There is this group of white British feminists that never seem to get enough of taunting and annoying me based on their dislike of my work. This past week has been no exception.
It all started when someone known as Glosswitch wrote an inane piece defending the likes of Helen Lewis and Caitlin Moran against the “mean feminists” who call them out. She name checked me in her piece to make a point about intersectionality. I objected to her using my name or any of my ideas to defend Helen Lewis, someone who, out of the blue and without having any interactions with me, once called me “the worst of a certain strand of feminist blogging”. Glosswitch wrote a schoolyard rant about how her “friends” are unjustly attacked and how “mean feminists” call them out, etc. For this “defense” she appropriated intersectional theory. I vehemently objected to this. I resent the mindless appropriation of theories and ideas created by and for Black women and other Women of Color to perpetuate a white supremacist feminism that actually works to alienate and subjugate us further. When I expressed my vehement disagreement with Glosswitch using these ideas, I became a target. First this:
And then a long series of tweets about how I “oppress” white women and how I “appropriate” white feminism in their experiences of mental health (where this claim comes from is anyone’s guess). My feminism is, apparently, a “hobby horse”. In Glosswitch’s defense came Becca Reilly-Cooper, a Professor of Philosophy at University of Warwick who initiated her “defense” of Glosswitch by asking if I had ever been “sectioned” due to mental health reasons. Again, I have no idea where their obsession with my mental health comes from. When I clearly refused to engage in conversation with her, she labeled me “repulsive”.
These attacks have been going on since Friday. I have requested more than once that they leave me alone just like I ignore all and their work or media presence. However, their Maury Show tactics escalate by the hour. Just like the infamous talk show, these feminists have a long history of transphobia, queerphobia, racism and a predisposition to scandal at the expense of those they perceive to be “beneath them”. They systematically pick on Women of Color and or trans* women to score points with their follow base at our expense. It is a media tactic designed so as not to disturb the status quo but solely for self promotion. This is nothing more than tabloid feminism which, pretty much like its namesake, targets minorities to “make examples” of them and appease a supremacist culture.
Last week, Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was convicted in a Danish court for racism. In her blog, she wrote that she was “convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters”. She was convicted by the Eastern High Court for violating section 266b of the Danish criminal code, which specifies racism as a crime, and she was fined 5,000 kroner (roughly 670 Euros). From The Copenhagen Post:
According to the law, it is illegal to “spread messages that threaten, taunt or degrade a group because of their race, skin colour, national or ethnic extraction, belief or sexual orientation”.
The court argued that Bazrafkan in her blog had generalized about Muslims men being criminals, and that because her statement “derided and degraded a group simply based on their faith”, she was guilty.
Of course I find her statements gross and untrue. I don’t think I need to clarify that. My disgust of her statements, though, doesn’t mean I can overlook the obvious: she is Iranian and living in Denmark. As much as I find her statements odious, she is making observations about her own culture. These observations about one’s own culture or heritage precludes racism as one cannot be racist against one’s own. Prejudiced or ethnocentric, yes, but not racist. Racism requires a power deferential that is just not present in this case. This Iranian Danish woman simply doesn’t have the institutionalized backing to turn her prejudice into systemic discrimination or legal frameworks to exclude people based on them being Muslim.
From an interview with Firoozeh Bazrafkan also at The Copenhagen Post:
I have also been critical of Judaism and Christianity but I was born in Iran as a Muslim. I have family members in Iran who don’t have the same democratic rights and freedom to express their anger as I do. I do my best to get the point out in my artwork and installations because I want to criticise the Iranian regime my way. If I want to be angry, I should have the right to be angry and call the Islamic regime anything I want. The state shouldn’t go in and take my rights.
