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Update on “The Conversations Project: Radically Inclusive Radical Feminism”

Friday, January 29, 2016 16:12
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This blog exists to challenge white heterosexual male supremacy as an institutionalized ideology and a systematized set of practices which are misogynistic, heterosexist, racist, genocidal, and ecocidal.

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To me an important breakthrough, I felt, in my work and that of others was the call to use the term white supremacy, over racism because racism in and of itself did not really allow for a discourse of colonization and decolonization, the recognition of the internalized racism within people of color and it was always in a sense keeping things at the level at which whiteness and white people remained at the center of the discussion.  – bell hooks, quoted, Critical Foundations in Young Adult Literature (author: Antero Garcia), page 68

[M]y vehicle was going to be truth: not a global, self-deluded truth, not a truth that only I knew and that I wanted other people to follow, but the truth that came from not lying. – Andrea DworkinHeartbreak, page 21

There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference. – June Jordan

To the leaders of The Conversations Project:

Please return my words to me–the ones that I heard might be included in your published materials. I give no permission for anything I wrote or offered to be published by you, especially since you disappeared a lot of it from your facebook group without warning. If you decide to not let me continue to be in the group, please first allow for a reasonable conversation among us in the group about the matter.

To the readers of this blog:

I was there a full three weeks and thought there was a breakthrough in finally acknowledging what that group is and isn’t designed to be or prepared to do. I saw that one of the creators might move forward with radical honesty, but that got immediately thwarted by another member.

What the group cannot do is deeply interrogate gender because triggering occurs when many topics and phrases get raised. It also can’t get far because it doesn’t look beyond white norms except to appropriate concepts, experiences, and cultural understandings of those we whites work so diligently to destroy. Sadly, racist appropriation of things like “inclusivity” and “intersectionality” are among our white norms.

Gender, there, appeared to me to be understood as primarily social and psychological. Not economic, sexual, political, and racial. Making room for some marginalised voices is seen as radical; not challenging the norms in the center of the room also counts as radical.

The group refuses so much of the depth and breadth of Radical Feminist herstory, such as the more radical theories and activist efforts by white women and women of color, that it has created a narrow width of inquiry, even within an already suffocatingly white discourse. Even an interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon avoided addressing the core issues in MacKinnon’s work. All of Andrea Dworkin’s insights on rape were ignored. Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Winona LaDuke, Vandana Shiva, Patricia Hill Collins, do not exist there.

To want to ‘go there’ was seen as distracting from the purpose. To even believe that means you don’t know much about gender in colonial patriarchies. If you don’t care to examine how white manhood and capitalism combine with misogynoir and anti-Indigenism to create colonial patriarchal gender, what can be known?

Almost all, or all, slated experts to be interviewed, by the way, are white. The key authors of the project are white. The frame of reference is white: it is already tethered to work that cannot be anything but white-centric and so loses all possibility of radical contribution to feminist and queer theory, unless you think more white supremacist theory is radical. But, for whom?

It pays lots of lip service to the problem of racism and the value of women of color. But will not acknowledge the degree to which it is a white supremacist space. It is effectively lesbophobic and homophobic. If anyone from that group wants me to write out in detail why I claim these things, just ask, in a comment, for me to explicate my points of critique.

So, in my view, it has no radical application, except to a few who seek to blend the less radical bits of some Radical Feminist’s work with the more liberal and ‘inclusive’ elements of progressive Queer theory.

It appears they have already removed chunks of what I’ve posted–the critiques, while giving me no notice of that occurring or opportunity to collect my work before deletion. This speaks to a serious ethical process problem.

I am reminded of the refusal of white people to acknowledge the meaning and force of our whiteness. The refusal was tangible there. Blatantly visible in any number of ways. But denied.

In short, the group was not a radical feminist group, nor was it a radically inclusive group, nor one that could go far or deep with its conversations. Here’s one example: To ask what is patriarchal about the majority-white conflict between what is termed T–Fs and liberal trans activists, is effectively verboten. To ask which of the dynamics and practices participate in rape culture: forget it. No go. Not even a dead end: nothing paved to even get to a dead end.

Fundamentally, I think it is a support group for a few white trans people who identify Radical Feminists (some of them) as the people who have most harmed them; this speaks to their levels of privilege. When the most harm you’ve experienced as a white person is from a few Radical Lesbian Feminists, you’ve probably had a pretty fortunate life, because such harm is interpersonal, not structural. But most harm is structural, systemic, institutional–even the interpersonal expressions of it. To any extent the harm they name shows up in institutions, it is due to its acceptance (and misuse) by white men, not white women.

To not have PTSD from misogynist, institutionalised rapist violence, alone, or seemingly ungendered, unsexed racism alone, is a level privilege found in a minority group–necessarily a white one and one not assigned female at birth.

I found the group to be stubbornly anti-radical, alarmingly anti-feminist, and unwelcoming of many inclusive conversations.

“An activist and writer at the blog, A Radical Profeminist”.


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