Today’s Mediabistro newsletter featured two links that, even though they were presented as unrelated, made me chuckle while reading them after one another.
On the one hand, there’s Nick Denton’s internal memo about Gawker Media’s current market position. From the memo:
The bad news… We got overtaken by Buzzfeed in November. They surged to 133m global uniques. Damn. That’s impressive. And Upworthy — even smarmier than Buzzfeed — is nipping at our heels.[…]
The Gawker Media network ranks at 21 in the US as measured by Quantcast, the highest rank we’ve seen. And this is cool: among mobile users, Gawker, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Jezebel and Jalopnik were all among Quantcast’s top 100 sites.
And then this:
Kinja — which enlists readers as contributors to listicles as well as other collaborative editorial projects — will take us the next level up.
The other link in Mediabistro’s newsletter was related to a hoax that spread like wildfire across the internet. “Rothman: HuffPost’s Gut-Wrenching Poverty Editorial That Went Viral a Hoax”. The title of this piece is actually misleading. HuffPost only republished the “poverty editorial” in question which, originally appeared and was subsequently reshared on Kinja. From Kinja, it made its way to Jezebel’s Groupthink and from there to Gawker’s frontpage. The piece was eventually picked and republished by HuffPost and what started as a single post on a Kinja blog got the writer more than 60,000 dollars in donations.
I do have to wonder what this “next level” and “collaborative editorial projects” that Nick Denton have in mind for Kinja actually entail.
It’s silly isn’t it? When Richard Cohen writes something dumb at WaPo (frequently) people are allowed to express anger at WaPo … it’s called an editorial process & it, as much as the writer, needs to be held accountable.
Exactly this. And to extrapolate it to any other area of cultural critique, if, any corporation is engaged in practices that we deem worthy of analysis, we wouldn’t publish a list of every employee we consider exempt from the critique. We talk about “Coca Cola” or “Nestle” or “Bank of America” not about “Joe at the accountancy department” or “Mary in logistics”. In corporate owned media, the Editor in Chief is responsible for what is published. And so is the corporation that owns said media.
Gawker Media has more readers than the top-circulation U.S. magazines-
Last week when Jezebel published the piece about selfies (a topic I won’t get to because more valuable opinions than mine have already been written), people took to Twitter to discuss the issue and further express their stance on selfies. Several former and current Jezebel contributors pointed out that we shouldn’t talk about “Jezebel” but its individual writers (the old “but we are not like that” applied to media analysis). Examples of this calls to engage only with the writer rather than with Jezebel as a whole can be found on this Storify here.
At the link above, a Washington Post analysis of page views and reach for American mainstream media. This volume is far from the implication that we should engage Jezebel in the same way we engage an independent collective blog where there is no editorial policy or corporate overview of the content. Given the volume of page views, you cannot get more mainstream than Gawker owned properties.
Is self-styled revolutionary Russell Brand really just a ‘Brocialist’? Is Lily Allen’s feminist pop-video racist? Is lesbian activist Julie Bindel a ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ Is Respect MP George Galloway a ‘rape apologist’? Welcome to the world of ‘intersectionalism’ – or what we used to call sectarianism.
‘My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’. This was Flavia Dzodan’s angry challenge to a feminist slogan on a placard on a ‘slutwalk’ march, ‘woman is the nigger of the world’. Dzodan did not like the ‘white feminist’ laying claim to her the oppression suffered by women of colour. ‘Am I supposed to ignore the violence that ensued in the N* word discussion?’ Dzodan asked: ‘Am I supposed to overlook its blatant violence in the name of sisterhood?’
Dzodan’s meme ‘intersectional’ was widely taken up amongst radical campaigners and bloggers. Intersectionality seemed to be a way to balance the different claims of oppressed groups. None would be ignored, or folded into the other. Intersectional feminism would not ignore the special problems faced by black women. Nor would anti-racist campaigners ignore sexism. The watchword of intersectionality was that you should ‘check your privilege’ before making any claims.-
James Heartfield’s mischaracterization of my work is not the most offensive part of this piece. That’s just a LOL inducing moment. Truly offensive moments include the wilful ignorance regarding the history behind intersectionality (i.e. the works of the actual feminists and womanists -mostly Black women, who actually created and developed the theories, like Patricia Hill-Collins, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, etc etc etc). Another offensive moment here:
One radical feminist Emma Brandt complained in turn that ‘liberal feminists “weaponize” trans women against radicals’ – meaning that transsexuals were being used by less resolute feminists to undermine the radical feminists’ authority, which was an interesting counter, but a bridge too far along the intersectionality road.
