I Saw the Sign but Did We Really Need a Sign?: SlutWalk and Racism

6 Oct

I want to be in solidarity with Slutwalk. I really do.  But my knees are getting weak. It’s inspiring to see women coming together to protest the all-too-real threat and reality of rape and to reclaim our right to define and exercise our respective sexualities outside the context of patriarchy. I dig all that. But I do not dig seeing signs like that held up by Erin Clark and Kelly Hannah Peterlinz at Slutwalk NYC that said “Woman Is the Nigger of the World.”

I've added this 2nd pic since a commenter wants to dispute who was holding the sign. Clearly, too many damn people held the sign.

I do not dig debating with young white feminists late into the night about white privilege and having other Black women in the thread have to call out the supposed anti-racist feminists for not speaking up, for yet again forcing Black women to do the exhausting work of teaching. I do not dig being told on the interwebs, –tumblr, other blogs, the Slutwalk NYC FB page–that Black women are being hyper-sensitive and divisive. I do not dig being intellectually insulted with the assertion that I simply didn’t understand “Yoko and John’s intent.” As if. Y’all know that saying about intentions and well, perhaps you should also recognize that we are long past the point of talking about intent when we talk about racism. We should be talking about impact. (Rest in Power to the venerable Dr. Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, whom we have to thank for that little insight.) Intent is about individual relationships and hurt feelings; impact is about systems of power and their impact on material realities.

But let me tell you, for the record, what I do and don’t understand (all at the same time):

  • (Why) White folks love the n-word and they keep trying to find a way to use it. And ain’t nobody fooled by these claims of confusion, because for some reason that confusion about off-limits terminology doesn’t extend to those terms reclaimed by Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities, or people with disabilities. Only to the n-word.
  • (Why) Black women and the fact that we are always Black and female at exactly the same time is a fact that continues to elude white women. That I’m making this observation in 2011 makes me wonder if it is in fact 1969, the same year that Frances Beale created the Third World Women’s Alliance. Any person who defends this song based on historical context or otherwise clearly has not grappled with the ways that Black women’s gendered experiences of Blackness make the conflation of “woman as nigger” an untenable category.
  • (Why) The organizers of Slutwalk are genuninely baffled that this happened in the first place. To organize a movement around the reclamation of a term is in and of itself an act of white privilege.  To not make explicit and clear the privilege and power inherent in such an act is to invite less-informed folks with privilege (in other words, folks who know just enough to be dangerous) to assume that reclamation can be applied universally. If Black folks’ collective track record at reclamation is any indication, clearly based on Erin Clark’s sign, the n-word reclamation is a #majorfail. Even if we look at Black women and feminism, “womanism,” Alice Walker’s attempt to create cultural and discursive space for Black women within feminism, by all academic accounts remains the stepchild of viable feminist identifications.
  • (Why) The debates over the reclaiming of “slut,” and “nigger,” and the racial elements of those debates are absolutely parallel to debates over the claiming of the term “feminism” itself.

If we thought of the history of feminist movement building as a battle over terms,  what we would find is that every major battle over terms and the rights and identities attached to them have always had the same damn problem: the racial politics, like the Black women implicated in them, have been fucked. “Suffrage” didn’t include all women. (Just ask Ida B. Wells how she felt about marching at the back of the 1913 suffrage march.)  “Woman” is not a universal experience. (Sojourner Truth anyone?) “Nigger” is not a catchall term for oppression. (Ask Pearl Cleage) Feminism is not a universal organizing category. (Ask bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, Fran Beale, and on and on) And “slut” is not the anchor point of a universal movement around female sexuality, no matter how much global resonance it has.  (Ask a Hip Hop Generation Feminist).

Alice Walker said recently:

“I’ve always understood the word “slut” to mean a woman who freely enjoys her own sexuality in any way she wants to; undisturbed by other people’s wishes for her behavior. Sexual desire originates in her and is directed by her. In that sense it is a word well worth retaining. ” (Source)

Clearly, from a strictly pro-sex  perspective, I could see why it would be attractive to reclaim this word. And within Black communities, certainly there is, like in most other communities, a tacit shaming of “loose women” and a strident investment in women being “good girls and ladies.” Still, slut-shaming has particular resonance for white women, whose sexuality has largely been constructed based upon middle-class, often Christian, heteronorms of proper chaste womanhood. The positive referent about chastity against which slut becomes the negative referent has never been universally available to Black women.  A Black woman who “freely enjoys hers own sexuality” has been called “jezebel, hoochie, hoodrat, ho, freak, and perhaps, slut.”  In other words, “slut” is merely part of a constellation of terms used to denigrate Black female sexuality; it is not at the center of how our particular sexuality has been constructed.

But “sluttiness” and “slut-shaming” around sexuality are in fact, central to white women’s experiences of sexuality. So to start a movement around that word is to inherently to place white women and their experiences at the center.   To actually be able to materially reclaim “slut,” however much one has been slut-shamed is to have the power to work within a universe of multiple meanings in which both committed chastity and casual coitus, and everything in between, are understood as sexual options. For Black women, our struggles with sexuality are to find the space of recognition that exists between the hypervisibility of our social construction as hoes, jezebels, hoochies, and skanks, and the invisibility proffered by a respectability politics that tells us it’s always safer to dissemble. To reclaim slut as an empowered experience of sexuality does not move Black women out of these binaries. We are always already sexually free, insatiable, ready to go, freaky, dirty, and by consequence, unrapeable.  When it comes to reclamations of sexuality, in some senses, Black women are always already fucked.

Thus, the politics of reclaiming slut expose the fault lines that exist between the discursive, the material, and the symbolic. And the degree to which slut reclaiming will be placed in any of these categories is necessarily determined by the power and privilege that each slutwalker has. If Black women’s discursive acts cannot change our material realities with regard to our sexuality, then our actions become merely symbolic. Our actions will come to exist only in the realm of representation. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. For Black women do have agency. Our voices do matter, and our interventions will contour this mo(ve)ment, though we are unsure yet, just what those contours will look like. But our commitment to discursive acts must be measured, by our histories, by our material realities, by the psychic and social costs and the attendant benefits of such acts for improving the quality of our (sex) lives. We are long past the point of putting our own bodies on the line for political acts that improve white women’s lives while leaving the rest of us in the dust.

So when I look at Black women, like the Black female organizer of Slutwalk NYC who was asked to ask Erin Clark to take down her sign, I see us doing what we’ve always done—taking a broad view of movements that have clear red flags when it comes to inclusion in order to serve the greater good of women. While white women often want to deploy “woman” as a universal category and have the nerve to get angry and defensive when Black women like myself point out differences in our experiences, it is Black women themselves who have demonstrated what it really means to care about women as a group. For we put our bodies and our psyches on the line to show up at events called “Slutwalks” knowing that we are both more vulnerable to the same violence that brought other women there and yet that we have little social privilege and power to reclaim the terms in the ways that many of the others marchers do. But we show up anyway, and in showing up, white women feel like they are being inclusive, when in fact, I would argue that most Black women, are showing up in spite of, not because of, Slutwalk’s inclusivity.

So, too, our histories with feminism. It is because white women inherently kept gatekeeping the right to determine the forms and agenda of feminist movement building that Alice Walker felt so compelled to create womanism, that Barbara Smith and the members of Combahee had to articulate what Black feminism looked like, that Fran Beale and the members of the TWWA had to articulate what a third world feminism looked like, that Gloria Anzaldua had to articulate what a Chicana feminism looked like.

In light of these observations, some argue that the movement is not primarily about the terms.  But that assertion is belied by the fact that the organizers continue to organize under the term even though it clearly has some problems with inclusion.  Despite the calls from Black Women’s Blueprint that the movement be “re-branded” these marches are going to continue to be called “slut walk” because frankly the term is catchy, it was and is used against all kinds of women in violent ways, and many of the women who participate still find the notion of a universal female experience of oppression narratively compelling. Hence, Erin Clark’s sign. The protestations of Black women and other women of color are at best an inconvenient nuisance to an otherwise sexy exercise and at worst seen as divisive and potentially derailing. The reality though is that every feminist I’ve talked with about this sees the potential for good in SlutWalk, hence our cautious optimism, hesitant solidarity (but solidarity nonetheless), and our willingness to spend our time offering our critiques.

A little Ace of Base (throwback joint) is appropriate here:

“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes

I saw the sign

Life is demanding without understanding

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes

I saw the sign

No one is gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong.”

Word. The challenge now SlutWalk is how will you respond?

For some other great reads on SlutWalk from feminists we admire and respect here at the CFC, check out:

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, speaker at SlutWalk Philly: here.

Salamishah Tillet, speaker at SlutWalk DC: here.

Akiba Solomon, at Colorlines: here.

Andreana Clay, at QueerBlackFeminist: here.

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272 Responses to “I Saw the Sign but Did We Really Need a Sign?: SlutWalk and Racism”

  1. Deb October 6, 2011 at 9:38 AM #

    Excellent, excellent post!

  2. so_treu October 6, 2011 at 9:57 AM #

    alllllllll of this. i feel like that picture of the protest sign: “i can’t believe we’re STILL protesting this shit.”

  3. Jackie Maw October 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM #

    I loathe the S-word and the N-word equally. Both have negative connotations.

    If a woman wishes to assert herself (presumably sexuality is part of Self), then I am all for living in a society that allows individuals to be who they are and to live free (with the strict proviso that they cannot force themselves on others or their property). However, I would add that the idea of referring to myself as a ‘slut’ as a way of somehow enabling me to express my sexuality, is nevertheless completely lost on me.

    Regards the sign above and the reference to ‘Women being the N…..’s of this world’, I couldn’t agree with you more. As a woman with white skin living with a boyfriend who has black skin, I have learned enough to know that a) a white person cannot fully walk in the shoes of a black person in this country (although you can be hugely empathetic), and b) whether we like to admit it or not, there are inherent benefits and privileges automatically granted on the basis of skin color.

    To quote Tim Wise from his book ‘White Like Me’ – ‘To be white is to be free of the daily burden of constantly having to disprove negative stereotypes.’

    You can choose whether or not to be a slut. You can’t however, change your skin color.

    • geez October 6, 2011 at 5:35 PM #

      Well, poor whites have the “trailer trash”, “white trash” stereotypes and this is what is wrong with Tim Wise, he does not see intersectionalisms–too reductionist—in his world, “white” is one sole identity.

      But I agree with everything else you said.

      • Twiggy Danger October 6, 2011 at 7:52 PM #

        There are lots of “other” groups that have to disprove negative stereotypes. In one day I find myself (white) battling to disprove negative stereotypes about women, about dykes, autistic people, trans women, prostitutes, poor people, feminists, practicioners of BDSM, punk rockers, and people with depression and mood disorders. However, my race is not one of those groups. I am oppressed in a lot of ways, but I’m still white.
        I think the Tim Wise quote is excellent, but needs an addendum to read “To be white is to be free of the daily burden of constantly having to disprove negative stereotypes because of your race.”

      • geez October 6, 2011 at 9:09 PM #

        “other” groups, yes, but that is *not* the point.

        “white trash” is a stereotype against being poor, (usually) southern, and yes, white.

        Being white alone is not subjected to stereotypes which are put forth to make the “white” race disempowered—though historically it was with the Irish in the 19th century and earlier.

        Wise is still a race reductionist as he refuses to intersect class.

        ‘To be white is to be free of the daily burden of constantly having to disprove negative stereotypes.’

        Not with “trailer trash”, they do not have this ‘freedom’.

      • Kiore October 7, 2011 at 2:40 PM #

        White trash is racist, yes, but not against whites – . the ‘white’ is not in insult, the ‘trash’ is. The implication of ‘white trash’ is that they are living and acting in a way not befitting someone who is white – in other words, they are ‘trash’ because they live more like blacks.

        It was an odd concept for me to get my head around at first, but a comment isn’t always racist towards the target. It’s certainly INSULTING to the target, but the racism itself lies in the negative view of blacks to which the person is being compared.

    • geez October 6, 2011 at 5:38 PM #

      Oh wait, one other thing. You cannot always “choose” to be a slut. Sometimes yes, but that perjorative (and that is all that it is) is thrown at some women.

      OKay, now I agree with all else that you said. :)

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 3:22 AM #

        I agree. I think “slut” is ultimately just as meaningless as any other epitaph because it can be thrown at any woman, at any time, for any reason, just because she’s a woman. It’s a word that’s used against women while they’re being beaten and raped, it’s a word used to harass women, it’s a word used on the backs of degrading and violent porno DVD’s, and it’s a word used to discount women who were victims of sexual violence. It is, in fact, the word that sparked this whole parade.

        So if you think about the way the word “slut” has been used against women historically and the way it’s still used today, even by law enforcement, I think that “slut” is comparable to other slurs used to degrade certain groups of people. However, the word “slut” still have different meanings and different implications to different women, as was pointed out in the blog post, and like Twiggy said, unless a word “belongs” to you, you shouldn’t use it.

        However, I as a feminist don’t believe that a word like “slut” could ever be “reclaimed,” nor should it be. We need to get those memes out of our heads. On some level, the whole thing is just ridiculous. In LA women marched and chanted “I’m a slut, so what!?” Really? And seriously, men are just having a field day with this.

        That’s why I don’t like “Slutwalk” in the first place, although at times I’m glad it’s happening because it’s sparked conversations/debates such as these.

        And yeah, I also agree with everything else that’s been said so far. :)

      • sjally October 20, 2011 at 2:54 PM #

        Just wanted to say that if you take a closer look at Tim Wise’s work he definitely accounts for the intersection of identities, including SES, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If you’ve heard him speak you find that he has a well-rounded multicultural worldview.

    • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 10:34 AM #

      Lawd…you just HAD to tell us you have a Black boyfriend. Is that supposed to suggest you’re credible or conscious? It doesn’t. The fact that you felt the need to come up on here heralding that shows your lack of consciousness. Who cares what the color of your boyfriend is? It proves nothing.

    • E October 10, 2011 at 1:16 PM #

      “You can choose whether or not to be a slut. You can’t however, change your skin color.”

      Many of the people walking in the London Slutwalk (I can’t speak for the other satellites) carried signs addressing their own assault or the use of the term ‘slut’ against them in the absence of behaviour or dress that could be considered promiscuous (one that stands out in my memory was ‘I was wearing jeans and a jumper – was it my fault too?’). One of the points of Slutwalk as I read it was that you *cannot* always choose whether or not to be called a slut, or, as a survivor or victim, to be blamed for your assault.

      I don’t want to derail (I think the article is absolutely excellent), but I think it would be unfair to ignore this.

    • Dadi October 10, 2011 at 5:59 PM #

      Personally i think these women are crazy if they even think that being a women was the equivlent of being black back in the day. It actually makes me alittle sick to my stomach to think there are people out there who believe this. Its very rare you read in the news that a woman was hung from a tree or curb stomped or tarred and feathered. Dont get me wrong women are mistreated in our society today but they are not slaves in our society. They still have oppurtuntity and chances to do well and succeed in life. Slaves were never given that oppurtuntity, they went out the same way they came in.

      • Emily October 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM #

        “It’s very rare you read in the news that a woman was hung from a tree or curb stomped or tarred and feathered.”

        Women are victims of violence simply for being women not in the same manner as Blacks (i.e. hung from trees), but murdered and hurt nonetheless (i.e. chopped up and stored in a freezer). Unfortunately, it is NOT rare to hear of women who are victims of sexualized violence. But comparing methods of violence distracts from the reality of social attitudes of hatred towards groups that has tragic consequences for some individuals.

      • crunktastic October 11, 2011 at 6:41 PM #

        And again, lest we forget as we continue to distinguish between Blacks and women as though they are always distinctive groups, Black women were lynched as well.

        And we should also not forget all these recent incidents of large numbers of Black women being murdered by serial killers in cases that didn’t make the news until more than a dozen Black women had been missing for years and years and years.

        http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/do-we-need-a-body-count-to-count-notes-on-the-serial-murders-of-black-women/

    • alealuken October 18, 2011 at 1:41 PM #

      “You can choose whether or not to be a slut…” Really? I loved this piece and many of the insightful reactions to it. However, I do think that it’s a bit short sighted to claim that the burden of teaching is solely on black womens’ shoulders. The whole point of SLUTWALK as I understand it, is to educate people about the way women are punished for being victims of cime because of the way they dress/talk/walk/act and are thereby considered not to be victims at all. Clearly this teaching exercise has missed several people both marginal and center, as evidenced by comments like the one above. It is a responsibility we all share to teach and educate those we love, ourselves and even those who don’t wish to listen. On a side note, I am a white woman feminist, I am all for rebranding the movement.

  4. Judaye October 6, 2011 at 10:08 AM #

    I am shocked by the sign “Woman is the nigger of the world.” Obviously some of the people categorized as white do not want to give up the word nigger. Racism is embedded in minds and hearts much much deeper than I ever admitted to myself, but there it is. You said it and I am glad you did:

    “(Why) White folks love the n-word and they keep trying to find a way to use it. And ain’t nobody fooled by these claims of confusion, because for some reason that confusion about off-limits terminology doesn’t extend to those terms reclaimed by Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities, or people with disabilities. Only to the n-word.”

    Thank you for these clear and well thought out words on this subject. It helped my understanding of the subject.

    • geez October 6, 2011 at 5:42 PM #

      There are many other appropriate sayings, etc that the signholder could use. There is no reason why she should have done this.

      As a white woman from a poor background I see elements of this movement as a bunch of pampered, bourgeois mostly white teens and twenty-somethings that aren’t thinking.

      The movement needs to be more inclusive.

      • momsomniac October 11, 2011 at 1:40 PM #

        I agree with you.

        The sign is, of course, quoting John Lennon, which I guess they think makes it OK. It doesn’t.

  5. Jenn October 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM #

    Excellent article. The only thing that I will say is that until black women (and men) stop using the n-word expecting white women and men to do the same won’t happen. The word needs to be unacceptable by all people, in all places and in all forms. Using an “a” at the end of the word instead of an “er” does not change the words meaning. Especially in today’s music the word is used far too often.

    • Gina Pea October 6, 2011 at 12:09 PM #

      Wrong. White people never, ever need to use the word like how we also don’t need to tell black folks how to talk.

      • Aaryn Belfer October 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM #

        Gina Pea, what a perfect response. Standing ovation from me.

      • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 10:14 AM #

        is that a joke gina pea? if i recall correctly the whole reason i stopped writing for your blog was because of your sister bloggers unwillingness to admit that she used offensive racial language. she instead corrected her languange and deleted my criticism so no one would know that she herself had not addressed her own privilege. im sick just seeing that you actually had the nerve to even comment on this post considering the lack of inclusion in your own circle of feminists or any of your organizing. you only make space for out-of-town (non nola native) white feminists who also refuse to address their privilege.

        ::ahem::
        i knew CFC was gonna have a badass response to this craziness w the sign. im appauled by this girls actions and saddened that slutwalk hasnt taken the criticisms to heart and tried to make a better more inclusive movement. the fact that it has become more about the term than the actual issue of women being blamed for sexual assault is offensive to me (even though the discussions surrounding it are clearly needed) and only inspires me to stop wasting my time and energy even paying attention to it.

    • unknowable woman (@unknowablewoman) October 6, 2011 at 2:18 PM #

      Wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

    • Kimberly B October 6, 2011 at 2:50 PM #

      What are you on about?

    • witchsistah October 6, 2011 at 3:13 PM #

      I co-sign the “wrongs” about this post. Demanding that each and every Black person be held to and maintain a higher moral standard than others before you’ll show any of us basic human treatment and rights is racist.

      • m Andrea October 9, 2011 at 6:22 PM #

        Oh gee my first comment in this thread and of course it has to be arguing! Anyway, one of my objection to the slutwalkers is that I am NOT a slut, and I resent like crazy their implication that “all women are sluts” and “it’s good to be a slut” message. The word is not reclaimable, period, and the proliferation of that word by slutwalkers only gives misogynists the excuse they need to keep using it.

        In the same way, the n-word is also not reclaimable and hey please notice that the ONLY reason (supposedly well-intentioned) white people keep using it with impunity is because some Black folks keep giving them the excuse.

        Yes, I do realize that the INTENT is sorta different when used by Black people, but also please notice that civil rights activists do not give a shit about intent, our focus is on IMPACT.

        Logically, you ain’t got a leg to stand on (your other option is hypocrisy), so give it up.

        We should be talking about impact. (Rest in Power to the venerable Dr. Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, whom we have to thank for that little insight.) Intent is about individual relationships and hurt feelings; impact is about systems of power and their impact on material realities.

    • HT October 6, 2011 at 7:22 PM #

      I agree Jenn. If there’s one thing we’re good at as a species it’s copying.

      Since people seem to have made a neat little line of straw men to oppose you here’s a clear statement:

      NOT DEFENDING WHITE PEOPLE USING IT.

      Jenn is saying that black people should stop using it too. Holding it as a black person-only thing just encourages feelings of inequality among ethnicities. Isn’t that what we’re trying to stop?

      Fighting inequality with inequality will not work.

      • Twiggy Danger October 6, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

        Uhh no, it’s not the place of white people to tell black people how to handle the N-word. If they want to get it tattoed on their foreheads, if they want to spray paint it up and down the streets, use it as a term of endearment, etc. That is their choice. It is our DUTY as white (read:privileged) folks to listen to what black people say about this word and understand that it hurts them, and not use it. If they want to reclaim it, we have no right to tell them they can’t reclaim it before we stop being racist about it. It is our duty to not use the word, regardless of how black folks use it.
        I’m a dyke, and I have the word Dyke tattooed on my stomach. Dyke is/was a slur against queer women. I would get fucking angry as shit if a hetero person of any gender, or a queer man, told me that I wasn’t allowed to use it, or that they would be homophobic towards me until I stopped using it. Because it’s MY word and I can use it if I like. The n-word is NOT my word. I refuse to use it because it doesn’t belong to me.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 3:41 AM #

        Are you serious? You’re jealous that you can’t use the word “nigger”? It seems almost insanely racist for a white person to complain that it’s discrimination for them to not be able to use the word “nigger” while Black people can. Wow.

    • maggie October 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM #

      What???? No!

      /white and finds it entirely unacceptable no matter who else uses it

    • femdish October 7, 2011 at 10:14 PM #

      I think you have a point. It seems to me that the reason that many people are disagreeing is that we’re talking ideals. You can’t expect millions of people to understand the complex history and impacts of the word when they are simply copying their favourite music artist. The word is used in pop culture by a lot of ‘cool’ people who young people want to emulate. Should non-black people use the word? no. But is it realistic to expect only black people to use the word if it is okay for some people? no.
      I am extremely uncomfortable with it, and I do think that it should only be used by black people if anyone at all. But, I also hear a lot of white people use it and as much as I try to explain that it’s not a word that they have the right to use, their explanation is always that they didn’t mean it seriously. They aren’t emulating racist white people from decades ago, they’re emulating pop culture icons from the present.

      • Laura October 8, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

        White people already know that their use of the n-word is contentious. Chris Rock talks about it (his line is, yes black people are allowed to say it, but the last time he checked that is the only material advantage to being black: want to swap?) and we all know how much white people love Chris Rock.

        White people aren’t copying MTV, they’re keeping the ‘debate’ about whether or not white people should be allowed to say the n-word or not alive. That’s way more engaged than just emulating popstars.

        Love the article, thank you!

      • Deb October 8, 2011 at 4:05 PM #

        Thanks Laura. When I read that – You can’t expect millions of people to understand the complex history and impacts of the word when they are simply copying their favourite music artist….” BS, I had to step away from the computer for awhile, because it just wears me out sometimes how white follk will say just anything – even, and especially if it’s stupid – to hold onto that privilege. Milions of people understand the complex history of the Jewish Holocaust (6 million) and impacts of the slurs so associated, however the African Holocaust (20+ million) – not so much. {smdh}

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 3:43 AM #

        I have to admit that you do have a point. The word has been thrown around in pop culture so much that it makes people think it’s OK. That’s not an excuse for using it by any means, but you do have a point.

    • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM #

      Bull. White folks created the word and have used it freely since they did so. Regardless of whether or not Black folks used it, white folks would still find a way.

      And why, as a white person would you EVER want to use that word, even if Blacks used it? WHY?

      • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 10:25 AM #

        Thank you!!!

        jeez i really can not believe that there is even an argument here. WHY? is exactly right! why do white people (im a white girl) feel the need to use it? and further more why the hell are white people defending their right to use it. maybe its because white people are the entire reason such a derogatory term and the shit that goes with it exists in the first place…. and we know how much white people like to hold on to the shit they own. right?

        my goodness….

  6. Steve October 6, 2011 at 11:01 AM #

    I’m in disagreement with you, but I want to make sure you have your facts right….

    Kelly P. is holding the sign in the photo.

    Erin C. made the sign.

    Erin C. is not visible in the photo.

    • crunktastic October 6, 2011 at 11:52 AM #

      And now that you have made those corrections, and stated your disagreement, what have you accomplished? I could be wrong about the who, but not the what, but both women who are quoted wrote on the SW NYC FB page that at some point they held the sign. And that is all that matters. And if you disagree, go have that discussion in a forum with other folks committed to a defensive rather than reflective and transformative response when called on their racism. Who doesn’t have time for such ignorance is me.

      Here is the other pic: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150465548843626&set=o.195661440475800&type=1&theater

      • Steve October 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM #

        I accomplished exactly what I wanted to accomplish.

        I don’t believe it’s right to post a picture of someone in a public forum, and then misrepresent the photograph. I didn’t come here to argue about the use of the N-word.

        If I posted a picture of Jimmy Carter and the caption said “Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States,” it undermines my credibility. Even if I go on to say that Barack Obama signed a controversial health care reform bill into law, was born in Hawaii, and beat Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2008, the fact that I mistook a photo of Jimmy Carter for Barack Obama undermines my credibility.

        So even though, yes, I disagree, I want to make sure that your entirely legitimate points, some of which I have learned from and others of which I might never accept as valid, are not undermined by a simple misrepresentation of who is in the photograph.

        Yes, they both held the sign. And both Carter and Obama are U.S. Presidents, Democrats, men, wear suits, oppose torture, and are unpopular with conservatives. But I still think it’s important to make a distinction between the two, at the very least so that those who actually want to have a reasonable discussion and learn from one another can avoid confusion.

      • crunktastic October 6, 2011 at 1:41 PM #

        As u see I have corrected the photo issue. But frankly it seems to me that because u couldn’t mount a legitimate argument against a piece that makes u uncomfortable, u decided to nitpick abt the one error u saw, to what end I know not. But it doesn’t ultimately matter. I’ll keep correcting my mistakes while u search for a legitimate argument. Kay?

