Bint Alshamsa has a post up about the whole white feminists voting for McCain thing. In it she says:
To me, it means that what they are really interested in, what’s most important to them, is having someone WHITE as President. Oh sure, they’d prefer to have a white woman than to have a white man but they are completely willing to toss aside all of those issues like reproductive justice and LGBT rights if that’s what they need to do to make sure that a white person is representing them.
And I’ve been giving this some thought. Because to me, it seems like there’s something worse than straight-up racism going on here. It’s not that they want to make sure a white person is representing them. That would suck, but it would be what it was–straight-up racism, the kind that’s easy enough to point to and say “Yep, that’s some racist shit right there.”
But from my perspective, sitting here in the white people’s camp, it seems like something more evil and more rotting to our shared goals (‘our’ being the pool of potential Democratic voters or people who advocate for human rights for everyone or whatever. I want, just for a second, to draw a circle that includes me and Bint Alshamsa in it.).
I don’t think these women are straight-up racist.
No, hear me out, just for a second.
I think these women, in general, believe in all the goals we believe in–equality for everyone, women’s reproductive rights, etc. etc. etc. I have seen them work towards those goals.
I might disagree with them about how to achieve them or even what priority to give to their achievement, but I don’t doubt that they hold those same goals.
And that, to me, makes what they’re doing worse than straight-up racism.
Straight-up racism is “I won’t vote for Obama because he is black and I will use any excuse–my anger at Clinton’s loss, whatever–to keep from having to do that.” But what they’re doing is more like “I am so pissed that Clinton is not the candidate that I will lash out at you in the most painful way I can think of. I will hurt you as deep as I can. And I will use whatever weapons I have in my arsenal to do it, even if it means I have to dust off all this old racist (and sexist) stuff, the very stuff I’ve been advocating all of us put away, to do it.”
It’s an approach that clearly benefits from and uses straight-up racism as a strategy.
But to me, it’s worse because it salts the earth between us. It’s a reminder, no, something more than a reminder, a lesson that, if white people don’t get our own way, we will use whatever we have at our disposal to hurt you.
There simply cannot be a feminist movement, or feminist movements, or women working together towards women’s rights, there cannot be a “together” that includes white women if we’re willing to use the tactics of philosophies (like white supremacy) we don’t believe in in order to get our way.
In order to have social justice movements that include white people, we have to be who we say we are. And if we say that we are not racist, we cannot knowingly use racism to punish others just because we’re pissed.
When people who are very different come together to work towards common goals, the only way it works is if everyone feels assured that everyone’s heart is in the right place, that, even when there are misunderstandings, they are that, just misunderstandings.
We are already in a place where most women feel suspicious of the amount of “misunderstandings” that seem to have white women at their center.
And now, what these white feminists who are throwing their support behind John McCain are doing is saying “Well, really, sometimes we’re not having a ‘misunderstanding.’ Sometimes we’re doing it on purpose.”
I don’t know. Maybe I’m trying to make a distinction without a difference. Maybe there really isn’t much of a line betweeen straight-up racism and using racism as a tactic for achieving your own ends.
But to me, here’s why I see it as being worse. If they were just straight-up racist, then you could know. You could make a list and it would say “Well, Patricia Buchanan and Jill O’Reilley and Tammy Carlson and so on, those women are racist. Whew, stay clear of them.”
But what they, these women who have worked side-by-side with you for decades to achieve many common goals, have done is make every single white woman suspect. They have shown that, at any minute, women you thought you could count, maybe not among your allies, but at least not among your enemies, will not hesitate to use the most putrid bullshit they can against you*.
And how can you have women like that working with you?
This, my friends, will be the end of feminism for our generation, I believe. Oh, sure, yes, in twenty years, the fourth-wavers will pick it up and dust it off and see something useful and beautiful that we’ve squandered and make something of it.
I have no doubt of that.
But, to use a religious term for just a second, the frith among our communities has been broken, intentionally, it seems to me. And we can’t go back from that.
We can only hope that there’s some way forward.
*I could write a whole other post, too, about the ways in which these white feminist McCain switchers use language and tropes designed to degrade the women who disagree with them in the kinds of sexualized ways we’ve supposedly been battling for generations–how quick they are to whip out the “whore” shit when it suits them–but I trust you can see that for yourselves.