On second thought, the entire thing is one offensive, mind blowing mansplaining clusterfuck.
I’ll now go back to my work “creating memes”. I’m a cat away from changing the world.
I love Arrow. It’s probably my favorite show this season. Between the comic book references with all the DC universe cross overs, the hilariously dramatic performances and the eye candy (not just the eye candy brought by the characters but also the comic like cinematography of the show). I mean, it’s not a perfect show (no show is) and one day I might devote time to analyze how it is not but right now, I am still laughing at a single one liner. Namely, when Oliver asks Isabel why she is so obsessed with his family’s company and she responds “Contrary to what Sheryl Sandberg says, it’s not easy for a woman in business”. I lost it.
On Saturday morning I watched the conversation between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry. I sat there and, half way through, I realized I was seeing the feminist event of the year. This is not hyperbole, these two Black women, exceptional thinkers each in their respective fields, sat down and dissected in a bit over an hour and half, many of the issues that currently affect our politics. After I was done watching I searched for commentary across feminist media or at the very least, political analysis from woman centered media. There was hardly any. There were plenty of links to the video but hardly any acknowledgment of the substance of their conversation. I was mostly interested in a follow up; namely, where do we go from here? Or better said, where do we stand, in relation to what bell hooks, one of the greatest public intellectuals of our time, exposed in regards to the white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist patriarchy? The truth is, as far as feminist media goes, it seems we go nowhere.
On Friday I quickly scribbled a post expressing my distaste for both Jezebel’s coverage and head patting of and the words of Joss Whedon in regards to defining feminism. As it often happens, I wrote that post in haste and mostly because what I wanted to say was too long for a Tweet. I was equally disgusted by his erasure of our collective feminist history, attempting to rename something that does not need renaming, especially from a cis, white man and by Jezebel’s uncritical praise of his attempt. My quickly written post has been shared hundreds of times both on Twitter and Facebook and someone in the comments linked me to a discussion of the post taking place on the Facebook page of Guerrilla Feminism. I read the comments of the post and laughed heartily. Mostly I laughed in disbelief because I cannot comprehend how many self identified feminist women are willing to defend a white, cis man in detriment of radical, liberating, empowering feminist analysis. Guerrilla obviously means nothing when pop culture is digested in patriarchy approved palatable sound bites. In one swoop Whedon erased the collective history of the feminist movement, tried to appropriate it for his own marketing purposes by renaming it, made a spectacle of himself by claiming we are “over” racism, negating the very existence of intersectional analysis and even gave us a dose of Orientalism through his cunning use of the word “Taliban”. And here, in a page named Guerrilla Feminism, dozens of women are willing to not merely give him a pass but vindicate him because what? He gave them Buffy? The political co-optation of pop culture consumerism in exchange of an emancipatory analysis of what Whedon represents, who he is in terms of a symbolic presence for us as women and, for those of us of color, as the embodiment of the colonizer. But… he gave us Buffy.
There is a direct correlation between the lack of coverage of bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry’s conversation and the amplification (and staunch defense) of Joss Whedon. Both exist within the same historical wrongs of white feminism. Both are part of the same neoliberal ethos that has taken over mainstream feminism. Two Black women intellectuals challenging a racist, capitalist patriarchy are not to be looked upon as role models. The key to understand this is their Blackness. This neoliberal feminism seeks empowerment by encouraging women to be more like white men. For this media, Whedon is a feminist icon; bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry barely register in the radar.