      • Corinna October 6, 2011 at 9:11 PM #

        “folks committed to a defensive rather than reflective and transformative response when called on their racism”

        Thank you for so clearly and concisely illustrating this difference. I am really struggling with creating accountability around SlutWalk and other organizing where white folks are in leadership. It pains me to continually witness fellow white women opt for defensiveness over reflection and transformation.

    • MJO October 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM #

      Wow, Steve so glad you corrected the misrepresentation in the photo.. it was worrisome to me that someone might misidentify the innocent feminists. Never mind that paltry argument put forth by the thoughtful womanist. I get that you disagree but wtf? You want to make sure the facts are right? Check yourself.

      • HT October 6, 2011 at 7:12 PM #

        …Am I the only one thinking maybe he can disagree AND honestly want to improve the quality of the article?

        Hardly like he’s nitpicking grammar.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 3:50 AM #

        What Steve is doing is what I call “wanking.”

    • Robin Rhoads October 9, 2011 at 3:59 PM #

      Steve, if you wish to make sure Crunktastic has her facts right, it is not necessary to state you are in disagreement with her. Just state the facts and leave your opinion out of it. You’ll accomplish far more that way.

  7. sheridf October 6, 2011 at 11:10 AM #

    I need a Crunk Feminist Retreat immediately. I need to see–beyond reading–my sistahs, and I need it now. Thank you for always bringing it when so many critiques and arguments merely scratch the surface.

  8. MJO October 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM #

    I am 55 years old and can not believe this shit is still going on. I stopped teaching white people a long time ago especially white feminists. Forty years ago I had to explain why Yoko and John were full of it and foolish. What is the saying ” We may all be in the same ocean but we are definitely not in the same boat.”? If you don’t know it by now , you will never know it.

    Your words are sagacious and true. Stay strong , my sisters.

  9. sheridf October 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    @Jenn. I really do not believe that there is an appropriate waiting period for white folks to stop taking liberties and using privilege to keep the n-word in their mouths. Again, keeping the terminology within the weight of the historical context matters. The weight of institutional and cultural racism in addition to individual racism is behind white folks whose usage comes along with the power to deny jobs, promotions, raises, justice, a voice, and fundamental rights and freedoms to black people–male and female. This in no way compares to it’s usage in popular music. Really it doesn’t.

    • geez October 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM #

      White people: don’t use it—-the end, okay? It wasn’t forced upon us, it was forced upon the people who built this country and were never compensated—and forced on their descendants.

      It is up to the Black communities to have this dialogue, if they choose to (and some are).

  10. Diaa October 6, 2011 at 11:52 AM #

    I didn’t really realise the extent of the problem of whiteness in feminism until i began post grad Gender and Societys MA. In part because I am white and in part because my personal reading is fairly diverse (not looking for cookies here) but when i started back at university i was astounded by the lack of inclusion of black feminist work. Of course i get to be shocked because i’m white, i’m sure it comes as no surprise to you.

    as for “slut” i’m not really into reclaiming the word. i don’t think that will happen/serve any good purpose. i prefer the original intent of the slut walks (that your dress sense is irrelevant to rape) but i think the media have blown the real intent out of the water by focusing on the “s word.”

    and @Jenn, I can’t understand why you think that white people using the n word for their (our?) purposes is some how the fault of people of colour!

  11. Michelle October 6, 2011 at 12:00 PM #

    First, let me say. I am madly and deeply in love with this blog.

    And that sign is absolutely horrific. It makes my stomach churn, it makes me lose hope.

    But, I don’t know if I completely agree with *all* of the backlash against SlutWalk for a few reasons.

    1.) I am a black woman. I am dark. I know my history and it is inescapable. I also know that there isn’t one uniform experience of blackness or blackwomaness. I live that reality everyday. But tell me, don’t our actions + means of dress often *indicate* our “ho” or “trick” status? In videos, women of color who hang out in the backdrop, bootypoppin’ and scantily clad are deemed “hos”, “video hos” at that. After a shoot where they’ve been paid little because their “camera exposure was enough”, do they deserve to be sexually assaulted? Do they deserve to be expected to have the same acts performed on them after the cameras stop rolling? Of course not.

    2.) SlutWalk was the term coined in reaction to a police event and it is what spawned the first walk. A toronto constable told a woman that if she “didn’t dress like such a slut” then perhaps she wouldn’t have to worry. Thus SlutWalk. Not necessarily a reclamation of the word Slut, but a reaction stating “I will wear what I wish, and don’t FUCKING TOUCH ME UNLESS I SAY SO.” Don’t we want that experience too? We are chided constantly for not “dressing like we respect ourselves” (cough cough, Essence magazines “10 Commandments for Women”), but the fact of the matter is if I wanna stroll down the sidewalk in my bootyshorts without getting catcalled, I should damn well be able to and I want to yell and shout about it on one designated day because that is cathartic as hell. “My Dress is Not A Yes”. And even if it doesn’t change a damn thing, someone is noticing, someone is seeing my anger.

    3.) In that the experience in this way, (and this way alone) is similar (the experience of us policing each others wardrobe, and our own, and some of the conditions under which we will whip out the nasty words: “She looks like a slut, look at how short her shorts are!” akin to “She looks like a ho, look at how short her shorts are!”; “That slut stole my boyfriend” akin to “That ho/trick stole my boyfriend”….), I think that the walks should be uniform. Yes, the trouble is, “why is Slut (the traditionally white word) the stand in for all offensive words we use to police other women’s wardrobe/behavior– isn’t this another case of treating white as the default?” I can totally get on board with that argument. But I don’t think this is an opportunity to create more division, I think this is an opportunity to create a new incarnation of the SlutWalk which is more inclusive, because…

    4.) Anyone can start a SlutWalk. Each march stands alone, they are not “charters” of an organization. SlutWalk NYC had its own organizers and operated as a non-hierarchal group. The letter from BlackWoman’s Blueprint was penned a WEEK before the walk. And the organizers did consider changing the name, but to what? What else would be so grabbing as to attract the media attention that we received and deserved?

    5.) I had trouble with the wording of the BlackWoman’s Blueprint response letter as well, this letter being by and on behalf of all black women. What about the experiences of mixed race women? Where do they go? Or do we erase them in favor of dichotomies? There is an excellent chapter in the book “Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism” exactly about this. Where do they go? No one wants to feel inauthentic because their life experience diverges.

    6.) All in all I think that SlutWalk is overall positive. But in order to get this recognition we need to show up! We weren’t there in large enough numbers and that greatly disturbs me. We need to be there for our black SlutWalk organizers so that they don’t feel like they’re “feminism in blackface” because that is the worst, most sinking feeling in the world– real activists who want real change understand intersectionality and hate to feel as if they are abdicating one part of their identity for the other. In pictures, these marches look so fucking white, lets fill them with our faces– we care about street harassment and policing of our bodies/behaviors too. Yes its different, but we need to keep carving a space in the overall movement for ourselves too. I can understand the backlash, really I can but then WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? That one sign among many beautiful, touching signs and beautiful, touching moments is not reflective of the organizers’ intent, or necessarily what all participants believe in. I may have a different experience in that I work with many anti-racist feminists in my group at school and the consensus is unanimous– that this young lady’s actions were completely inappropriate and we were all astounded by her ignorance. What is the next step?

    • crunktastic October 6, 2011 at 1:03 PM #

      Thank you for your beautifully and powerfully articulated points. Let me clarify that this isn’t a backlash, but rather a response and a critique.

      The first response/critique I wrote about SlutWalk was back in May, long before I ever saw any racially offensive signs. When that blog was posted, we dialogued with the organizers of SW Chicago about similar issues. See the piece and comments thread below:

      http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/slutwalks-v-ho-strolls/

      In both that piece and this one, I fully acknowledge that Black women are raped, that we are called hoes and every other kind of name, but the issues seems to keep being about the extent to which the reclamation of the word “slut” matters or not. When pressed about inclusion, SW organizers routinely suggest that the term reclamation is peripheral to the larger anti-rape movement, but the reality is that the organizing for the movement was triggered by a violent usage of a term, and one of the acts of resistance of the movement is to reclaim or take power away from that term. And I am merely pointing out that even if white women do manage to successfully reclaim the term slut, Black women will not then be able to go out and dress how we want and refer to ourselves in that way and have that work out well for us. I’m simply unconvinced that this is possible. So what it means is that there are all kinds of reasons that SW would resonate for women of color, but at the same time, there are some serious limitations based on history for what the political strategies enacted by SW can do for WOC.

      In raising my concerns, I’ve never asked Black women or other WOC not to participate, and in fact, I have said exactly the opposite. I absolutely understand why all kinds of women would participate, but that doesn’t take away from the issues raised by the critique.

      And yes, the racialized dimensions of slut versus ho do make a qualitative and material difference in terms of Black women’s sex lives. Black women are daily assaulted when we turn on the radio by Hip Hop artists who call us everything but children of God. That experience of discursive violence is absolutely tied to Black women’s experiences of rape, and while it is comparable to white women’s experiences of rape, the shear breadth of the discursive assault on Black women is not something an average white woman can imagine on her worst day. Did any of the mission statements mention this?

      Did any of them say, “look, slut is applied to all kinds of women, but we recognize that for other women other words are used for sexual shaming and those words affect their material realities in particular ways. We recognize that in our choice to organize around slut, we are privileging a word that largely gleans its power as a shaming tool based on its positionality at the nexus of the policing of white women’s sexualities. We further recognize that this discursive nexus in which slut is positioned affects the ways that other women of color’s sexualities have been policed because white female chastity is held up as a model not only for us but also for other women of color, particularly in the U.S., Black women. In rejecting slut shaming, we also want to make visible its connections to other forms of discursive and material sexual violence, and we want to use our white privilege to help dismantle this discursive nexus. Exposing the widespread practice of slut-shaming is one step in that direction. We are using our white privilege in solidarity and coalition with other women of color to bring attention to these varied forms of discursive violence, and we hope that in tackling the word slut and all it means as a word that is both raced and gendered in terms of how it is deployed in a larger system of sexual power, we hope that we can take a step in dismantling the sexual matrix of domination that disempowers all women. But we recognize that our engaging with sluttiness is only one part of that struggle, and that while it might empower white women to be able to refer to themselves as that, it creates decidely different issues for women of color to try the same thing.”

      That’s a very rough draft of the kind of organizing principles I’m talking about. And at the premise of my argument is a very tacit acknowledgement of slut-shaming itself, and of slut shaming as a justification for rape as not acceptable. Even if the experience were solely relevant to white women, it would still be worth organizing around, because its sexist and patriarchal and deserves to be dismantled. But rather than acting like white women’s experiences are universal even when it comes to rape, perhaps the next stage of feminist organizing is to be very, very clear about what kinds of privileges and power dynamics are at stake in our strategies for organizing and coalition building rather than continuing to promote false myths of universals or assuming that inclusion looks like asking Black women what they think. SlutWalk is an opportunity to expose the ways in which race and sex discourse intersect in the lives of women. And it demands that even as we dismantle the power of sexual discourses, we also dismantle the power of white supremacy. And part of white women’s resistance to this type of conversation is somewhat about the fact that while they have seen the focus on chastity as a kind of bondage from which they need liberation, the ascription of that status to them has led to untold amounts of white female privilege over Black women and untold amounts of violence toward Black women (rape) and Black men. Remember that white men used to rape Black women because they saw their wives as part as maternal, not sexual beings. And we already know the lynching narrative. So if Black and white women in particular are going to work on dismantling sexual discourses, then all this other history has to be part of the conversation and we have to figure out exactly what it is we are trying to dismantle. And I say what we are trying to dismantle is a racial-sexual system that works through whiteness, and then through gender to trap and violate all women and all sexual others. We are not merely working for the right of white women to walk down the street safely and fuck freely. Those are good goals but there is so, so much more than that.

      That is all I am asking.

      • Michelle October 6, 2011 at 10:51 PM #

        Yes, I saw that post! And your raising it then actually caused me to post the link in the FB group for the feminist group I work with at school. I remember being deeply in agreement with you while still having the same reserves as I do now (what about women who don’t neatly fit into any one racial/cultural background?), but my dissent was to a much lesser extent because the SlutWalk you were siting was just so overwhelmingly, blindingly white and the media regurgitated it right back just as white, despite the efforts of POC organizers/participants as well.

        The only SW that I have had such respect for has been the NYC incarnation– the behavior of the woman pictured is deplorable, and I just didn’t want the efforts of the NYC organizers to be inclusive in this round to be dismissed/get muddled by the actions of one ignorant participant. I knew a couple of the organizers personally when they came by to talk to us, and as soon as they received the Black Women’s Blueprint letter they instantly reacted, even contemplating changing the name. While they didn’t change the name, they adjusted much of the handed out reading material– and the pamphlets actually read quite nicely. I’m pretty sure the letter was read aloud at the rally in Union Square afterwards (Part of the rally was rained out). By no means do I think that these “almost-but-not-quite” gestures are enough, but I do think they signal progress and indicate a certain level of receptivity to critique as well as fledgling efforts of inclusion that should be acknowledged (though not unnecessarily lauded, of course– the sun doesn’t shine out your rear end just for trying!)

        Thank you for expanding on this for me– especially in the paragraph in which you draft out what would be a desirable mission statement. Though I was slightly unsettled by a sneaking feeling of exclusion I perceived from SW, I wasn’t convinced that it was as severe as it seems to be– especially regarding the NYC walk. I don’t think its irreparable for future incarnations of the idea. We’re trying to organize a walk of our own over here to be held in the spring time and I’m really excited to have a big hand in our team to make sure it is as inclusive as it possibly can be and I can definitely tell you it will NOT be called SlutWalk. I really really loved the wording of that draft and I will keep those ideas at the fore of my mind when we begin work. I’ll drop ya a comment when we come up with a mission statement! Thanks!

      • crunktastic October 8, 2011 at 5:47 AM #

        I wanted to take a couple of days to think through your concerns about how my critique works for or against women who don’t fit into “neat cultural backgrounds.” As I said in my first SlutWalk post back in May, there are all kinds of reasons that different women including WOC of various backgrounds would find this movement compelling. I also noted in the comments thread back then that the very first critique I read of Slutwalk was from a non-black woman of color from South America ( I think that piece was subtitled “A Stroll Through White Supremacy”).

        But at the heart of this critique about whether my post includes the experiences of WOC is a subtle critique of the white/black racial binary through which race gets talked about in the U.S., a binary which seems to privilege the experiences of only white women and Black women. The binary is absolutely problematic, but I object to the notion that Black women’s achievement of visibility (a visibility which is often a stifling hypervisibility) within racial and feminist discourses is a privilege; instead this is a long fought battle, that is still having to be fought when I have to write a post like this one. So because we are not privileged in the white/black discourse, discussing our experiences cannot be blamed for excluding other women. Black women have gotten in where we fit in, and to some extent, this is the task for all groups. At the same time, like many of the feminists of old named in this post, we are committed to analyses, ethics, and politics that see our struggle as bound up with the struggles of other women of color, hence our choice to be a WOC collective. But we should remember that in some ways, Black women have never controlled the terms of the discourse. Hence, again, the need for this post.

        At the same time, the particular circumstances that led to this conflict involved a slur and a gender designation that is at the heart of Black women’s experiences, quite specifically. Further, it bears noting that the original song lyric came from Yoko Ono, herself a woman of color, who clearly misstepped in her thinking about the intersections of race and gender and therefore the efficacy of using the n-word.

        It almost seems as you think that my posts construct a world in which after reading a mixed race woman (let’s say Black and White) has to choose between us (Black feminist critics of SW) and them (SW participants). Not so. I have always maintained my solidarity with SlutWalk and have affirmed those women who find this movement compelling and politically useful. That does not change the truth of my critique, though, and I feel like any woman-of-color with a progressive politic ought to be very clear about the ways in which SlutWalk’s discourses and logics are steeped in notions of whiteness. My choice to make those critiques from my positionality as a Black woman does not undercut their broader relevance for say Asian women who have been constructed as exotic or Latinas who have been constructed as spicy. We are all misrecognized on a racialized sexual continuum that begins with white chastity and ends at Black lasciviousness.

        So my post should not be read as a call for the exclusion of Black women or other women of color from SlutWalk but rather as an explication for all that is at stake for Black women and other Women of Color who had sexualities constructed in ways that are not centered around the concept of sluttiness, which is still I maintain, anchored in white female experience, no matter how much it has extended to impact other groups of women.

        I do hope you’ll keep us posted on the SW you’re organizing. And I would also add that maybe policing itself should be a part of the conversation. As the #occupywallstreet movement has shown, policing is out of hand, and that conversation very much has the kind of raced gender resonances that demand a particular kind of inclusion and multi-pronged approach. I mean what does it mean to ask the police not to slut shame, when so many Black women, the fast growing group of incarcerated folk in this country, are sexually harassed and assaulted by law enforcement regularly? See that’s a conversation at the intersections of policing and sexual assault that bring a lot of different experiences to the table, and that don’t work from the assumption that the police are always our protectors.

        Anyway, good convo. Thanks for reading.

  12. Gina Pea October 6, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    Jesus, God. As a white anti-racist feminist, this shit is just so embarrassing. I’m sorry that you had to take time out of your day to address offenses that should be in our past, not to mention offenses that were perprated by supposed sisters-in-arms in a supposed safe space. However, I’m also really grateful for the post. I find SlutWalk multifariously problematic, and with the recent news that some liberal white feminists at an expensive private university here in New Orleans are planning one for next April (???), I’m just terrified by how it might all play out. (Some men in “solidarity” offered to show up in burqas. Ugh!!!). This article and others, however, have me feeling a little more prepared to confront the organizers before something equally destructive happens down here.

    • geez October 6, 2011 at 5:53 PM #

      “Some men in “solidarity” offered to show up in burqas. Ugh!!!”

      Oh my motherfucking god. Pentagon feminism. Liberal feminists supported the US invasion of Afghanistan saying it would “free” the women. Such a colonialist mindset. The US Marines, on a feminist mission.

      As a socialist feminist, if I lived down there, I would organize a protest against these liberal feminists and their Islamophobia!!!!!

      • Twiggy Danger October 6, 2011 at 8:14 PM #

        Yeah, there was a white, non-muslim woman in a burqa at the SF slutwalk. When questioned by a nonwhite muslim woman, she LIFTED HER BURQA’S FACE COVERING (muslim women don’t lift the face covering to speak, only to eat/drink/smoke) and said something to the effect of “Women shouldn’t cover up.” It’s a fucking shame and makes me embarrassed to live in this city and be a white feminist.

      • geez October 7, 2011 at 12:13 AM #

        I hear you, Twig.

        This mentality among American feminists is the reason why hacks like Irshad Manji can get book deals selling Islamophobia to the West. So very disrespectful.

        Painting the picture that ARab and Muslim women are all helpless and covered up; totally ignoring the feminists in Iran, Afghanistan (RAWA), Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and yes, Saudi Arabia who are fighting against misogyny and for equality.

        The obnoxious actions of people like you describe and others does the fight against patriarchy no damned good. We need to keep calling them out.

  13. Queen October 6, 2011 at 12:08 PM #

    This is an AMAZING post! I can’t thank you enough for so eloquently outlining some of the same issues that baffle me as well. I especially resonate with the ‘black women can’t be raped’ idea. We are always asking for it, right? Nothing to reclaim there if you inherently have always welcomed sexually abusive and unsolicited behavior from…whoever.

  14. patti October 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM #

    So quickly, we forget Patti Smith?

    Rock N Roll Nigger

    Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    Baby got big and baby get bigger.
    Baby get something. Baby get more.
    Baby, baby, baby was a rock-and-roll nigger.
    Oh, look around you, all around you,
    riding on a copper wave.
    Do you like the world around you?
    Are you ready to behave?

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.

    (Lenny!)

    Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    You know she got big. Well, she’s gonna get bigger.
    Baby got a hand; got a finger on the trigger.
    Baby, baby, baby is a rock-and-roll nigger.

    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.

    (those who have suffered, understand suffering,
    and thereby extend their hand
    the storm that brings harm
    also makes fertile
    blessed is the grass
    and herb and the true thorn and light)

    I was lost in a valley of pleasure.
    I was lost in the infinite sea.
    I was lost, and measure for measure,
    love spewed from the heart of me.
    I was lost, and the cost,
    and the cost didn’t matter to me.
    I was lost, and the cost
    was to be outside society.

    Jimi Hendrix was a nigger.
    Jesus Christ and Grandma, too.
    Jackson Pollock was a nigger.
    Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger,
    nigger, nigger, nigger.

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, if you’re looking,
    that’s where you’ll find me.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society.

    • Arielle Schecter October 6, 2011 at 12:57 PM #

      The liberty that many so-called progressive white people take in appropriating others’ struggles is indeed problematic, especially when done without examination of one’s own complicity in furthering those struggles. That being said, I see these “Slut Walks” as ultimately productive, albeit flawed and complicated, challenge to patriarchal conceptions of female sexual (dis)empowerment.

  15. Verona Mitchell October 6, 2011 at 12:55 PM #

    It’s such a deep complexity… Nigger=Black, Black=Racism, Racism=White Dominance, White Dominance=Power… Unless, we able to see race, feminism, white power, black powerless, white dominant feminism (The Help), Black feminism (The Real Help), we will continue to witness this form of misguided form of free speech. I get what their are attempting to say, but do they get the social, race and power dynamics that come with their skin? I think not! Your thoughts!

    Verona

    • Aaron Dellutri October 8, 2011 at 7:19 AM #

      I guess it’s evidence for the proposition that those with privilege are often blind to it. Therefore, even when well-meaning they act in harmful, counterproductive ways.

  16. Squeak October 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM #

    I organised a Slutwalk in Glasgow, Scotland, because I largely agreed with the aims of the original march and knew a bunch of pissed off lefties and feminists who had nowhere to direct being angry about sexual violence. The big debate that kicked off before it here was from a group of (white) older feminists who insisted we were closet misogynists who were wanting to call everybody sluts, dictate sexual practices and were wasting everyone’s time. It was bloody draining, and something I noticed was that basically none of us who organised it (in terms of talking to the police about march routes or just handing out a leaflet) were desperate to reclaim slut for ourselves. The debate would always go “Well, I wont call myself it and don’t really consider it the biggest issue, but you know, people can if they want.” I think a lot of us felt like the slutwalk name started as a kind of word play, pr flourish playing off the original polis’ comments, and as it got further away from Toronto that made less sense and began much more to signal “We want to reclaim this” to people. I think tbh that I failed in organising it by just off the bat deciding that one in Glasgow would be good and hastily setting up a facebook event whose info I simply grabbed from a bigger one in London – I never expected it to end up with thousands of people subscribed to it, arguing about reclamation. I wonder how much people involved in Slutwalks genuinely felt like one of the big issues there was the reclamation of the word, per se, rather than targeting it in attempt to depower it. That’s just something I’m interested in and wonder what other people think – you are absolutely right that even just that comes from limited white experience of how sexuality is delimited and defined. I guess what I’m trying to say, in short, is that given those feelings I spotted among organisers here, the lack of the same context for the name outside the origin point, and the obvious discomfort of WOC, I think that organising similar actions, and more, under a different name, and organising around a wider experience, is probably the way to go.

    When the actual march happened, I was happy to have got people out protesting against sexual violence, but in all honesty I felt really uncomfortable at points on the march. A few young women who were obviously into lolita cosplay had come in really elaborate outfits, and the photo of the day, that got published by quite a few media outlets around the world, was the four of them, who had been moved in front of the actual banner by the photographers (only one of whom was a woman), with their arms linked, skipping along the road so their skirts were basically flying up. I eventually went up to the photographers and asked them to stop, on the pretext that they were holding up the march with this stuff (which they were) but mainly because it made me feel massively icky. The media didn’t publish photos of any organisers who weren’t conventionally attractive by media standards, and after the event it barely got any text coverage in the local media – the coverage we did eventually get was because we went to friendly journalists to complain that the police, who’ve been after activists in Glasgow, had been at a feminist demo of a couple of hundred of people in disproportionate numbers, had undercover police there and were filming us.

    I guess I don’t have a big specific point to make, other than that I agree that the name now seems too divisive to be useful – like I said, I think it was a useful media flourish for Toronto, though obviously it still encompasses all those problems you’ve named in your post, but it just makes less sense outside of it, and causes more problems than it solves. I think that living where I do, in a country that’s 98% white, people will sometimes raise just how incredibly white left and feminist politics are here, but will often dismiss it as simply a numbers game, but I think that’s simply not good enough. I think that too often left politics is up for using POC as something to campaign around, but doesn’t listen to their own concerns, especially in Glasgow which has the biggest BME population in the country.

    I’m up for ditching the name (and I think organisers need to realise that this isn’t about a conservative reflex that’s part of slut shaming, or being more media friendly, since actually a big reason I’d ditch it is to give the media less opportunity to just snap pretty girls) but obviously that’s not enough. Your posts here, and others on other blogs, have really helped crystallise my thinking on this stuff – I know it’s not about making my life easier, but thanks very much for that. I think I’m going to propose that people in Glasgow help form a more sustainable group, that takes action against sexual violence and tropes that support it, and that we speak to existing women’s groups, particularly WOC groups, about what their main concerns are.

    • Allison Sampson-Anthony October 6, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

      Thanks for the narrative of organizing approaches from other corners of the globe and the events that sparked this event! “..going to propose to form a more sustainable group that takes action against sexual violence and tropes that support it… OK good deal!

    • Qm October 18, 2011 at 9:28 AM #

      I’m really glad you’re thinking of re-wording the name, I ended up having to correct a guy from Glasgow that the purpose of the march wasn’t initially to ‘protest the objectification of women in peoples’ language’ – he didn’t even realise it was about rape! Granted he was being pretty moronic though…

      Just a brief mention about the lolita thing – I can understand it would be frustrating that the media zeroed in on them but I’m into the fashion myself and those girls did a really good job of at least starting the discourse on the lolita forums on line.

    • momsomniac October 18, 2011 at 10:11 AM #

      I don’t know what Lolita “cosplay” is – not relevant to the OP – but I have NEVER understand how that name became synonomous with “young temptress”. In the book if I recall correctly, a kidnaper targets and cons a girl’s mother and her school and then kidnaps and rapes her. “Lolita” isn’t even her name – it’s HIS name for her. What tempting thing does she do? Not die?

      I don’t really want an answer, so as not to derail this thread, but as someone who is far too close to the REAL subject matter, I just wish people would *stop*. Good luck with your re-naming and organizing.

