exactly that

really, i have.


in the events of the last few weeks the controversy of the feminist blogosphere could not escape my attention.  it is on pretty much every blog i read almost daily.  it has both snapped me to attention and overwhelmed me.

and i haven’t written one word about it.  not one.

partly b/c i don’t know how.

i admittedly don’t know how to approach or participate in issues involving race.  i know that i find racism fucked up.  i know that part of what feminism means to me is seeing all people as equals and treating them as such.  i have wanted to be an ally for so long, and even considered myself such, until lately.  as much as i try i can’t seem to find where i fit in this whole thing.  if i say i want to help, am i overstepping and undermining those who are already doing such wonderful work?  if i say nothing am i pretending that these things don’t exist?

it is not anyone’s job to teach me about racism or how to deal w/ it, or how to be an ally.  this, i know.  believe me, i know.  but it is frustrating to want to be allied w/ other WOC and not fucking know how or if to fit in.  

so i sit here and say nothing.

and i watch sadly as people who do incredible work turn away from the feminist blogosphere.

and it robs the world of one more voice.  one more important voice throwing in the towel.

and feminism is all the worse for the wear.


but while i am sitting here, i am reading, and wondering, and trying to process it all.

b/c it isn’t about me, or what i want or how i fit.  it is about people who don’t have to wonder b/c they are living it daily.  and it is about the work they do, and the way we fail to support them.


i didn’t come into feminism realizing the way things worked.  to me it was a philosophy.  it was a way to help make sure that people get treated as people.  it was supposed to mean that everyone is a human fucking being worthy of respect and dignity.

and what have i learned?

i learned that some of the people who have drawn me into the movement are missing half the point.  while i sit here losing sleep and hurting for the loss of valuable voices they dodge or excuse what has been going on.  it’s not what i thought it was or what i wanted it to be.  but i am going to stick it out and try to work to make it what i thought it should be.

i learned that b/c i am perceivably white i am missing a whole section of women’s issues, fuck, of human issues, and that no matter how much i try to be an ally, i am never going to do it right or do it justice.  this isn’t a “poor me” statement, but an admission that i simply don’t know what to do or where to begin.


so, i follow the only advice that i have gotten.

to listen.

and i want all WOC/POC who stumble upon my blog to know i am listening.  i always have been.  i am a friend and an ally to those who want one.  i am willing to just sit here and listen if that is what is wanted, also.


it is all i can do.

i am not a widely read and prolific blogger.  i am not breaking any ground or changing any lives.  i am fumbling along and grasping at straws.  i broaden my reading list as i find more.  i follow links and find things i didn’t know about before.  i am a tiny infant in the feminist world, and am still trying to cover it all.  i am learning to walk and missing half of the steps.

i started this project here to have an outlet, to start writing again.  it has turned into so much more.  but it has a long long way to go.

and some day i will hopefully get closer.

but, in the mean time, i will keep babbling.

but more importantly, i am going to keep listening.

b/c for the life of me i just can’t think of any other fucking thing to do.


Comments on: "i’ve been paying attention…" (11)

  1. “it was supposed to mean that everyone is a human fucking being worthy of respect and dignity.”

    I’ve recently met some people who have a lot to learn in this regard.

    “i learned that b/c i am perceivably white i am missing a whole section of women’s issues, fuck, of human issues, and that no matter how much i try to be an ally, i am never going to do it right or do it justice. this isn’t a “poor me” statement, but an admission that i simply don’t know what to do or where to begin.”

    Your revision to “human issues” is important. It’s not about women’s issues or men’s issues, nor civil rights issues; it’s about human rights. We all have issues.

  2. you have to give to earn, my dear. telling us that we are making things up to avoid personal responsibility is not the way to go.

    it’s convenient to say that it isn’t ever about women’s issues or civil rights issues when it isn’t something you have to deal w/ face on. when the playing field is even then i will agree w/you. until then, i don’t care for your rhetoric here.

    congratulations, you have missed the point again.

  3. And you don’t have to face men’s issues, so don’t presume you understand them, or that they don’t exist. Once again, your defiantly narrow perspective prevents you from either seeing the bigger picture or realizing your potential for contributing to it.

    I’d say the playing field is never even, but that implies that one even exists in the first place. When you realize it doesn’t, then you’ll be free.

    If you don’t think I deal with civil rights issues on a daily basis, you don’t understand what civil rights are.