Her opinions might be repulsive, one might even argue that they incite hate speech but this misuse of anti racism laws has one very concrete and grave consequence: it opens the door for convictions based on “anti white racism” as well. If a person of color makes a generalization about white people, theoretically speaking, they can now be measured by the standard set by this court ruling. European anti racism laws were enacted post World War II to protect minorities from White Supremacy. Convicting an Iranian woman making misguided and prejudiced observations about a culture that is hers are contrary to the spirit of this laws. This is a White Supremacist interpretation of racism as it dilutes and erases institutional and political power from the equation. In this flawed interpretation of the law, we all stand on equal grounds: white people, people of color, ethnic minorities, immigrants, etc… all equally represented and equally liable for the systematic oppression that might afflict us. Needless to say, this is a sure way to exonerate White Supremacy from any responsibility in “the state of things”. An Iranian woman criticizing her culture, however misguided, has the same weight than a right wing politician trying to pass a law to limit the rights of Muslims. When every prejudiced action is viewed equally under the law, we lose a fundamental tool to level the playing field, the one little piece of legislation that offers some degree of leverage against centuries of racist history.
I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.-
Remember when last week the guy behind the Heritage Foundation report against immigration reform in the US was found to be a proponent of eugenics? For those who might not be familiar, The Heritage Foundation released a report claiming that the currently discussed reform would cost the State trillions (I love hyperbolic figures pulled out of white rich dude’s asses, by the way… QUADRILLIONS! QUINTILLIONS! The tomato pickers that have been barely surviving with exploitative labor and yet pumping money into our economy will cost us QUINTILLIONS if we give them dignity in the form of a residence card! IMAGINE THE SOCIAL UPHEAVAL! etc). Anyway, I digress…
Turns out that the author of the inflammatory report was found to be a proponent of eugenics, claiming that non Whites have lower IQs than the White American population. His proposition was that Latin@s should have their IQs tested before being granted any residency status (of course, “discarding” those who are below a certain IQ). In 2009, in his Harvard dissertation he wrote:
The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.
I won’t waste a second of my time trying to rebuke eugenics ideologies that personally implicate me (after all, I am one of those Latin@s with supposedly low IQs that is about to bring down the demise of the purity of Western White civilization… and you know what? I hope my “stupid” is contagious and I indeed ruin their purity with my presence but again, I digress). So, rather than trying to unpack his statements which do not deserve an ounce of consideration, I wanted to point out the beginning of the “polite right wing” circling of the wagons. This is not some Tea Party uncouth histrionics, this is the rich right wing claiming that eugenics deserve to be taken into account and that attacks on these ideas are based on misguided political correctness. The National Review, of course, enlists the apologists who begin the above mentioned circling of wagons:
I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.
The data sets are correct! These people are indeed stupid! Incidentally, The National Review seems more equal opportunity White Supremacist and brings up the claim that Blacks have even lower IQs so, why miss the opportunity to single out one minority when you can also highlight everyone else’s supposed racial deficiencies in the process?
To my fellow Latin@s living in the US, I can only offer my sympathy. Here in The Netherlands, the notion that we are deficient and have lower IQs has gained mainstream momentum (Ha! we are ahead of the curve in White Supremacist eugenics! talk about being trendsetters). Pretty much like The National Review, in The Netherlands, the claims of lower IQ were also “backed with scientific data”. We don’t need to look too far away into history to know the kind of people who took a similar approach and made analogous “scientific” claims to create policy.
Let me get this out of the way: I don’t like Adria Richards. I think I have good reason to not like Adria Richards. So I should be feeling some major Schadenfreude right now. Instead, though, I think what’s unfolded in the developer community in recent days has been a tragedy.-
Notice how almost all the comments, even those in favor of Adria Richards, many of them (as the one I am quoting here), from White women defending Richards are all about disciplining the uppity Black woman.
They don’t like her tone. Her vocal antics are improper. She didn’t deserve to be fired but… It always boils down to it: the misbehaved Black woman should have known better. Even ostensibly feminist blogs are giving space to such opinions.
This is what happens when WoC do not play by the rules of patriarchal White Supremacy: the racist version of “slut had it coming”. If only she had not been so outspoken, if only she didn’t expose stuff she doesn’t like… if only she had been docile.
Anyone trying to unpack this disaster from the perspective of sexism in the tech industry, I’m afraid they are missing the point entirely; as usual, it is about the racist sexism in the tech (and non tech) world. Adria Richards is now its latest victim.