  17. One organiser October 6, 2011 at 2:00 PM #

    Thank you. I’m a white woman (among other things) of white privilege. I know that. I’ve known that for years and I’m trying to know it more. Thank you for your voice, your efforts, your explanation, for working again and again to do the educating, the challenging and for sharing this. Thank you for any solidarity you have because it means so much to me as a woman, as a feminist and as a rape survivor.
    I am listening, I am shutting my mouth more and more, I am learning and searching and coming back to listening and talking things over to try to find some clarity and understanding. I am sharing what I learn with other white women around me because I feel it’s my responsibility and I want things to get better. I want more of us to not make ignorant and oppressive and racist mistakes again. There shouldn’t be an ‘again’ and I’m deeply sorry there is. Thank you for sharing this in a way that was angry, hurt, disappointed and pushing for accountability and change without saying we are all a lost cause and could never do better. I want to have cautious optimism too that many more women can listen and do better because we really need to and I believe we can. I’m working on holding those around me accountable and things look like they’re shifting.
    In my efforts to try to shut up more I wanted to break that to say thank you because it really does mean a lot to me so much that you wrote this and especially the way you wrote it. I feel so much thanks for the people I come across who continue to participate in the educating that I know isn’t your responsibility and I want you to know that this is doing good things. So just thank you.

  18. natasiarose October 6, 2011 at 2:42 PM #

    As usual, great post. I hate the word slut and I don’t think it needs reclaiming at all. While I appreciate the spirit of the slutwalk, there are a lot of holes in the ideaology.

  19. Snarky's Machine October 6, 2011 at 3:53 PM #

    “(Why) Black women and the fact that we are always Black and female at exactly the same time is a fact that continues to elude white women. That I’m making this observation in 2011 makes me wonder if it is in fact 1969, the same year that Frances Beale created the Third World Women’s Alliance. Any person who defends this song based on historical context or otherwise clearly has not grappled with the ways that Black women’s gendered experiences of Blackness make the conflation of “woman as nigger” an untenable category”

    Preach. Beautifully written post. Thank you so much for being another strong voice pushing back against the racism that exists within Slutwalk.

  20. Ashley L October 6, 2011 at 3:55 PM #

    Just wanted to say thank you for this article. I’m dismayed it needed to be pointed out to me in the first place, but clearing up the problem with some universal notion of women’s oppression was eye-opening.

  21. Gretchen Atwood October 6, 2011 at 4:50 PM #

    White people should never use the N word. That some do indicate a willingness to actively engage the tools of oppression many of them claim to oppose. You cannot reclaim something that was never used against you. Same goes for white gay men holding “Gay is the New Black” signs at queer rallies. White gay people do not get to claim that, ever.

    The specifics I disagree with is this: That white progressives don’t try to reclaim other terms they have not experienced. I have heard plenty of straight people (mostly white & middle class but not always) use terms like queer and fag and make “coming out of the closet” analogies to things as silly as being a closeted neat freak.

    This may happen more around race but to claim exclusive injury minimizes other people’s experiences while you criticize the slutwalkers for minimizing yours. (“Oh, you’re just being too sensitive!”) Marching with that sign is just as fucked up whether people only do that with the N word or it is part of a larger pattern of privileged dipshittery.

    A friend posted on FB the idea of calling Slut Walk activities Consent Fest instead. Does that carry some of the same problems as Slut Walk?

    • crunktastic October 6, 2011 at 5:17 PM #

      With regard to your intervention about how I minimize other folks experiences, what we can agree on is that slurs are violent ; all marginalized groups experience them; and all of us need to be vigilant about dealing with privilege. But the example you gave in your own comment about the use of “gay as the new black” is another example of the ways that other marginalized groups appropriate Blackness in problematic ways to prove how oppressed they are, while failing to realize for instance that there are Black gay folk or Black women. I’m simply not convinced that Black folks appropriate queerness, or disability, for example, in the same ways to prove how oppressed we are. Which is not to say that all communities don’t have issues with ableism or homophobia, but the uses of the “n-word” continues to remain in a class by itself.

      Consent Fest does raise any immediate red flags for me.

      • April Q. October 7, 2011 at 2:16 AM #

        Hi – I just found your site today via microaggressions and immediately bookmarked it – wow it is ever awesome!

        I just wanted to say that I think the original commenter meant that white queer people saying “gay is the new black” is inherently problematic and unacceptable in similar ways to the sign discussed in the OP. So I think you’re agreeing with each other for the most part?

        I think Consent Fest sounds pretty great :)

      • Gretchen Atwood October 7, 2011 at 8:18 AM #

        I didn’t claim that “Black folks appropriate queerness, or disability, for example, in the same ways to prove how oppressed we are,” but I understand that as part of the explanation of why the n word is in a class by itself. And I 100% agree! I simply think it’s unproductive to say that, “confusion about off-limits terminology doesn’t extend to those terms reclaimed by Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities, or people with disabilities. Only to the n-word,” to make the case that the n word is in a class by itself.

        The depth, degree and pervasiveness of its use as the go-to place for white people to appropriate oppression makes that clear, as you point out in your reply and I attempted, perhaps clumsily, to reference by mentioning the white gay men with the sign.

        I also agree with another commenter that white, anti-racist allies should have made it clear that sign would not be tolerated or take the sign away and destroy it if need be. We should all strive to be as good allies as we can be and tacit support of such a statement falls short of even minimal standards.

        A tangential question that I welcome responses to if you feel like responding….what are your thoughts when other people of color use the n word? Plenty of the younger Latino men in my neighborhood call each other that. And even accounting for the fact that some of them may be of mixed race it does seem like cultural appropriation from my race-privileged perspective.

    • HT October 6, 2011 at 7:09 PM #

      “White people should never use the N word.”

      Are we differentiating between use and say here? Because I’ve said it once in conversation as a relevant example to said conversation and people went quiet. Is that necessary? I wasn’t describing anyone, I was just out with friends and talking. I don’t think anyone’s ever interpreted me as racist. Yet I apparently am not allowed to say that word.

      My black American friend I know doesn’t like the word and doesn’t approve of other black Americans using it either.

      Meanwhile one of my white friends does tend to use it, to describe me (I’m white) and other friends of his (one’s part Greek and touchy on the ethnicity front but doesn’t mind this guy).

      Out of these 3 examples have to say I envy the third example most. It’s a word that’s still in the language and being maintained. Ethnic slurs are the newest no-go zone (previously blasphemy; “damn” and so on, then sexual swears, “bugger” to the still modern “f*ck” and “c*nt” which still probably want the censorship) and chances are ethnic slurs are going to follow the trend and become popular taboo, then commonplace.

      And is that really so bad? That the words we use to tear each other apart will be broken down into something people don’t associate with horrible things?

      Certainly beats a society where a set of words are enshrined for use by only 1 select group despite everyone else knowing them. It’s like a failed attempt to copy how swearing is used to separate children and adults (i.e. pretending only 1 group knows it). I can’t see that a desperation to maintain a word whilst partially forbidding its use helps anyone, certainly not with breaking down barriers between ethnicities.

      If you don’t want the word used then no one should use it.

      I’m not pretending to understand what it’s like for the average black American. After visiting some friends in Texas once I had a white supremist behind me on the bus, boasting about he’d beat up black people for fun; it was disgusting. Also, years earlier with my family on a holiday in Florida there was a live KKK demonstration on TV. I don’t know how you cope without the anti-hate speech laws, i.e. those forbidding speeches inciting violence. We do things a lot differently here in Britain.

      However, I do understand people and language. The treatment of the N-word seems unique to it (other ethnic slurs are not nearly as well-known or as well understood) and generally it just seems to worry everyone apart from the racists who it gives another weapon to.

      …And it doesn’t worry my friend who uses it to describe his friends in a playful and “teehee, racism, now let’s tell dead baby jokes” way. So maybe that’s the future.

      • Snarky's Machine October 6, 2011 at 9:10 PM #

        What part of “You’re white so you don’t get use the N word regardless of who your friends are, what you think, feel, believe” is difficult for you to understand? Frankly, I don’t care if it’s confusing or upsetting to you. It’s not okay for white people to say the word and y’all need to buy a ladder and get the fuck over it.

      • Deb October 7, 2011 at 12:07 AM #

        “…y’all need to buy a ladder and get the fuck over it.”

        Chile, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

      • Michelle October 6, 2011 at 11:02 PM #

        If it is not your word to reclaim and “take the power away from” so to speak, you can’t “re” claim it. That’s all there is. And when you just claim the word, you run the risk of sounding completely ignorant. Another part of it not being your word is that it isn’t for you to decide whether we use it or not– we’ll make that call.

      • Deb October 7, 2011 at 1:07 AM #

        “And is that really so bad? That the words we use to tear each other apart will be broken down into something people don’t associate with horrible things?”

        Yes it is – because “nigger” from white folk will always be associated with the privilege of inflicting “horrible things.”

        Certainly beats a society where a set of words are enshrined for use by only 1 select group despite everyone else knowing them.

        That “select group” thing sounds a whole lot like white resentment to me.

        I can’t see that a desperation to maintain a word whilst partially forbidding its use helps anyone, certainly not with breaking down barriers between ethnicities.

        Desperation? Really??

        “If you don’t want the word used then no one should use it.

        Not your call – as so-o-o many other commenters have said.

        “I’m not pretending to understand what it’s like for the average black American. I don’t know how you cope without the anti-hate speech laws, i.e. those forbidding speeches inciting violence.”

        Seems like you are. Obviously, you don’t understand that – like everything else – privilege dictates if, and when, anti-hate speech laws apply to US (Jena immediately comes to mind).

        The treatment of the N-word seems unique to it (other ethnic slurs are not nearly as well-known or as well understood) and generally it just seems to worry everyone apart from the racists who it gives another weapon to.

        Kike, Faggot anyone? Try it and see who gets “worried.” Again that “unique,” like “select group,” seems very resentful to me. I know of a very young Black man who did enough time to f*ck up his life for uttering the word “faggot” during a mutually, physical confrontation with some gay guys in Key West, FL less than 10 years ago.

        …And it doesn’t worry my friend who uses it to describe his friends in a playful and “teehee, racism, now let’s tell dead baby jokes” way. “

        HT…this in and of itself is very telling – “tee-f*ckin’- hee??” Really??

      • Robin Rhoads October 9, 2011 at 3:50 PM #

        HT, as a white person, using the word nigger in casual conversation (not in say, academic discussion of politics, racism, linguistics, or other), is a Very Bad Idea.

        No matter how many reasons you can come up with that you aren’t using it to be hurtful, people are hurt. It’s like walking into a crowded room juggling knives, and when one of the knives hits someone, trying to wiggle out of responsibility by saying “but my knives are just tools for entertainment. It’s not my fault that person happened to be standing in the trajectory arc of one of my knives. They should understand that just because my knife is pointy and sharp, it wasn’t intended to hurt them.”

        You didn’t create the word nigger. You (hopefully) haven’t used the word nigger to intentionally hurt another human being. BUT when another human being says “when you and others like you use that word, I am injured”, even if you don’t *get* it, even if you feel a little doubt as to the severity of the injury, you are obligated as another human being to take what they say as the truth and act accordingly.

        You are NOT responsible for the acts of others, though it would be really great if you would point out to your “tee hee” friend who thinks he’s being so awesome by pushing boundaries that this is a cheap, lazy, and stupid way to get laughs, and he’s better than that.

        Take it on faith from Snarky’s Machine, Deb, and Michelle that when you say the word nigger, you injure them. When your friends say the word nigger and you don’t say something, you allow them to injure Snarky’s Machine, Deb, and Michelle (and many, many others).

        You don’t have to understand it beyond that. You simply need to respect their wishes.

        You may find that when you do so, the next time something hurts you, others around you will take what you say seriously and help you.

      • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM #

        Snarky’s Machine, THANK YOU! That was a delicious reply! You broke it down marvelously.

        I think white folks who want to argue that they should be able to use the word are racists. Period. Point. Blank. You’re white, you know how WHITE PEOPLE have used that word against Blacks, but you want to use it? Just gon head and don your white sheet. If you gon be wrong, but STRONG and wrong.

      • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 10, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

        I just had to jump in right there, cuz you made me laugh out loud. well said snarky.

      • eshowoman October 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM #

        @HT As a person who was born in London, I say you are full of sh*te. My parents were attacked when they immigrated to England.Just because there is a class bond that can transcend race in England does not mean that Britain does not have an ugly and continuing problem with anti-black racism. Where you in a coma last August? Pulling the “my black mate doesn’t mind” excuse just makes the use more insulting. This former black Brit, minds, a lot.

      • uzeemee November 3, 2011 at 9:08 AM #

        keep trolling, whitey. you didnt read the post at all.

    • ConsentFest Fan October 7, 2011 at 1:50 PM #

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and insights. I was just having this conversation with my college age daughter and trying to find a simple way to express the bottom-line for white progressives at her school. Did wonder why you included “gay is the new Black” as an example though. I thought this was more of a fashion statement, as in “red is the new black” or “green (environmental) is the new black.” I know that much of the rhetoric within the white LGBT community’s efforts draws direct lines to the civil rights movement/experience but didn’t read this phrase as part of that rhetoric. Correct me if I’m wrong here. Peace.

      • Laura October 11, 2011 at 12:48 AM #

        I think the term ‘the new black’ comes from negrophilia (ie. this is as fashion forward as the blackness that we fetishise.). So as far as I know, it does refer to black as a racial category.

  22. JD October 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM #

    Wow. Incredible writing. Thank you.

  23. HT October 6, 2011 at 6:38 PM #

    Ever think that broad statements of “people A will never understand people B go through because they’re not B enough” is part of the problem?

    It’s a little discouraging that “black” and “white” are being used here when was actually seems to be meant is “people who’ve experienced life as a black person in certain areas.”

    Or do you really think that skin colour is a universal indicator of life experience?

    I think the sign’s badly thought out. I wouldn’t have gone with it. I don’t see it as showing that 100% of white women can’t understand anything about black people.

    • Angel H. October 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM #

      what is this i don’t even

      It’s a little discouraging that “black” and “white” are being used here when was actually seems to be meant is “people who’ve experienced life as a black person in certain areas.”

      “In certain areas”? We can’t choose when to be Black. Our skin color doesn’t wash off.

      But, really. Your entire comment is full of fail. I understand you want to be “in solidarity” with us and look like “one of the good ones”. But you’re doing it wrong. Go back to start and try again.

    • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

      Nope, never thought that because that’s RIDICULOUS. And who the hell is a person who’s experienced life as a black person in certain area if NOT A BLACK PERSON?!? Why would we use all that convoluted language to describe ourselves? For YOUR convenience? Are you serious?!?

  24. Diana October 6, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

    Thank you so much for this post. I couldn’t articulate so many things that you beautifully have, above. All I know is… I’m white, my tummy doesn’t feel good about the Slut thing, and when I saw the signs, I just cringed! Jeeze Louise….

  25. crunkadelic October 6, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

    Thank you so much for this piece, Crunktastic. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this situation and all of the defensiveness it has inspired. Quiet as it’s kept, this defensiveness is a blinking red flag that one’s privilege is showing and that it is being worn poorly.

    Also, the notion that black folk are the key to stopping the use of n-word is specious, at best. I’m not a fan of the word by any means and don’t run around saying it. But I find that this logic becomes a way for some whites to abdicate personal responsibility around violent language, the same notion of “personal responsibility” folks try to invoke in policing black people’s use of the n-word. If black folk could change the way ignorant and racist white people think or act simply by changing our language, racism would’ve been over. Systemic racism and the language around it is more complicated than expecting a marginalized group to “act better” so that a historically dominant group can get some sense. Black folk have power and agency, but we are not magicians.

    Ultimately, one thing I do know about this whole thing is that I wish folk would be less upset about being called racist and more upset about being racist.

    • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 11:45 AM #

      “If black folk could change the way ignorant and racist white people think or act simply by changing our language, racism would’ve been over.”

      THANK YOU!!!! That’s my contention! White folks created the word…they used it freely for a loooooong time…and they expect us to believe they only NOW use it cause we do?!? Get outta here with that!

      • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM #

        for real. who put the term into use in the first place? white folks! racist white folks! wtf is it with these self righteous motherfuckers? white people created the term and we should know better than to use it and stop trying to police the use of the term by anyone other than white people.

        that whole tee hee its funny thing is lame. if another white person uses it around me they get told all about themselves, if they still insist on using it instead of trying to learn why its so harmful then they simply have no place in my life. fuck em.

        ugh!!! how frustrating!

    • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 10, 2011 at 9:56 PM #

      well said, again. (dang i love this site!) its precisely that defensiveness that basically denotes unexamined privilege. AND!!!!! “I wish folk would be less upset about being called racist and more upset about being racist” TY!! I feel exactly and precisely the same. If we can’t talk about the ways in which some of these more ‘mainstream left’ movements further marginalize folks and center a priviliged position, we can’t fix it. I gave up on slutwalk pretty quickly, its just too much going on. I can’t break it all down like this post (again, TY!) but I feel the same way.

  26. Kristia, Doorknockers October 6, 2011 at 11:57 PM #

    Thank you for breaking it all down. I love y’all for this.

    And I am pissed as all hell that White allies did not pull that woman aside immediately.

  27. analogmojo October 7, 2011 at 2:11 AM #

    i absolutely love this article. reading the post was like having someone articulately narrate my life experience as a forward thinking brown person. and from reading all 50+ of the comments there is so much i want to say.

    1) i am always saddened to see people willfully miss the point so that they might assert their right to…assert their right. what i see the author pointing out is the impact inherent psychological and emotional benefits white people in this country reap without recognition. why? i believe it is because the white world view is steeped in theory and abstraction; this is the scientific process, the ideal of the “western” world. the world people of color come from does not share this ideal, we are taught it by way of being under this society’s boot but it is not the background of our culture and therefore viewpoint.

    2) when i say white i’m using it in a way only other forward thinking brown folks seem to understand: it doesn’t include all people with skin lighter than a brown paper bag. what it includes is a set of life experiences one benefits from through no merits of one’s own and a set of expectations about what you’re owed for simply being alive, its the byproduct of primogeniture. and personally i find it insulting that people living white lives get so angry about it, after the tiniest taste of what it feels like to experience anything but the benefits awarded to whiteness, look at how white folks behave. they’re outraged. and while we would like to believe that the world is a different place, and it is, its already not the same place it was when i began writing this, what hasn’t changed is human nature. whiteness is an experience just like blackness is and the reality is things aren’t considered “real” unless they are rooted in the white experience.

    3) i don’t say any of these things to be divisive, i say them to tell the truth i see. yes my words are partially fueled by anger and pain; if i wasn’t hurt by all the tiny jabs, would i really be alive? observation speaks for itself and all one has to do is actively listen to the narrative of this country to understand it. the “god given rights” that we all argue and defend down to our last breaths were proposed by men that had no intention of living the truth of their words. they all held other people in bondage, fully consciously. THAT’S the true psychological background of this country and is still the place most white people, in my experience, come from to approach the world, and its social movements: from the perspective of a begrudged, and privileged, second son. this has huge impact on how things work: we are a fundamentally hypocritical society, and it shows, all the time.

    4) ask yourself this question honestly: if the middle class were still doing okay, and yes, do read comfy white folks, would there be as much ruckus among us right now? no there wouldn’t. people are motivated by personal interest. period. there was never a big movement to disrupt the fundamental nature in which this country functions until it started affecting large groups of WHITE people. the conversation about the degradation of women in mainstream (corporate owned) rap culture was not highlighted until young white kids started listening to it, as long as it only affected the black community white folks were silent on the issue. today, white people have realized that they are becoming less white and having life experiences that closer resemble those of many people of color in this country (read: constant disenfranchisement, social & political invisibility, devastating levels of personal insecurity and poverty, a quotidian mad-max reality) and the real life issues that come with surviving these circumstances. while much of the white population welcomes this sudden connection to the rest of humanity’s reality its also a very convenient moment for them to do so, there’s so much less for them to lose.

    and while it makes my heart glow to see so many people pissed off, exactly the way they should be, its also painful to know that it takes this amount of shit hitting the fan- and is a constant reminder of how little other people REALLY care about the life experiences of people of color- the crassness of well-meaning ignorance for people to see what’s always been there, that there’s something missing from major idealogical discussions and maybe they should pay attention to it…or even, i don’t know, DO something about it, like ask someone with a dissimilar life experience what they think or feel, and actually listen to the answer. i just pray the lefty white regime comes to grasp this one simple fact: good intention doesn’t protect you from being somewhat inherently exclusive and ignorant, and has often been cited as the quickest way to go under; only the long and hard work of self-education can anyone from that fate.

    5) i acknowledge this as a bit of a rant, and am deeply grateful to crunktastic for providing me the space and opportunity to release it. i feel these points to be important because i feel the defensiveness in the some of the comments, and ironically enough the whole the n-word thread in the comments (fulfilling the author’s prophecy) has derailed the conversation. its about the differences in what different things mean to different people and that there is a conspicuous and consistent gap between the white and black life experience, however one defines it for themselves. its there. and glossing over it isn’t going to get us anywhere, just the far side of a pond we won’t be able to get back over once winter’s gone and the sun returns to melt the hard times away; we didn’t pack the proper gear, we didn’t need to remember? we just glossed over…

    • princss6 October 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM #

      Rant on! Powerful comment. Thank you for speaking my mind on every single point you raised.

  28. Derek October 7, 2011 at 8:33 AM #

    I’m a white, privileged man. A feminist too. And I’m completely with you. This is baffling. What the hell? We can only be talking about feminist activists who have not only encountered racism and racist language, but haven’t spent a moment to comtemplate the impacts of racist language.

    There are ways to connect social justice struggles effectively and cogently. Unfortunately, this is an example of diminishing both struggles.

  29. Whit Nicole (@lassielane) October 7, 2011 at 10:15 AM #

    While on a recruitment visit to a large, decently ranked sociology graduate school, I attended a department feminism meeting at a student’s house. Everyone’s task was to bring their favorite feminist song to play and discuss…. and someone brought Yoko and John’s “Women is the N**** of the World”. I was still a senior in undergraduate school, sitting with faculty and graduate students who I presumed to be much older and wiser. At that time I did not understand that my wisdom and strength as the only black women in the room could have schooled them all. The song awkwardly played on and when discussion time arose, not a soul talked. After the awkward silence they decided to move onto the next song. Needless to say, I did not attend that school.

    Thank you for sharing this post, and in general for having this blog. It has been such a place of respite as I continue to navigate through graduate school. Even though I choose a different school, I am constantly engaging in conversations with others who I’d like to think would be like-minded intellectuals about our differences, but posts like this one always give me the strength to speak up. I vowed never again to sit in silence.

  30. Anna October 7, 2011 at 1:13 PM #

    Extremely well put, Crunktastic. I can’t really say much beyond amen, amen, and amen again. I am also impressed by the thoughts of your readership (my acknowledgement of the necessary comment moderation notwithstanding). This was my first visit to this blog, and I am so excited to keep reading.

    • Anna October 7, 2011 at 1:14 PM #

      As my comment went up directly, I take back what I said about moderating comments. :)

  31. Angel H. October 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM #

    LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOOOVE this post!!!! Thank you so much for this!

  32. Danielle L October 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM #

    Reading this article as well as some of the comments many emotions come into play. I feel anger, frustration, disappointment, and inspired! As a Black Feminist I am aware of how important it is to raise the feminist voice within the hip hop generation. Images like the one at the SlutWalk reassures me that I need to continue with my work in Hip Hop Feminism. The Feminist Movement has always had issues with incorporating race with gender. Sistahs need to stand up, unite and make sure that the image of Black Women is seen in a positive way. We need to confront the misconceptions of the sexuality of Black Women! For hundreds of years the Black woman’s body has been abused, mistreated and the topic of many stereotypes. I think these women holding the sign need to realize that being a woman will never come before being Black and signs like this are unacceptable and thoughtless!

    • Thines October 10, 2011 at 9:30 AM #

      I agree 100 percent !! Black women are stereotyped in a bad light because of what people see in music videos. They are being given the word as “hoes” which to me means the same as “slut”. So this “slutwalk” is a empowering thing!

      • crunktastic October 10, 2011 at 9:50 AM #

        Thanks for your comment Thines. As I said in an earlier post on SW, the difference is that Black women would not go on a “ho stroll” just because we are frequently referred to by this term. That would not be empowering.

      • Thines October 10, 2011 at 6:16 PM #

        wow ! i also agree with what you are saying to! The reason they go on this “slutwalk” is to show and tell people that it is not okay to judge people on how they dress and it also goes to rape. they want to say that it is NOT okay to rape someone because they dress the way they do. dressing in a “slutty” matter might be how certain people express who they are.

  33. em October 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM #

    so much Privilege to be had here, and i have some of that myself – as a white queer who is still surprised/shocked to see that white girls in 2011 would think it was totes appropes to make and carry that sign, with a big smile… uh,

    [[hold.up!]]

    kick-ass post, y’all.

  34. Robin Rhoads October 8, 2011 at 1:05 AM #

    Oh, man, I saw that sign and just *flinched*. Way to undermine the trust and cooperation of half the human beings supposedly sheltered by the Slut Walk’s purpose. Before reading this, I couldn’t have articulated why that sign bothered me so much. Now, I can argue against it in a meaningful way.

    I have mixed feelings about the idea of women’s “universal” experience of oppression. In a way, yes, the claim that every woman has faced gender-based oppression at some point in her life is true. Yet, the spectrum is so wide, the statement becomes meaningless. It wasn’t until I went to college that I came to realize that not only was my experience as a middle class suburban white girl NOT the universal default, but that I was about as far out in the shallow end of “oppression” as you could get. (Oh, yes, the oppression of my patriarchal father, sending me an extra $100 that month so I could go out with friends and tutting at me that even girls had to learn how to live on a budget these days . . .)

    I think the white women who get angry when accused of not considering Black women’s different experience and context do so because they fear that in comparison, their concerns will be seen as trivial. To be filled with righteous anger at mistreatment when you’ve been beaten once and then to look over and see someone who’s been beaten every day of her life . . . I think it either makes you humble, or it makes you petty. Those who refuse to listen to the women with a genuine grievance . . . they chose pettiness.

    I think that’s why the Slut Walk makes me so uncomfortable. I advocate the acceptance and protection of consensual behavior, and I agree with the aim of disarming vitriolic words like slut, but I see the white women in those pictures, strident with anger, and I wonder where we lost the understanding that protesting with dignity and serenity – especially when under hostile scrutiny – is far more powerful and far more likely to be effective.

    This is an excellent essay, and I will be following the blog.

    • Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 11:49 AM #

      “I think the white women who get angry when accused of not considering Black women’s different experience and context do so because they fear that in comparison, their concerns will be seen as trivial. To be filled with righteous anger at mistreatment when you’ve been beaten once and then to look over and see someone who’s been beaten every day of her life . . . I think it either makes you humble, or it makes you petty. Those who refuse to listen to the women with a genuine grievance . . . they chose pettiness.”

      Bingo! Best way I’ve seen it put. I also know liberal white women who question whether or not the things that upset them are important in the grand scheme of things. I tell them that if its important to them, than its important.

