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January 2014

This week in The Nation an article (not linking it here; there are donotlink links on Twitter though) was published called “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars,” by Michelle Goldberg, the same woman who wrote a piece defending Lean In (which bell hooks critically examined for what’s really going on) and worse, a piece defending Justine Sacco (remember her, the White woman who thinks its a hoot that AIDS is an epidemic in Africa). Though the title would make it seem like this piece is about the abuse that feminists of all backgrounds face, and how it is acutely different for Black women, women of colour, trans women and sex workers for example, no, it was not about this. It was about ignoring structural power, downplaying the history of racism in mainstream feminism, and pretending—once again—that intersectionality is not about what we LIVE but an inconvenience for White women. It’s primarily false equalization and a lack of accountability for how White privilege shaped their feminism and feminist projects in 2013. The gaslighting is strong in this one. 

I sent the tweets above when I first encountered the article, which specifically names @Karnythia (I mentioned her in my Top 20 People On Twitter and Top 25 Tumblr Blogs In 2013 post) and somewhat posits her as some sort of “leader” of the “problem” of feminism, versus a passionate, brilliant, critical thinker who is hilarious, kind and focused on her community. I addressed a similar hit piece (which also named @Karnythia; this isn’t an accident; #solidarityisforwhitewomen is her creation; her work is meaningful, powerful and has reach; some within mainstream feminism want her silenced) in my past essay: Requiring Accountability For Racism and White Supremacy Is Not “Bashing” White Feminists

Let’s be clear, this is a BUSINESS for White feminists in the mainstream. @redlightvoices pointed this out in her piece: “Misogofeminists” and The White Men Who Profit From Silencing CritiquesThis isn’t just about Goldberg’s piece, but a pattern reflecting a system that benefits the State. In response to Goldberg’s piece, @Crommunist wrote: On “Toxic Feminism” - The Nation and The People and @prisonculture with @andrea366 wrote: Interlopers on Social Media: Feminism, Women of Color and Oppression. Both are worth reading. 

When White feminists’ greatest “fears” are responses to their NATIONALLY PUBLISHED ARTICLES and openly shared politics (as they hide behind the White supremacist construction of “the delicate flower” who is “afraid to speak,” that the “angry Black woman” [an ableist construction by the way, let alone misogynoiristic] is out to get) for which any reader can respond to—and that “fear” becomes magically acute whenever the person responding is a Black woman, yet their greatest fear is not someone like Hugo Schwyzer (who magically escaped being deeply critiqued in the toxic feminism article; how?), it is clear that White supremacy matters more than anything else. Oh, speaking of Hugo, he supported Goldberg’s article. As did Joss Whedon and Dan Savage. Not surprising. Liberal White men LOVE feminism when it is about White supremacy. It ends up affirming their power anyway, versus deconstructing patriarchy. (I don’t want to hear a thing about Savage being gay. He still has White, cis, and male privilege. He still regularly shits on the rest of the LGBTQIA community who aren’t White and gay.)

If the discussion is not going to include structural power and media representation, how feminism as a business model reaffirms White supremacist capitalist patriarchy, how White feminists themselves falsely equalize the misogynistic abuse that they get from White men with Black women rejecting their racism (which I discussed in: When Some Of The Cis White Women Who Are Abused Online Are Also Abusers) or the simple fact that they are doubling down on treating Black women and other marginalized women as intruders in "their" feminism—as problems that are ruining their “calm” echo chamber in the hall of White supremacy—then there really is not a discussion. 

I’m not going to write any suggestions for “resolving” this because White supremacy is the hinderance, not my “tone” when I reply to White supremacy. Besides, right after #solidarityisforwhitewomen, @Karnythia herself wrote about what it would take: After #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen: So You Want To Be An Ally, Now What? Apparently this is not of interest to many White feminists. Why would it be? It’s much easier to cash a check from careers built on centering their privilege versus dismantling oppression. 

Black women are a common target in and outside of feminism—targeted by just about everyone—because of the social location that we occupy. While people may spend time arguing about how Black women’s “tone” when responding to oppression is not “nice” enough, people would do well to remember who actually has what power. Even as social media broadens who can speak (which naturally upsets the privileged), it is does not eradicate structural power. White women use the White supremacist construction of their womanhood as a weapon against Black women (as @bad_dominicana pointed out before) even as they suggest that White men oppress them with that construction. Harm us and then claim they “fear” us. Use the enormous power that they have while claiming that they are without power. This is violence against Black women. This is what is toxic. And it existed long before Twitter ever did. 

Related Essay List: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism

*edits after the fact: Correct spelling is ‘Sacco’ not ‘Stacco;’ correct co-writer for @prisonculture is @andrea366. not @andreagrimes

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