I blame Schwyzer for the ineffectual, whitewashed, lukewarm feminism that is incapable of producing substantial change
A while ago, everyone was talking about Anne Marie Slaugher’s piece “Why women can’t have it all”. Back then I wrote that the reason why women cannot have it all is because feminism has stopped being about dreams and utopia and revolution and instead, it has become a movement set to compromise with patriarchy. We are supposed to want to have better positions at capitalist exploitation (women should aspire to be CEOs, earn more even at the expense of other women who are subjugated across racist poverty, exploitation of resources in the Global South, etc.). And now, of course, I have also spoken out about Schwyzer’s attempt to silence me (which as it is rightfully noted here, is not the first time he does to a Latina blogger).
Meanwhile, Schwyzer continues to have a place on the feminist table. He continues to be interviewed, his “side of the story” is made to matter, he is allowed to continue forcing himself into feminist spaces, he gets paid to write about women’s issues, for women, in mainstream media publications, etc. AND THEN WE WONDER WHY PATRIARCHAL POLITICIANS A LA ROMNEY DO NOT TAKE FEMINISM SERIOUSLY?! Then we wonder why the erosion of women’s rights across all the Western world continues unabated? Then we have round tables, talks, conferences, dissertations, seminars, paid writing gigs, debates, to discuss why women’s rights are on the first line of attack when racist, heteronormative patriarchy needs to be enforced? How can we even dare to wonder about the root cause of this when the most mainstream form of feminism allows a guy like Schwyzer to “represent” women? Have we been made so submissive by virtue of capitalist consumer culture that we misguidedly believe we need to “negotiate” our own fucking spaces with a guy like Hugo Schwyzer? Have we been collectively beaten into compliance that a White, cisgender, American man is “approved” to speak on our behalf and then we wonder why our interests are not well represented?
And while Schwyzer, individually, cannot be held accountable for the complete demise of feminism, I believe him to be a very good metonymical representation of the movement’s failures. The failures represented by compromise, lukewarm attempts at “change” that only serve to further subjugate women, that continue to keep Women of Color “in their place”, boxed in an asphyxiating structure of White Supremacy, relegated to the role of “trouble maker” to be silenced, to be demanded “proof of her own oppression”. Schwyzer, allowed to be the executing arm of this White Supremacy, in the name of the very same ideology that is supposed to “liberate” women.
For as long as a man like Hugo Schwyzer can silence Women of Color and “groom” White women to act as his shields against our “mean anger”, no woman will be allowed to have it all. We have gotten to a point where the most revolutionary thing feminism can do is say NO. Just that. No. A white, cisgender American man can never have a woman’s best interests in mind. A feminism that gives Schwyzer the benefit of the doubt while he demands that we “prove” our oppression, is nothing but a sham. When white, cisgender, male politicians come for our rights, let’s not forget who kept the door open for them.
White supremacist Shaun Patrick Winkler, a convicted batterer who once worked for an Aryan Nations leader, wants to add an unlikely notch to his spotty resume — sheriff of Idaho’s Bonner County.-
Eh, not to be trite but this one’s at least in the open about his ideology. I am much more terrified of the undercover racists because I cannot see them coming. I expect this guy won’t even pretend to care. You’ll be on your own from the get go.
I am amazed by the fact that mainstream media is throwing all the moral outrage over the fact that Dominique Strauss Kahn had sex with women who, so far seem to be consenting sex workers, however, they won’t touch this tidbit of information from a few weeks ago with a ten foot pole:
All of the women, who are mainly French and Belgians from immigrant backgrounds
Granted, the above is from a couple of weeks ago but no other outlet has since mentioned the ethnicity of most of these sex workers. For me, in the context of the rape allegations in New York, where the victim is also an immigrant, the quote above is much, much more powerful. It speaks volumes of DSK’s mindset and, in view of his role as Chief of the IMF, to me, this also reflects on how he thought of the people in the countries of the Global South where his institution was imposing policies that led to further poverty and exploitation.
Instead, we are getting moral outrage because OMG SEX WORKERS! Please, that alone does not tell a story. Moreover, that is not even the newsworthy part of the story. Because truly, I am much more interested in the details of his racism and how he was part of an institution that played a large role to establish these racial categories globally than in an old guy being called a “libertine”.
As European leaders increasingly question the concept of Europe without borders and follow each other in announcing the end of multiculturalism, the media response has been mostly to present migrants as destabilising Europe’s labour markets and welfare states.