In the conversation bell hooks spoke about her dislike of media (mainly films) that do not have imagination. She spoke of her desire to see a media that offers us a newly empowering vision of who we are. She was specifically talking of her dislike of certain slavery centered films that focus on suffering. In turn, I started to think of how neoliberal feminism has actually eschewed all imagination and dreams to negotiate a better social standing within the existing power structures. We no longer have dreams or imagination. We are told we should better negotiate within what already exists rather than attempt to wish for something different. This is the kind of feminism that would rather appease than challenge. These are the kinds of politics that would rather praise a white, cis man than listen to radically new ideas from Women of Color. This is patriarchy approved feminism. There is nothing empowering or liberating in the long term; there is no rethinking of existing power structures and resource distribution. This is a feminism of bootstrapping, where the best we can do is individually aspire to be in a boardroom. Women are encouraged to not just participate but uphold the very same system that is the source of our problem. Praise Whedon; ignore bell hooks.
The reason I resent this feminism is because it fails us on multiple fronts. To begin with, it offers no strategies for survival. In order to survive we need to better negotiate spaces within what currently exists. This feminism offers none of that. It only offers middle class aspirational career advancement that is outside the reach of millions. On the other hand, it builds no long term strategy. In this neoliberal feminism there is only the individual in the present time. There is only now and no second thought as to how the aspiration to be a CEO directly conflicts with resource distribution not just in the present but also for future generations. The feminist legacy of this neoliberal ideology is actually more depletion, more deprivation for the have nots. On the racist front, this feminism erases the multiplicity of experiences of both People of Color living in Western countries and those who live in the Global South. In both cases, regardless of geographic location, this feminism seeks advancement within a system that has created the institutional and political framework where People of Color can never be truly free. This feminism is a continuation of colonial strategies that have cost billions of lives. A feminism for the few. A dreamless, barren future for the rest.
I have no intention of negotiating my dreams so that they are patriarchy approved. The last thing I want is for my politics to be in line with those who are directly part of my problems. I negotiate my survival like everyone else but I also realize one of the reasons I live in the margins and will continue to do so is because I still dare to dream. I also realize that the kind of dreams I have will not be realized within my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I will stop aspiring to them. Radical imagination requires a leap of faith. I know that when I am no longer here, someone else will pick up and keep on dreaming. With each new dreamer will come a new imagination and with it, a step towards the kind of change I yearn. This kind of radical imagination I hope for cannot be co-opted by neoliberal feminism because it never is patriarchy approved. It is, above all, about dismantling what currently is. And no matter how much I need to negotiate for survival on a day to day basis, my imagination is the one thing that I will not.
ETA: Also, read this excellent post by Sara Salem about the conversation between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry.
Ah, gotta love Jezebel’s consistency here. Less than a week ago, they published “The Many Misguided Reasons Famous Ladies Say I’m Not a Feminist”. They went on beating that dead pony right up to the point of splashing putrid flesh with the usual finger pointing at Beyonce, among others. Not a single mention of the many reasons women (particularly Women of Color who have been long victims of feminism’s failures in acknowledging racial inequalities) might have to eschew the label.
Yesterday, their mood was different when they lauded white, cis, dude extraordinaire Joss Whedon for saying people should stop identifying as feminist and, instead, go for “genderist” (non shocker, Jezebel’s Editor in Chief Jessica Coen explained a similar view in the comments of the first piece). So, you heard it at Jezebel first, ladies: a white cis dude has given you the OK not to identify as a feminist. Just like previously, an equally brave brother in arms gave you permission to redeem men by taking their jizz on your face or letting them rub you off for their own good.
Nothing says women’s liberation, self actualization and freedom like a white dude giving us permission to do stuff. Especially when said man has such a stellar track record with issues of racial diversity in his own shows. I mean, just watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D where every villain up to episode 4 (when I had to stop watching due to racism induced rage) was a person of color (or a corrupt government like Malta, known for its mainly Afro descendant demographics). So, you know, do as a (white, cis) man says and stop those pesky feminist politics of yours. Nobody better equipped to lead change than one of the men who creates the problem.
I really, truly need to understand this phenomenon: what exactly drives a cis, white man to a feminist space so that he can mansplain sexism to the ladies? (And yeah, I had to say something because WTF is up with that comment even being allowed to stand, let alone left unchallenged?!). It seems that no matter what happens, nothing is learned from the participation of these types of men in feminist political discussions. Because when I need to understand how white, heteronormative patriarchy operates, nobody better than a cis, white dude to explain it to me, amirite?
