Brock Turner, Hillary Clinton, and the Need for Representation

A little less than four months ago, when Michigan had its primary and I cast my absentee ballot, I indicated that I was not going to publicly indicate who I endorsed at that time, although I indicated that I supported a Democrat and I previously indicated that I would be Uniting Blue.  Tonight, Hillary Clinton will become the presumed Democratic Nominee, the first woman ever to win the presidential nomination in a major party primary, and I’d like to tell you about my support for her.


This is what a President looks like.

Since February, and even before that, I have rarely, if ever, posted articles in favor of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, although I have posted many articles in support of progressive principles and the Democratic Party. Reading the tea leaves on my comments, you might suspect that I support Ms. Cinton. And I do. Now. In February, I cast my ballot for Mr. Sanders. That choice was difficult for me, because I admired (and admire) both candidates deeply, but I was swayed by the level of enthusiasm I saw in young people and people who normally perceive themselves as disenfranchised. As an aside, this is what truly won me over for Mr. Obama eight years ago – a story I have told several times, seeing African American elders waiting for the bus in Hyde Park and Kenwood, with Obama tees over their dresses, I fell in love with them immediately, and Mr. Obama by extension. Although I support Mr. Sanders’ positions on many, if not almost all topics, this is really the way that I personally “felt the Bern.”

Fast forward a few months. Tonight, Ms. Clinton will win the nomination, and she will be beset by attacks on her clothes, her voice, her experience, her qualifications. The system that put her in that position, by dint of a sizable majority of voters in Democratic primaries, will be cast as rigged. There is little appearance that her nomination, at this phase, will be met with any grace by most supporters of Mr. Sanders. In fact, my Facebook timeline is full of people commenting on how they “don’t know a single person who wants Hillary to be president.”

Well, I’m one, even though I voted for Mr. Sanders. Why? Because she is perhaps the most experienced, qualified candidate ever to run for the office, especially in foreign policy. Because she has devoted her life to helping children and families, something you all know I’m incredibly passionate about. Because she’s a unifying force within the Democratic Party and she will work effectively with teammates in the House and Senate to, yes, “get stuff done.”* Because she will build on Mr. Obama’s gains of the past eight years, and she will lift up progressive candidates, including women, who will change the dialogue in Congress. And yes, because she’s a woman, and I don’t find that insignificant in a country that’s never had a woman President.

So what does this have to do with Brock Turner?


This is what a rapist looks like.

Although Brock’s violent rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, a crime in the process of which he was caught by passing cyclists, who had to restrain him until the police arrived**, happened some time ago, it burst onto the national conscience, just in the last couple of days. From the judge’s absurdly lenient sentencing (leading now to a recall campaign against him), to the remarkably callous and indifferent excuses given by his friends and father, to the deeply sexist, racist, and classist way in which this entire situation was treated***, this particular rapist’s case is unique only in that, due to the courageous voice of his victim, people are taking notice. The truth is, this happens every day. Most victims of rapists like Brock don’t even get their day in court. And when they do, they generally face the male gaze – from the judge, from the jurors, and from the media. And, just like with Brock Turner, their rapists are too often made into heroes while they are vilified for being women.

So, yeah, we get it, Brock is an asshole rapist, and the deck is stacked in favor of asshole rapists. But how do these stories come together?

Today, California will hand Ms. Clinton the right to campaign as the first woman nominee of a major political party for President. This will be the first time in more than 200 years that a woman had even a shot at being President of the United States. As clear as that message is that we are reaching a new phase in the empowerment of women, that same week, that same state, California, through the bench of Judge Persky, sent women an unequivocal, equally inescapable message, that our histories will not be trusted, our experiences will not be validated, and that justice will not be ours. It’s hard for me to ignore the simultaneity of the presence of these events in my consciousness.

There are many things that must happen to end what feminists collectively call Rape Culture****. Men must act – rape is almost entirely committed by cis men, and thus it is men and not women who must stop raping. The issue of unprocessed rape kits (and women sometimes being forced to pay for their own rape kits) needs to be addressed. There are many, many other things that continue to need to be done in changing the way we teach consent, empowering the voices of victims and survivors, and making sure that they have access to the services they need.

But we also need representation. Let’s be clear. For all the male allies we have, the hegemonic culture of men still does not take rape seriously. Like, at all. A woman presiding over Turner’s case might have produced an equally lenient sentence, but it’s hard to imagine a woman trivializing the situation to the extent that Judge Persky did*****. Not all women consider rape a hate crime, but most of the people who see it this way are women. As long as the bench rarely looks like us, as long as the legislature rarely looks like us, as long as the Oval Office has never looked like us, we are fooling ourselves if we think that men will carry the torch in its entirety to hold rapists accountable. We are fooling ourselves to think that rape victims will see justice in a system run almost entirely by men.


Emerge Michigan’s own 2016 class of women preparing to storm all levels of government.

