant’s acuser tried to get justice. As totally fucked up as her treatment was, it’s possible that if she had been a WOC, she would either have not bothered to make the attempt, — or would not have gotten any signifigant media coverage at all. Possibly because without the added salaciousness the media gets from the interracial angle, her fate would not have qualified as news. Or possibly because her own community would have heaped the condemnation of her being a traitor to another POC on top of all the abuse she already had to withstand.
Forgive me, I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know if this has already been said.
Part of the problem, to me, in arguing that “gender DOES NOT trump race” is that all too easy, instead of turning into an argument that race/gender/class are intersectional and that not one of them by default trumps another, it turns into “but race DOES trump gender.”
It scares me when someone who uses that argument that “gender trumps race” is called a “racist,” but someone who says that “race trumps gender” isn’t in turn called a “sexist.” And it definitely upsets me that class gets sort of thrown in there like a kicked around little sister, because of general ideas that “lower class” really means “women of color” because of the so-called face of poverty. It upsets me that being called “classist” isn’t nearly the level of insult that being called racist and — perhaps to a SLIGHTLY lesser degree — sexist is.
I’m sorry the commenters have been so hard onyou. I think your posts are great, and I’ve liked reading them a lot. I avoid comments threads a lot these days, mostly because I don’t feel like my comments do any good. And that may also be true here, but I couldn’t not tell you how terrific your posts are, and how much I like reading them. I wish I had offered more support.
I wanted to say that I’ve greatly appreciated reading your posts here. I will make an effort to keep up with your blog when you stop posting here, whether that’s now or later.
I very much agree with you.
You say you haven’t read the comments. Do you have any evidence that people are doing this? Because otherwise I don’t think your point has any relevance.
Maia says on her blog: The other thing I wanted to argument with, but didn’t because I didn’t want to derail Nubian’s thread is this:
The Third Wave was coined and founded by Rebecca Walker who is half black and Alice Walker’s daughter and it’s ironic and sad that the third wave is not much less racist than the second wave.
I’m always a little surprised whenever I see anyone using the term second-wave feminism. I thought the two wave model of feminism had been so thoroughly discredited that no-one would dishonour the feminists who worked between women winning the vote and the 1960s by continuing to ignore their existance.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking first wave, second wave, third wave or no wave, American feminism has always been racist.
Race, gender, class don’t trump one another but I think the original post was a response to how the Duke case is starting to ignore the racial taunts and racial aspects to focus on sexism only. There has been writing in the blogosphere lately that say gender trumps race. I also noticed today that people are suggesting Mary Doe’s identity be shown when the identities of the white women in the Haidl and Missbrenner cases were never revealed while the defendants identities were revealed as in the Duke case.
Look, saying that feminists are (as a group) claiming that gender trumps race is like saying MacKinnon or Dworkin said that all heterosexual sex is rape. … or that all men are rapists.
Huh? But ginmar actually said, in the other thread, that “gender trumps race.”
Q Grrl, I agree with a lot of what you’ve been saying, which is making me wonder why you’ve taken an adversarial tone with respect to the original post. You seem to be arguing against the idea that race trumps gender, and I’m with you (I hate the idea of “trumping” when it comes to oppression anyway), but…who on earth has said that race trumps gender? No one. No one’s made such a blanket statement here. The original post was arguing against ginmar’s claim that gender trumps race. That’s it.
And yes, we sure as hell can ignore these guys face oppression if they turn around and oppress other people specifically women. Once they start hurting women, they stop being oppressed themselves.
Are you seriously arguing that if you oppress someone you automatically cease being oppressed yourself? I suppose white females on plantations were not oppressed, then, since they oppressed the black slaves in their power. Does this also mean that white women today aren’t oppressed, seeing that many of them use their white privilege to further the oppression of people of color?
And yes, I do think making the blanket statement of “gender trumps race” is a sign of white privilege. Ginmar, you and me and other feminists rightly criticize men for getting defensive when they’re told they have male privilege. It seems, right now, like you’re getting defensive in reaction to being told you’ve got white privilege. I encourage you to take your own advice and think about why so many women of color in this thread are criticizing you for this, rather than implying that they’re just “standing by their men.”
Nubian, like Amp, I wish you’d keep posting here. Yeah, you’re getting some undeserved hostility, but IMO that’s all the more reason why voices like yours are needed. Of course I respect your decision not to if you think that’s best.