  35. Aaron Dellutri October 8, 2011 at 6:58 AM #

    For we put our bodies and our psyches on the line to show up at events called “Slutwalks” knowing that we are both more vulnerable to the same violence that brought other women there and yet that we have little social privilege and power to reclaim the terms in the ways that many of the others marchers do.

    I have sympathy for that argument, and it is an important point.

    If Black women’s discursive acts cannot change our material realities with regard to our sexuality, then our actions become merely symbolic.

    It would seem to me this statement applies to any protester of any race against anything, not only to black women protesting oppressive sexual norms. Unless there is some extra subtlety I’m missing.

    • Robin Rhoads October 9, 2011 at 3:28 PM #

      I would say that, while her statement is true of any protester, it is more so the further out from the center of power a protester is. To be Black is to know that your work may never take hold and make a change. To be a woman is to know that your work may never take hold and make a change. To be poor is to know that your work may never take hold and make a change. Begin combining these, and that sense of futility doesn’t just add up, it multiplies.

      As a woman, I watch and listen to others fight to destroy reproductive rights that have freed me from the denigration of having no right to my own body. I despair. Almost all women despair. Many men despair as well. Yet I know that I have allies everywhere I look.

      Add to that – and this is outside my personal experience – the cultural stereotype that Black women are oversexed, Made Of Sex, or Made For Sex, and that there are precious few way to express one’s sexuality and sensuality in a positive and healthy way. A black woman despairs. A black man despairs because this is his sister, his wife, his mother, or his daughter. A white woman despairs if she understands that the protection of skin color is no guarantee, and that if she crosses some invisible line and becomes “too much like” a Black woman or criticizes white culture (or God forbid, white women’s culture), she loses that protection. But white men don’t really care, not unless there is one specific Black woman they know and love and listen to. The number of allies shrinks.

      Add to that – and this is partially within my experience – being poor and lacking access to things that I know would make my life better, that would make me a more valuable person to society – education, health care, financial aid. I despair. The poor despair. Those with financial means often don’t care, because they don’t believe they will ever be poor. Poor people *became* poor because they made bad choices. They deserve to be poor. The number of allies shrinks again.

      Add to that – again, completely outside of my experience – being poor and Black. Not only is there the lack of resources to make life better, but there is now a pervasive societal attitude of condemnation. That is YOUR fault things are so bad, and you deserve to be poor, because you are Black, and there is something wrong with being Black. The poor Blacks despair. Many Blacks with financial means despair because they know how easily prosperity can be destroyed. Some poor white people see and know that they are not many steps from a similar abyss. Few white people with financial resources worry, because they will never be both poor and Black. The number of allies shrinks again.

      Add to that – and this is now so far outside my experience, I must trust to others’ descriptions and explanations of it – being poor, Black, and a woman. Now, not only do you lack the resources and access to the resources to make your life better, not only is it YOUR fault because you are Black, and there’s something wrong with Black people, but on top of that, you are told that you are worthless as a human being because you are, not just a sexual being, but ONLY a sexual thing, with no other value.

      A poor, Black man is crushed under the weight of the oppression he experiences and is often culturally inculcated to see a Black woman as a thing, an outlet for sex and machismo, a tool by which to gain respect among his peers, but not a person in her own right with her own sexual being. He rarely takes a stance to advocate for the poor Black woman.

      A poor, white woman may be labeled a slut because she has sex, has little or no access to birth control, and the evidence of her sexual experience is the mouths she doesn’t have enough money to feed. But, hey, at least she’s still not Black or treated like she’s Black, and she’s going to make damn sure that won’t happen by making sure everyone knows that She’s Not Like THEM. You will not find a poor white woman willing to stand up for the sexual rights of a poor Black woman.

      A Black man with the financial resources and social support to rise above the issues of poverty will probably be able to see a Black woman of financial means as an equal and a partner, but it’ll be much harder to look at a poor, Black woman and see the same. More likely, he’ll see a scapegoat, an anchor, a person to blame for why Black people don’t have the respect they deserve, because poor people deserve to be poor, and poor Black women let themselves be treated like things. No, you won’t see him holding a sign protesting the abuse poor Black women experience.

      A white woman may feel some solidarity with a Black woman of similar social and financial standing, but the greater the distance between the two – the poorer the Black woman or the richer the white woman – the less empathy and the less willingness to credit the other with value. A few may stand up for the poor Black woman, but it will be on their terms, and they are not going to make the effort to set aside their own schema of how the world works and see it from another point of view.

      A white man – in my limited experience – is either not going to think of poor Black women at all, simply consider them the victims of their own decisions, or worst of all, see a poor Black woman as prey – so worthless that he may do what he likes to her and pay no consequences. Those who do and do it well are as rare as unicorns and are just as liable to be slaughtered – metaphorically or otherwise.

      So, to return to the quote:

      If Black women’s discursive acts cannot change our material realities with regard to our sexuality, then our actions become merely symbolic.

      No person can change the world by themself. It takes others willing to listen and, at the very least, not interfere with their efforts. With problems as severe as those existing in our society, non-interference simply isn’t enough. Change requires the efforts of every person connected to the problem, and the smaller the group oppressed – poor Black women, for instance – the larger the number of people have to be convinced not to just listen, not to just allow others to work for change, but to be changed themselves, and to join in that change.

      • 123 October 10, 2011 at 2:17 PM #

        “A white man – in my limited experience – is either not going to think of poor Black women at all, simply consider them the victims of their own decisions, or worst of all, see a poor Black woman as prey – so worthless that he may do what he likes to her and pay no consequences.”
        I can not believe you wrote that, you realise we are living in the 21st century don’t you? Of course racism is a huge (and I’m sure never ending) problem, but I do not have a single white male friend or family member (and yes I’m the stereotype, I’m white and privileged) who think that about any women, no matter what race, colour or class. You sound horribly racist saying sweeping comments like that, and I feel the good men I know do not deserve the attack behind your ignorant comment.
        Also “You will not find a poor white woman willing to stand up for the sexual rights of a poor Black woman.” Do you just know particularly racist people?

      • crunktastic October 10, 2011 at 3:07 PM #

        Or maybe you just know particularly liberal people. It’s always interesting to me when white people think that their progressive friends negate the broader claims about racial attitudes made by people of color. The fact that you don’t get it, that you are so utterly defensive, let’s me know that you and your friends probably aren’t as progressive as you think. I’d explain more, but well, when it comes to educating folks about racism, there is a limited quota on the amount of pro bono cases I’m willing to take, and I’ve far exceeded that quota this week. (Yikes it’s only Monday!)

  36. eshowoman October 8, 2011 at 9:00 PM #

    I love this post and the blog. I am finding it hard to contain my ire as a write. It seems most white feminists never learn, White feminists kicked black women out of the first wave of feminism and capitalized on the fear of sexually savage black men in order secure the vote/ Black women formed their own women’s club’s, sororities and unions to express our unique concerns, only one white woman, I am a member of sorority that marched in the 1923 Washington suffrage parade and along wth Ida. B. Wells refused to give into to the white women’s request to walk at the back of the parade. As far as I know Jessie Daniel Ames was the only white woman the history of that entire era ever spoke about the sexual exploitation of black women.
    The fact that black domestics did the back breaking work of caring for white, middle class families also was a part of the white female ennui that evoked the second stage of the white feminism, but heroines of that era leave that part out. I was exposed to this kind of blindness on an everyday basis, in my Master’s program when a white teacher and a cabal of white feminist students, tried to convince me that white women were as oppressed as black slaves during Antebellum America. Needless to say, I aggressively & competently destroyed their argument. I was told later that their reason I did not get into the Ph. D. program was because I the way I talk made whites “uncomfortable.”
    I was never down for these walks and the black women’s blueprint manifesto hit upon many many of my concerns. After talking to a woman of color with a background similar to mine, I was beginning to reconsider and then I saw this picture. Unless white feminists can truly recognize their privilege. learn they are are not the generic voice for all women, learn the history and concerns of women of color and appreciate them as they are, instead of trying to instruct us on what to say or think, history will keep repeating itself. Stop saying you are sorry and that it won’t happen and do the damn work to make it so! Even when that is ever done, I will keep my inner slut neatly tucked away in the bedroom, because no matter what white women do or don’t do it will never convince society (including some black men) that the core of who I am.

    • Robin Rhoads October 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM #

      eshowoman, you have every reason and every right to be angry, and as a white woman who often feels a great deal of guilt and grief over the mistakes others like me have made in the past – and which I have no double I have contributed, though hopefully unintentionally – I struggle with shame, with self-doubt, and with fear that if I make an attempt to champion your views, your needs, and your rights, I will somehow f*ck things up.

      I am not you. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, fully comprehend your experience or represent it accurately to others. I can insist that you be included. I can demand that you be listened to. I promise you that I will make a greater effort to do so. I ask your forgiveness for past mistakes and your patience and forbearance, because as I try, I am sure to stick my foot in my mouth, unintentionally offend, and probably hang a neon sign over my head that blinks “sheltered, naive idiot” in pink and orange.

      I want to know more about you and your experiences. I want to know what I can do to make things better. I want you to know that I care, that I respect, even when I don’t understand, and that I will do my very best to remain open to honest criticism. I feel so overwhelmed at times, not just by how much injustice exists, but by the wild and uncanny variety of humanity surrounding me.

      What can I do? I am a single, unemployed woman living with an elderly father and an overworked mother. I struggle with health problems, with financial problems, and with the limitations my own world brings with it. How can I help? How can I ease your pain and give you my support with the few gifts I have to offer? I am honestly, genuinely, sincerely asking.

    • eshowoman October 9, 2011 at 5:17 PM #

      @Robin Rhoads This blog entry names several amazing writers, that have done compelling work in the area of the black female experience. I also would suggest work by Patricia Hill Collins and the recent At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle Mc Guire. I suggest you go to Amazon and purchase them or check out your local library. I, like you am unemployed with health problems. I am a college level lecturer, so I do not do my job unless I get paid.

  37. eshowoman October 8, 2011 at 9:03 PM #

    Sorry for the grammar errors, being pissed beyond belief tends to do that do me.

  38. eshowoman October 8, 2011 at 9:04 PM #

    The parade was in 1913 not 1923

  39. Emily Egan October 9, 2011 at 8:53 PM #

    Saying that black folks need to stop using the n-word in order for white people to stop using it is placing the burden of progress on the oppressed. Furthermore, its use as slang and its use as a slur are clearly very different, not that it’s the business of anyone other than black folks how they use it.

  40. eshowoman October 9, 2011 at 10:34 PM #

    I like this, except I have to add one item:

    A Black man with the financial resources and social support to rise above the issues of poverty might be able to see a Black woman of financial means but may also see that woman as a threat to his hard one position in society. He may see her as too independent, too assertive and less feminine than her non-black counterparts and find a partner that he feels is much better suited to the dictates of traditional patriarchy.

    Black men out-marry at a rate of 22% and black women at a rate of 9%. Some say it is just love, but I don’t think that this what the Lovings had in mind.

  41. Marquis R October 10, 2011 at 7:57 AM #

    I understand the fact of the women protesting to show that the word Slut is term to insult them. The word slut is a double standard, calling a man a slut really doesn’t affect them in any way it just means that they’re doing them but calling a women a slut is a sign of disrespect saying that women get around, sleeping with any one they can get their hands on. Also i think that this exact protest the women are hurting their point by using the sign that says” Women is the Nigger World”. I believe that she was trying to explain how women today is treated the way African Americans were treated in the 1960’s. Also by using this term she created some enemies, for the simple fact that black women that was on her side and agreed with what she was saying are now shocked at the fact she used the n-word.

    • Laura October 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM #

      If that’s the case I think she’s forgetting that African American women actually did exist in the 1960s. Actually she’s forgotten a whole bunch of things, namely that she is not the victim of racism.

  42. Therese Nelson October 10, 2011 at 8:51 AM #

    Love this!! this was the most artful dressing down ive read in a while and I love the points you made about black womanhood within the sphere of the feminist movement. so many good parts!! gorgeous writing and spot on assessment of a crazy turn of events!!

  43. Elizabeth Blumberg October 10, 2011 at 8:54 AM #

    That sign was so misguided and inappropriate. I thought the discussion about the difference between the term Slut to black and white women also thought-provoking. I live in a neighborhood where the police regularly subject some community members to strip-searching in the street. It happens most often to black men, occasionally to white men, and rarely, but sometimes, to black women. But I’ve never heard of it happening to white women. And I do know that’s because the virtue of Nice White Ladies is considered one of the possessions of the collective White Man, and those possessions are what pretty much all of Western Civilization was set up to protect. So I’m probably not gonna end up in my underwear on a street corner any time soon.

  44. Thines October 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM #

    When I looked at the picture for the first time, I was immediately shocked and enraged. I didn’t understand why a white woman would be holding a sign up saying that “Woman Is the Nigger of the World.” It bothered me to think that using racism would help portray feminism. It also bothers me that some people think this is acceptable. I once heard that black women are hardest people to get accepted. They have to deal with racism and sexism. Which is somewhat equally hard to deal with in this world today. But back to the poster and the meaning behind it. After I took some time to think about what they were trying to say and do. I think that they made this poster for a shocking element. To get people attention to draw them into the cause. They needed something to make people look twice at what they were doing. I believe that they had good intentions but the way they went about it was totally wrong. The word “nigger” is really offensive to a lot of people and I think that this brought a lot of negative vibes toward this movement.

    • Laura October 10, 2011 at 10:12 AM #

      I’m assuming from your comment that you’re white and I really don’t think it is helpful to have you whitesplain what the deal is here. This woman’s intentions are of zero importance. Talking about intentions means that people are allowed to be as racist as they like as long as their heart is in the right place. How about you talk about the material impacts of racism.

      As for saying that racism and sexism are equally hard to deal with, firstly, how would you know this, and secondly, how did you manage to separate one from the other? We’re not eggs. I’m a woman of colour fulltime. I don’t have a day job as a person of colour and moonlight as a woman or the other way round.

      • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM #

        hahahahahahaha, sorry i know this is srs stuff, but i never heard that term ‘whitesplaining’ before. thats hecka funny. nicely done. also, freaking beautiful, this line: “I’m a woman of colour fulltime. I don’t have a day job as a person of colour and moonlight as a woman or the other way round”

      • thines October 11, 2011 at 5:46 AM #

        I first would like to thank you on your comment. But i also want to say that I am in fact an well educated BLACK college student. .me being who I am i have experienced BOTH sexism and racism. And like I said earlier it is an equally hard struggle. I feel like you are not giving people a chance to express how they feel. I said something before that I think it is shocking that they use racism to help the feminist cause. The struggle that goes with the word “nigger” and it has come along way to which that people say it casually. When I say people I mean black people and I feel like that gives other races the go ahead to say it and use it. “if they use it in a casual way, I should be able to too” that might be there mindset. So like I said earlier there intentions were good, they just went about it in a wrong way. I also would like to add that I am a women of color fulltime also. @Rachel Kantstopdaphunk I dnt think using the term “whitesplaining” is amusing at all. Its racist, but since your black you can say that right? WRONG. We all need to take better steps into improving racist comments and actions

    • Laura October 11, 2011 at 5:52 AM #

      Sorry, my bad. I take your points.

      • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 13, 2011 at 12:18 AM #

        I do think its funny, that’s my opinion, and it cut to the heart of the matter quickly. “Whitesplaining” much like “mansplaining” includes a certain level of disigenuousness, i think.

        Also, I don’t believe in reverse racism. If this were a black supremacist country, then I’d believe in racism against white people. But it isn’t, so I don’t. Folks can be ‘prejudiced’ against white people, and unfairly so. Absolutely. But the thing about racism is that it includes power and authority and institutionalized discrimination and prejudice. You can be prejudiced all to heck, but if you don’t have the power or authority to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, that’s not racism. It’s discrimination, which is a whole ‘nother thing.

        Also, I’m a white woman. I didn’t feel the need to blast that out there, I thought I could just share that I’d gotten a chuckle out of that term. Perhaps I should have added that as a self-described ‘special snowflake’ I was partly laughing at myself, at earlier incarnations of “how can I prove I’m not an asshole”–b/c the thing is, that’s what whitesplaining is, and thats what all this oh so humble bs is…. ok its like this, someone goes ‘wow I’m so humbled, i am privileged blah blah blah’ well, that is actually an indicator of not very thoroughly examined privilege. I’m not saying its evil or horrible, just, a first step. Well this was one of the quicker ways I’ve seen to cut through all the back and forth.

        You have a right to your opinion, and you think ‘whitesplaining’ is offensive and/or prejudiced as a term. That’s fine, however, I disagree.

  45. lala October 10, 2011 at 9:52 AM #

    Great article. It’s just too exhausting it really is…my life is not about “educating” folks who know better or would know better if they gave a damn.

  46. avivapress October 10, 2011 at 11:29 AM #

    I think this is an excellent article. I am torn on one issue, though. The term “Slut” is used in the title because within the specific incident that caused the marches to begin, the perpetrator used that word. So is it a lack of inclusiveness that caused that particular term to be used, or the inspiration from the incident? Maybe it doesn’t matter, if many black women don’t resonate with the word the way that white women do. But while I agree that many white feminists aren’t as inclusive as they should be, I’m not sure whether or not the title “Slutwalk” is an example of this. Is my confusion a matter of my white privilege that I’m having trouble owning up to? I’m honestly not sure.

  47. Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM #

    I’m a lil shocked at the level of white liberal guilt being expressed in a lot of the comments. Has nobody told white liberals that their guilt means and does NOTHING for us? I just don’t get it…do they want us to soothe their lil guilty feelings?

    • guest October 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM #

      I agree (I’m a white female), I can’t understand the white guilt in so many of these comments. If you have never made a racist attack against someone, why would you be guilty? I have no control over what past whites have done, however much I disagree with it. If you don’t like the way people are treated, then aim to change it or at least support the change that should come, moaning about how wrong we got it in the past solves nothing.

      • crunktastic October 10, 2011 at 3:09 PM #

        In fact, I think you completely missed Shannon’s point. White folks need to be accountable for the privileges they accrue based upon how wrong “white folks got it in the past.” But white guilt does not aid the process. Instead, white guilt asks Black folks to do the work of making the guilty feel better. Rather than feeling guilty, the guilty should become proactive allies in the fight. Guilt doesn’t serve anybody, and frankly its self-indulgent (although I’m sure the folks who expressed it here meant it sincerely). But absence of guilty doesn’t mean absence of accountability for white privilege and that certainly sounds like what you’re promoting.

    • Robin Rhoads October 10, 2011 at 9:26 PM #

      Well, honestly, Sharon, if you could glance at me and say “you and me, we’re cool,” it would mean a lot. Because to a liberal white woman who grew up in a city with maybe 3% African American population, who came late to an understanding of “no, it really *was* that bad, and it’s still pretty damn bad, AND it’s complicated,” a gesture of reassurance, a nod of welcome would mean a whole lot.

      I don’t need my lil guilty feelings soothed. I need to know that my tiny little efforts to speak and work towards equity, justice, and respect aren’t going to be mocked or dismissed, and that you don’t hold my late entry in the game against me.

      • Laura October 11, 2011 at 12:58 AM #

        Um probably before your ‘late entry’ you oppressed a lot of people of colour. Why shouldn’t that be held against you?

        Also why should you get particular reassurance that you’re not going to be mocked or dismissed? People of colour get mocked and dismissed in various ways all the time (you’ve just dismissed Sharon’s excellent point about white guilt, for example, and I think your sarcasm in paragraph 1 counts as mocking). If you make a late entry to anti racism and then make self admittedly tiny efforts, I think you should probably expect to not be taken overly seriously. After you’ve adjusted your expectations, you might find the whole anti racism lark a bit more enjoyable (remember to remember though, that it’s never that enjoyable for us. It’s more like, about survival and all that stuff.).

      • eshowoman October 11, 2011 at 4:15 PM #

        Wow Robin you were so pissed you tracked down my government name? I know that a lot of white women have seen “The Help” and expect black women to hand over their life experiences for free, but that was a damn movie! I told you to make a commitment to do some work by actually reading some easily accessible books by black women who have courageously and insightfully wrote about this experience and all you can do is whine that I will not kiss your boo boo? Please
        Sharon aka Eshowoman

      • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM #

        dude the whole sharon thing is disrespectful. use her name as she put it on here. maybe she didnt want you calling her by her government name.

        i get that you are being defensive because you feel like you are really trying but the problem here is that you are still acting really privileged. it is not a black womans job to make you a better white women. i feel like you are saying “hey look, im a good white woman. please give me my props”

        there are no props ma’am. you have to make yourself better. your job is not to understand the black experience it is to understand your privilege and try ur best to be a thoughtful and responsible ally. when black women speak about their experiences as black women you should know to take your seat and listen closely. that is how you learn.

        eshowoman actually already acknowledged you by stating that there was plenty of good literature listed here to help you.

        my suggestions are to check out the catalyst project at collectiveliberation.org or
        the peoples institute for survival and beyond @ pisab.org

        pisab does a training called “undoing racism” that proved invaluable to me when i was first struggling to understand and address my own privilege.

  48. BriBru October 10, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

    Great post, it really reflects my problem with SlutWalks and mainstream (i.e. white) feminism in general.

    I think it’s easier for white women to willingly pick up the mantle of a “slut” because they can quite easily put it down again. Black women aren’t afforded the same courtesy. This might be a reach, but notice how on shows like True Blood you never see black actresses naked? I think black women are more aware that for them, there’s no virgin/whore dichotomy, or any space in between. If you give people any reason, it’s going to be all slut, all the time for you. I think a lot of black women tread carefully in these areas.

    Also, as a decidedly second wave sort of feminist, I dislike SlutWalk because it seems to be a part of the “sexy fun feminism” that’s so popular now. I just can’t see these protests being so popular if one of the goals weren’t walking around in a bikini. To me, it takes a very serious issue and minimizes it a bit. Like, “Stop raping! Rape is bad, and it shouldn’t matter what I wear. But don’t I look totally hot right now?”

  49. ERF October 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM #

    Whoa. The sign is ridiculous! It’s like we got all first wave up in here…although I certainly can’t pretend like racism hasn’t infected all of the “waves.” Thank you for writing this.

  50. Azalea October 10, 2011 at 4:58 PM #

    Dang girl. You killed it with this article. Merci beaucoup!

  51. ConverseAllFlop October 10, 2011 at 6:20 PM #

    J. Lennon was a closet republican anyway (http://www.torontosun.com/2011/06/28/lennon-was-a-closet-republican-assistant)

  52. layla October 10, 2011 at 6:49 PM #

    I’m curious to know what the author to the OP has in mind when she writes of “off-limits terminology … reclaimed by Jewish communities”. The only one I can really think of is usage of the term ‘holocaust’ which refers to the specifically genocide committed by Nazis in WWII. And yet Deb (#comment-4964) has decided to appropriate that term for herself by referring to the “African Holocaust”.

    Not only is such usage the exact kind of appropriation that 100+ commentators claim to find unacceptable, but Deb goes one step further by explicitly comparing the two genocides with reference to death counts and then concluding that the “Jewish Holocaust” was the lesser of two evils. Implicit in her commentary is that the “Jewish Holocaust” does really deserve to be called a “Holocaust” because it wasn’t the worst genocide in the world. Stop griping, Jewish people, it could be worse!

    Before somebody starts typing ‘But African genocide did happen!!’ – you need to check yourself before offering such an inane response. Nobody is denying that oppression has been suffered by Africans, white women, LBGTQ people, etc. The beef comes – apparently – when those oppressed people use other groups’ oppression to describe their own, thereby nullifying the original groups’ experience to their advantage (e.g. Women is the N***** of the World, Gay is the New Black, etc.)

    Then again, appropriation happens EVERYWHERE (just look at Dr. MLK’s usage of Gandhi’s rhetoric and colonial struggles) and yet we only find SOME to be off-limits. *this is not justifying / condoning the original poster – it made me sick and was unacceptable full stop.* But I do wonder when and under what contexts movement cross-fertilization is considered ‘appropriation’ and when it’s ‘inspiration’ or ‘solidarity’. And this conversation makes me think more and more that the answer is: when it benefits us.

    Reading through the comments, I’m seeing that everybody has to label themselves “as a [insert marker of oppressed group here]” in order to retain credibility. Apparently being oppressed has its [discursive] advantages in conversations like these. The more oppressed you are, the more respect you get. Of course the problem with this “Oppression Olympics” is that somebody else always has it worse than you do. Even the hypothetical Black, disabled, queer woman has the advantage of US citizenship, primary education, so on and so forth.

    White people are expected “to be accountable for the privileges they accrue” while all sorts of other privileges – being born in a first world country, being able to read, being able to access internet technologies, knowing English, being able-bodied – is never even mentioned. It would be absurd for Black people – or anybody – to feel individually responsible for the privileges they accrue vis-a-vis these other forms of oppression, even though they are responsible for them to the extent that they reproduce them. So what makes individual white people accountable for their privileges while a Black, Christian, straight, male, American-born, middle-class individual is not held accountable for the privileges he enjoys AND reinscribes? Is it just whatever form of oppression is the most heinous? Are we reduced to comparing death counts to find the ‘worst’ Holocaust out there?

    I agree with Robin who says: “I think the white women who get angry when accused of not considering Black women’s different experience and context do so because they fear that in comparison, their concerns will be seen as trivial”. But it’s not just white women who get angry when they find out they aren’t the most oppressed people in the world. Newsflash: Any struggle in the United States is small potatoes compared to the the most well-off folks in Somalia right now.

    Does that mean POC in the US shouldn’t fight oppression? Of course not. My point is that such a line of argument (‘my oppression’s worse than yours!’) is untenable because it unfairly ascribes one group’s betterment as a zero-sum process. The ironic thing is that when white women advocate on behalf of others (especially Muslim women and women in the Global South), we call it imperialism and tell them to deal with the problems in their own community before getting involved in others. Now that white women ARE dealing with a problem in their community, we tell them to shut up because its not as bad as it could be and then ask them why they aren’t involved in other (more serious) struggles first.

    The fact that nobody called out Deb in her appropriation of ‘Holocaust’, combined with these other musings, make me think that we care less about eliminating oppression and social justice for all and more about how we can discursively advantage ourselves and ‘our people’. It’s this tribalism that depresses me more and more.

    I share Michelle’s concerns but won’t be as polite as her. As a mixed race woman (neither race is white BTW – just gotta find a way to throw that in there!) I don’t feel this space is safe for me. Everybody wants to be the victim while ignoring their own privilege.

    • crunktastic October 10, 2011 at 8:22 PM #

      @Layla,

      You have said much, all of which I won’t respond to, largely because a.) you seem to really need to vent your frustrations b.) you have declared that this space is unsafe for you and frankly to me the notion that your experiences should be centered or affirmed in my post which is a critique of the ways in which my very identity as a Black woman was disconfirmed by a slutwalker seems to be an attempt to suggest that Black women don’t have the right to take up any psychic space, unless we allow for the misguided frustrations of every other person. YOu come to us with a valid critique and we’ll be accountable. You come with bullshit and whining and you can #missme/uswithallofthat.

