Facebook feminist groups and LGBT(87 Posts)
I would like to run something by you folks.
I am aware that a good few feminists are lesbian. But is it normal for feminism to be intricately entwined with LGBT theory and activism to the exclusion of almost anything else?
I follow a few feminist pages on Facebook, and it seems that they post way more stuff on LGBT theory than feminist theory. Loads of posts and outrage about trans women being forced to use male restrooms and loads on equal marriage rights, but very little about FGM, the millions of lost women in India and China, the very rare post about women being lashed/stoned for extramarital sex after being raped in the Middle East.
Of course I understand there are some overlaps between the groups, but surely feminism is first and foremost about issues that are peculiar to women?
At risk of a flaming, to focus on trans and gay issues to the exclusion of women suffering horribly at the hands of men, particularly in the developing world, just smacks of first world privilege and frustrates me.
This Mumsnet topic/group seems to be focussed first and foremost on women, which is why I'm asking here. Have any of you noticed similar on Facebook? Are there any feminist groups I've missed which keep women front and centre? As a straight feminist, I just don't feel like I belong on some of the groups I follow.
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I think there will always be issues within any movement as to what work gets done first and I think you always need to look at who is in a movement and what the power biases are (for want of a better term).
How we overcome this is a topic of massive debate. For some it becomes a concept of "Feminisms" that different people may partake in, in different ways. For others, it's about "one school" of feminism with very clear ideas of what feminists should do.
With regards to genderqueer, it's only a label I have seen assign to themselves, it is definitely not on to dish out that identity to someone who hasn't chosen it for themselves and if someone is doing that, you should call them out on it.
There is also a lot of debate around the queer label. There was an article in an Irish LGBT magazine saying discussing label and that people should be happy to be called gay, rather than lesbian or bisexual (yes, really). Here is a response to it: www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/04/02/we-are-not-your-afterthought-responding-to-lgbt-soup/
What is interesting in the comments, is people feeling that "queer" has become a trendy label and who exactly is queer.
Back to the topic in hand, I do think that certain areas of online feminism can have a very narrow focus. Something that pains me, is the concept that being pro-choice, just means discussing abortion rights and when any discussion of motherhood is raised, the discourse becomes full of fail and how hard it is to be child free. Some of the most heated topics, I've encountered have been around SAHM-ing, children in public spaces and so on.
Also, you will get people discussing things not so much to benefit people, but to show how right-on and marvellous they are.
AnnieLobeseder, you may already have read it, but if not, "Unpacking Queer Politics: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective" by Sheila Jeffreys is very good on the subject of why feminist interests are incompatible with queer theory. It is also interesting to see the parallel drawn between the fight for gay liberation and women's liberation.
You can read the first chapter here Gay Liberation and Lesbian Feminism
I think I misunderstood some of LRD's posts last night and caused confusion. Sorry for the derail <must not post when sleep deprived>
kri, please don't leave. I just want to understand what you're getting at.
I've been very carefully noting that a lot of what I say about other people's views are just anecdotes and I can't speak for them. I don't know why you reminded me that one person can't 'genuinely say' they know a belief to be shared in a group? It was me who was insisting we don't generalize about these terms, explaining that some people I know don't like 'queer' while others do.
I am not quite clear what my age has to do with it. Yes, some people my age like the term 'queer', and yes, I do think it is probably more common for younger feminists to be interested in queer theory. But other people my age don't use those terms - just like any age group, there are differences and to suggest if you don't use the terms you don't understand seems unfair to me.
I'm not following the bit about young people being 'selfish' or 'disengaged' - are you saying that if we don't use terms like 'queer' and accept queer theory is more important than feminism, either we're old and out of touch or young and selfish? Because it felt like that and I did feel a bit (or a lot) got at. Not sure I saw what beach saw but then, I was concentrating on other things in your posts.
Your posts are usually great and wise but I can't tell if you actually meant to say what I've understood here?
I agree with wot she said.
Look KRITIQ, don't feel the need to leave the thread because of me. I have seen your posts on feminism in MN for quite a long time now and I really don't understand why they are so often about telling other white women that they are racist/don't understand intersectionality/need to get with the programme. It is pretty insulting stuff BTW (although you are perhaps not aware of that - I'm not saying you do it intentionally). But it is.
I don't get it. My resolve cracked and I commented on it. I commented on it because I think there is a serious issue of women being made to feel that we can't concentrate on ourselves and that we must solve all the world's problems before we can be allowed to do anything much for women (i.e. never). And I care about that and I thought it was what the thread was about.
Sorry Annie for the derail although I personally feel it is relevant to the discussion.
KRITIQ - don't go, the debate here can be somewhat more, erm, vigorous that on other parts of MN (who would have believed it!), but the intention is always (well, mostly) to understand and engage, not to shut down or shout down. Don't feel criticised.
FairPhyllis - that's exactly my view. To put everyone who doesn't feel like the stereotypical man or woman into a whole new category of "queer" is compeltely disingenuous. Instead of labelling themselves as "other", why not just campaign for inclusiveness in regular society, why not push for there to be no stereotypical norm which we should struggle to fit into? It seems like a determined effort to be seen as different, when really you're just as normal as anyone else.
There is a gay male mod on one of these Facebook groups who posted a rant about gay marriage, saying he opposed it because it's "an insidious attempt to normalise homosexuality". Huh? Surely homosexuality being seen as normal (which it is!) is a good thing? He seems determined, as do many of these queer activists, to be labelled as different and stand out. But we're all just people, and he's really nothing special.
It seems very attention-seeking to me.
I also question why a male queer activist is a moderator on a feminist board, but that's their decision, not mine.
Okaaay, knew it wasn't a good idea straying outside the Pet Forum here! Nevermind . . .