Ultimately, she was raped. Rape is a crime against gender (more precisely, it is a definer of gender)
Except that people of both genders can be raped.
And speaking as a black female, I don’t have the luxury of putting my gender first. White is the default race, if you hear a story where the race of the participants is not mentioned, if you live in the United States or most of Europe, you assume white. If you are a white woman you cease to be “white” and become simply a woman, a woman of color cannot do this, she has to carry her race to identify herself.
Nubian, I want to second what Lanoire and Amp are saying. Please do not let anyone to silence you. You’re voice is too powerful and too needed right now.
Afterall, you said it best:
I’m going to be the one to out and out say what I think has been lurking in at least some of the posters here’s mind. Ginmar could not give two shits about the experiences of people of color. Not only do I believe that she has not taken the time to read any black feminst work, but she seems to be oblivious to all of black history in America.
I’m sick and tired of seeing white people telling people of color that they don’t understand their experiences of oppression (“no, it’s not really about race, it’s about class/gender”). Talk about abusing your privilege!
You know, I really don’t even know where to start. I was telling my friend the other day – a black male – about how for once, I would like to be considered a lady by the people living in this country. You know? White people can say whateverdafuck they want to say, but when they are speaking of chivalry, manners, holding open doors, and so on, they are NOT thinking about my black ass, or anyone who looks like my black ass. When Elle, Marie Claire, Vogue, etc. are talking about women who are beautiful and fearless and so on, they are not talking about my black ass or anyone who looks like my black ass. When they see me, they’re wondering where my kids are and how I managed to buy such nice clothes on my $20 a month welfare check. (Sorry so ranty, but I had an encounter a couple of days ago with the EE-PIT-OH-MEE of the White Privleged Male.)
I go to FAMU – four miles from FSU – and I tell you, the tension between the schools right now is so bad that you would’ve thought that woman went to FAM. These white boys are strutting around like they own the world, saying things to us black women that they would normally NEVER say. It’s maddening. I’m practically walking halfway to Atlanta just to avoid being in their way. Usually I’m all for a fight, but right now they’re just draining us all.
The gulf between those two schools is unbelievable and FSU is another big time fraternity/sports/party school. The black male students and the school always get tagged by law enforcement and FSU male students never et in trouble.
Nubian, great post. Don’t ever stop. Don’t ever give up.
I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said already except that this
says it all to me. Thank you.
Oh, holy crap.
Women of color are hardly standing by their men like Connie fucking Francis, okay folks? If you read this post by Nubian and the comments about it, you’ll see this.
I’ll never ask or expect anyone to choose which oppression is “worse.” A lot of this rhetoric strikes me the same way the Kos kerfuffles and the “where are the women bloggers?” fiascos have–except now I’m seeing Whites (specifically White women) define what the “important shit” is.
I’ll be the first to admit that the rape and the misogyny riled me; those are my starting points in the case; I see the sexism first. I’ll admit that to me, that is the important shit. Those of us who feel this way could use that as a way to build bridges, not to deny the racism that’s been showing itself around this case and in the conjuring the ghost of Tawana Brawley.
You know, I have mountains of respect for you all, but this is making my head hurt.
People of both sexes get raped.
I can think of a bunch of reasons, but I’m curious: why are you making this distinction here?
Personally, I have no desire to build bridges with ANYONE who refers to us as “you all”, Mr. Perot.
Personally, I have no desire to build bridges with ANYONE who refers to us as “you all”, Mr. Perot.
The mountains of respect comment was aimed at the posters who comment here regularly, who I “know” and often agree with, and with whom I disagree now (Q, Ginmar, etc). I don’t think gender trumps race, and I think that dismissing race and holding up gender as the important shit is disingenuous. It’s important to me, but I recognize that the operative phrase is “TO ME.” I’ll never tell a woman of color that the gender aspect of a crime makes it the only aspect that matters, period.
Errr, Jennifer, I think Sheelzebub meant “you all,” in the literal sense. She wasn’t using good ol’ boy slang, and I suspect she was talking to every woman in the thread, not just WOC.
Never mind. She beat me to it. :o
I haven’t seen that stated here, though I have seen many assumptions that it has been stated here. I’m tripping over the straw women on this thread.
fwiw, I don’t think you missed anything. I think some people need to go back and read Nubian’s original post.