* On this topic, Trudy has been writing extensively at Gradient Lair as well, I suggest you check her posts for more coverage.
****SPOILERS ALERT FOR WHITE HOUSE DOWN**** (Discussions of characters, plot and subplots).
I’ve been itching to formulate some thoughts about the movie White House Down since Saturday, when I saw it. I am not always up to date with movies, sometimes seeing them weeks or even months after they’ve been released in theaters. This means my commentary about film is generally late, after everyone is done discussing whatever might be worth discussing. But I saw White House Down and I’ve googled for reviews and commentary and everything I came across has been about the jingoism and the blatant “RAH RAH” nature of the film. Which, yeah. White House Down is jingoistic. It is RAH RAH and it is trite in the sense that films depicting the US as a military superpower generally are. The thing is, I am accustomed to Hollywood’s jingoism. It is what it is and even sci-fi or fantasy films tend to be filled with this not so subtle propaganda. When it is not filled with propaganda (i.e. Pacific Rim), the film tends to be relegated to a niche category and described as “geeky” or “for nerds” or, gods forbid, “for women” (in all these cases, the propaganda will be of a different nature, perpetuating gender and/or racial stereotypes rather than the political superpower, but that’s a topic for another post).
So, underneath the layers of jingoistic plot devices, I was left with something I rarely see in any films at all: a Black man in a position of authority who is worth dying for. Sure, we’ve seen Black people (mostly men, with maybe a couple of notable exceptions that I can think of out of the top of my head in the form of Gina Torres in Firefly and Kerry Washington in Scandal) in positions of authority. Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, even Chris Rock, have portrayed powerful men in film, presidents, generals, heroes, etc. However, in each and everyone of those cases, the men in question were at the service of the dominant culture. When they “save the world”, they are saving “the world as we know it” (i.e. a white dominated world with racial, gender and socioeconomic hierarchies like the world we live in). What White House Down does, for the first time (at least that I’ve noticed) is turn the tables: the man doing the saving is White and the man being saved is Black. This Black president, who of course I am aware wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Obama being in the White House, is not the hero that is about to die to save “the world as we know it” but he is presented as someone worth dying for, someone worth giving one’s life for, someone worth protecting. This Black man, whose entirely Black family is also shown on screen, is someone that people go out of their way to protect. And it didn’t escape me that the entire plot is based on an alliance between old school conservatives trying to maintain the military industrial complex alive and rabid White Supremacist/ Neo Nazi types who hate the President because he is Black.
When I searched for reviews of this movie, I was looking for the political commentary rather than a critique of the film’s cinematic qualities (let’s be honest, White House Down is not set to change the history of cinema by presenting us with an entirely new genre; it’s a summer blockbuster, not the next Citizen Kane). What I was interested in was the way people read the film’s overtones, not necessarily what was said but what is shown. In my search I came across this review by Joshua Clover in the September edition of The Nation. Mr. Clover is a white Professor at University of California. I was surprised that all he could see was the military/ patriotic jingoism, especially considering the review was posted at The Nation, a magazine that usually goes beneath the surface. I left the topic alone for a couple of days because I tend to self doubt: am I seeing things that are simply not there just because of my capability for wishful thinking? But then, I remembered my visceral reaction to the race fail in World War Z and realized that even if this racial subplot wasn’t entirely evident, it IS there.
White House Down is an entirely masculine movie. It does fail in the sense that no Black woman is presented as equally worthy of dying for (sure, tangentially, the President’s wife and daughter are mentioned and shown but they are not central to the plot). However, in a world where anti Black racism is rampant, where mostly Black undocumented immigrants from Africa die by the thousands, where Black bodies are valued as “less than” in a systematic, political, ongoing way for centuries, I’ll take a small victory over no victory at all. If beneath the layers of jingoism and RAH! RAH! anyone walks from this film with, at least, one visual queue that differs from the centuries of White Supremacy, I’d say it’s still better than the majority of what Hollywood produces. Sure, White House Down will not go down in history as a game changer. But honestly, I am tired of seeing films where we all die at the service of “the world as we know it”.
