Over the past few months I think nearly everyone that has a minuscule amount of decency has questioned their engagement in politics, world view, approach to interpersonal relationships and what it means to be an American. I’m not saying I wholeheartedly disagree with all of Trump’s policies or completely endorse all of Clinton’s. What I’m saying is that liking Trump, or disliking Trump, is based on a prioritization of concerns. If sexual assault prevention and prosecution are of top concern to a person they, in hierarchical order, disavow Trump. Even if the several instances of seemingly callous admissions of sexual assault did not also include actual acts of sexual assault one could not, in any way, accept Trump if sexual assault was at the top of their concern.
In the same manner people where sexism did not particularly concern them could support Trump without issue. If these same people saw illegal immigration as a top concern in no way could they support Clinton.
Perhaps this seems overly simplistic. Numerous articles have been written about the misogyny directed at Clinton beginning in the early 90’s as First Lady. In many cases I agree with their assessment that the vitriol aimed at exceeded anger on policy alone, but during this election something else was happening. We could not support the actions of the other. Which also isn’t surprising as politics in the United States has devolved into painting the opposition as unfit instead of explaining policy. (sidenote: I know Clinton’s policies were on their website, but speeches were dedicated to lambasting Trump’s personal behavior.
And this is where I have a problem. Because not only do we characterize someone like Trump to be just the worst. We also then criticize everyone else in the same manner. The day after the election some people in my city planned a meeting to start to take steps to prevent a Trump presidency. They picked a hotel in a neighborhood that is struggling with gentrification, currently, and many expressed they would not attend because it was at a bourgeois, white, gentrifying hotel. The problem being the hotel rehabbed a historic building that was not being used. It isn’t the developer that knocked down 2oo units of low-income housing. It isn’t the hundreds of still empty condos. It wasn’t Target or Whole Foods. But more importantly, being in a place that might show support for one thing was a top concern over working together to prevent Trump from becoming President.
In another part of the country a few women were planning a demonstration during the Inauguration ceremonies. They called it the Million Women March and almost instantly it was categorized as white women co-opting the title from the march of women of color in 1997. It was then criticized that we shouldn’t still be following white women. The name was changed and these women reached out to women from different backgrounds and were then criticized for the tokenization of minority women. All the while no alternative solutions or actions were around to step up. So with two weeks until Trump is to be sworn in a hobbled, divided, and now mostly useless demonstration is all that is left to stop it. Feminism.
I’m not a feminist. I was. But I won’t ever be again. You can’t be against the “women are crazy” bullshit by being actually crazy. Planned Parenthood is probably going to lose funding. The ACA is going to be dismantled. Religious Freedom bills are going to be more common and may even be written into the Constitution. This is real and I’m looking real hard with my side eye at feminists right now that thought this hotel couldn’t possibly be included in the resistance. Or white women couldn’t lead a demonstration. Because all women are going to suffer now in the every day to day. And the first to suffer most are going to be the least advantaged.
I am not a feminist.
Where is your hierarchy of concern? It’s like you read Audre Lorde and took steroids. You made criticism of white feminism central to feminism with devastatingly rigid adherence to intersectionality. That the slightest misstep was grounds for dismissal complete of anyone. “Attacking” the system, by attacking individuals. Like a child who can’t run home because they are upset there are bugs outside seemingly unaware that by running home they would then get away from the bugs.
I started writing this as admission that I was searching for something new. That I already saw serious flaws in what feminism had become that made me evaluate other parts of feminist theory. The following was my original thesis:
Like the Ethics of Care that Feminism, particularly within 2nd wave feminist discourse criticized, a replacement for feminism should include community based rationality that also celebrates emotive responses of nurturing behaviors. A world of pure rationality can only produce a world that encourages robust classification of all things including race and gender. But these classifications are only ever abstractions of identity founded through objective logic. It would be better to tie emotionality to logic and refuse to prescribe classification to anything but our own self and rely on the community, and the act that benefits the community rather than the self, charity, to build and then live in a world that respects a person as an end rather than the means of their identity.
I’m mostly still on board with this. Logic and rational thinking are driving, and have driven, feminism. The reasoning behind not doing the, now, Women’s March on Washington was there is a duty not to empower the system of white power so one cannot participate in an event led by white women. The reasoning behind not going to the hotel was to not support a system that marginalizes and displaces low-income neighborhoods, especially communities of color. The problem with both these approaches is that in this pursuit of feminist purity something else, much worse, happened.
We need more and better solutions, but more importantly we need to work together. Even if the work involves overthrowing our government and burning all religious buildings to the ground. Do you think everyone protesting the president of South Korea agreed on every point? Or the people of Iceland upset their president used tax havens all wanted the same replacement? (they don’t, they still don’t have a government) They agreed their presidents were awful. That was it. Why are we so insistent that we need pure heroes? That all of our actions need academic responses. Even in responses against ableism in academia the responses are academic!
I don’t know what I’m going towards. A friend of mine has been looking into Womanism which has a lot of really good parts, but mostly I’m still thinking that logic based philosophies are steeped in patriarchal systems. So, as of right now I am American. I still have hope for my country. Hope that we still can believe that being American is our first creed. That our differences will always be second to our citizenship. I can hope that the lie was in the practice and not the dream.