Edith, maybe it would help if you would go back and read everyone’s comments, because your comment as it is doesn’t make sense.
Nubian, I really think your columns were great here. I wish you’d stay, but it’s selfish to ask someone to stay in a hostile environment like this one and leave it at that. It’s not really fair either.
I have been reading this thread with my mouth hanging open. I almost can’t find words for my feelings. Am I to believe that we are really arguing what form of oppression is worse than another? Is this some kind of macbre competition?
I don’t believe there is any way to separate gender/race/class in the Duke rape case. The three intersect. Each of us in the broad community may have our own perspective- our experiences as women and our feelings about rape; our experiences based on our color (or lack of color); and our experiences of being poor or feeling powerless based on economic circumstances. However, if those experiences don’t intersect for one of us, then we may not have a true understanding the impact of them intersecting, and therefore, may empathize more strongly with one element of this situation.
The essential questions seem to be be: Would this woman have been raped if she wasn’t black? That is, if they had hired a white stripper and presumably they could have chosen to hire a white woman, would they have sexually assaulted her? or did they sexually assault this woman because she is black? Is this crime worse because she is black? Should the perpetrators be punished more severely for raping a poor, black woman? Does it become a hate crime with more severe penalties?
I guess the other thing is, as a rape victim myself, I react strongly to this woman’s story and the way she has been treated. I want to protect her, nurture her, help her as a sister- regardless of our differences in color. I want to cry with her and rage with her. I want to see the people who hurt her punished- and I want to see the media and defense lawyers crucified for making things worse for her.
And when I saw the text of the emails sent by one of the lax players, I wanted to throw-up. To me, it is worse if she was targeted specifically because she is of color. So I am contradicting the statement I started with. But that is also because I can’t separate the issues involved. But it is not that one form of oppression trumps another, it is because the combination makes it worse. But that is just my opinion.
And Nubian, please don’t stop posting here. I read you regularly here and on your site. I want to hear what you have to say whether it is to me or not.
respect for getting this conversation started and i’m sorry you have to put up with the reaction you’ve gotten (and the scolding post on feministing from sarahs)… but, whether or not you’re willing to do it ever again, this conversation has brought some really important issues to the forefront when it’s much easier for us to back away and deal with our own worlds… cheers, respect, love…
jennifer at famu,
stay strong. that’s horrible and i pray you have nuff folks there to keep you spiritually sustained and comfortable despite all of the predation you’re facing. also, my fiancÃ©e’s mom lives in atl, so if you want to go chill out there for a minute, holler :)
a lot has been said here… and it’s really pretty sad in some ways, really promising in others… if nothing else, this thread has shown how important it is to have this conversation within the feminist community.
one thing that’s come up and is extraordinarily important is that opressions cannot be compared… and there is no linear scale of oppression…
further, oppression is not something that can be negated. in fact, oppression and violence is a self-replicating disease… so i take particular issue with ginmar’s:
perhaps, this is my white male defensiveness showing its ugly face, but the above statement strikes me as wholly absurd.
i mean, really, it’s old hat that one of the strategies for maintaining unequal power relations is for the ruling class(es) to turn those they’re exploiting against one another. it doesn’t make them any less exploited and it’s counterproductive to pretend that they’re not still exploited/oppressed rather than working through it. or is there some line that, once one crosses it, s/he loses his/her humanity?
if we’re truly interested in liberation, we need to recognize how bound together all struggles are ““ until that point, we’re just jockeying for some self-righteous moral purity that really doesn’t exist in this world.
on a related note, q grrl wrote:
this betrays a certain stereotype of black men. when did that become okay? do men (all men) benefit from rape cutlure? perhaps. are “black men… rapists”? absolutely not and it’s extremely racist to suggest such a thing. you further compounded this with your story about the black woman and men and your lack of any real analysis of the situation which would allow me to write off the inference that its a demonstration of how uncivilized (generally speaking) black working class men are. so i guess it’s still okay to make sweeping statements about people you clearly don’t know.
on the other hand, being able to say a black man who rapes someone is a rapist must be… for sure. black men have no more place to commit violence against anyone than anyone else.
feel rude and say it again. there’s this tight book from the seventies (wish i could remember the title) that put really concisely how segregation allows our concepts of other people to be entirely mediated by television, newspapers, movies, etc.