      Now with regard to your valid critiques:

      I was referring to various in-group Jewish joking using particular cultural references that it would be inappropriate for outgroups to use; I was not referring per se to slurs. I hear you on your discomfort with the appropriation of the term Holocaust, although I think that qualitatively there isn’t the same issue. Both the original usage and the appropriation refer to the mass murder based on ethnicity of whole groups of people. With the n-word sign, the sign explicitly fails to recognize the ways in which both Black women are victimized on the account of both race and sex. It also assumes that white women can be the “n—rs” of something, and frankly white women in the U.S. are not the n-words of anything. While I don’t use Holocaust in reference to African enslavement and genocide, I do not think that usage in anyway invalidates what happened to Jewish folk. Like you, I would not dare to compare either experience as worse than the other. Both were reprehensible, and frankly these shared histories of genocide should be a point of coalition building and solidarity. But because terms do matter, I’m willing to concede that genocide might be more appropriate as a way to refer to both experiences, and I understand the importance of understanding the Holocaust as a reference to a specific historical Jewish experience. That is certainly how I was taught it and understand it.

      Finally, I certainly didn’t play oppression olympics in my post, so I assume you were responding to other commenters, and I don’t think I advocated “tribalism,”(and you do know that tribalism is a problematic word in reference to both Native folks and African folk, right?) by suggesting that Black women should be able to reasonably expect not to be called the N-Word in 2011 in social justice oriented spaces. But if that is how you need to interpret it, go ahead. Somehow the argument that asking NOT to be referred to by particular words constitutes some kind of attempt to “discursively advantage ourselves and our people” seems like an exercise in missing the point. And I don’t have time to unpack that for you, but I hope you see the problems in your assertions.

      And in answer to your question: So what makes individual white people accountable for their privileges while a Black, Christian, straight, male, American-born, middle-class individual is not held accountable for the privileges he enjoys AND reinscribes? Is it just whatever form of oppression is the most heinous?

      If you feel like the experiences of Black straight middleclass men in the U.S. have ever been a match for white supremacy, you should go read a history book, or two, or five. Key words: lynching; the myth of the Black male rapist; the brute; the Black buck; etc, etc, etc. But yes, as a straight Christian (very recently) middle class U.S. Black woman I enjoy particular privileges all of which I own and daily try to debunk. Why? Because being committed to social justice means I’m committed to debunking all systems which advantage me including heterosexist, Christian, class privileged systems. I don’t get out of it by claiming that I shouldn’t be responsible or I’m entitled to it because of the oppression based on my race and gender and until very recently class or it’s just too hard. But it is because I am committed to a more egalitarian and just system that I absolutely demand accountability around privilege from others. Unapologetically.

      • layla October 10, 2011 at 9:26 PM #

        My critique of your critique does not mean I am in favor of the sign! I agree with your post wholehearted about the usage of the N-word. There is no excuse for white people to use it, no if/ands/buts. White people – regardless of their positionally – have no right, further, to tell Black people how they should use to the term or not. In fact, the N-word is kind of a ‘non-debate’ in my head because there is no ambiguity. White people, don’t use it. The end. I also, by the by, agree with your post about slutwalk and think its fair game (and in fact necessary) to critique it the way you did.

        But I do think its a problem (one that I myself commit at times) when we label other people’s struggles as ‘whiney’ when they don’t fit our own or if we perceive them as – how do I put it – not quite ‘left’ enough. I agree that there’s no excuse for false universalism and by now we should all accept the fact that universalism can and is used to justify imperialist undertakings. My problem comes when the critique to this kind of universalism reinscribes a kind of anti-racist communitarianism that apprehends culture, ethnicity and race as essentially benign backdrops, thereby reproducing categories and oppositions that totalize rather than liberate.

        In fact, you revealed my point beautifully when you said: “the notion that your experiences should be centered or affirmed in my post which is a critique of the ways in which my very identity as a Black woman was disconfirmed by a slutwalker seems to be an attempt to suggest that Black women don’t have the right to take up any psychic space, unless we allow for the misguided frustrations of every other person.”

        So: I critique a discursive production that in-general makes a pretty good point, but I want to problematize some of its assumptions and implications regarding other people’s experiences. My critique is then dismissed as a ‘misguided frustration’. Dang, that sounds pretty familiar! Sounds like you’re doing to me what defensive white slutwalkers are doing to Black women who have very legitimate concerns surrounding the discursive production of slutwalk! Funny.

        I do not accept that if I have problems with some of the comments here that (rightfully) denounce the post, it somehow means I support the poster or the n-word. My point is a more general critique on social justice discourse in this country and how positionality (‘insert oppression marker here’) overly determines their speechact.

      • crunktastic October 11, 2011 at 7:12 AM #

        Let’s go back to your original post; “Now that white women ARE dealing with a problem in their community, we tell them to shut up because its not as bad as it could be and then ask them why they aren’t involved in other (more serious) struggles first.”

        Who told white women to shut up? We didn’t. We have stood in solidarity with this movement for months.
        Who said they had to get involved in other struggles first? We didn’t. We simply suggest that you can’t dismantle sexism, without dismantling racism, as this sign proves.
        Is rape only a white women’s community problem? According to SW organizers, they are speaking universally not specifically.

        Now to your last comment to me:

        My argument doesn’t pivot on the assumption that you support the sign. Furthermore, you mischaracterize my reaction as one that doesn’t permit you to have problems or to have a critique. My response to you indicated that are legitimate critiques and illegitmate ones, and most of your first comment was rife with illegitimate critiques. The legitimate critique you raised, I both affirmed and responded to, and it worthy of note, that you somehow still feel dismissed.

        Anyway, I recognize the ways in which my seeming dismissiveness of your critique might seem parallel to the kind of dismissiveness I’ve experienced. But I was critiquing the ranting part of your post in which you make unconscionable comparisons about Black men who have particular kinds of privilege and ask to what extent white folks should be accountable for privilege. I was critiquing the part of your post in which you seemed to assert that all us Americans are merely “whining” when we compare our struggles to other groups globally. In fact, your original post is rife with the kinds of dismissive, reductionist assumptions that you seem to be so defensive toward. It was rife with the kind of oppression olympics that you seem to have such an issue with.

        My argument about the extent to which I have to account for your experience when my experience is actively being disconfirmed is an issue not just at the level of “discursive production,” and I think that’s where the tension lies. Discursively, it might seem as if I were dismissing you, except that I actually took to heart and grappled with the meat of your critique namely the use of the term Holocaust and its specific rootedness in Jewish experience. And after grappling with it, I affirmed your “right” to that term. Because that’s what you were asking for, right? The “right” to the term. By contrast, Black folks are never asking for the “right” to the term “nigger.” We are asking not be dehumanized by its usage. We are asking to be able to determine the ways in which we refer to ourselves. We are asking for power over the discourses that concern our lives.

        But we are not merely asking for discursive power, which as I note in my post only has a symbolic effect if it is not tethered to the material world or to structures of power. What we know is that when white folks disconfirm our experiences through their words, that ability to discursively disconfirm is rooted in actual white power in the material world. Otherwise, these debates would be merely semantic and symbolic.

        So for you to suggest that my discursive production has the same kind of power to disconfirm your struggles misses the point that I made in the larger piece, that this not only about semantics, but about the ways our uses of terms have a material effect in the real world. So you can’t merely evaluate my arguments at the discursive level, because what seems to happen at the level of discourse, e.g. a wrangling over the use of the term Holocaust, will have no material effect on whether the Jewish Holocaust is diminished as an experience. I promise that the term African Holocaust which has been in use for years now has not made in significant inroads into the ways that the history of Jewish genocide during the Holocaust is taught. This doesn’t excuse the inappropriateness of its usage but it does point to the ways in which Black folks in fact don’t have the power to discursively determine how the world will be talked about (outside of the proliferation of HIp Hop slang, of course).

        Finally, your critique ultimately boiled down to one point: someone in this thread misused the term Holocaust (not to disconfirm that it actually happened, but rather to simply affirm that Black folks have experienced something similar–and I get it, that this is the same logic the signmaker used, but the critical difference is that there is no where in the world where white women are the niggers of anything) which means this is not a safe space for you. Um, Black women and women of color were talking about the racism and exclusion of slutwalk long before this sign ever appeared. We have been critiquing for months now, the kind of assumptions that undergird slutwalk which almost made it inevitable that some white girl would think this was a reasonable thing to do. And Black women’s critique of the problems with splitting up race and gender in statements like “white women are the niggers of the world” or “gay is the new Black” etc because those statements inherently miss intersections are over 40 years old at this point. So your critique sounds like you picked the one problem you could find in one comment thread and declared the space was unsafe. With slutwalk, Black women had BEEN saying that there were problems with the reclamation of the term slut. And we had problems not only with the sign but with the fact that a WOC was asked to ask the person to take it down, the fact that if you follow these threads white women and men keep asking for the right to use the term and claiming that they can’t even understand why it would be offensive.

        By contrast, no one has asked for the right over here to refer to you with a Jewish slur, as a way to stand in solidarity with your experience. No one has told you that your experience didn’t happen. In fact, I find it interesting that you feel like the appropriation of the term Holocaust by African people in some way diminishes your experience. (Is that racism? Not sure, but I think it’s a question that should be asked). Because at base the appropriation is not happening by a privileged group, which means the power dynamics are far from the same. How does your critique work with the appropriation of terms like racial apartheid or racial colonization? Are African Americans disrespecting South Africans or diminishing the experience of continental Africans or East Indian folks for instance?

        In any case, what you have pointed me to is the limitations of talking about privilege in the ways we talk about it, because it makes Oppression Olympics of the sort you have engaged a logical effect of the the thinking of folks who don’t want to think through their own privileges. It becomes easy to project (you have privileges too! And other people have it worse than you! So there!) In fact, the more I think about what you said, the more it sounds like you’re saying, “y’all Black folk are being racists, too!” I’m oppressed, too! Acknowledge me, acknowledge me! And that is whining, and it is illegitimate, and in this space, it gets called bullshit.

        I’m done.

      • Laura October 11, 2011 at 1:03 AM #

        Just want to put it out there that being a black disabled queer woman isn’t hypothetical! I’m just one person and I know six black disabled queer women.

    • Deb October 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM #

      Layla…(Part 1, cuz I may exceed the limit allowed per post)…as you can see from her answer, crunktastic is thoroughly furnished and fully-equipped to explain to you what she meant. But since you “called” me – I will “respond” to what I meant.

      First of all, I find it a fruitless waste of time to play the “my pain is worse than your pain” game that you are obviously trying to play and project onto me. I do my best to deal in FACTS, as they are unassailable.

      That the only “off-limits terminology” of which you can think, as relates to the Jewish community is ’holocaust’, seems disingenuous at best if we’re going to engage in real talk here (I’ll get to that in a minute).

      But first of all, ‘holocaust’ as defined by Merriam-Webster (and crunktastic) includes: mass slaughter of people; especially: GENOCIDE. Though often capitalized to refer to the Jews, that is NOT it’s only definition (translation – it’s not all about the Jews. Therefore, as much as you’d like to believe I’m “appropriating” a term that is the sole purview of a specific group of people – I am not (but your statement is too funny on its face, given all the “appropriation” in which white folk – and those who subscribe to “Being White and Other Lies” have engaged, but I digress). As crunktastic said in her reply, “you should go read a history book, or two, or five.”

      ” Not only is such usage the exact kind of appropriation that 100+ commentators claim to find unacceptable, but Deb goes one step further by explicitly comparing the two genocides with reference to death counts and then concluding that the “Jewish Holocaust” was the lesser of two evils. Implicit in her commentary is that the “Jewish Holocaust” does really deserve to be called a “Holocaust” because it wasn’t the worst genocide in the world. Stop griping, Jewish people, it could be worse!”

      Based on that blather, I can see that projection is your only course of action amid frustration – unfortunate, to say the least, particularly since I said NONE of the things you deduced. The only thing implicit in my comment was how you chose to hear it.

      But just to be clear, my comment was simply in response to HT’s incredulity that – “You can’t expect millions of people to understand the complex history and impacts of the word when they are simply copying their favourite music artist….” – based on facts,>i> which you more than proved by insinuating that ‘holocaust’ ONLY referred specifically to the genocide committed by Nazis in WWII” (like I said “ white folk will say just anything – even, and especially if it’s stupid – to hold onto that privilege.”)

      ” Before somebody starts typing ‘But African genocide did happen!!’ – you need to check yourself before offering such an inane response.”

      I don’t need to type, nor prove anything to you, dear. But since you’ve got the nerve to come on this space, telling everybody else what they need to do, I’d suggest you check your own-damned-self since you already don’t feel this is a “safe space” for you. Your use of the word “inane” followed by “oppression” versus “genocide” – along with your willingness to vehemently defend Jewish “genocide” while merely lumping the African Holocaust (and yes crunktastic, I do view it as such) in with other “oppression” already tells me you are comfortable making some people invisible – *full stop*

      ” But I do wonder when and under what contexts movement cross-fertilization is considered ‘appropriation’ and when it’s ‘inspiration’ or ‘solidarity’. And this conversation makes me think more and more that the answer is: when it benefits us.”

      You make the serious mistake of thinking that my primary concern is “movement cross-fertilization.” It is not – because one tends to run into people like you when that’s the primary goal. With damned-near 500 years of white supremacy under our belts, trust me, that takes a definite back seat. Call it “tribalism” or whatever you like – it’s a free country. But do know this, I don’t owe you shit, nor do I think it “benefits” me in the least to engage with people like you, who would rather ignore and revise history – than own it and deal with it.

      You also seem to think I have to come through you to “retain credibility” or “gain respect.” That’s laughable. Neither you, nor anyone else, for that matter, defines my worthiness. As for expecting white folk (or any other folk who revel in the privileges granted by the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy) to be accountable – that ship has long sailed for me seeing as “expectations are only contracts between you and you” since the other party/parties haven’t actually signed onto, or up for, whatever it is you’re thinking (main reason why I don’t “expect” shit from the likes of you).

      ” Newsflash: Any struggle in the United States is small potatoes compared to the most well-off folks in Somalia right now.“

      Newsflash: Or Cote d’Ivoire, or Libya, or Sudan, or Tunisia, or Senegal, or The Gambia, or Haiti, etc., etc., etc. What your statement lacks is perspective, because unlike this young country, they have BEEN suffering at the hands of colonialists and imperialists for even more years than the almost 500 that Blacks have been.

      • layla October 10, 2011 at 10:59 PM #

        @ Deb. I’m not white, and could never pass as such, but thanks for proving my point. And the next time I look for the social impact of words, I’ll go strait to Merriam-Webster.

      • Deb October 11, 2011 at 12:38 AM #

        Layla…”I’m not white, and could never pass as such, but thanks for proving my point. And the next time I look for the social impact of words, I’ll go strait to Merriam-Webster.”

        See, this is why it is of no use at all, for me to continue this conversation with you, dear. Your in such a hurry to “prove your own point,” you’re not even fully reading my comments. Whenever I was speaking to you (because I DID fully read your comment) I included “– and those who subscribe to “Being White and Other Lies”…” or, “(or any other folk who revel in the privileges granted by the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy)”

        Here’s a link to that “On Being White…” essay by James Baldwin: http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/Family_Herstories/2_On_Being_White.PDF it may (or may not) be instructive.

        When I referred to “white” ONLY (stay with me here) – I was “RESTATING what I said to HT (who, based on her comment(s), IS white. I said specifically:

        “But just to be clear, my comment was simply in response to HT’s incredulity that – “You can’t expect millions of people to understand the complex history and impacts of the word when they are simply copying their favourite music artist….” – based on facts,>i> which you more than proved by insinuating that ‘holocaust’ ONLY referred specifically to the genocide committed by Nazis in WWII” (like I said “ white folk will say just anything – even, and especially if it’s stupid – to hold onto that privilege.”)” – mkay?

        And about that Merriam-Webster thing? Yeah, you SHOULD do that.

      • layla October 11, 2011 at 1:11 AM #

        Deb – Apologies – I did misread your response re: the ‘white’ accusation.

        From my reading, we are in full agreement about the specifics around the poster and white women’s use of the n-word. I apologize if my lack of clarity implied that I in anyway supported a white woman’s use of the n-word under any circumstances. Its not okay and is emblematic of the systematic racism in slutwalk.

        I do not consider African genocide (or Native American, #happycolumbusday) to be ‘merely’ oppression but rather the greatest form of human evil.

        We seem to disagree about the usage of the term ‘Holocaust’ and all I would ask is that IF you are not Jewish – and I have no way of knowing whether or not you are – that you please try to understand the meaning this word holds for Jewish people in your discussion. Their perspective is not more or less important than others, and I am not equating your use of Holocaust with this slutwalkers use of the n-word, but it is just a request.

        I’m wondering why you think I “revel in the privileges granted by the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” Well, I admit that I do. Because I am ablebodied, because I am not Black, because I am straight and cisgendered and middle class and all the other ways I’m not even aware of. But do you think that because you understood me to mean that I was apologizing for the poster? Do your feelings change once I make clear that I do not and find it ridiculous, appalling, and unforgivable? Do you think that I revel in privilege because I disagree with your use of the term ‘Holocaust’? Because I find some of the comments problematic? Because I am troubled by the fact that each commentators race and gender must be exposed in order for their words to be evaluated? Because I question how we draw a line between appropriation and inspiration? Is it because I disagree with you on some stuff? Is that why I’m reveling in privilege? By the way, are you reveling in privilege? How would I know if you were? How would I know if you’re holding yourself accountable?

        Again, I do apologize that I wasn’t clear in my original post and made it seem that I was condoning white women’s use of the n-word. But, again, I do think that I can question your comments without ‘reveling in privilege’.

      • Deb October 11, 2011 at 11:15 PM #

        Layla…Apologies accepted. But do understand if I’m leery of your sincerity (“or Native American, #happycolumbusday” – Really??) crunktastic pretty much sums up what I’m thinking about your “lack of clarity” in her latest response to you:

        ”… wrangling over the use of the term Holocaust, will have no material effect on whether the Jewish Holocaust is diminished as an experience. I promise that the term African Holocaust which has been in use for years now has not made in significant inroads into the ways that the history of Jewish genocide during the Holocaust is taught.”

        To wit: as a weekly columnist for a small South Florida paper, that truth crunktastic just stated MADE me to write about the “newly instituted” state mandate to teach African-American history in S. Florida public schools back in the 2000s in one of my weekly columns (yeah, I said newly instituted and – in the 2000s). Because after reading that mandate…: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.42.html

        (g) The history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity, to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.

        (h) The history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society. Instructional materials shall include the contributions of African Americans to American society.

        …it was CRYSTAL CLEAR where slavery and my people ranked, in relation to the Jews in these allegedly united states – and I’m not wit’ it. If the privileged don’t want to tell the truth – I damn sure will. I owe it to those two children I brought into this world, who – though mixed, automatically get put on my side of the ledger due to the one-drop rule. NoNot only do they deserve it, all Black children still getting fed the marginalized truth about our history, do as well.

        ”We seem to disagree about the usage of the term ‘Holocaust’ and all I would ask is that IF you are not Jewish…and I am not equating your use of Holocaust with this slutwalkers use of the n-word, but it is just a request.”

        No, you disagree. As both Merriam-Webster and I have clearly noted – Jews don’t OWN the word. And no, I’m not Jewish, but I have to tell you, I called my long-time friend, Rhoda, who lives in Manhattan this morning to share our back-and-forth here (I’m trying to convince her to let me write her very interesting life story). Her parents were Russian Jews. She’s 82 now, and if you do the math, I’m sure you’ll agree she certainly doesn’t need to “retain” nor “gain” either “respect” or “credibility” – from anyone.

        She was ROFL as she asked me, “Does this child have any idea what she’s talking about? A holocaust is a holocaust!” I told her I certainly didn’t know what you were talking about. Then she said, “Come to think of it, probably not, these schools only teach these kids the shit they want them to know.” There was nothin’ I could say to that but, “I know that’s right!”

        As politely as I can (this time) – request denied. You don’t get to decide how I express what my people went through (and you want to know why I think you “revel in privilege??”). Again – Jews don’t own the word.

        Look, I’m not jumping through all your bullshit hoops of questions, but here’s a piece I read over at Abagond today with which I concur that may answer some of them: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/is-the-white-anti-racist-an-oxymoron/

        I will, however, say this, so you don’t get shit twisted – I am a middle-class Black woman who’s worked consistently since age 14. Now, at 55, I am unemployed (and have been – since 2005), despite my great resume. My husband of 30 years, however, is securely employed, so yes – I continue to live a middle-class life (due tot that, and the fact that all those years I WAS employed, we paid off all that bullshit credit card debt that keeps folk enslaved to Wall St., et al). If I want to buy or do something, I save for it (we’re in this thing together, whether I’m working or not – the one paycheck is shared). If I can’t pay cash, I do without. There’s no “reveling in privilege” going on over here. That said, were done, mkay?

    • Deb October 11, 2011 at 12:11 AM #

      Layla…(Part2) ” Now that white women ARE dealing with a problem in their community, we tell them to shut up because it’s not as bad as it could be and then ask them why they aren’t involved in other (more serious) struggles first.”

      Look, deal however you like – just don’t step to me with your bullshit just because I, and others here, can see the FACT, that white women calling themselves “Nigger” is outrageous and has nothing to do with “being the victim” or ignoring their own privilege. Actually, if you’re steppin’ to me in that manner – I could care less whether you are involved in my struggle or not, because you’re not “for real” – and it won’t stop me from doing what I see as needed for the benefit of “my people.” Humanist, I am – but I’m neither blind, nor crazy.

      ” I share Michelle’s concerns but won’t be as polite as her. As a mixed race woman (neither race is white BTW – just gotta find a way to throw that in there!)…Everybody wants to be the victim while ignoring their own privilege.”

      I don’t care whether you’re impolite or mixed (though it’s been my experience with my own mixed children that being “in between” brings with it, its own set of issues) – neither negates the fact that you are parroting the language of the oft irredeemable and certainly “unaccountable.”

      Now back to that afore-mentioned “off-limits terminology” relating to the Jewish community with which you can’t seem to come up. Crunktastic rightly said: ”(Why) White folks love the n-word and they keep trying to find a way to use it. And ain’t nobody fooled by these claims of confusion, because for some reason that confusion about off-limits terminology doesn’t extend to those terms reclaimed by Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities, or people with disabilities. Only to the n-word.”

      As “nigger” is a slur for Blacks – so is “kike” or “hymie” for the Jewish community. And while I don’t see them trying to “reclaim “ it as she states, that is neither here nor there. What is most relevant, however, is the fact that it is JUST AS offensive and destructive to their wholeness, their very well-being, when used by non-Jews, as “nigger” is to Blacks – and there is NEVER, ANY confusion about that! Ask Jesse Jackson.

      And equally offensive, and also can be considered a hate crime offense for which many a person has done additional time in my recent memory – is “faggot.” As I said somewhere up-thread: “Try it and see who gets “worried.” I know of a very young Black man who did enough time to f*ck up his life for uttering the word “faggot” during a mutually, physical confrontation with some gay guys in Key West, FL less than 10 years ago.” That they called him “nigger” during all of this was irrelevant and immaterial – FACT.

      I’m going to leave you with another historical point to ponder and I hope you’ll get a clue as to how deeply embedded, the tendency for society-identified “white folk,” – to make invisible the lives and suffering of Black folk – really is (since we’re talking about Jews): http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
      Because I was not a Socialist.

      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

      Now, Niemoller said this in the 1960’s – well over 400 years AFTER “they came” for the first African slaves and brought them to my home state of SC in the 1500’s (yeah, that whole 1619, first slaves here, Jamestown shit are the same “Lies My Teacher Told Me”). As crunktastic said earlier, “You come with bullshit and whining and you can missme/uswithallofthat.”

    • eshowoman October 11, 2011 at 4:29 PM #

      Layla, one of the ways that white privilege works is that whites do not have to utilize any intellectual rigor in their comments about race and expect to be seen as valid, Hundred of African ethnic groups were decimated during colonization of Africa and German tactics used to wipe out the Herero and Namaqua in what is now Namibia were simply less sophisticated practice for what they would to 9 million people (not iust 6 million Jews), including all black Germans 50 years later. Are you saying that the Africans pain felt is less important that that of the Jews?

  53. Maya October 10, 2011 at 8:43 PM #

    I feel it’s absolutely true that these kinds of movements often put power in the hands of people that have just little enough understanding to cause hurt. The fact that white women so easily forget that they are white just shows how little progress we’ve made; if a group of disadvantaged people cannot recognize all the aspects that effect how society treats them, whether it be with privilege or oppression, than what can we expect of the white heterosexual middle class male?

    I have to say, in terms of use of the ‘n’ word, that I’m annoyed at how people don’t seem to realize that the people who have power over its meaning are those to whom it refers ONLY. This isn’t to say that a white woman or a person of any colour or sexuality can’t understand derogatory words that don’t apply to them. But for the purposes of changing and reclaiming that word, the decision should be left always to the affected group.

    I read a study recently about whether youth find the word “fag” offensive, and found the statistics somewhat irrelevant – the first set of data, taken from queer and nonqueer youth, implied that the word may be losing its derogatory meaning. The second showed more people were offended who were either queer or friends of queer people were offended by the term. But I have to wonder what percentage of actual queer youth, who would be directly affected by the language, felt about these terms. It seems the people conducting these studies would feel it relevant what a man feel about the word slut, and what a white person thinks of the ‘n’ word.

  54. GG October 10, 2011 at 10:13 PM #

    Where is the line between appropriating oppression (“We’re so legit it’s like we’re Black!”) and trying to draw a comparison between how two different groups have been treated in hopes of finding common ground to support each other? Especially when those two groups partially overlap.

    What about if the primary goal is to discuss power dynamics- what if I want to compare, say, the way Black people have been appropriated for other causes and then discarded to the way that may be happening to other groups? Not to discuss in terms of “how bad” it was but how it worked out in tactical sense- if it repeatedly worked out badly for Black people it will probably work out badly for other groups too.

    This is something I really do have trouble with. I’m not demanding an answer though, just if anyone WANTED to answer or had any thoughts I would appreciate it.