Flavia Dzodan, the feminist writer who coined the call to arms ‘my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’, tweeted: “[A]re we now suddenly forgetting the long history of Imperial interventions on the bodies of Women of Color with forced sterilization?” As the discussion of feminism and intersectionality has hotted up in the past year, it’s a very good question indeed. How the editors respond to the issue could very well be the thing that makes or breaks the magazine’s credibility.-
I don’t know how they will respond in the future, but so far, their response has been to metaphorically cover their ears and go “nah nah nah nah”. The piece that started this new round of nonsense has now been removed and replaced with a standard issued fauxpology. It reads, in part:
We sought some of our readers’ most shocking thoughts and feelings that clash with their feminist politics, to highlight controversial but personal inner battles between deeply held feminist principles and reactive emotions based on an intimate experience.
Again, we are subjected to rhetoric and emotional violence in the name of “discussion”. Our integrity and agency now subjected to “debate” because these “feminists” operate under the assumption that all ideas are worth publishing. I call into question an editorial board that doesn’t place feminist ethics above this “discussion” nonsense. I’ll repeat myself in case I wasn’t clear the first time:
no “freedom of opinion” nonsense can ever be placed above the well being of women.
There’s a new contest sponsored by the 3% Conference, Vitamin W Media, and Miss Representation aimed at rebranding feminism and offering a $2,000 prize to “make feminism relevant and meaningful to everyone.” Also launching this month is an outfit called We Are the XX, whose mission statement reads, in part, “We can’t run from the word ‘feminist’ but we can change what it looks and feels like to get on board with it.” These efforts at rebranding seem to come from a well-meaning place. But what does “rebranding”—or branding to begin with—mean for something that’s not a product, but a social movement?-
Bitch Media is moderating this discussion, live, which is happening in a few minutes. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the topic. You can click the link to read live or check it out later as discussions are archived.
The other day, during the episode*, I stated that I was “a feminist cultural critic” and that, in turn, got me thinking into something that I believe is important, for me, to expand a bit further. I see feminism as a toolkit, the lens through which I look at the world and its politics. Feminism, and not just *any* feminism, but more specifically, a feminism of color, a feminism that centers decolonial practices and frameworks is the political standpoint that I use to center myself when I try to observe or explain (mostly to myself) what happens around me. I do not conceive feminism as the end in itself. To me, feminism is the vehicle I use for the journey, not the end point where my journey ends. This, mostly, means that I am not just “a feminist”. I am “a feminist [x]” where x is the hat I wear when I am writing. I am “a feminist immigrant”, “a feminist Latina”, “a feminist woman of color”, “a feminist cultural critic”, “a feminist writer”, etc. In all these instances, for me, feminism is nothing more than the place from where I stand and the political continuum built by many generations before me. Many feminists of color before me laid down these tools that I could then pick to attempt any kind of political work.
I understand that others might feel differently about this and for them, feminism is the end point of their journey. However, on a personal level, I am not comfortable with that definition. What would be the point of being “Flavia, feminist”? If that feminism doesn’t translate in a liberatory praxis, if it’s just a stagnant label that I use to “sell” a product (i.e. myself), then I would be offering very little value. Instead, I prefer to think of feminism as my vantage point, supported by countless works, actions and, more importantly, the lives of millions of both those who came before me and my contemporaries. Declaring myself “a feminist”, without any other clarifier, would turn my feminism into an individual act; me, an island, with a nebulous political affiliation removed from the practice that drives me. Instead, I prefer to think of myself as “a feminist writer” and see myself as inspired by the legacy of countless other writers that created the foundations for me to stand on. Also, it allows me to be very clear on the kind of feminist lens I use, rather than a vague “feminist” affiliation that is usually equated to mainstream, white, corporate politics.
What this means is that I am not interested in writing only about feminism. I write about politics and culture from a feminist perspective. There is a big difference, in my everyday work, between turning feminism into the focus of what I do and using feminism as an instrument to explain what happens around me. I am a writer, a critic; feminism of color, decolonial feminism and Third World postcolonial feminism are the theoretical tools and practices that empower me to take a stand and try to explain my life and the world I live in.
* I will only refer to “the episode” because it triggered the substance of this post, not because there is any value in it (there isn’t).