  4. yes, that is it. i am failing to see the “bigger” picture, here aren’t i?

    i am the one pretending that things don’t exist. i am the one w/ the narrow view, huh?

    no, i don’t have to face men’s issues daily, very good observation. i could never fully understand them. what i do understand is that i live in a world where men’s issues are default. the concerns of men are the standard, and anything else is strange, or other people whining. when two people get married (BTW, a heterosexual privilege, but i guess i am making that up too, to help my LGBT friends avoid their personal responsibility too) it is assumed that the woman takes the man’s name. people start calling her Mrs. [husband’s last name] w/o even asking. if she keeps her maiden name, not even asking him to take hers, mind you, all of a sudden it is assumed that the man is not manly enough to keep his nagging wife in line.

    when a child is born, the father, absent or not, whether or not he even concerns himself w/ the child or any obligations thereof, he gets joint legal custody, by default, for being the father alone. even when he was abusive to the mother. even though he didn’t want to be involved to the point of avoiding and dodging a paternity test.

    i also can’t perceive what it’s like to be a black man trying to get approved for a loan and refused. i can’t perceive what an asian woman who gets assaulted on a plane and then yelled at for not living up to the docile asian woman stereotype has to deal w/. but at least i am not sitting in the corner w/ my fingers in my ears pretending that these things do not exist, or refusing to acknowledging the fact that perhaps i might just be better off that huge fucking sections of people out there.

    at this point, i know i could paint out about a nonillion other examples that, as in the past, you will ignore. so i am done doing that. it isn’t my fucking job to educate you, especially since you seem happier than a pig in shit w/ your flagrant ignorance.

    so go back to your imaginary land and pretend that you have all the answers. but some of us will never be able to conveniently pretend that the playing field doesn’t exist or that straight white men don’t have an advantage over everyone else by default. in all honesty, if i could choose to live in your ignorance, your “freedom” as you call it, then i would.

    but that is one luxury that i will never afford.

  5. As per usual, I bow down to your brilliance.

    This week has been horrible. As a white feminist, I just feel like– THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING I CAN DO — but like you, I sort of find myself unsure as to how– and if– i can help this.

    PS: Who’s this Will? I’m getting a mega bad vibe :P

  6. Will is a “privileged fuck” and “asswipe” (if I can quote myself) who has been banned from my blog. I don’t play with rape apologists.

    Ouyandan has more patience than I though. And his comments on this post show that someone needs the feminism 101 post on “why not a humanist movement”.

    Back to the topic at hand- listening is the first (and most important) step. But you can’t be afraid of talking and saying something stupid. Look at JC at my place. Two years of saying stupid things (often) and he is becoming a feminist and learning what it’s really like. Now none of our arguing would have done a damn thing if he wasn’t open to begin with.

    We are open to changing our thinking about racism. We have to brave too.

  7. hey everyone! thank FSM that a man came in here and told me that i am not realizing my potential!

    i don’t know where my patience comes from. perhaps from some naive thought that people will eventually take a step back from their own privilege and try to see another point of view. ya know, i live w/ three grown men, and it isn’t hard for me to see their point of view on a lot of things when we discuss these topics. it’s mostly about admitting that their’s may be a side that you haven’t considered. no, i don’t know what it is like to be a man living w/ a feminist and trying to make sure that you don’t cross a line…but the fact that they make that effort makes life a lot easier, and the fact that i will listen when they tell me how they feel about our discussions helps.

    anyhow…on the issue of the actual post.

    i am trying to step out. i am beginning to engage in discussion where i can, and where i feel i am not over stepping. i let my presence as an ally be known, and then quietly read and absorb. i want to be sure that i understand b/f i comment.

    it’s like Jane Fonda said (to whom i own a blog letter):

    You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don’t find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do.

    anyhow…thanks for coming by again!
    and Tobes, you flatter me, really.

  8. I connect with your dilemma. On a recent break form school I decided to do some independent study, and learn about Muslim women. This is a group of women that have largely been ignored in the womens studies classes that I had taken. One of the first thing that I realized is that I approached the topic through the lens of Western privilege. As a WOC I never really viewed myself as having privilege.
    I then had to learn to believe. Or more correctly unlearn everything that I had been lead to believe through the process of my socialization. This I accomplished though active listening. I learned that asking small questions rather than looking for a macro theory, led to a greater understanding of a religion, and culture that was foreign to me. It also did not make the person I was questioning feel as though I were making them a representative of their race. Finally in the words of Maya Angelou , when someone showed me who they were, I believed them the first time. I am still no expert on the middle east or on Muslim women, but I have gained a greater understanding and appreciation for these women. I will always come from a framework of Western privilege as that is the genesis of my socialization but at least I am aware, and have learned to individualize. I hope that you are able to use the aforementioned strategies I listed to help you become an ally of people of color.

  9. WOW, Renee! that was beautiful, and really great advice.

    thank-you, b/c that is an angle that i am trying to see.

  10. “Rape apologist”? Really? What, you think I defended it, or something? I didn’t. I don’t. Rape sucks, and it can happen to anyone–male, female, gay, straight, etc.

    As for marriage, it’s not heterosexual privilege. And never mind that it’s a (mostly) religious institution recognized in a legal context, anyway.

    “i also can’t perceive what it’s like to be a black man trying to get approved for a loan and refused”

    What does being either black or a man have to do with that situation? I just got rejected for a loan this month.

    RQ=”listening is the first (and most important) step.”

    Except, of course, to people who don’t agree with you. Those people, you call “privileged fucks” and “asswipes.”

  11. […] while i have been musing on the issue of my own privilege, and trying to understand racism better, i have noticed that it has changed the way i look at things i used to really like. […]

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