Posted by: Ophelia | April 25, 2008

Ooga Booga, where all the antiracism at?

Responses to images from It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments, published by Seal Press and written by Amanda Marcotte from Holly at Feministe

“Spearchuckers. Literally. I have to point out one thing. In the history of this country, there has always been one broad and well-lit path for oppressed classes of people to “better themselves” — side with the oppressors against someone else. That is exactly what these images are depicting: women gaining power through helping men against savage, violent brown people. Again, I can’t believe that the author or publisher would intend this, but how did these images end up in this book?”

Also here at Dear White Feminists

And here courtesy of Karnythia @ The Angry Black Woman

And still they wonder, why so many women of color do not wish to associate themselves with a movement that so clearly does not value them. I am not gendered, or raced, I am both–and so are white feminists. That your race is invisible to you is of no consequence when you reap its benefits for book deals, exposure, and more at the expense of women of color who have been silenced. I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but honestly–I’m not. And that’s the problem.

More responses to racism and feminism at Female Impersonator and The Feminist Underground

Update:

Both Seal Press and Amanda have issued apologies.

The following passages however, irked the hell out of me:

“We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone.”

“If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to.”

Again, we’re talking around the issue. Anyone? Also not very feminist? I’m reading this as, the images are non feminist because of the physical representation of the woman, and also they’re bad because they’re offensive to non whites. The buxom blonde running around is only one of the reason why the images aren’t feminist. Sorry, but racist images aren’t feminist in and of themselves, yes I am drawing a land in the sand. Feminist efforts should be anti racist efforts, in fact they should anti prejudicial efforts, always (including sizist nonsense). Seal press is correct, they shouldn’t be producing images that are offensive, however, they seem very reticent to point out that the images are offensive especially when placed in a book about feminism directed towards women. The inclusion of those images visibly sets apart the heroic white feminist from the big scary black people. I mean honestly, it’s not a very big stretch here to the situation in feminism itself as well as feminist publishing for women of color–and I think it deserved a more directed apology instead of speaking in platitudes about anyone and everyone. Well, how about someone, or someones like the non white feminists–who may no longer wish to be called so–that you obviously excluded as a possible audience for this book. I hate to nitpick an apology, but it’s not really an apology per se when you don’t apologize directly to the people who you hurt. (“Hey, you stepped on my foot!” “Everyone, no one should step on foots, that shouldn’t happen.” *walks away* )

The apology offered by Jill at Feministe for promoting the book is not only more thorough (and like 4x as long) and more thoughtful but an actual apology.

On second thought, I don’t feel bad nit picking an apology because we’ve seen what a real one looks like and a half assed one, and I don’t think I have to tell you which is which. At the same time, can one really apologize for a supposed oversight when you’ve had WOC telling you that the book was problematic and racist from jump street? There’s an obvious attempt to turn the whole situation into just a mistake, when really–how many WOC’s did they have to ignore in order to chose those images, publish those images, and promote a book containing those images?

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Responses

  1. This kind of thing embarrasses me. As a feminist who appears white, it really pains me to read about how women of color have problems associating with the “mainstream” feminist movement. I really hurts me because I don’t know how much anyone can accomplish without solidarity.

    How do you think I can work to change that, as a woman who appears to be white? Where can I start making it clear that I value all women, and that the movement I am a part of needs them and wants them?

    Stuff like this upsets me a lot…I just want to know what I can do to work against this sort of thing.

  2. Speak. That’s about it. When these things happen, so many potential allies choose not to speak out against injustice within the movement for fear of causing drama or dissention. Too many are too comfortable in their own privilege, the privilege that allows them not to see the eclipse of non-whites in the feminist movement. Too many are silent about these things and that’s what makes it the most frustrating. They don’t trust women of color to understand their own lived experience, they tell us that we’re overreacting or that we have the wrong tone to be listened to, they band together in solidarity to shut down our voices. All they have to do to end this bull is to listen to our voices, and speak out against this privileged nonsense that keeps popping up in the women. We can be united under feminism without having to be the same people. Differences in lived experience did not create this split, its the valuing of the white, able bodied, heterosexual experience over others that brought us to this point.

    For what it’s worth–you are working against this sort of thing. You listened.

  3. That’s why people are so mad at Seal Press. They aren’t listening. People have said “Think about what these images say! Is that really who we want to be?” The response you’d expect would be… “Oh, fuck – you’re right! No, we don’t want to be that!” Then you’d expect some action to correct the situation. The excuse it that they haven’t heard from women of color. But they have now. So, will they listen?

    And, btw, I have never hear a more beautiful and hopeful answer to the question of how white feminists be part of the solution rather than part of the problem than yours – “We can be united under feminism without having to be the same people. Differences in lived experience did not create this split, its the valuing of the white, able bodied, heterosexual experience over others that brought us to this point.” Thanks.

  4. […] More discussion from Feministe, Alas, Feministing, Leones, Daisy’s, Rebecca, and Feminiocracy. addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fwww.elainevigneault.com%2Fits-a-jungle-in-here.html’; addthis_title = […]

  5. Thanks for the compliment, I linked yours and Amelia’s posts above. I’m happy that a dialogue has started, hopefully positivity can come out of this mess.

  6. […] The Angry Black Woman Noli Irritare Leones Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town Burning Words GallingGala Feminocracy Maia at Alas A Blog Ottermatic BastardLogic The Rotund Three Rivers Fog Pam at […]

  7. […] Black Woman, Noli Irritare Leones, Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town, Burning Words, GallingGala, Feminocracy, Maia at Alas A Blog, Ottermatic, BastardLogic,The Rotund,Three Rivers Fog, Pam at Pandagon) […]

  8. Thanks for the great post and discussion. Intersectionality seems to be a tough concept for privileged folk. Always looking for new ways to broach this with people.


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