My experiences of the use of 'queer' in the US suggest that it is the norm in at least some circles there for it to mean non gender-conforming. I have a friend there who describes herself as a straight woman who is queer. I don't doubt that this is a sincere attempt to describe her experiences, but it does feel like an excluding term to me - it feels like a word used by a club of people who like theory to set themselves apart - when as far as I can see if you struggle with gender then you are pretty much a normal human being.
Oh and my understanding of womanism is that it is about women of colour analysing and describing the particular cultural modes of racial misogyny that are reserved for women of colour.
To make it a divisive issue is shoddy.
OK. I'm just scanning this thread now, because as happens so often, a discussion about feminism being about women having the right to be about women (for crying out...) is turning into accusations of racism/elitism/non inclusiveness.
Women will continue to be oppressed whilst we tolerate this sort of manipulative emotional blackmail.
<Checks out of MN once more>
Thanks Annie for starting this thread. I think the issue is very very interesting, valid and revelatory. But god forbid that women actually get to care about themselves, we can't have that.....
Btw, I am very aware, as you say, that I fit into the younger group who're under 30 and therefore are perhaps missing something here. I don't think we're disengaged or selfish, though.
kri, I have very carefully and consistently stressed the fact that no-one can know a belief is shared by everyone within a group ... was this somehow not coming across?
I thought when I said, repeatedly, that was only talking in anecdotes or wasn't sure how typical my points would be, that perhaps it'd be clear I meant this. I apologize if that was opaque and I should have spelled everything out more plainly and more often in each post.
Sorry, I'll read the rest of your post tomorrow but that struck me immediately since I felt I'd clarified it several times already and I am worried about what it is that I'm failing to say?
LRD, my understanding of womanism is also second hand since I'm a visibly white person myself and don't experience the same kind of intersectional oppression a woman of colour does.
I know you said that a trans woman said to you that she believes the "gender binary" is real, and I totally accept that is the experience for her, as it is for many folks who don't identify as trans. But, I'm not sure one person can genuinely say they know a belief to be shared by all people within a group. As a woman, I could say, "all women believe such and such," and even if I sincerely believe it, and the person I say it to also believes it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's an absolute truth.
From the study of young people I mentioned above, if anything, those who identify as trans* or "gender fluid," believe identity is far more varied and complex than just a binary. I'm wondering if some of these concepts we are struggling with here may be related to a different perception/perspective/understanding/experience of younger people coming through that we slightly older folks (and I know I'm alot older than you ) are struggling to get our heads round. That's not to negate the experience, analysis, chosen terms, etc., of older people, regardless of their identity. I'm just wondering if some of this is partly a case of "things feel/are/seem different for younger people."
What makes me kind of wonder this is that all round t'interwebs, I hear somewhat older feminists (and I'm thinking 30 plus - sorry folks!) lamenting young women's disinterest in/dismissal of/poor grasp of/generally doing it wrong/etc. of feminism. To be fair, in the wider media, we get plenty of stories about disaffected, disengaged, selfish young people generally, so this could in part be a reflection of that. Maybe it's because of the work I do that I don't come to these conclusions, because I see alot of young people who give a damn, including alot of young women committed to feminism, whether they choose to use the term or not. Just thinking outloud here . . .
Oh, my knowledge of womanism is also second-hand, I was trying very hard to make that clear!
As regards the second part - not, that's not at all what I said! I am saying that the needs of women should not be excluded from feminism. Hardly revolutionary, you would think! Yet it can be.
What I was actually talking about when I referred to the many and the few, was gender identity.
I believe that only a very few people in our society are happy with gender identity as it currently is. There are men who enjoy feeling 'masculine', who think that it is purely hard work that gets them success. There are also women who love being 'feminine' and point out that it is so nice for women to enjoy men opening doors for them.
These people are the minority, the few. If we keep on insisting that gender roles are necessary, we pander to these few privileged people.
I fail to see what this has to do with being trans, except that many trans people do assume a gender binary is real. I am fortunate that I know a woman who is trans and who has told me that this is a reductive view of all trans people.
Ria, I think your description of how womanism as a concept came about and why it still exists fits with explanations I've had from womanists. I don't think though they would say that it comes from a "negative agenda," but rather forming their own response to their experience of sexual, class and racist oppression that simply isn't seen as a priority within feminism, socialist worker type movements or civil rights/anti-racism campaigns. Intersectional oppression is a very real, lived experience for most women of colour, who feel compelled to "segment" their identities in order to be fully accepted into any one of these movements. So, not surprisingly, they choose to forge their own identity and focus on liberation form an intersectional perspective.
(Hoping this thread isn't heading in the direction I fear it might be . . . )
TBH most of my knowledge of womanism is second hand so I may not have my facts straight.
I may have misunderstood you but 'sacrificing the needs of many people to the needs of the few' read to me a bit like there are more women than trans* people so their problems don't matter. I don't feel the trans* community is a particular threat to women, I know not everyone agrees.
Well, of course. I've never heard anyone, even the most radical feminists I know (which may say something about the radical feminists I know) who think anyone should 'suck it up' about anything where they're marginalized by the patriarchy.
I am in a bit of a bind here, because I understand from women who're womanist that it is much more than a negative agenda formed in reaction to feminism. In fact my understanding is that womanism has its roots very old movements, doesn't it?
I think one can campaign to destroy 'gender' as a concept without saying that people who are made unhappy by their body/gender need to suck it up. Maybe if gender ceased to exist then no-one would feel the need to be trans*, but until that point let people cope within the patriarchy as they deem best.
And to my knowledge womanism is basically feminism for women of colour who felt that they were being told to shut up about racism because if it doesn't affect all (white) women it's not a feminist issue.
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