Girly Thoughts

June 1, 2008

I like this question better

Filed under: Gender,intersections,Race,the blogosphere,what they said — judgesnineteen @ 10:41 pm

So a while back I wrote about whether it makes sense to call racism and a lot of other things “feminist issues.”  My point was mostly semantic; I wasn’t arguing that feminists don’t need to worry about racism, but rather that I’m not going to say that everything is a feminist issue just to be fair, because 1) I think I can be fair without doing so, and 2) I don’t think that actually is fair.  And I still believe that, and I’d rather us call intersections “intersections” than try to fit everything under the title of feminism just because.

But Sudy at A Woman’s Ecdysis wrote a post that I just found through Feminist Allies that reframes the question.  Instead of asking “is this a feminist issue?” we can ask “has this issue been analyzed from a feminist perspective?”  That is SO much more useful.  Especially if you combine that with “has this issue been analyzed from an anti-racist perspective?” and all the other perspectives that we know are important and often left out.  Then you don’t have to worry about dividing the news up into the right types of slices.  And you can acknowledge that things are complicated and have many sides and many possible interpretations and affect different people differently; a quick example is how I just interpreted the Catholic Church’s stance against most, but not all, forms of birth control as coming from a belief that physical pleasure is sinful if sought for its own sake, while acknowledging that I could also interpret it as coming from sexist beliefs.  I think it comes from both, but it’s possible to look at one without looking at the other, and we need to try as many perspectives as possible (not necessarily in every individual blog post, but acknowledging that they’re there is helpful) to avoid letting certain people’s problems fall through the cracks.

I need to do more follow-up on the ideas that I laid out earlier about intersections in movements; specifically, how can we fight violence against women, sexual and otherwise, without relying on a racist criminal justice system?  (And racism is definitely not their only problem, but a big one.)  I haven’t gone into immigration issues yet because I’m not yet informed enough to give any worthwhile opinions. But I think the criminal justice issue is pretty important, since we appeal to the system all the time.  Can we work outside of it?  Can we fix it?  My problem here is that not only do I not know how to answer either of those questions, I don’t even know which one holds more promise (not that they’re mutually exclusive, but I think people tend to pick one to work with).

Another thing I wanted to mention is the idea that there are two sides to a lot of issues.  Take reproductive rights.  That means the right to have babies AND the right to not have babies.  A lot of times, and this example is no exception, two-sided issues affect different populations differently; some have to worry about one side of the right being taken away (sex ed, birth control, abortion), and others have to worry about the other side of the right being taken away (forced sterilization, forced abortion, poor pregnancy care).  And some people lack both.  So I think a rule of thumb to avoid letting some people fall through the cracks needs to be to keep both sides of these issues in mind whenever we deal with them.  That’s what gives women real human rights, after all; a woman who’s protected from rape but not given license to express her sexuality, for instance, is the madonna, and the one who can have sex but gets assaulted with impunity is the whore, and neither the madonna nor the whore is treated or viewed as a full human being, which is, you know, why we bother being feminists in the first place.



  1. You are right, it makes much more sense to look at how these issues intersect than to try to divvy up who takes what issue. Race and gender impact us all, and both can and should be considered in terms of the other.

    How did you like Madrid? I like the art museums there, but Sevilla is the city that I really love.

    Comment by habladora — June 3, 2008 @ 3:12 am | Reply

  2. YES!!!

    Ye gods, there are two sides to every story! I love your idea about keeping perspective on issues the different issues.

    Comment by theladymel — June 6, 2008 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

  3. Madrid was fun, the museums were great, but I did get the feeling that other cities in Spain would have been more enjoyable. I was partly just tired of traveling, but I also heard a lot about people going to Sevilla. I’ll have to check it out sometime…but not for a while, I need to get home! 😉

    Comment by judgesnineteen — June 10, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

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