further on the subject of who rapes whom, q grrl stated:
to which, jane replied:
i would only add “people of all genders can be raped.
to “it is most often when female bodies are not available and the men being raped serve as pseudo-women”, that’s just a plain falacy. when Abner Louima was raped by white police officers, that was not because female bodies were not available. rather, it was a clear demonstration that rape is an act of violence as much as it is sexualized. was the forcing of sexual acts upon the prisoners at abu ghraib not rape? in that instance, as well, the sexual violence was a show of power more than anything. not to mention that heterosexual men are not the only rapists out there.
amp, you’ve got some tight analysis, so it’s trite that i’m gonna focus on this:
because that’ just precious. i mean, image how long it would take to have a conversation with just one person…
well, just because someone’s a woman doesn’t mean she’s on your side either. what’s the message?
actually, i think the issue at hand here is that people have the right to have their voices heard and, as far as certain privileged groups deny people their voices, it’s necessary to develop spaces that allow for those voices to be heard, built strength, develop collective support and action. as long as some people discredit the experiences of other people, those people are going to seek out places where they can actually spend their energies producing positivity as opposed to arguing with people.
sorry for running on so much but everyone’s got such poignant points on here, it’s got me floored.
peace and blessings
Hey Nubian sister!
I can’t even get through all these comments! But I love your post and I think you are 100% dead-on. Of course a bunch of white women will jump up and hollar about how they know ALL about oppression based on being women, but that just isn’t true. They only know a part of it, and they can never know the whole thing, so it takes us colored sisters to break it down. I’m with ya!
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This quote from an article about the Duke case in Black Commentator seems very appropriate for this thread:
My own touchstone for the question of whether any form of oppression can be said to “trump” any other form of oppression is sitting and listening when I was in college to a friend tell me how the last of the men who gang raped her whispered “Jewish whore” into her ear with each thrust and then, when I told her my girlfriend wasn’t Jewish, having this friend tell me I was just like “all the others,” betraying my own people for “some shikseh’s cunt.” She hadn’t been raped as a woman divorced from her Jewishness; the act of rape did not separate her identity as a woman from her identity as a Jew; indeed, she’d been raped as a Jewish woman and it seems to me that her statement about “some shikseh’s cunt” indicates at the very least that she knew damned well she’d been raped as a Jewish woman. (It was clear to me in context at the time that this sentiment was something that grew out of the rape and not something that preceded it.)
More to the point…and I hesitate to say what I am going to say in the way I am going to say it because I am afraid it will come across as more callous than anything else, but these are real questions that ocurred to me as I read through this thread, and I am going to ask them as they occurred to me…it seems to me pointless to argue that any woman is raped simply as a woman, entirely divorced from whatever her ethnic/racial/religious/whatever identity happens to be. If a white woman has been raped and no mention was made of race/ethnicity/etc., can’t it be argued that this absence of some other oppression is part of what it means for her to be raped as a white woman? In other words, isn’t white privilege at work in the fact that she was not called a Jewish whore or a Black bitch or whatever?
Now, please do not read me as suggesting that, because a white woman’s white privilege might be at work even when she is being raped, the fundamental fact of her rape and what it means in a patriarchal culture is in any way mitigated; because that is not what I am saying. It just seemed to me as I read that there was an asymmetry that needed to be addressed: The critique of white privilege in this thread was focused on the position Ginmar took–along with those who supported her or at least whom others understood, rightly or wrongly, to be supporting her–in analyzing a case of interracial rape. In other words, it was a critique of a particular lens; the critique did not ask the question, or at least I do not think it was asked as explicitly as I have asked here, whether and how white women’s experience of rape, not analysis but experience, is shaped by their ethnicity–because it seems to me that this question gets to the heart of whether gender can ever “trump” race in a way that critiquing a white-privileged analysis of rape cannot.
Having said that, though, I also have to say that I think Q Grrl is correct, if I have understood her accurately, when she says that there may at any given time be good analytical or activist-related reasons to bring one element of the matrix–race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc.–to the center of concern.
What’s interesting to me, Slant Truth, is that I’m supposed to accept sexim offered as black soliarity in defnese of white female perfidy. Sounds an awful lot like normal white male sexism to me, excpet it crosses racial lines: do you dare notice the stereotype when it’s white women? Of course we’re all privilged. Women and men are totally the same. Gender is irrelevant. Color is not.