Last week Netflix started offering service (and I use that word in its most lose sense in this case) in The Netherlands. Since the first month is a free trial, I was excited to try it. It’s been less than a week and as soon as I finish watching Hemlock Grove, which will be some time this week, I’m canceling this nonsense.
The thing is, I really want to pay some money to stream quality content. Downloading stuff in The Netherlands is not illegal (it’s illegal to host it for others to download from you but not for a user to get the content and watch it at home; we even pay a tax that goes to media production because of this gray area copyright set up). However, for years, I couldn’t afford to pay for anything anywhere (movie tickets, concerts, dvd purchases, etc). Nowadays, I can afford eight bucks a month (which is how much Netflix costs) and I’d be very happy to do so. However, I won’t be taken for a fool by a dumbass corporation that couldn’t close their deals to stream properly and I am left with a half assed selection that is less than a quarter of what’s available in North America. Even worse, I won’t put up with bullshit like Dutch only subtitles in foreign language productions (try watching a Danish series; you only have one selection of subtitles in Dutch). Every single thing I’ve searched for has been unavailable, even though I’ve seen those same titles widely referenced on the internet as available in the US. To make matters even more aggravating, this is what they suggest when something you want is not there:
Now, of course, I don’t consider this a huge “problem” in my life. This is not a woe is me situation where I think I deserve better titles and better service. It’s just that I hate the assumption that we are dumb consumers that will pay for anything without critical evaluation. I hate that a business works under the assumption that we will part with our money for an inferior product than what they offer elsewhere for the same amount of money. In this day and age when all we have to do is check on the internet to see what users in other countries paying the same $$ get, it’s unforgivable that they would offer a mangled service like this and hope that we, uninformed plebes would take it. Netflix Netherlands is a big fail and their failure rests on two rather offensive mistakes. The first one is not having done their homework properly before going live to secure rights to stream a selection that, at least, can compete with their American counterpart. The second mistake is the assumption that consumers will be happy paying 96 euros per year to watch the equivalent of 1 Euro ex rental DVDs (which I can get 96 of from the lone standing rental place near where I live).
Netflix should have done better than treat us as if we were still living in pre internet days. After all, they should realize that their service would not even be possible if it wasn’t for the internet to begin with.
I am sure a lot has been written about World War Z already since the movie is kinda old news. However, I didn’t google the critics because I’m really not interested in them, I just wanted to talk about how I felt not how critics saw this or that. I only saw the movie a couple of days ago and yeah, still cannot shake the bad taste in my mouth.
If you haven’t seen the movie but plan to watch it, it might be a good idea to stop reading this as there will be some [minor] spoilers from here on. The movie is not bad, per se. In the sense that cinematographically speaking it’s OK. Zombies, a plague, a hero, the usual. But there was this super tangential character, the Latino little boy and yeesh, can a movie be more symbolic of the way we collectively view children of color? I mean, the purpose of the entire Latin@ family was for the white people to find shelter, food, accommodation and protection. It is made abundantly clear that this is an immigrant family (the parents only speak Spanish, they live in a poor home, etc). When their purpose as “aid” was over, they die, because really, for storytelling purposes, the narrative device represented by this family, was no longer needed. Except the little boy survives and gets to tag along with Brad Pitt and his family, which is, of course, precious, and the two little white girls have plenty of feelings and emotions and they get to express them and they get to be cuddled and loved and cherished and their emotions are extensively shown and taken care of by the adults in their lives. And the little Latino boy who lost everyone in his life, whose life, unlike the lives of the little white girls that get all the love is now gone, destroyed, that little boy? He gets nothing. He gets a cursory good bye when the hero needs to venture into the zombie plagued world but not a single acknowledgment of his grief or his pain or the fact that you know, he just lost his entire family and his world is gone.