The role of the media in the worsening image of migrants in Europe was debated in Budapest at a conference titled “Promoting Migrant Integration through Media and Intercultural Dialogue”.
The conference, organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union, ran from May 16-18, and was aimed at helping media representatives provide fair and balanced coverage of migration issues.
With far-right, anti-immigration parties gaining strength throghout Europe, journalists have been signalled as frequent accomplices to rising xenophobia:
"European public opinion is being pressed with the threat of a migration wave. Both politicians and journalists should recognise their mistakes," Czech sociologist Ivan Gabal told participants.
More at the link above.
However, I am sitting here giving these folks the side eye because, really, they needed a trade conference to come to that conclusion? Even a run of the mill media analyst like myself noticed this a good ten years ago (right when they started beating the Islamophobe drum after 9/11). It’s not like they discovered some ground breaking media truth here, is it?
Also, another media non-truth from the article:
Yet some questioned why journalists would even begin by approaching officials and not give voice to those who remain mostly voiceless: “Migrants and their organisations should speak for migrants, not government officials,” White said.
What? And end a centuries long European tradition of speaking about migrants and not to them? We should have a “European Colonial Journalist Dodo" meme to say it better with an animal GIF. Because it is more likely for a dodo to come back from extinction than for European media to stop thinking that they are still the news outlet of an 18th century empire.
From eugenics to theories of intelligence based on race, it’s all there. And I insist, Psychology Today provided him the platform to publish those ideas. It also offered him a kind of institutional validation.
It is no news that there are individual racists. That many people are deeply prejudiced and generally awful. And while I keep highlighting individual acts of racism, there is a kind of behavior that worries me even more than the act of individuals: the kind that is institutional and never accountable.
Because Satoshi Kanazawa’s article on Psychology Today is (was as it has been removed now) a disgusting piece of drivel reminiscent of times we thought gone. But we can easily point fingers at him and disarm each and every argument he makes. Sure that doesn’t remedy the pain he has caused and it certainly doesn’t do anything to heal the people he hurt but his article and the contents are something tangible to attack.
However, I am incensed by the chain of command that allowed the publication. Editor in Chief Kaja Perina, Senior Web Producer Aaron Deutsch, Deputy Editor Lybi Ma, Features Editor Carlin Flora, even the company’s CEO Jo Colman, all of them have a degree of responsibility in the publication. I would venture that, with the exception of the CEO, all of them read the article prior to publication and thought it was OK to post it!
When an individual acts in reprehensible ways, we can say “There, that’s an ass”. Now, when an entire corporate institution sees fit to publish an article that reeks of racism, we should point and say “That is White Supremacy at work”. Because certainly I cannot think of any other way to describe it.
If we are going to point fingers re: racism and dialogue, it makes THE MOST SENSE OF ALL to point fingers at white people, at whiteness, at white privilege. It’s not about pointing fingers at individual people but at systems and technologies of oppression. I mean, pointing fingers is actually a pretty good tactic and it doesn’t have to violent/aggressive/etc. It can be gentle, firm, and on-point without backing down.
Why would I point fingers at Asians or Blacks or [insert minority group here] when the context of the discussion is about racism and oppression? It makes no sense to point fingers at the oppressed and tell them that they caused the problem so the burden is on them. But that’s what defensive people do, which brings us full circle about why Ramou is advocating for more nuanced discussion about race. And there are things that she mentions that are helpful for everyone, not just white people: namely, shutting the hell up and listening (she said it more eloquently than I just did, but the point is the same), and being vigilant in questioning your privilege and how that influences your re/actions, contexts, and opinions. That doesn’t even have to be about race, that’s just good advice.
To me, the phenomenon goes hand in hand with slut shaming as well. All of what you said is not just accurate and true, but also on a macro level, part of the same dominant culture that promotes the “slut had it coming” way of thinking.
We live in a culture of victim blaming (blame minorities, blame women, and even more so, blame minority women if you can, blame LGBTQ folks, victims of bullying, etc, etc, et-fucking-cetera ad infinitum). That’s why when discussing racism, the members of the hegemonic culture (Whites) would like the attention deflected on the members of [people who belongs to minority]. It’s always a tactic so that the structures that make oppression possible (racism, patriarchal paradigms, etc.) remain untouched and unquestioned.