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.
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?