    The pictures at the beginning are a clear example of where it’s definitely wrong though, I don’t question that in the slightest. (this definitely happens with other words by the way, but white people are obsessed with this one and get especially indignant when people challenge them)

    • Laura October 11, 2011 at 2:13 AM #

      The thing is about drawing a comparison between two different groups is that people who belong to both those groups become instantly invisible. For example, drawing a comparison between how [white] women today are treated and the way black people are or have been treated historically, apart from being wildly inaccurate, completely eradicates black women from the equation. When you’re talking about Group A, and then compare it to Group B, you’re always already assuming that people from Group A do not already belong to Group B. People who belong to Group A and Group B become invisible whilst the person doing the comparing gets some cheap politics.

      This isn’t the only problem with such comparisons, but it’s definitely a big one.

      • GG October 11, 2011 at 6:48 AM #

        I don’t know, I’ve actually seen people from both groups do the non-appropriating kind more often because they’re less likely to upset people. And sometimes this gets people who AREN’T part of both group to start thinking about things they hadn’t considered before. I’ve also seen people make the point that it can multiple- if you’re from two groups that are harassed by the police then you are almost instantly screwed over. So I don’t think people who are specifically mentioning people who fall under both can be said to be erasing them.

        I think one difference you’ve essentially brought to light is the difference between comparing something specific and trying to appropriate a whole experience/group. Comparing the whole groups overall is automatically unuseful and appropriating- yes?

        I remember reading something about prejudice against people with developmental disabilities and this white guy with a DD sister was going on like “it’s worse than racism, it’s worse than sexism,” etc and that didn’t seem useful to me in any way even though I do think people should take prejudice against DD people more seriously. The the thing this article is talking about is kind of that but with a racial slur thrown in removing any doubt about how the white people in question mean it.

        (I know these things may be obvious to some of you but I do/can get confused and if I can pinpoint what exactly is wrong then I can go out of may to come across as the opposite).

        thanks thanks

  55. dbananza October 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM #

    I note that there are folks reacting to the whole issue — of the failsigns, and of the discussion that followed — with a bit of a ‘can we compare struggles?’ that seemed to come from a base of fear or defensiveness. But (without trying to sound like I’m doing anyone any ‘favors’ with my opinion…) I am liking it when undiluted radicals or just plain pissed off people here say: ‘No, just…no’.

    I’m learning more from them, by listening and not trying to interrupt them — even if it gives my stomach the quease of fear, or sadness of history, or discomfort — than people who try to ‘get everyone together’, to be honest. It’s honestly scary but also honestly exciting. They are speaking their truths. It’s not even up to me or anyone to “let” someone speak their truth, they just are, and I’m learning things. It’s pretty cool.

  56. Deb October 11, 2011 at 11:26 PM #

    Crunktastic…” This doesn’t excuse the inappropriateness of its usage…your critique ultimately boiled down to one point: someone in this thread misused the term Holocaust (not to disconfirm that it actually happened, but rather to simply affirm that Black folks have experienced something similar– and I get it, that this is the same logic the sign maker used…”

    Lil Sis, I love you young women over here to death for how much you’re continually teaching my old ass, but I didn’t “misuse” anything. I used the word, NOT to affirm anything “similar(?).” That “you get it” disappoints, but that’s on me, because expectations, as I said up-thread somewhere to Layla, “are only contracts between you and you since the other party hasn’t actually signed onto, or up for, whatever it is you’re thinking (expecting).

    But anyway, my point was that, the just the sheer numbers lost in the African Holocaust alone, made our experience dissimilar – in that regard. YET -while people like HT can say, “You can’t expect millions of people to understand the complex history and impacts of the word…” regarding nigger – We, along with millions of other people ARE expected to (AND DO) understand the complex history and impacts of the Jewish Holocaust, as evidenced by that 2002, newly instituted statute, and even by your own comments.

    It’s not the same logic the sign maker used by a long shot, and it has nothing to do with the “my pain is worse than your pain” bullshit Layla’s talking about – it’s FACT. Had I used either of the slurs I mentioned earlier, I could understand you layin’ “inappropriateness” on me. But what I said to HT wasn’t about slurs, nor was it an exercise in appropriating anything – cuz Jews don’t own the word.

    Keep “using your words as weapons” Lil Sis. I’ll keep reading…

    • crunktastic October 12, 2011 at 5:52 AM #

      @Deb,

      I was trying to engage with the logic of Layla’s critique, which I found basically offensive and misguided. To be honest, I’d never heard anyone call foul on Black folk using the term Holocaust and the critique took me aback. I also fully understand why Black folks use it, because our experience is certainly akin to a holocaust. But at the level of pure logic, it seems like Black folks took issue with a woman trying to understand her experience in terms of our experience, but now can’t understand why it would be inappropriate to understand our experience in terms of another oppressed group’s experience. That’s what I meant by similar logic.

      But I also problematized all the assumptions that Layla made, all the intellectual leaps she’d have to perform, to come to the kind of conclusion that would render her offended. Among those are the fact that the African/Af-Am appropriation of the term holocaust is not being made by a privileged group, which means the appropriation can’t disconfirm her experience. Also, unlike the white woman who used that sign to describe what are essentially dissimilar experiences, the genocide against Africans and Jews are more similar than different, but they aren’t in fact the same. One was undertaken under a specific and explicit program of ethnic cleansing, the other a result of needing a free labor source to support global colonization. The end results look similar but the logics of these programs are slightly different, and that bears acknowledging.

      At the same time, if I want someone to hear me speak about the specificities of my experience, particularly with the word “nigger,” and what that means within a specific historic context, then that means hearing them in a serious way about what their experiences of oppression mean as well. So that means understanding what the Holocaust means to Jewish people as a specific historical experience. It’s not that I disagree with you, but rather that I both want to be sensitive to the ways that folk of color talk together about oppressions, and that in our attempt to find points of relationship, we don’t create erasures. That’s not what I think you did, which is why I didn’t call your usage wrong, but rather “inappropriate” or perhaps “imprecise” would be more to the point. And I know lots of folks would disagree with me on that point, so I hear and acknowledge the validity of your disagreement.

      Bottom line is, I’m still thinking it through, with the level of thought that I wish that white girl would have used with her sign. I’m sorry that I’ve made you feel is if I don’t get your point, when in fact, I get it wholesale. And mostly agree. I just don’t engage in the kind of comparative oppression olympics with other groups around terms and experiences, because it isn’t productive, and it leads to a set of conversations that are muddled and confused, which devolves into name calling and finger pointing about who’s being more offensive. And who has time for that?

      Anyway, thanks for reading and for your continued support.

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 12:40 PM #

        Crunktastic…”But at the level of pure logic, it seems like Black folks took issue with a woman trying to understand her experience in terms of our experience, but now can’t understand why it would be inappropriate to understand our experience in terms of another oppressed group’s experience.”

        I am spent trying to explain the apples-to-oranges of that, Lil Sis, but let me try it this way (for you and other Black folk here, cuz it’s important to me that y’all understand where I was coming from). Modifying the above for me: “Deb took issue with a woman trying to understand her experience with the word holocaust in terms of our experience with the word nigger, but now Deb can’t understand why it would be inappropriate to understand our experience with the word nigger in terms of another oppressed group’s experience with the word holocaust.”

        No, Deb doesn’t understand. Because, nigger is some of that “off-limits” terminology to which you alluded, something that the girl with the sign could not, nor would not ever be (even on her worst day!) – holocaust, however is not some of that “off-limits” terminology, but rather, “a shared experience among those who have been exterminated through genocide” – therefore to me, as my friend said, “holocaust is holocaust” (capitalized when used as a modified-by-an-adjective, proper noun).

        My response to HT concerned HER insulting statement that, we don’t have a right to expect millions of white folk (and those who believe in “Being White and Other Lies) to understand the impact of nigger, despite the sheer numbers gone during the African Holocaust – yet they demand we understand the impact of the Jewish Holocaust, whose numbers were significantly less. Now you, Layla or anyone else here is free to describe that as “comparative oppression olympics” – it’s a free country. But what HT’s comment boiled down to for me, was that same 3/5 of a man mentality (enshrined in the Constitution and still alive and well today) regarding who is important and who is not. Personally, I find some pre-t-t-ty, productive clarity in the whys and wherefores of that conversation, but that’s just me.

        Now, had Layla looked before leaping, she could have brought some REAL SOLIDARITY to the table by engaging in that “shared experience” about which she seems to know something. Instead of landing on her feet with that – she landed, head-first IMO, destroying any chance of Black-Jewish solidarity (at least with me) with this shit about Holocaust being “off-limits.”

        ” At the same time, if I want someone to hear me speak about the specificities of my experience, particularly with the word “nigger and what that means within a specific historic context,” then that means hearing them in a serious way about what their experiences of oppression mean as well. So that means understanding what the Holocaust means to Jewish people as a specific historical experience…”

        Maybe I’m just not clear what your post was about (and that is apparently possible). If it was about the specific use of nigger in feminism in the greater context of racism, then I understand a comparable argument would be, the specific use of kike or hymie in feminism in the greater context of same, as in “Woman is the Kike of the world” – NOT – “Woman is the Holocaust of the world.”

        ”… It’s not that I disagree with you, but rather that I both want to be sensitive to the ways that folk of color talk together about oppressions, and that in our attempt to find points of relationship, we don’t create erasures.”

        Feel free to disagree with me – just know that I’m not as “sensitive” as you are, to others whose life’s work has been our erasure. As I told Layla, “movement cross-fertilization” is not my primary goal because I don’t think it “benefits” me in the least, to engage with people who would rather ignore and revise history – than own it and deal with it. And as for us creating erasures, believe me, that ain’t never gonna happen where the dominant group is concerned. An interesting point to ponder in that regard: http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2011/10/11/thinking-black-derrick-bell-and-the-living-of-a-racial-realist-life/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+racismreview%2FnYnz+%28racismreview.com%29

        ”I just don’t engage in the kind of comparative oppression olympics with other groups around terms and experiences, because it isn’t productive, and it leads to a set of conversations that are muddled and confused.”

        Racism, is a deliberately muddled and confused enterprise – I think that’s what its practitioners had in mind. As a result, my daily challenge is to wade through it, not avoid it. I can’t see any other way for me to honestly and critically suss out ways to combat it, as you said up-thread – “Unapologetically.”

        Your welcome, and I’ll continue to read. Thanks for listening.

      • crunktastic October 12, 2011 at 3:25 PM #

        Sis, I hear you. And I appreciate your passion and your crunkness. But you’ve sort of created a situation in which if I don’t fully agree with you RE: the holocaust debate, then I’m being too accommodating or moderate to folks who’ve said racist shit. Surely if you’ve been reading this blog, you know differently about how I roll. And as a rule in these kinds of circumstances, I clarify, but I don’t defend. So since the tone of your comments seem to warrant a defense of my position, I know it’s time for me to exit this particular portion of the conversation. Other than that, thank you for your insight. It is appreciated in these parts.

        Peace, Crunktastic.

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 4:32 PM #

        crunktastic…But you’ve sort of created a situation in which if I don’t fully agree with you RE: the holocaust debate, then I’m being too accommodating or moderate to folks who’ve said racist shit. Surely if you’ve been reading this blog, you know differently about how I roll. And as a rule in these kinds of circumstances, I clarify, but I don’t defend. So since the tone of your comments seem to warrant a defense of my position…”

        Nah, Lil Sis, I didn’t create the situation, that’s how it exists for you. As I said, you don’t have to agree. Never asked you to defend – just stated how I roll. And when I said I was spent re: the holocaust debate, I meant it – which is why I ended with, “And anyway, thanks for listening.”

        Peace back atcha…

      • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 13, 2011 at 12:55 AM #

        I just wanna interject here quickly on the term holocaust, and say I’m not really fully qualified to keep up with the *whole* discussion, but I am in grad school. :) So…one of these days, I will be. The term holocaust is actually a bit problematic for some within the jewish community. The word ‘holocaust’ refers to a burnt offering, and means ‘burnt whole’ but it also implies divine sanction. Shoah, simply means catastrophe or disaster in Yiddish, and some folks prefer that to the notion of genocide as a religiously sanctioned sacrifice. I’d be pretty wary of using the term holocaust in any context other than the one about which it was coined, and personally, I’m pretty wary of using it in that sense as well.

      • Deb October 13, 2011 at 2:40 AM #

        Rachel Kantstopdaphunk…“The term holocaust is actually a bit problematic for some within the jewish community. The word ‘holocaust’ refers to a burnt offering, and means ‘burnt whole’ but it also implies divine sanction. Shoah, simply means catastrophe or disaster in Yiddish, and some folks prefer that to the notion of genocide as a religiously sanctioned sacrifice.

        (Dammit crunktastic!! Please, forgive me, okay??)

        I guess my question to you Rachel, is – Can you please tell me why – “burnt whole”is NOT problematic for Black folk? Have you ever GONE to the “Without Sanctuary” site to which I referred, somewhere up-thread??

        I won’t even try to get into the “divine sanction” part of your grad-school offering (cuz I surely, as a member of an oft marginalized group, don’t want to marginalize any of the many religions, agnostics or atheists who might be reading and asking – “And?”).

        “I’d be pretty wary of using the term holocaust in any context other than the one about which it was coined, and personally, I’m pretty wary of using it in that sense as well.”

        Why? Lest I offend Jews by my use of a word they don’t own but have, to use your grad school word, “coined”? (By the way, good old Merriam-Webster defines”coin” as – 2: create, invent)

        I wonder why I feel that you’re telling me you might be “wary” – so that I, am “wary” too?

        (As my friend, Rhoda told me the other day, “…what they want them to know.”)

  57. Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM #

    I just read the article, and I understand the criticism. Slutwalk is basically a white thing that doesn’t apply to women of color as much as it does to white women, and Black women feel like they’re having to “march in the back of the line,” so to speak, like they did in women’s suffrage marches in 1913. Furthermore, white people simply do not have the right to use the word “nigger.” I get it. And I agree. And I’d like to say that I’m not a huge fan of Sluwalk, for many different reasons, this being just one of them.

    HOWEVER, the point I keep trying to get across is that we as feminists are struggling to make a connection between women’s rights and human rights, because women’s rights ARE human rights — women’s rights are civil rights — but people still don’t get that. Women’s rights are called “women’s issues,” not civil rights. That’s the problem here, in my view.

    I am tired of being told that what white women went through was not slavery when it absolutely WAS slavery. Women were legally considered property and were treated as property, and that is slavery. I am tired of being told that women in the sex industry cannot be compared to sweatshop workers or other oppressed workers. I am tired of being told that rape and domestic violence have nothing to with with sexism or gender politics. Every year, multiple times more women die from domestic violence than any kind of racial violence, but yet we do not elevate the issue to the same level. It is still seen as a personal issue rather than a political issue. I’m not saying that sexism is more important than racism. I just want it to be recognized as being AS important, but the left does not give it that kind of recognition at all.

    And speaking of women’s suffrage, I find it interesting that African-American men, who used to be slaves, were given the right to vote decades before women were. What does that say for the status of women in this nation (of the US)? In some ways, we weren’t just slaves. We were lower than slaves. We were LESS than slaves: we were women. And I have the right to say that, because it’s true.

    So I understand why the sign was problematic and I agree. All of this just brings me full circle back to the fact that Slutwalk is stupid, and not worthy of radical feminist support. Sometimes I really WANT to support it, but this reminds me of why I can’t. I am not a slut, and I am not a slut just because I have sex, and therefore I will not be going on any slut walks. I will not parade myself around in fishnet pantyhose for crowds of gawking, misogynistic men who undoubtedly are not being the least bit enlightened by it.

    We need to get back to the second-wave radical feminist message that the personal is political and that women’s rights are human rights. Slutwalk does not achieve that, and apparently neither does a sign that says “Woman is the nigger of the world,” no matter how well-intentioned either one might be.

    In fact, if you really want to be critical, Slutwalk could be viewed as a festival of self-indulgent women who are so wrapped up in identity politics that they have lost the ability to formulate any true political analysis at all.

    Signed,

    Just another well-intentioned white feminist

    • crunktastic October 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM #

      The problem with the 2nd wave was largely its racism, which is what all of the Black feminists who emerged in the second wave said. So in fact, that is not a place we need to go back to for any reason.

      I find it interesting that in your recounting of the suffrage history, you fail to remember that white women wouldn’t support the Black suffrage issue because they felt that it would keep Southern white women from allying with them for the vote (hence the split between the National Women Suffrage Assoc and the National American Women Suffrage Assoc). So in fact, the history is not as discrete as you recount it: i.e. all men got the right to vote, before all women. And given that 100 years later all Black people were fighting to be able to exercise their right to vote without getting killed, I’d say your recounting of that history engages in the very kind of white washing that continues to be so problematic.

      Further, no one in this Collective, myself included, has ever diminished the struggles of women. But white women in the U.S. certainly shouldn’t continue to believe that their struggles are comparable to those of Black women or women in other countries. And plenty of non-Western women have made this critique of Western feminism, not just African American women. That said, I acknowledge that white women have been the victims of sexism and I think that feminism should address that. But I don’t think white women any longer need to take up all the psychic space in feminism, which is precisely what they want to do by invoking the universality of women’s experience. The first person to ever call me the n-word was a white girl. The women who continue to defriend me on facebook for my radical views are white women. Working in solidarity with white women when nine times out of ten they’re going to say something racist is a sacrifice Black women continue to make in the name of feminism, and sometimes I wonder if we’re stupid for doing so.

      In point of fct, within the women’s movement, racism is mostly seen as subordinate to sexism, and in anti-race movements, sexism is mostly seen as subordinate to race issues, hence the creation of Black feminism in the first place. (I really wish people would read.)

      Anyway, I’m glad you see the issues in SW. I hope you can see the other issues I’ve raised here as well.

      Peace, Crunktastic.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 10:40 PM #

        Thank you for your thoughtful response. I’ll refer to my other replies to

    • Deb October 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM #

      Boadie MacLeod…b>”And I have the right to say that, because it’s true.”

      As “another well-intentioned white feminist,” I’m not surprised you feel you have a right to say, In some ways, we weren’t just slaves. We were lower than slaves. We were LESS than slaves…” as a result of Black men “being given” the right to vote decades before women. You can SAY whatever you like – but that doesn’t make it true.

      The White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy has no shortage of folk lined up to swell its ranks in the hopes of being able to share in the power it brings (the operative word here, as it relates to Black men is “patriarchy” of course).

      However, all you need do is take trip down memory lane over at the “Without Sanctury” site (http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html) to see that even after Black men were “given” that right in 1870, they were hardly treated as fre, equal menparticularly in ANY issue regarding white women! If what white women went through, as you say, was “absolutely slavery” – it CERTAINLY was of a privileged sort, deserving of your white “slaveholder’s” protection as evidenced by the note scribbled on the back of a postcard at Without Sanctuary, shared after a 1902 lynching in a Georgia swamp which said: “Warning…The answer of the Anglo-Saxon race to black brutes who would attack the womanhood of the South.” (Oh, and by the way, the man they burned and then lynched was NOT the man accused of assaulting the “white womanhood” of Mrs. Fountain and murdering her son – they made a mistake.)

      I won’t go into your, “…Every year, multiple times more women die from domestic violence than any kind of racial violence, but yet we do not elevate the issue to the same level.” as I’m trying to respect crunktastic’s wishes (but I could). All I’ll say is, “same, but definitely different, and leave it at that.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 9:23 PM #

        First of all, I want to clarify something I said. I understand that oppressed people are never “given” anything. We always have to fight for it. So by using the word “given,” which I applied to both women and African-American men, I didn’t mean to say that it was just given to us. Of course we had to fight for it, tooth and nail.

        I completely understand the racism that has existed in the feminist movement throughout history. I understand that many of the white suffragettes were racist. (Though there were examples of white and black women working together in real solidarity for suffrage, and of course there were white women who campaigned for the abolition of slavery.)

        And I also understand that there was plenty of racism during the second wave as well. Betty Friedan was an upper class white woman who was basically racist, classist, and heterosexist. She looked at things from a white, upper-class perspective and actively tried to keep lesbians out of the feminist movement. She deserves to be criticized for that, but she also deserves our respect. She did a lot of great work that had a positive impact on all women. Let’s not pretend that women of color haven’t benefited from the way that white women stood up and challenged gender roles and sexist stereotypes.

        Furthermore, the civil rights movement wasn’t perfect either. Martin Luther King was a flaming misogynist who wanted nothing to do with feminists, not even they tried to build a bridge with him, and he relegated Black women to a second-class role with the movement. Yet, nobody ever criticizes him for that, and if you dare to bring the subject up, then you are ridiculed as if you had blasphemed Christ himself.

        I really do care about care about racism and want to put an end to it. Please. Solidarity!

      • crunktastic October 12, 2011 at 9:38 PM #

        You can’t want to end solidarity by continuing to make assinine uninformed racist statements.

        FYI, PLENTY of Black women have criticized King, including Anna Arnold Hedgeman in her 1964 autobio The Gift of Chaos, and Ella Baker, who was executive director of the SCLC, the only civil rights organization that King ever headed. Please get your facts straight. And what does MLK’s sexism have to do with you? He never kept a white woman from doing anything. Way to redirect the criticism away from your ish and try to place it on a Black man. That’s a classic tactic right out of the lynching playbook; when a white woman gets called on her bullshit, unfairly claim that Black men are oppressors. Ridiculous!

        Second, white women didn’t create a feminist movement for Black women. Have you read ANY Black feminists? If so, you’d know that every step of the way, the dominant view (not the individual views of a few misguided feminists) were that Black women were not in fact women (Sojourner Truth, anyone?) and even if they were, their rights didn’t matter. The primary impetus of white feminism has been achieving equality with white men. Like eshowoman said, have you read a slave narrative? Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

        Only after women of color started to call out racism and tell white women that they aren’t the only women on earth did white women begin to entertain these notions about solidarity.

        Your post is rife with the kinds of racism that make me never ever want to work with white women on feminism ever again. You need to read. Read. Listen more. Talk less. Do an amazon search on Black feminism and start there. I’d give you a bibliography, but they don’t pay me enough to teach folk that aren’t enrolled in my classes.

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM #

        Brava, Lil Sis…“Ain’t I a Woma??!!”

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 10:03 PM #

        Oops! (so busy doing the “happy-dance” I left off the last letter, but I’m sure you know I meant – “Ain’t I a Womann??!!”

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 10:04 PM #

        SHIT! “…Woman??!!”

      • crunktastic October 13, 2011 at 5:14 AM #

        Correction: the Hedgeman book is The Trumpet Sounds. Chaos was AAH’s 2nd book.

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 9:54 PM #

        Boadie MacLeod…I don’t need to say a damned thing – cuz my Lil Sis just schooled the HAYELL out of you! As with Layla – I’m done with you as well, mkay?

    • eshowoman October 12, 2011 at 7:40 PM #

      @Boadie MacLeod You probably did not read my first comment on this blog entry, but I am sick of white women trying to equate their oppression with slaver. My response to fellow white women students in my Master’s program who spouted “white women went through was not slavery when it absolutely WAS slavery. Women were legally considered property and were treated as property, and that is slavery” cost me admission to a Ph. D. program. An I would do it again, if faced with the choice again,

      So let me school you like I schooled them. The fact that white women did not inherit is in NO WAY equivalent the chattel slavery. White women could own black women, they could breed them and sell their children and keep the profit. White women referred to female slaves as prostitutes and actively sued to turn over their father’s and husband’s wills on the rare occasions that they left support of his concubines and slave children. White women could marry and home to raise their children, black women labored for free and they could only keep their children at the whim of their masters. White men raped black women so that they would not have to sully their white wives. Black women were beaten and killed when they refused these intentions. White immigrant women could work and get paid until they were married, unlike black slave women has no such option. White women had some recourse when they were raped and abused, black slave women did not. White women who hinted at black male impropriety could have an entire family lynched including the women.
      So now Boadie MacLeod, please try to stop spouting asinine idiocy to cover up for you non-black female privilege and go read some slave narratives, for God’s sake!

      • eshowoman October 12, 2011 at 7:45 PM #

        Sorry about the spelling errors. I always forget to spell check when i am so mad I can’t think straight.

      • Deb October 12, 2011 at 9:57 PM #

        eshowoman…’preciate your setting her straight as well.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM #

        No, I didn’t read your first comment. My plan was to leave a comment and then go back to read through the other comments, or as many as I can get through. So I promise to read yours. I’m sorry I didn’t read it first. And I’m also sorry that you were denied entrance into a Ph.D. program just for expressing your opinion. I think that’s wrong. I never even finished college due to my low level of tolerance for bullshit, so I think I can feel you on that.

        However, I think you’re completely missing the point when you say “The fact that white women did not inherit is in NO WAY equivalent the chattel slavery.” The fact that we couldn’t inherit property was the least of our woes. We WERE property. Literally. A woman was the legal property of her father until she was married, and then she became the legal property of her husband. The rare woman who lived independently was an outcast of society and fair game for all manner of harassment and violence.

        Our husbands and fathers could legally beat us, rape us, and impregnate us against our will, and they did as a matter of course. We were not spared from that by any means, and we are still not. Rape was considered a crime against the husband or the father, because it was a damage to his property. The rape of a single woman living alone was no crime at all. Go back to Europe just a couple hundred more years, and it was legal for a man to kill his wife for any reason, at least in some countries.

        In the 1800’s wife beating was considered normal. Hell, in the 1950’s wife beating was considered normal. Victims of domestic violence were either accused of lying or were blamed for it. And because women were economically dependent on men, they were prisoners in their own homes. Actual, literal prisoners. They had nowhere to run, which is why feminists had to establish battered women’s shelters and fight for the right to have them. Same thing for rape crises centers.

        When you say “White women had some recourse when they were raped and abused…” it honestly makes me wonder what planet you are living on. Even now, in the US, less than one percent rapists ever spend a day in jail. Less than one percent. Despite the fact that at least 25 percent of women are raped. In what Universe do white women have recourse when they are raped? Do I think that I, as a white woman, can just walk into a police station and get justice if I have been raped? Really??? Seriously??? Is that really, seriously what you think??? I used to work for a rape crises center and can tell you for a fact that’s not true. Not by a long shot, sister.

        Likewise with domestic violence, which is rarely prosecuted. I was once attacked by a Black male friend who choked me and pushed me down on the ground, putting a scrape on my arm. I called the police, and two white male officers showed up and did nothing about it. One of them stood there and gave me a speech about how his wife “uses her small size against him,” whatever that means. They glared at me like they hated me and treated me like shit. In fact, they ended up treating me like the criminal. That was the justice I got. That’s because men of all colors will unite in solidarity when it comes to maintaining the patriarchy. But because patriarchy has divided women against each other, we don’t have the same solidarity when it comes to fighting back.

        And to say that women have not been treated like chattel is patently false. That statement is either extremely naive or extremely defiant of the facts. The reason why prostitution is the “oldest profession in the world” is because it’s the oldest form of slavery in the world. Men have been buying, selling, and trading women like chattel for thousands and thousands of years, and this has existed in all cultures around the world. The male enslavement of females existed long before any kind of racial or national enslavement. In fact, it could rightly be argued that sexism was the first form of oppression to emerge in the human species.