I notice that nobody wants to touch that one. All white women lie: all black men are inncoent. White women are guilty, even while they form anti-lynching societies, work on behalf of black suffrage, join and form civil rights organizations. What do you hear? “Fucking white bitch got an innocent black man killed.” No group of men has not committed rape. That includes black men. When black people say sexist shit I’m supposed to suck it up and accept it, even though it’s just as offensive when black men say it as when white men do. Women lie, but men never do, even while it might let them live. white women make the best villains, because white men have power and might be potential allies. If white women are so damned powerful, how come we’re not the touchstone of the culture? How come daycare isn’t subsidized, welfare isn’t generous, and abortion and birth control isn’t free? If white women are so fucking powerful, how come what we want hasn’t permeated the culture? Where’s the daycare, the welfare, the health care? When men are abused, they abuse women. When women are abused, they still protect their families. Give a hundred bucks to a woman, you give a hundred bucks to the community. Give a hundred bucks to a man, you might as well pay it to the local distillery.
Bottom line is, support men first, you’re not feminist. Big deal. What does the label mean to you, unless you really REALLY want to deny male privilege? All men have male privilege. That includes calling women liars. Nowadays, men unite. Where was the black community, exactly, when Clarence Thomas claimed it was a high tech lynching? Remind me again? Oh, wait, that’s right. The man came first. Anita Hill was brilliant, perceptive, and wonderful—but Clarence Thomas had a penis.
Yeah, I’m impressed.
ginmar, i wrote some stuff up, but i think it would better serve things for me to quote what other people have written so you can have better luck reading it the second time around. i implore you to actually read them, because you can’t have written what you just wrote if you had actually understood what these folks have been saying all along…
by read them, i mean actually listen to what the folks who wrote them are trying to say; don’t just look for your way to refute all of it, because that’s not going anywhere:
kevin andre elliot:
another point i’ve seen echoed through the thread is that, nubian, you’re rad, lots of folks really care about what you have to say and want to hear more of it.
peace and blessings
ps. much respect to all those quoted above. i hope you don’t mind the blatant plagiarism.
If a white woman has been raped and no mention was made of race/ethnicity/etc., can’t it be argued that this absence of some other oppression is part of what it means for her to be raped as a white woman?
This is really macabre and hard to talk about–who wants to say that it’s a “privilege” not to be called a Jewish whore or some other racial slur while being raped? But yeah, in the rape of a white woman, there’s always the horrible question of whether it might not have been even worse for her had she been a woman of color.
I don’t think it’s possible to definitively answer this question, basically because I don’t think it’s possible to say “this rape is worse than that rape,” for obvious reasons. But it’s a legitimate question to ask.
Plagiarism is where you try to pass off another person’s work as your own. You didn’t do that.
Can you quote anyone who has said anything remotely like this, because given the quotes collated by Puck, this looks not so much as a distortion of what people are saying, as an outright reversal.
I’m confident that the group of men I regularly associate with (myself and two other men) contains no rapists. It’s true that I can’t know that for certain, but you can’t know either. The group is small enough for this to be likely to be true, and certainly there will be other small groups of men which contain no rapists.
I suspect you were thinking of large groups. It’s true that every sufficiently large group of men will contain some rapists, and that includes the group of all black men. But it’s not true that the group has committed rape. Some individual black men have committed rape. Some small groups of black men have committed gang-rape. But to draw a line around a significant portion of humanity on the basis of nothing more than a shared physical characteristic, then attribute the crimes of criminals who fall within the line to the entire group is prejudice.
When the crime is ‘rape’ and the group is ‘blacks’ or ‘black men’ then your arguments become identical to the bigots who post in alt.flame.niggers. When the crime is ‘false accusations’ and the group is ‘women’, then you have the ‘women lie about rape all the time’ argument of the antifeminists. When the group is ‘men’ or ‘white men’ then you have the standard anti-male prejudice promulgated by feminism. It’s all the same.
The corrollary to that being:
I don’t think it is safe ground to be on when [black] women cannot publically criticize [white wo]men for the role they play in perpetuating, not just black women’s oppression through [rac]ism, but [black men’s] too.
Which I rather thought was one of nubian’s arguments.