And that broke my heart more than movies should because I should truly be accustomed to the fact that the vast majority of pop culture sucks. But this hit close to home in the sense that this is the way children of color are really viewed: as a narrative device to highlight the white hero’s humanity when it is needed and as a mere unperson with no feelings or emotions deserving of love and care. And what broke my heart even further is that when these children die in the real world, in the world we inhabit, when these children or their families are killed not by a fantasy zombie plague but by structural inequalities created by real human beings, this is the footprint that the world at large uses to evaluate the importance of those deaths or the grief that those deaths bring. This little boy is pop culture’s stand in for all our children. He is the stand in for Cherice Morales and the judge who, even in death, had the gall to consider her “older than her chronological age”. He is a stand in for the children whose parents die as a result of being undocumented immigrants. He is a stand in for children that are subjected to unspeakable acts of violence (sometimes even resulting in their own death) and who get neither justice nor an acknowledgement of their pain or their emotions. This child, whose only purpose was to serve as emotional support for the white hero and his daughters was not deserving of his own feelings, his own grief or honoring of his suffering.
Which you know, what I take from this movie is probably not what the filmmakers intended. What I take is that if you are a child of color, it’s not just zombies that can shatter your life.
black amazon wrote a post saying what she wanted in light of the Hugo situation (and believe me, BOY did I feel it when she said that the “what do you want” question is often used as a weapon—how many times have i gotten some impatient “well, why don’t you stop complaining and tell me what you want????” followed up with a “well, if you want it, start WORKING FOR IT (do it yourself) along with tons and tons of links giving me “advice” on how to do it myself, cuz all it really takes is to google links and structural injustice no longer exists, didn’t you know???) and it got me thinking.
what do i want?
well, first of all, it’s near impossible to answer that question, because what i want—a *movement* (and not the faux bullshit we got people calling in and signing petitions “movement” but a real transformative resilient justice centered movement—and oops, i shouldn’t say all those words, cuz god knows how they will be taken and used to give the faux US “online feminist movement” credibility) is not going to happen. at least not through *F*eminism. it’s just not. there’s not even the room in *F*eminist space to say—ok, YOU show up on cnn to make work WE’RE doing on the streets visible. because the work going on on the streets DEPENDS on CNN and wouldn’t exist without it (see: nobody is going to show up for “feminist march” type comments). and more to the point, because liberal reformism doesn’t require a “movement.” it, in fact, actively needs there NOT to be a movement.
SO—having said that. what do i want?
* I want a place where I can self-publish without being pretty certain it’s being mined for content.
* i want people to stop acting like it’s way too fucking hard to press a button and write an ask asking for permission to use my words. because what has happened is that instead of asking me for permission, they just go, oh, that’s too hard, i won’t even include her in this discussion! so—everything that happened, happened to “The WOCs” NOT to brownfemipower and black amazon and flavia and aura bogado.
we all have names. we all have histories. pretending like it’s too hard to ask for permission to use my words and turning us all into a generalized “WOC” makes it seem like the main problem was with hugo and the main problem hugo had was his racism. nope. the main problem was *F*eminism and the main problem with *F*eminism was it’s tacit approval of white solidarity.
* i want people to recognize what it means to turn yourself into a brand. the main thing i can point to here is this. this tumblr was specifically created to take control of my “brand” after several situations happened where i felt like others were using my name to ask for things i never would or they were misrepresenting my history. i have stayed “on brand” while on this blog, only talking about stuff relating to the “brand” brownfemipower—which was branded by *F*eminism as a vicious destroyer, a duplicitous monster, a weak lazy freeloader.
but i’ve struggled very hard—i made the committment to myself that this tumblr would only be used to address “the brand”—but i’ve found how limiting it is in several areas. first—i, the person behind brownfemipower, am NOT a vicious destroyer of everything that is good, AND i have a strenuous chicana centered critique of “lazy freeloader” and “do it yourself” attitudes being weilded against chicanas specifically.
SO what do I do with that?