        I understand why it’s problematic to compare one form of oppression to another, as it easily becomes a pissing contest to see who has it worse. And there is NO DOUBT that white women were and are complicit in the oppression of Black women. Yes, we are guilty of that.

        However, maybe one reason why white women have tried to make comparisons to other forms of oppression is because we have not been given a language with which to speak about our oppression. Black people get to have words like “racism” and “civil rights,” but the words “sexism” and “women’s rights” just do not have the same ring to them and do not carry the same weight. We as white women have “the problem that has no name.”

        Even the word “feminism” is problematic, as it insinuates that there’s something peculiar about being against sexism. There is no word for somebody who is against racism, as it is assumed that everybody is against racism. (Even though that’s really not the case.)

        We have a Martin Luther King Day, but there is no Betty Friedan Day or Gloria Steinem Day. Hell, let’s have a bell hooks day or Alice Walker day! But no, we do not have such a day. We have a Holocaust Museum for the Jewish people who were persecuted and killed, but we have no museum for the hundreds of thousands–perhaps even millions–of white women who were burned at the stake all across Europe during throughout the middle ages.

        And do I even have to mention chastity belts? There were women who literally committed suicide because of being forced to wear those while their husbands were gone. Imagine not being able to wash yourself for months and months on end. Imagine being driven to suicide.

        So please do not tell me I don’t have the right to speak about my own oppression in stark terms, because I absolutely do. I’ll listen to your concerns if you’ll also listen to mine. We both need to be fair to each other.

        ~Peace, love, and solidarity.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 10:58 PM #

        OK, well, I wanted to have an open dialogue based on love and respect, not a yelling match based on mud-slinging and insults. I’m sorry that you all have such a low opinion of me when I was only trying to communicate with you. I have read the works of Black feminists, and in fact, bell hooks is one of my favorites. I’d rather read bell hooks than Naomi Wolf any day. (No disrespect to Naomi Wolf, who I also give props to.)

        I also understand how racist white women can be toward Black women, and I encountered that at a young age. When I was in junior high school I had two white female friends who, surprisingly, liked to listen to Too Short and Two Live Crew. One day I asked them if they thought it was disrespectful to women, and they said “No, because they’re not talking about us. They’re talking about black girls.” I was completely stunned. First of all, I was completely stunned by their racism, and second of all, I was stunned because I felt it as being disrespectful toward all women including myself. I never would have thought about it the way that they did. I simply stopped hanging out with them.

        I’ve always been in solidarity with all oppressed people. I might not be perfect and I might even be ignorant at times, but I’m a really good person with a heart of gold who is genuinely trying to make the world a better place for everybody. I have read several Black critiques of Sutwalk and I agree with them, which is one reason why I don’t support it.

        Just yesterday I got into a horrible argument on Facebook with several white racists who I thought were disgusting. They were dissing the Southern Poverty Law Center, and I was defending it. They were blasting me for being a “radical leftist” and a pinko commie. Now I’m being blasted for being a “racist.” I’m getting beat up by all sides. I don’t deserve this abuse because I’m a really good person who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. In fact, I’m actually crying right now because I’m so upset by the way I’m being treated here. I’m sorry that you have rejected my friendship and thrown me out the window. But I’m not your punching bag. So I’m leaving now, because I don’t deserve to have this kind of hostility being directed at me when I’m only trying to help.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 12, 2011 at 11:12 PM #

        As final thought, I just want to say that you all are jumping down my throat without understanding what I’m saying. For example, when I said, “Martin Luther King was a flaming misogynist… Yet, nobody ever criticizes him for that, and if you dare to bring the subject up, then you are ridiculed as if you had blasphemed Christ himself,” I was mostly referring to fellow white leftists who I have encountered. I never said that Black feminists have not criticized MLK, because of course they have, and I understand that Black feminism arose out of being given second-class status in both the civil rights and the feminist movements. I was referring to the culture at large which demonizes feminists while elevating men like MLK to god-like status. I dare you to tell me that isn’t true. And you’re also proving me right by the fact that you went ape shit at my criticism of MLK. You’re asking me to listen to you, and I am, but I’m also asking you to listen to me. Please try to have some empathy for me as well, as I am a human being the same as you.

        ~Peace, love and solidarity

      • Rachel Kantstopdaphunk October 13, 2011 at 1:04 AM #

        @ Boadie. I’m pretty freaking sure that slavery is slavery and anything that isn’t slavery, such as animal husbandry or 2nd class citizenship, isn’t. So, we are gonna do this amazing thing where we don’t offend the living crap out of each other on a constant and continual basis. Then we’re going to try and stand in solidarity, in that order.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 1:15 AM #

        I thought that slavery was when a human being is the legal property of another human being. That does apply to white European women for the last several hundred centuries and beyond, who were the legal property of their husbands or fathers, up until very recently.

    • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 3:19 PM #

      just….
      no.
      this whole comment is so ignorant.
      YOU ARE ACTUALLY MAKING ME ASHAMED TO CALL MYSELF A WHITE FEMINIST.
      i know im not supposed to name call but y’all know how ignorant this shit is. i cant even comprehend that people still believe this shit and think its a fact based argument. wtf is wrong with you?? the suffrage movement was disgraceful when view from a racial stand point….
      and the whole sex worker point….
      jeez. i am so glad Crunktastic responded to this cause if she hadnt my head would have exploded.

      • Dolores Young October 13, 2011 at 3:27 PM #

        im sorry. i got ahead of myself as well. thank you ALL for schooling this woman and also for (asumably) not putting me in the same category as white feminist that have this sort of opinion.

        i am just fucking flabbergasted.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM #

        “the suffrage movement was disgraceful when view from a racial stand point….”

        Really? Wow. So women wanting the right to vote is racist? I don’t understand that. There might have been white racists involved in the suffragette movement, but the movement itself was for all women to have the right to vote. If it wasn’t for the suffragette movement, Black women would not have the right to vote today. Only Black men would.

        You could say that the civil right’s movement was disgraceful from a feminist standpoint, seeing as MLK and most Black leaders were extremely sexist men, and women were given second-class status within the movement, but I still whole-heartedly support the struggle for racial equality.

        I’m a afraid I don’t understand where you’re coming from.

    • eshowoman October 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM #

      @Boadie MacLeod Have you finished your rant? It comes down to one thing….if you lived in 1840 would you rather be a white woman or a black one?
      Some white feminists utterly refuse to acknowledge their privilege.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

        And I assume that you did not bother to read my “rant” but merely gave me a knee-jerk reaction to it without reading it.

        In answer to your question, I don’t know. If I were a 19th century white woman who was legally considered the property of her father, who was beaten and raped by her father and then married off to a man who took legal ownership of me and also beat me and raped me while forcing me to provide free labor and also forcing me to bear children against my will, I don’t see how my situation would be much different than that of a slave.

    • Shocked October 15, 2011 at 7:21 PM #

      Wow! White women were lower than slaves???? SMH is all I can do.

  58. feistyfemme304 October 13, 2011 at 12:15 PM #

    I also agree with the ideal of the ‘SlutWalk’ by raising awareness around rape culture. It’s the “reclaiming the word” that seems to be the most argued part of the movement. I am personally shocked that this sort of sign would be created, but I also recognize white privilege could play a part in my ignorance of the possibilities that could arise. I would like to apologize for this sort of message, because I feel like the intention of SlutWalk was honest and pure and has perhaps strayed from its original intent.
    mnwomenscenter.wordpress.com

  59. Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

    Since my critics are apparently not reading my comments, I want to reiterate something I said up toward the top:

    “Slut” is ultimately just as meaningless as any other epitaph because it can be thrown at any woman (of any color), at any time, for any reason, just because she’s a woman. It’s a word that’s used against women while they’re being beaten and raped, it’s a word used to harass women, it’s a word used on the backs of degrading and violent porno DVD’s, and it’s a word used to discount women who were victims of sexual violence.

    “Slut” is to women what “nigger” is to black men and women. Period.

    That being said, I also want to reiterate my agreement that the word “slut” does bear different meanings for different women and therefore it does not universally apply, which is why “Slutwalk” does indulge and white privilege, which is one of the many reasons why I don’t support it.

    • Boadie MacLeod October 13, 2011 at 8:23 PM #

      Oh yes, and I also agreed that one should not use an epitaph unless “belongs” to them, which is why white people should not use the n-word but Black people are free to use it if they want because that’s their right.

      • eshowoman October 14, 2011 at 12:56 AM #

        @Boadie You are beyond intelligent discussion. It is clear that you want play oppression olympics, instead of confronting actual history so you can keep you precious white privilege intact. You are really making it hard for the few earnest anti-racist white feminists on this thread. Since you value white women’s pain so much more than black women’s, please take Delores Young’s advice and I will add take your tears and your fainting couch and go elsewhere, Miss Anne!
        Nuff said!

      • Boadie MacLeod October 14, 2011 at 4:57 AM #

        Wow. OK. I value all people’s pain equally, and I have been known on more than one occasion to argue with white feminists and white people in general to try to get them to see the perspectives of people of color a little better. I’ve been the white feminist shouting at other feminists and other people that they’re being racist. Just recently, in fact. I defending the woman who wrote “Slutwalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy,” when others said she was being too extreme. But I’m being demonized and vilified here for some reason. It’s funny, I’m actually not used to being called racist. In fact, I’m used to be called a pinko commie, or as I was called recently, “A PC (politically correct) machine.” But there was already a very heated argument going on and a lot of negative energy before I got here, which I didn’t realize at first because I hadn’t read through the comments yet before leaving my first comment. So I feel like I stepped into a minefield, and I shall be leaving now.

      • crunktastic October 14, 2011 at 7:06 AM #

        So essentially because you are not “usually called racist,” you seem to have decided that you have deprogrammed yourself of all racism. But most committed anti-racist white folks know that it is a continual process. And because they know that, when they are called on their racist reasoning they are open to changing. What I can tell you both as a Black woman and as a Ph.D. who specializes in Black women’s history and a person who teaches courses on anti-racism, sexism, etc, is that the ways you have talked about the relationship between the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Lib Movement is wholly, factually innacurate, and it is inaccurate in such a way as to be racist. Plain and simple. I suggested that you do some reading, in order to educate yourself (again I could offer you a book list, but it’s your responsibility to educate yourself–go on and do that Amazon search), but you’d rather be defensive and let us know how great of an anti-racist you are in certain circles. Three things about that: to the extent that your anti-racism was successful, thank you. B.) you should consider that maybe folks aren’ t taking you as seriously about anti-racism as they need to because you haven’t done all the work you need to do (and that fact is quite clear) and c.) how anti-racist you are all depends on the room you’re in. In a room full of folk who would rather not acknowledge that racism exists, sure you are a beacon light. But in this space, you fall short, and that is not an issue with this space (or its energy) but with you. You might someday be a formidable anti-racist ally, but only if you’re willing to listen, be less self-congratulatory, and recognize that you haven’t been challenged based solely on feelings here. Several of us have mightily disputed your “facts.” And if you choose not to acknowledge the validity of our critiques because they don’t fit with your self perception, well then that act would be the epitome of white privilege, because it allows you to decide that you don’t have to listen to women of color who call you out. And if we aren’t the standard by which you evaluate the extent of your anti-racism, then your standard is the wrong one.

        Peace.

    • rabbie October 14, 2011 at 4:40 PM #

      you have to be a completely insensitive and utter racist to keep doing what you are doing here.

      Your delusion is pathetic and your justifications are bizarre and beyond disgusting.

      Get lost and stay lost.
      How dare you?.
      So when a white or black man calls a black woman a slut.. its simply a slang for ‘Nig*&’

      Your ignorance is only shadowed by your abject insolence and stupidity.
      Go flaunt your ‘anti-racist card for your fellow white folk so they can pat you on the back.

      You suck.

    • diana October 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM #

      noooooooo…………
      *facepalms*
      xD
      now we come all the way back to what this article was about in the first place!!!!!

      And it’s not about your friendship or emotions or opinions being the important thing here! And it’s not about “letting” them have “opinions”! It is about those who directly experience being, i.e., ARE… BLACK WOMEN! Come on just leave it be!

  60. Krysta Weisbrod (@AbbyNormalistis) October 14, 2011 at 10:47 AM #

    I live in a town where there are 7 men to every woman. And most of these men work at the oil rigs, about an hour outside of town. My town has no published rape or sexual assault statistics, and no one educates our girls or talks to the women here about consent or the right to refuse. I guess because it’s suppose to be something everyone knows. But when you go out at night with friends, and you’re getting aggressively hit on by 5-10 men a night, all just off work for the week and then it’s back to camp, well.

    My point here is, I want to organize a slut walk for my community, not to reclaim the word, but just to give the women of my town some real facts about consent and to sort of publicly declare that I don’t want these crimes to be overlooked anymore. I’ve never seen an article in my paper about women getting abused or sexually assaulted, but I’m not naive enough to think it never happens.

    Now the reason I’m asking your opinion on this is because middle class white women are becoming a minority in my community, Yet, everything in my community seems to be marketed to them. Before you ask, yes I’ve tried getting the opinion of some of the Black women in my community, but they don’t want to talk to me about this. Maybe they think I’m too young, or maybe I’m being too forward. But I don’t want this walk to be for the middle class white woman only. It’s not about reclaiming the word, or shoving our sexuality in people’s faces to maybe someday get accepted. It’s just about getting the facts and stats out, showing women that we have resources and options. And yes, getting some of the mens attention to the fact that “Just because you helped her home, doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.”

    Is organizing a slut walk the right thing to do, or do you think I can get my message across another way?

    • momsomniac October 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM #

      Does “Take Back the Night” still exist? I don’t know what issues that may present in 2011, but at least the WORDS are less problematic.

      For what it’s worth, the idea of being able to reclaim the word slut is pretty classist, in addition to other problems noted here (beyond the horrible signage) so some OTHER approach may get you more positive responses.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 14, 2011 at 11:02 PM #

        I know. Whatever happened to the good old days of Take Back The Night?

    • eshowoman October 14, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

      “But when you go out at night with friends, and you’re getting aggressively hit on by 5-10 men a night, all just off work for the week and then it’s back to camp, well.”
      “I’ve tried getting the opinion of some of the Black women in my community, but they don’t want to talk to me about this”

      Your experience as a white middle class women is going to vastly different than that of black women no matter what class. If your small town is anything like the place I have been residing black women are not getting hit on by 5-10 men a night. They are probably lucky they do not get trampled over by men trying to get to you. They most likely have a much higher rate of rape with virtually no convictions and they do not relate to the anything about the word slut when too much of the commercial rap consumed in the black community calls them that everyday.

      I will try to cut you some slack since you say you are young, but you are incredibly naive and uniformed about black women.I would suggest the you read Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris Perry as start and do not ask any other black women to volunteer up their experiences so you can get up a protest that has a growing reputation for excluding them.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 14, 2011 at 11:14 PM #

        Wow! Holy shit! Your response to Krysta, who came in here as a very nice young woman just trying to help other women and wanting to reach out to women of all races, was completely insulting, hostile and entirely unhelpful. I am blown away by the way that you’re treating some of us. You might have made some good points about how Black women have a different experience than white women and therefore you can’t just expect everybody to all gather around under the same umbrella, especially not if it’s being defined by the experiences of white women. But what did you say in response to her questions that would be the least bit helpful to anybody? And did you have to be so mean to her when clearly she’s a beautiful person who’s only trying to help, and who clearly cares about Black women because she did make an effort to reach out to them, maybe not because she was just trying to co-opt them but maybe because she was genuinely trying to include them? Damn, what the Hell is wrong with you people? Instead of calling yourselves crunky, I think you should be called cranky.

      • Boadie MacLeod October 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM #

        You said “… and do not ask any other black women to volunteer up their experiences so you can get up a protest that has a growing reputation for excluding them,” but she didn’t say that she asked them to offer up experiences. She said she asked them for THEIR OPINION, which means that she was asking them for input. And she was also here asking you for your opinion, including whether or not Slutwalk would even be a good idea in the first place, so if you think it’s a bad idea in the first place then you could have just told her that without being so rude about it. And you also could have offered up some alternative ideas other than just telling her to read a book. Gee, thanks for your help. Damn.

      • Krysta Weisbrod (@AbbyNormalistis) October 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM #

        Your right, my experience at clubs is vastly different, both of what i put down here, which is the experience of my sister and friends, and the Black women in my town. Mostly because the majority of Black women here are recently immigrated Muslim women. But as I said, I’m not naive. I know they have most likely have much higher rate of sexual assault and rape, but as I have no published stats for my area, I really can’t say.

        And If a slut walk isn’t a good idea, i wish you would have just said that and suggested Take Back the Night, which I actually haven’t heard much about and am going to start researching. I came here asking for help, and a different opinion. Not to be judged because I’m ignorant. Which i can admit, I don’t know many Black women personally. And I came here trying to educate myself. I’m not trying to make a movement to reclaim the word slut, and thus shut people out. I’m trying to spread the word about rape culture and the facts of it in my community.

        For those who suggested Take Back the Night, thank you I’m going to start researching it.

  61. delux October 14, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    What I am most struck by in this person’s rants is this statement: “In fact, I’m actually crying right now because I’m so upset by the way I’m being treated here. I’m sorry that you have rejected my friendship and thrown me out the window.”

    Thrown her out the window? Over the internet?

    I keep seeing some of these white feminists use the most intense terms of physical violence describing how Black women communicate with them online about these issues, especially when they are communicating their anger. Some of you will remember a certain “intersectionality partner” recently describing “expressions of rage spraying like so much gunfire”.

    Because anger over the internet is JUST LIKE COINTELPRO I mean, a glock.

    Its the same when we deal with many of these people in person. And its not just anger– disdain, impatience, frustration– anything other than the most loving verbal cuddles and strokes can and will be interpreted as a threat to their safety. Which can immediately become a threat to *our* safety.

    We cant organize around “women’s” issues with people we are unsafe around. Period.

    • Boadie MacLeod October 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

      I’M making YOU feel unsafe? Really? Just because I made a comparison between the plight of white women historically and slavery, and compared the word “slut” to the n word? You, as women, don’t think those are fair comparisons AT ALL? Not even after everything that I just explained? I explained how white women for centuries have been kept as the property of men, beaten and raped by men, forced to provide free labor for men, forced to bear children against our will for men, etc, and the response I got was:

      “Since you value white women’s pain so much more than black women’s, please take Delores Young’s advice and I will add take your tears and your fainting couch and go elsewhere, Miss Anne!
      Nuff said!”

      Wow. Really? And you wonder why you “keep seeing some of these white feminists use the most intense terms of physical violence describing how Black women communicate with them online about these issues,” to quote something somebody else. Gee, maybe it’s because of the way you ARE communicating. So you’re basically saying that you don’t care if I get beaten, gang raped and fucked up the ass by 20 men–all while being called a “slut”– because I’m just a white honkey bitch and you don’t give a shit about what happens to me. And you accuse me of being the one who doesn’t care about other people’s pain.

      Right now your comments are making me feel just as unsafe as if I were surrounded by a group of aggressive, misogynistic men. And I find this reaction very surprising coming from a group of so-called feminists. Considering the fact that women of color have suffered from rape and domestic violence just as much as white women have, if not more so, I’m surprised that you would minimize the issue in such a way.

      And by calling me “Miss Ann” I assume you are comparing me to upper class white women who were married to men who owned property and slave plantations, even though I’m from a working class family and my ancestors were coal minors, not slave owners.

      And I find it even more ironic that you would belittle the issue of sexist violence, considering this blog is about Slutwalk, a protest designed to combat sexist violent. Is that OK for me to call it sexist violence, or would that be a comparison to racist violence that I’m not allowed to make because that would make me a racist?

      And I really resent hearing someone belittle the issue of sexual slavery and the millions of white, black, brown, yellow and red women who are trafficked or forced through economic hegemony into the sex slave industry where they are repeatedly raped over and over and over again, sometimes for years, as part of a multi-billion dollar global sex industry.

      And I suppose the white radical feminists (along with non-white radical feminists) who are working to abolish prostitution and who are calling it the “abolitionist’ movement are being racist for using that term because uppity white bitches don’t have the right to name their own slavery as slavery.

      I do understand why the sign with the n-word on it was offensive to you
      and I support you in that. I just wish that you would be more consistent with your principles. Up toward the top of the comments somebody said, “You can choose to be a slut, but you can’t choose to be black.” Excuse me? A woman can CHOOSE to be a slut? I don’t know the race of the person who made that comment, but it was a profoundly ignorant and sexist comment. The whole point of the word “slut” is that it can be thrown at any woman just because she’s a woman. I was called “slut” while I was still a virgin! Yet not one single contributor from this web site lifted a finger to correct that person on their ignorance. A couple of other people pointed it out, but not any of you crunkalicious folks. For such astute and educated feminists, I find it amazing that such a blatantly misogynistic comment slipped right past your finely tuned radar.

      Basically, you’re saying that white women have no right to fight against our own oppression, or even to fight against gendered oppression that affects all women, because we’re white, and therefore it’s racist for us to fight against our oppression as women. I was told that the suffragette movement was racist, even though it extended suffrage to all women. There might have been major problems with racism within the movement, but I don’t see how white women fighting for the right to vote is fundamentally racist.

      Consider this quote from the blog:

      “When I think of the daily assaults I hear in the form of copious incantations of “bitch” and “ho” in Hip Hop music directed at Black women, it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at the “how-dare-you-quality” of the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect.”

      Wow. Privileged white girls who expect the world to treat them with respect, huh? Well, excuse the fuck out of us for wanting some respect after centuries of being beaten, raped, treated like brood mares, and degraded in every way. I guess we’re just a bunch of uppity white bitches who have no right to complain about the centuries of brutalization and domestic imprisonment. Yeah, you’re right, that’s no big deal. How silly of us to complain.

      But even though that statement struck me as a little harsh, the really ironic thing is that I actually LIKED this blog post still, and even shared it on Facebook. I also shared “Whitewalk, a Stroll Through White Supremacy,” the critique that was on “People of Color Unite,” a recent one pointing out how silly it would be if it were called “ho stroll,” and numerous other critiques of Slutwalk coming from the non-white community. I have posted nothing in defense or in favor of Slutwalk. I have been on your side the whole time, but I guess now I’m the enemy just because I happen to care about my own oppression too.

      And it’s funny you mention COINTELPRO because I was just thinking the same thing. Some of you are behaving in a very misogynistic way that couldn’t possibly be coming from feminists, but if it is, then Goddess help us.

      And yeah, the fact is that I really don’t care what you think, because I’m using my privilege not as a white person but as a human being to not care what you think.

      Fuck this. I’m out for real this time.

      • eshowoman October 15, 2011 at 4:32 AM #

        Please leave, for real this time. You have totally stopped any kind of productive conversation with your pathologically narcissistic inaccurate hyperbole. Your ravings are beyond the normal white privilege, that demands that black women put their needs before our own and be happy about it and the fact that state that you have been traveling around the black feminist blogosphere with the same m.o. means that you are more than a troll have a serious psychological problems. As a trained therapist, I say with all sincerity, please get help.

      • rabble October 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

        Promise?.

        Blog owner please ban this troll.

      • Jamie Shields November 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

        I am with you, Broadie. Too much insensitivity and hatred for Whitey here. No, White women aren’t oppressed, not at all!

        By the way, I have not chosen to be called a “slut,”but that word continues to be thrown at me, along with daily doses of sexual violence. Am I less oppressed than the women of color here? No, I am not. I resent the reverse racism expressed here.

      • crunktastic November 14, 2011 at 3:36 PM #

        I resent your utter ignorance and ridiculousness. If you want blogs that express sensitivity with your asinine positions, go read Boadie’s blog. Furthermore, so that we don’t have to experience your racism, and you don’t have to experience our quote unquote “reverse racism” (as if that actually exists), feel free to never visit this site again.

  62. eshowoman October 15, 2011 at 6:12 AM #

    I apologize to the women on this thread who were tying to have a productive conversations. I should have realized that there was something wrong with this woman beyond basic white privilege and stopped engaging her days ago. Be assured that I will not respond to her twaddle any more and I hope you will do the same.

    • rabble October 16, 2011 at 7:49 AM #

      thank you.
      But you don’t need to apologise for someone else’s violent fantasies and their fictitious victimhood.

      I understand that sometimes we try to engage people but one must cut that ish real quick when they show their true ridiculous colors.

      I no longer ask for solidarity. You either want it and step up to the plate willing to let go of your prejudice, righteousness and ‘me first’ attitude, or get the heck outta the way so real allies can step up to the plate.

      This woman is ridiculous, talking about white women living like slaves when slavery was around, as if white women didn’t own slaves. As if there are no records of white women being brutal slave masters whipping black men women or children till their flesh wept at their feet.

      The sheer audacity of her revisionist history was not only ridiculous but borderline psychotic.

      I hope she can pat herself on the back now that she has justified her violent words and fantasies with ‘you are just not communicating properly’ nonsense.

      What a chump!.
      You guys have the patience of a saint, but please in future… let her wallow in her ignorance and perform her centre staging somewhere else.

      She turned a valid post into ‘me Me ME’ look at me!!! oh won’t you lookie over here at MEEE.

      KMT. What abject nonsense.
      Good riddance! I hope she doesn’t come back

      • Boadie MacLeod October 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

        Violent fantasies and fictitious victimhood? Really? So when I explained “how white women for centuries have been kept as the property of men, beaten and raped by men, forced to provide free labor for men, forced to bear children against our will for men, etc,” none of that is true? I just sat here and made all of that up? I just pulled all that out of my ass? Really? Considering the fact that these things happen to women of color as well, often at the hands of white men, I would expect you to be more concerned about it.

        And I guess it’s also just “fiction” that hundreds of thousands–some say millions–of white women were burned at the stake across Europe during the middle ages. I guess the witch trials were just a violent fantasy. I guess it’s just fiction that in a lot of European countries it was legal for a man to kill his wife for any reasons he saw fit, just a couple of hundred years ago. And I guess it’s just my violent fantasy that 25 percent of white women (and women in general) are raped at some point in their lives, and I guess it’s just my imagination that white women are being beaten and raped every day, while less than one percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

        Right now, just exactly how are you all any different than misogynistic men who deny the existence and/or severity of sexist violence? How are you any different than the men who try to excuse their verbal abuse by saying that words like “slut” and “ho” are not bigoted because they only apply to “some women”? How are you any different than those sexist men who constantly try to minimize the cries of women’s rights activists by saying that we’re just a bunch of crazy, psychologically disturbed women who are “imagining things”?