I thought that ginmar made some decent points on the other thread about white men oftentimes using white women as tools to oppress black men and women. However that doesn’t mean that white women did not particpate wholeheartedly at times, or – more importantly – that silence is ever completely excusable, even if it may be understandable, indeed the only way to survive, in certain situations.
If I am to hold black men accountable for their sexist behaivor, even if they have had very few role models and very few of the same privileges that I take for granted, then I must certainly hold the white women that I know accountable for their racists and classist statements and attitudes.
I do try to, I’m not sure how successful I am at it. It is a lot easier to see the oppression that you experience rather than the privilege that you take for granted. Which is why I’d rally like it if you keep posting here nubian, but I’ll understand if you don’t.
Lanoire, you wrote:
First, thanks for taking my question seriously. Your response makes me wish we had a term other than “privilege” to talk about this because, as you point out, the term lends itself to a hierarchizing of rape experiences that is very, very far from what was going through my mind when I was struggling with how to ask the question in the first place. So let me try again:
It is relatively easy to see that when a woman of color is raped–and I am, for the sake of this discussion, going to include Jewish women in that category even though I know the relationship between Jewishness and whiteness/of colorness is a problematic one–that she would experience the rape in her body as a totality, one that would include her “of color” identity, especially when the rape is interracial. Clearly, though, her “of color” identity can also be at stake in a very explicit way even when the man raping her is of the same group: it is entirely possible, for example, that the man who whispered “Jewish whore” into my friend’s ear was himself Jewish.
Before I go on, though, it occurs to me that I should be clear about something: when I say it is “easy” to see this, I do not mean that every raped woman of color will experience her rape in the same way. I mean simply that because “of color” is the marked category it is not hard to envision how a raped Black woman will experience her rape as having a racist/racialized component and so it is not hard to make race a component of how we analyze a case like Duke. On the other hand, because whiteness is the default position and is, therefore, relatively invisible, it is much harder to envision how her whiteness might be part of how she experienced her rape. Yet surely it must be. If we agree that a raped Black woman was raped as a Black woman and that to suggest otherwise is to assume a white privileged position, then how can it not be the case that a raped white woman was raped as a white woman? And if that is the case, then it raises the question of what role whiteness played both in her experience of the rape and in the actions of the man or men who raped her.
Now, when I asked in my previous post whether white privilege was at work in a situation where a raped white woman was not called “Black bitch” or “Jewish whore,” what I was trying to get at was not a comparison between the rape experience of a white woman and a woman of color,but rather the question of what it means in the context of that specific rape–and I realize as I write this that I am thinking now of situations where the rapists are white–that the white woman’s race/ethnicity remains invisible, both to herself and to the men who rape her. In other words, isn’t it worth asking whether “gender trumps race” is part of what it means for a white woman to be raped as a white woman?
Asking the question in this way, I think, frames race–and, by implication, ethnicity, religions, socio-economic status, etc–as always already implicated in rape and frames rape as always already an act with racial implications, regardless of the race of the victim/survivor. It also, I think, rather clearly frames the whole notion of “gender trumps race” as a divide-and-conquer tool of white male dominance. At least this is what I hope my question leads to.
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What Black feminist on either of these threads said that, ginmar ? Show us, Please.
If a Black woman talks about racism in the context of rape culture, why do you assume that she is excusing male rapists who have the same skin color she does ? I’ve seen you on another board, having civil exchanges with vets., some of whom I presume are male, agreeing that you’ve all had problems with PTSD and dealing with clueless VA burreaucrats.
Imagine how you’d feel if peace-loving hippie me had rushed in breathlessly to acuse you of supporting war crimes, the patriarchy, and the rape of Iraqi women– all because you’d spoken politely to a man based on some of your shared experiences in a common culture ? Just imagine for one minute a demand from another feminist that you shovel all our obvious differences and difference life experiences under the table all the time and forever– because anything else was anti-woman and if you complained about laboring under that restriction, well– you were more loyal to a bunch of vets with penises than to civilian women, obviously.
You know, Ginmar, I bet that you’d fucking hate that. Nobody wants to go through life analyzing the world through a prism whose configurations are solely determined by someone else. I’d hate it. Klutz though I am on a number of issues, I don’t have any trouble understanding why Shannon hates it, why Nubian does, and so on.
You’re not a stupid person, Ginmar. If I can see why they’d hate it, and why they don’t find it a legitimate avenue to building bridges between Whites and WOC, why can’t you see it ?