Also—since all this happened, i have learned lessons, dedicated myself in an extremely committed way to practicing buddhism, seen my state and very important cities in my state assaulted through legislature, gotten surgery…become a different person. i look back on some of the decisions i made and the stuff i said in my past blogging life, and I regret them. like—REALLY in the core of my heart, regret them. can i admit as a brand how much i deeply regret those decisions? can i admit as a brand that i really REALLY don’t enjoy centering white women, when people come to “brownfemipower” as a brand to hear about white women? can i admit that i HATE being angry all the time? can i say frankly, that the thing i want most is a place where i can talk about how much i need big fat titties all up in my face, cuz i just had a hard ass fucking day?
in other words—what does it MEAN to have a “brand” and what does it MEAN that *F*eminism is working to “stay on brand” and what does it MEAN that so many of the “brands” that are running around are being paid to say how much they hate republicans and get everybody mad and create clicking outrage that results in payment for the brand and lots and lots of money for the website?
what does any of this mean? can ‘brands’ make movements? can “brands” sustain movements? if a “brand” always has to stay on point, can it be anything but a blow horn and a day of marching? can a “brand” ever admit they’re wrong? can a “brand” ever express regret?
it’s not generally a big surprise what a thing is when it’s been screaming at you since 2005 what it is (a brand)—can we have a conversation about what that means? and what it means when a brand applies for foundation money? why is it a surprise that Brand Amanda or Brand Jezebel has not (and will not) EVER apologize, much less change?
* i want people to recognize and respect the fact that i have a history. that Chicanas have a history. that we have a history online. people who work to shape that history—i want you to engage with us in doing so.
* i also want so called allies to be aware of needing to ask critical questions before engaging in particular situations. if i see one more woman of color ask in confusion “can somebody point me to the back ground situation around #femfuture???” after they uncritically came out in support of it, it will be one time too many. as black amazon said, THAT is what hurts the most.
* i want the white women like La Lubu, Cara, Jessica Hoffman, Jessica Nathanson, Le Colonel Chabert, Sheezlebub, Kactus, Emily, (and others) who have offered love, community, friendship, and true solidarity to be recognized as the leaders that they are. because they demonstrate that there WAS and IS a different choice.
* i want all violence against all women of color and their communities to end forever.
* i want everything that black amazon said she wanted to be handed to her on the biggest shiniest silver platter.
* i want people to understand that I never named what happened to me as ‘theft’ or even as “appropriation.” i want people to put actual work into understanding why and where they got the idea that what happened to me was “theft” or “appropriation.”
* maybe someday, i’ll tell you how i define what happened to me.
* or, maybe the brand brownfemipower will just let you go on thinking that you know best.
* i want people to understand the difference between hustling and being an asshole. i want to be paid to write, just like everybody else. i want to be rich, just like everybody else. i want to be JKRowling rich. If i thought i could write a story that would make millions about a white boy wizard named hugo schwyzer who, with his best wizarding friend amanda, took down evil hordes of destroying all that is good WOCs? I would write that bastard in about three minutes. I’ve been poor all my life. I don’t want to be poor anymore. I don’t want to have to beg on the internet for money to feed my kids or pay for gas. I want to be rich. filthy stinking rich. and i’ll sell my skills for that money. that makes me a hustler.
what i wont do is tell everybody that i am writing a book about boy wizard hugo schwyzer so that they will have better lives. i will not say i’m starting a movement to make it so that everybody can write about boy wizards and then stomp everybody’s faces. i will not use watch dogs to make sure that nobody else can get paid to write about boy wizards all while saying i’m a leader in making sure that everybody gets to write about boy wizards. that would make me an asshole.
when i write my book and become a rich ass bitch? please know that i am doing it to be rich. that i am playing the system. using my “one chance” eminem gave me. i am SO not “inventing online feminism” and i am SO not being a “professional feminist” and I am SO only wearing fishnets so that all my boy toy fan club will be happy.
* that is all.
* for now.
BFP’s response to the “what do you want” question.
And, I am taking this opportunity to also mention something that has been systematically left out of the conversations, mostly because the man in question did not mention this woman in his twitter fauxpologies: Aura Bogado was also a victim. When she resisted his ideas and wrote about them in a critical way, he threatened to sue her. He insisted that her criticism was “slander”. He went out of his way to silence her with threats of costly legal actions. It should also be noted, that Aura is yet, another Woman of Color. And, as BFP says, not “the WoC” but an individual woman who has done some extremely important work writing about immigration, gender and politics and who was pressured to stop her critique through means that would take an incredible amount of financial, time, etc resources to counteract. Aura was (and still is, thankfully), challenging certain hegemonies. She was attacked for doing so.
As I said before, historical records matter. This is another one of those.