      • dbza October 17, 2011 at 8:26 PM #

        moderator please ah…

      • Boadie MacLeod October 17, 2011 at 7:05 PM #

        Allow me to quote myself as saying:

        “I understand why it’s problematic to compare one form of oppression to another, as it easily becomes a pissing contest to see who has it worse. And there is NO DOUBT that white women were and are complicit in the oppression of Black women. Yes, we are guilty of that.”

      • Boadie MacLeod October 17, 2011 at 7:19 PM #

        And by the way, I NEVER said that the sign was OK. From the very beginning, I’ve been agreeing with you that the sign was not OK. You can see my comments about that up toward the top. And unlike many of the other (presumably) white dissenters here, I agreed with you that Black people have the right to use the n-word if they want, but white people do not have that right for obvious reasons, and that seems perfectly fair to me. I’ve been AGREEING with you on the fundamental issue here.

      • crunktastic October 17, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

        Boadie MacLeod,

        You have been heard. But at this point, your comments have become unproductive. We consider this space, one that centers the voices of women of color, precious space, and we won’t allow you to commandeer it. (Nor will I debate the point with you.) So I invite you to find another community of folks whose views are more in line with your own.

        All best,

        Crunktastic

      • Deb October 17, 2011 at 9:00 PM #

        Thank you, Lawd!

      • Boadie MacLeod October 18, 2011 at 1:24 AM #

        Open Letter to Black Feminists Concerning Slutwalk

        http://planet-mantis.blogspot.com/2011/10/open-letter-to-black-feminists.html

    • Boadie MacLeod October 17, 2011 at 7:07 PM #

      Eshowoman:

      So when I explained “how white women for centuries have been kept as the property of men, beaten and raped by men, forced to provide free labor for men, forced to bear children against our will for men, etc,” none of that is true? I just sat here and made all of that up? I just pulled all that out of my ass? Really? Considering the fact that these things happen to women of color as well, often at the hands of white men, I would expect you to be more concerned about it.

      And I guess it’s also just “fiction” that hundreds of thousands–some say millions–of white women were burned at the stake across Europe during the middle ages. I guess the witch trials were just a violent fantasy. I guess it’s just fiction that in a lot of European countries it was legal for a man to kill his wife for any reasons he saw fit, just a couple of hundred years ago. And I guess it’s just my violent fantasy that 25 percent of white women (and women in general) are raped at some point in their lives, and I guess it’s just my imagination that white women are being beaten and raped every day, while less than one percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

    • Boadie MacLeod October 17, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

      Right now, just exactly how are you all any different than misogynistic men who deny the existence and/or severity of sexist violence? How are you any different than the men who try to excuse their verbal abuse by saying that words like “slut” and “ho” are not bigoted because they only apply to “some women”? How are you any different than those sexist men who constantly try to minimize the cries of women’s rights activists by saying that we’re just a bunch of crazy, psychologically disturbed women who are “imagining things”?

      • rabble October 19, 2011 at 8:05 PM #

        You are still here?.
        You are not even worth typing to.
        GO AWAY.

      • momsomniac October 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM #

        Boadie – I am going to assume your passion and desire for sisterhood are real. I am not a regular commenter here, and this is not “my” space – but it’s one where I feel more intersection than most feminist spaces. Given that, maybe I can help you understand what has happened…with the hope you can walk away from your anger and hurt, regroup, and perhaps still become who I think you want to be.

        A group of marginalized feminists established this space. When you said something many of them found offensive, they were kind enough to tell you that. They didn’t ignore you. They made effort to explain why they were offended. Bear in mind, it’s not their job to educate you. If you truly want to be an ally, that’s your job. Most marginalized people are already exhausted from our opportunities for “teaching moments.”

        Instead of apologizing and spending some time thinking about WHY people might be offended about what you had to say, you began to argue that they misunderstood you. They didn’t.

        In continuing to argue, you made this thread about you – a dynamic that is all too familiar to marginalized people. It may well have been inadvertant, but that’s not the point. If you want solidarity with ANY marginalized group, listening should always come before arguing. A LONG time before.

        I wish you well with your journey.

    • A. Sentient Being October 27, 2011 at 6:23 AM #

      I read the comments in this blog with my mouth agape!. Wow!, I am lost for words.

      I am not surprised how things ended up with Boadie MacLeod, bless her, I think her heart is in the right place, but I think she still has some muddled up thinking she needs to get rid of first. Unfortunately, people like her do tend to give white feminist (and white women in general) a bad image.

      I left her this message on her blog, thought I’d post it here for anyone interested:

      Broadie: I have been following your discussion over at the crunkfeministcollective blog for some time now.

      I have to say although your heart seems to be in the right place, you still have a lot of unconscious racialist thinking, which obviously you are not aware of, because you are so busy trying to prove (to yourself?) that you are not racist. It could well be that your part of your self identity is being the “liberal/leftist” one amongst the group of friends you hang out with – this could be the reason why you are probably missing the opportunity to learn from people who are actually at the “frontline”.

      I’m not saying that you are racist in the evil sense of the word (you are clearly very passionate about the subject), but you definitely have some “racialistic” thinking which comes to the fore when put under pressure.

      For instance, you tend to try to force your view of events and “your reality” on people, not seriously take onboard the feedback you are getting from people who actually experience racism (possibly in more subtle/overt ways than you can possibly imagine). I believe this is what caused you to be banned from the other forum.

      When you felt under pressure, I found it interesting how quickly you switched to a “them” and “us” mode – actually commenting – “what is wrong with you people?!”.

      Another incongruence I found with your posting, was that all though you claimed to agree that white people should not use the ‘N’ word under any circumstance, you freely typed the word out in full. If you look at most people (especially white people) responding in horror to this incident, they often either use the term the ‘N’ word or n***r.

      The only people who spelt the word in full (several times) was the original girl shown with the sign and her apologists. You may have more in common with these girls than you would like to admit.

      • rabble October 31, 2011 at 6:14 AM #

        If after all the evidence of her ignorant, hysterica, racist rambling in addition to her blatant lying, centre staging, re-writing of history and abuse she flung at fellow commenters, you think her ‘heart is in the right place’ then why don’t you bend me over right now and just whip me.

        This is a whole different level of BS.
        No her heart is absolutely, most definitely NOT in the right place.
        She is clearly not only ignorant, but abusive and very very ill-educated.

        This woman has the audacity to come here and try to tell us that white women were treated the same as black women, people and children at a time when white women had the right to own slaves, at the time white women were mistreating, abusing and treating fellow black women like scum of the earth.
        Did she skip a history class or two?

        Thank you for ‘whitesplaining’ the whole deal to not only us but to her, but do that on her blog.

        After all her insults, you think its appropriate to come back here to invite a discussion about her ridiculous ramblings about what how she ‘thinks’ black women are acting as misoginists because we are not completely focusing on her inability to not try to piss on our heads and tell us its raining

        Yeah… GTFOH with that BS.

        I’ll say it. Her whole screed was RACIST in the extreme.
        It was INSULTING, JUVENILE, BIZARRE and completely, utterly undeniably beyond REPROACHABLE, SICKENING and DISGUSTING

        Do not further rub it in our faces, ok. It’s not about an spelling out N* –r in full or not.
        Her proclamations were VILE VILE VILE!

        She was unrepentant and with each additional comment she made it got worst, strawman pulling.. ridiculous points out of the air, accusing people of things they didn’t say, do or even imply.
        Telling us about her lack of education and then having the temerity to try to teach those who are better educated on the issue than she is.
        Maybe if you read more of her comments you will see how insulting and beyond disgusting she was being..

        Otherwise, this apologist.. handle a verbally abusive and racist hysterical tool with kid gloves is not only insulting but demeaning as heck.

        If thats what you want to do, feel free.
        But please do not insult our intelligence by telling us what she intended. We can read quite clearly in black and white what she not only intended but what she ACTUALLY SAID and DID.

        Good luck.

      • John S October 31, 2011 at 8:04 AM #

        OK, I wasn’t expecting that level of heat. I’m actually “on your side”, i.e. an ally in the fight for racial equality, and still learning. I was just trying to be a bridge between the other WW and the members on here.

        There is (quite rightly) a lot of heat coming from your side – with god knows what BS you have to put up with everyday (which I can’t even possibly begin to imagine) and on the other side, there is the PIG headed WW who thinks she knows it all, won’t listen to anyone else’s view – not even from those who are actually living with a daily experience of some thing which she can AT BEST only have “second hand experience” of. Unfortunately, this is a pattern I see to often.

        Quite clearly, I am “out of my depth” here. As a white male, born and bred in Europe, I am getting more aware of the privilege that has been handed to me on a plate. It frustrates me to no end when I see WP telling POC what to think about racism, and what (or what not to) get offended by. It is the height of unmitigated, obnoxious arrogance – unfortunately, it is the default setting for WP, until we stop to LISTEN and learn – and acknowledge that WE WILL NEVER “get it”. That by definition, is almost impossible to do for adult humans (because of ego and vested interests etc). To be honest, if this little snippets of conversation is anything to go by, the road ahead seems quite bleak, as people generally find it difficult to accept that they are wrong.

        I have this one last thing to say, and I will prefix it with this (EXCLUSIVELY for the benefit of any WP reading this): I am not suffering from “white guilt” – in fact, by most definitions, I am a conservative. However, I believe in MERITOCRACY. In terms of productivity to society and community etc, I DON’T believe that we are all equal. However, the differences in ability have NOTHING TO DO with skin color.

        I believe in levelling the playing field so that we can see the real “natural order”. There IS a natural order of things. However, the order we have at the moment is an artificial (“racially” based) one which has resulted in “incompetent fools” in areas of authority (largely because of their white privilege), and vast amounts of human capital being squandered and wasted because POC are not getting the same opportunities and encouragement to achieve to their highest ability (outside of sports and entertainment).

        To me, that is a gross inequity, and the world as a whole pays for that cost. How do we know (for example) that the person who could have created a cure for cancer is not currently languishing in some god forsaken prison, or trying to make ends meet as a street corner drug dealer? – BECAUSE OF WHERE HE/SHE WAS BORN OR THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN?

        We (as a society) all pay in the long run if we don’t make sure that EVERYONE has the same opportunity and emotional encouragement etc to be the best that they can be.

        Having got that out of the way, I have to say that I have the highest respect for SUCCESSFUL POC, especially feminists. I have been left shocked at the arrogance of some white feminists towards their POC counterparts – and that is what in effect, prompted me to engage in the conversation between you and the other white woman – as I recognized she was displaying some classic patterns of “racialist” thinking – without being aware (maybe she was).

        As I said earlier, I like to tell the truth, if even it is uncomfortable. For SUCCESSFUL POC in America, I can state categorically, that you are made of far much “sterner stuff” than I am. I know myself, and the amount of BS that you have to go through CONSTANTLY (especially on a psychological level) must be immense. I KNOW that I will not be able to deal with it, especially in the face of the aloofness of (most) WP, being blissfully unaware and complaining about POC “playing the race card” or having a “victim mentally”. I know that I would either have to emigrate to some other country, or regrettably, I am afraid to sat that I will inflict some damage of white society – something akin to a suicide bomber, out of sheer frustration (this is just me talking – and being male, I may have more violent tendencies). I keep stressing SUCCESSFUL because the default setting for POC in a Eurocentric system is to be UNSUCCESSFUL – so those who are able despite (or in spite) of the systematic bias – are TRUE winners that we can all learn from.

        The gap between WP and African American mentality is HUGE. The history clearly has a role to play. Take “The Help” for example, an exercise in self congratulation, sanctimoniousness and emotional voyeurism. WP generally think its the best movie ever (funny, witty etc. are some words WP use to describe the book/film). Whilst generally speaking, African Americans (e.g. The Black American Women Historians) were quite rightfully appalled by the pandering to old stereotypes etc. Their views were completely sidelined and we have a box office hit on our hands. Even I am incensed by this complete sidelining of a group of people (whose “story” the film arrogantly purpotes to be telling). In my book, I would call that exploitation – but maybe, that’s just me.

        For two people to talk with the same authority, they have to have the same POWER. As we know, RACISM = prejudice + POWER. In what I have seen so far, all the action has been on the reducing the prejudice side of the equation – and not much (if anything) has been done on the POWER side. From history, all I know is that REAL POWER is not given – it has to be taken.

        I don’t think the current approach is working. But that’s just my opinion as a European white male. Please do not take it as a lecture on what to do (you are too smart for that anyway), that was not my intention. I have great admiration for what you are doing – because I KNOW I would want to “rip some WP’s heads off” – to the extent that I can attempt to put myself in your shoes.

  63. Mei October 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

    Ugh…oh god…I just…I don’t even…I’m not sure if I even have the energy…
    The fact that these people thought that carrying a sign like that is acceptable is extremely disappointing.
    Also, I feel like a lot of people in this thread are having a hard time separating sexism or racism from other types of prejudice. While all types of prejudice share the same core sentiments, it would be inaccurate and invalidating to compare the n-word to the word slut or to say that being a woman is just like being black (or another oppressed minority group). Both groups face oppression, but those instances of oppression are not the same. They are carried out in different ways. White women will never understand what it is to be a woman and an ethnic minority at the same time. As an Asian woman, I have to deal with both sexism and racism. However, I must admit that I will never understand what it is like to be a black woman because the US does not have a history of enslaving the Chinese for centuries so I have not felt the weight of that type of social force. And…uh…I don’t feel like I really need to say anything else at this point.

  64. Miss Sara (@misssld2u) October 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM #

    I commented on this issue on another site & basically it comes down to this being my opinion: Lemme just say this: NO ONE should WANT to use the “N” word – REGARDLESS of color in ANY fashion or form. PERIOD.

    • sonya Wallace October 17, 2011 at 8:03 PM #

      I agree with you Miss Sara, but for one exception, as a black woman I think it is ridiculous and almost insulting that we cannot have a conversation about the word “nigger” without it being cloaked with a hyphenated “n”. Black people will not die from reading “nigger” and most certainly, white folks won’t.

  65. poprockphotography October 23, 2011 at 4:30 PM #

    That sign is offensive and it totally takes away from the topic, it is not controversial art to “get attention”, it’s flat out racist. How can anyone defend her? Slut isn’t even hurtful. Even if you are a slut, it just doesn’t matter if someone calls you one. There are bigger fish to fry.

    • L.D. October 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM #

      How can one person determine that a word is not hurtful to millions of people?

  66. John S October 31, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

    Perhaps I should correct this statement:

    However, the differences in ability have NOTHING TO DO with skin color.

    However, the differences in ability have NOTHING TO DO with skin color or gender.

    • rabble November 1, 2011 at 12:42 AM #

      That wasn’t heat. That was an average rebuttal to your pandering to that vile person.

      I’d ask you to kindly not project your imaginations of my behaviour onto me. it really is quite disconcerting.

      Now on to your rebuttal. No you are not on my side and I actually do not need you to be on it.
      You are pandering to a racist. Why don’t you go be a bridge on her site and LEAVE it there?.

      What is it with ‘allies’ who think, you know when a fellow white person insults a black person we need to just handle them softly instead of telling them off.

      Great that you have the highest respect for SUCCESSFUL poc. (slow hand clap) and the unsuccessful ones that bust their butts everyday but don’t ‘make it’? you know what don’t answer.

      And please refrain from patronising me as well.

      Why don’t you examine why you could read through the disgusting things that person wrote and still have the audacity to attempt to tell US that her heart is in the right place.

      Yeah, do that. and while you are at it:
      Why don’t you tell a woman who has been verbally assaulted by a woman that the mans heart was in the right place.

      until you recognise that your softly cuddly approach with a racist spewing, hysterical fantasist was a slap in the face to the people who have already spent their time rebutting her tosh, kindly refrain from saying any more theoretical nonsense.

      What you should have done is sat back and think about what you typed and why it would be offensive, instead of that essay on what you think and you rate and all that jazz.

      You are doing the ally bit all wrong.

      • John S November 1, 2011 at 7:59 AM #

        rabble: I wasn’t being soft with her. I was actually quite vociferous to the woman, on her blog. But she did some “whitesplaining”, and then deleted the rest of my comments. That’s when I realized that she was actually a bigot hiding under the “label” of a feminist.

        Unfortunately, there are far too many white feminists that have a similar mindset. It seems from my experience so far, that for most WW feminists, feminism comes first, and then all other “isms” come later (if at all). That woman was definitely of that mindset – as I discovered later on. I’m sorry, but I have no time for people like that (regardless of what discrimination they are against) – because essentially, what they are saying is that – “If it doesn’t affect me, then I don’t give a s**t”.

        The purpose of my original post was to let you know that I had watched the whole thing from the side lines and taken her to task on her blog. It certainly wasn’t for accolade or approbation (well, maybe a little – if I’m being honest).

        You (obviously?) are clearly, much more experienced at “sniffing out” such people than I am. I saw her behaviour initially as a result of being PIG headed, ill educated and misinformed, rather than as malicious.

        Yes she did say some incredibly stupid (and no doubt offensive) things – comparing slavery to life as a woman in the US in that period. It was telling that when someone asked her which she would have preferred to be back then – to be a white woman or a slave, she refused to answer the question directly. That speaks volumes about her tacit acknowledgement of white privilege. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see that she was less intelligent (and more malevolent) than I had given her credit for.

        It is only after she did some further “whitesplaining” on her blog and then commenced to delete my comments that challenged her strongly held views that I realized that there may be something more sinister at play. It was perhaps unhelpful for me to have tried to play arbitrageur, when I have so little experience in this area (yup – I’m used to everyone listening to me when I talk – I recognize that assumption now).

        I am dismayed that I was not able to spot such a closet racist much earlier on. I must admit that I was beguiled by the fact that she was hiding behind the “label” of feminist and that she mentioned that she had a black boyfriend sometime in the past.

        Its a stark reminder that no matter how much we as WP think we “get it” – there is always more to learn. I’ll use this experience to closely watch (like a hawk) what other WP say around me. It seems a lot of malice is often hidden beneath the veneer of “misunderstanding”. OK, enough of that it sounds like I’m arse kissing (I’m sure you know its not) – and that’s just not my style.

        Regarding your comment that I patronised you, I didn’t think I wrote anything that was patronising. I wrote from the heart and from my “place of understanding” – i.e. where I was on the learning curve. What was it that you found patronising?

        There is a challenge though – and this statement, I know will annoy you though., however, I don’t know what the solution is. Understandably, you do get very angry when some WP comes in here and gives their (invariably wrong) view of things. Lord knows how many times you must have gone through this same routine. It must be the same pattern of ignorance, forced education (from you, at an emotional cost), over and over. I know I would certainly resent that role, so I understand the frustration with which you bring to answering the same old questions again.

        I understand the rage, so I can’t ask you to try to “tone down” the anger in your response – because it would be grossly unfair – even though that was PRECISELY what I was going to write at the beginning of the previous paragraph.

        I think the lesson that I take away from all of this (WP this is for you, if you happen to be reading this).

        These are the “rules of engagement” (For WP) for communicating with POC on matters regarding race (same could be said of any inequality which does not DIRECTLY affect you, come to think of it):

        1. Sit by the sidelines for a while – and don’t just try to jump in with a “half baked idea” – no mater how well intentioned that idea may seem to you – things are invariably more nuanced and complicated than you can possibly imagine.

        2. Accept that there is more emotional capital at stake for some than others (meaning YOU WP, have by definition less emotional capital at stake), so for the SAKE of God – DON’T OFFER ADVICE to a POC (You don’t know “s**t” to use the vernacular)

        3. Ask questions, watch and learn – APPLY what you learn in here to life, to help bring the change needed in society. In less prosaic prose, monitor what your fellow WP say (friends or in general) and if they let slip with some racist bullshit – let them know in no uncertain terms that its NOT COOL. Most importantly, let them know WHY its not cool. The information you will learn from standing by the sidelines (see rule 1 above) in blogs like this will provide you with the AMMUNITION you need to explain to them WHY it is not cool.

        4. Repeat and rinse rules 1-3 above

    • rabble November 1, 2011 at 11:44 AM #

      John S.

      You are doing it again. I’ll make it very very clear to you this time.

      1) Stop telling me what I am feeling when I have EXPLICITLY said I am not feeling that emotion.

      1a) I am not angry, I am not enraged. STOP telling me I am.
      1b) I simply have the ability to clearly & resoundingly call BS when I see it

      2) I am unconcerned with whatever you did on that blog as I am not interested in her or her blog.
      2a) I do run after people who insulted me to try to make them respect me. No way.

      3) And you are doing some really deep whitesplaining now.

      4) No. you can’t ask me to ‘tone down’ my anger because I am not angry, however its not clever to indirectly introduce a ‘tone argument’ by telling me you will not ask me to change my tone.. how benevolent of you
      4b) You see part 4, that’s called ‘dry wit’ yeah, we black folk have more than one emotion, but its easy to just reach for one isn’t it.

      5) NO what you should do is APOLOGISE for pandering to a racist.
      AND acknowledge that your radar is off, and when you read posts from people who you have admitted have better knowledge on these things than you. BELIEVE THEM and handling racists with kid gloves.

      6) Its amazing how you can over look all the insults she hurled at black women in order for you to be ‘beguiled by her feminism’.

      7) Black women are not made of teflon, we have feelings and when people falsely accuse of of being nonsense, you don’t defend us. We know this.

      8) You did infact write some patronising BS and you are doing it again. Stop telling me what I feel and listen/ read what I am telling you I feel.

      9) the LESSON is this: To be an ally you need to stand up to racism not pander to it. Not treat it with kid gloves. and STOP trying to dictate what you think the lesson is when you have been told what the lesson is.

      Now that is clear. I will not respond to you again, if you cannot simply follow those steps.

  67. John S November 1, 2011 at 12:08 PM #

    Ok, you’ll be glad to hear I’m leaving for good – but not without a parting comment. I am glad that I have not become as embittered and twisted as you are, so as to snap at every hand stretched forth in friendship. You write in bold capitals, and yet claim that you are not angry. I may be naive concerning racial issues, but please don’t patronise me, I’m not stupid.

    Whatever it is that is consuming you so much, remember that whatever you focus on, shows up in life. I can’t help wondering how many people in life have extended a hand forward in friendship to you, only to have that outstretched hand chewed of by your anger.

    I don’t know what in your particular, personal life has made you so bitter that you even fail to see someone extending a hand of friendship. Since this is not a race specific issue, I WILL OFFER you advice (knowing full well that you will ignore it) – but you do need to take an anger management course.

    I trust I shall not be hearing from you in particular any more, I find you far too acerbic for my liking – and quite clearly, you find me quite intolerable too, so there will be no love lost between us. Sometimes personalities clash, I don’t think this is a race or even gender specific issue.

    I wish you luck and success in channelling your energies and passion in a more positive way.

    • rabble November 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM #

      slow clap.

      You & Boadie = same side different coin.

      The last resolve of the racist anti racist.

      When shown that their words and behaviour are actually racist on pandering to racist.. they burst out with the ‘oh you are angry’, you are so predictable and pathetic at the same time lol.

      God forbid that a black person doesn’t pat them on the head for being racist or pandering to racists.

      I’d give you some advice, but i don’t do freebies. and you don’t deserve it.

  68. Lucas November 7, 2011 at 9:37 PM #

    The n-bomb.

    1. usually offensive; see usage paragraph below : a black person
    2. usually offensive; see usage paragraph below : a member of any dark-skinned race
    3: a member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons
    (src: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nigger)

    Historically, I believe it meant a person of low integrety and no standards; sort of like a “slut”? Just pointing it out…

    A certain commentator mentioned your group as being “marginalized”. I’m surmising that alienating like-minded people with words like whitesplainin’ will prove to be as unproductive to your cause as the sign everyone’s bitching about.

    The woman [holding/who wrote] the sign, equally, should have better. Over and out.

    • Lucas November 7, 2011 at 9:40 PM #

      The woman [holding/who wrote] the sign, equally, should have known better. Over and out.

    • crunktastic November 8, 2011 at 7:54 AM #

      So why, Lucas, did you feel the need to come to a People of Color space and whitesplain (indeed) to us the dictionary definition of the n-word? For the record, my mother explained to me what that word meant when a white girl called me that on the playground as an eight year old. I got another lesson at 12 years old when another white classmate called me that word. In the more than 20 years since both of those incidents happened, I have never needed to consult Merriam-Webster. And I bet my white classmates didn’t either.

      Second, your condescending misguided attempt to connect slut to the n-word is simply put–whack.

      And for the record, those who are in fact “like-minded” wouldn’t feel alienated.

      So you, sir, and any who think you have a legitimate point, can go kick rocks.

      Peace.

      • ribble November 9, 2011 at 4:30 AM #

        because the likes of lucas need to feel like an authority.
        Lucas who is probably John cannot accept that they are ill equipped for this.
        They refuse to be taught and they usually are just looking for a way to be right.

        They don’t understand how ridiculously hilarious they are

    • ribble November 9, 2011 at 4:28 AM #

      The days of me as a black person giving a damn about bigoted, blind and defensive white men and women are long and gone.

      You will never change.
      You will never accept that your knowledge on a particular subject is inferior.
      You will never accept the burden of learning for yourselves
      You are in no way concerned about me as a human being but more concerned with defining yourself as benevolent to ‘those other people’.

      Let it sink through the likes of Broadie, John S & you Lucas.
      I expect nothing less than the bigoted exterior and whitesplaining pity party you do.

      You don’t get it, I’m not trying to win anyone over to any cause. Be as racist as you like, be as bigoted as you like.
      That veneer of public respectability and decency you attempt to cloak your ill-educated self with is TRANSPARENT to people like me.

      We are smarter, braver, bolder and better prepared than you to live on our own terms now and it scares the living daylights out of you.

      You don’t get to dictate how we should feel anymore, you don’t get to be an automatic authority due to your skin color anymore.

      Those days are done.

      Go whitesplain to other white folk who need it. You fake, attention seeking, cookie wanting, wannabe allies.
      lol funny tools.

      • Jamie Shields November 14, 2011 at 12:16 PM #

        @TwiggyDanger, who said:

        “Yeah, there was a white, non-muslim woman in a burqa at the SF slutwalk. When questioned by a nonwhite muslim woman, she LIFTED HER BURQA’S FACE COVERING (muslim women don’t lift the face covering to speak, only to eat/drink/smoke) and said something to the effect of “Women shouldn’t cover up.” It’s a fucking shame and makes me embarrassed to live in this city and be a white feminist.”

        Clearly you were not present during this incident.

        The woman did not make such a statement, or anything resembling such a statement. I was present and I know what was said. The mentally ill “feminist” and “activist”, Creatrixtiara, a privileged Bangladeshi woman visiting the U.S. at the time on her Daddy’s dime, simply made up the things she claims Whitey said in order to vomit her delusional beliefs online and stir up confused young women like you. If you want to be “embarrassed” about something, make sure that what you are “embarrassed” about really happened. Otherwise, you make an ass of yourself.

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