This is where it’s not really about Ms. Clinton. Don’t support her? Fine, although think carefully about what could happen if Mr. Trump were elected. Think it’s not just about putting one woman in one office? You’re absolutely right. But we must support putting women in positions of governance and power. This moment, which is just one of many more that have already come and must keep coming, was not brought to us by magic. This moment was brought to us by decades of hard work. Before Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm. Organizations like Emily’s List, the PAC that supports pro-choice, progressive women in critical races, need our support. Organizations like Emerge America and its state affiliates, who are grooming future generations of women to run for office and win elections, need our support. The fact that we, as women who support Ms. Clinton, are dismissed as “vagina voters” covers over the fact that men simply cannot be trusted to create a world that is fair to women, by themselves.

This also goes beyond women and beyond rape. For very similar reasons, we need more Black and Latino/Hispanic voices in our legislatures and on our benches. We need more queer people. We need more disabled people, more people with lived history of mental illness, more in short of everyone who has experienced marginalization. Where we are those people, we should step up and look for opportunities to engage – locally, at the state level, or even nationally. We should consider more critically the need that we fill the progressive bench. Whether or not we can do that, the organizations and groups working to make these things happen need our support. Support as many of them as you can, support the one you like the best, but support them.

Whatever your feelings, and whatever your healing process needs to be, if you’re a supporter of Mr. Sanders who isn’t ready to unite, yet, or even if you never do come to support Ms. Clinton’s bid for the presidency, get engaged in some kind of activity that increases representation of people who are “othered” in governance. Even if you can’t see yourself living in a world with Hillary, get engaged in making sure that, someday, we might live in a world with no more Brocks.

* Bitches (yes, I said bitches, and I’m proud to be a bitch) get stuff done.

** Just in case you thought I’d be content describing it as “twenty minutes of action” … yeah, … no.

*** Particularly when compared to the equally absurd sentence (but in the opposite direction) Jasmine Richards of Black Lives Matter received for “felony lynching,” let alone the sea of mostly brown and black faces serving long prison terms for non-violent drug crimes.

**** Although the term is admittedly cissexist, some feminists, often including myself, choose the alternate term, Dick Culture, that emphasizes the hegemonic nature of the cis white man (and his dick), and which emphasizes that rape is one terrible consequence of a system of hegemony that causes many, many ills to society.

***** And it’s no coincidence that a woman is leading the recall campaign.

Making Sure Smoking Cessation Works for Everybody

Thank you to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan for giving me the opportunity to share the story of what we’re doing at the Grand Rapids Pride Center and other LGBT organizations in conjunction with the State of Michigan.

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Smoking rates in the LGBT community, and many other minority communities, are higher in Michigan than in the general population. This mirrors a national phenomenon. And it’s not okay.

…Although I’ve been an advocate for public health for some time, smoking cessation hadn’t been one of my core issues, until the last couple of years, when MDHHS and this project helped me realize how important it is. I’ve also been thinking about how all the work I do on public health topics – on helping Michiganders be healthier and helping Michigan communities be more inclusive — intersect with my own desire to start a family. Mother’s Day came and went recently, and alongside thankfulness for my own mother, it is a time for me to renew my commitment to seeing a world where all people can choose to have or not have healthy, loving families, on their own terms, just as I wish to be able to do.

And smoking and family planning are related.

Read the rest over at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. And please support Planned Parenthood! They’re a resource our communities depend upon, and we must stand in solidarity with them and shut down the baseless attacks made against them.

A Guaranteed Income Minimum?


Will the Swiss really vote to endorse a guaranteed minimum income, or grundeinkommen? (Picture of Vals, Switzerland, Wikimedia)

The New Yorker today did a piece commenting on a Swiss referendum to institute a guaranteed minimum income – the number they chose works out to about $25,000 a year.
You know, I could see some appeal to this (no wonder libertarian heads were the first to wrap themselves around this idea)… Suppose there were a guaranteed minimum income that didn’t stink (it sounds like the Swiss proposal is around $14.50/hr). I agree with the data: it’s very unlikely that there would be a steep drop in labor participation – this idea that people are lazy and don’t want to work really does not seem to hold credence (we have a serious problem in that we have not recovered our pre-recession employment participation rate, but it is not because of lazy people).
But employers at low wages (since wages below the proposal are not living wages in most places) would either have to make themselves more compelling or pay more – and this could lead to the kind of structural redesigns that the workplace needs, to transition to a society that does not depend on a strata of people who are paid very low wages, which is something we really, really need to do, because income disparity will kill us.
Just some thoughts…

My Public Testimony on the Proposed Michigan Board of Education Guidance for Serving LGBTQ Students

I had the opportunity last week to speak briefly, on television, about inclusion of LGBTQ students, particularly focusing on transgender students. This comes in the context of a draft guidance from our state Board of Education, and I want to share more detailed thoughts on that topic.

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Thank you so much to WOOD TV 8 for having me out to discuss the need for schools that are safe and empowering for all Michigan kids

Below is the text of my public comment on the Michigan Board of Education’s Draft Statement and Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students (you can read the guidance here). Public comments are being accepted through May 11, 2016, and if you have something to say, I strongly encourage you to speak. You can make your comment and read comments here.

Dear esteemed members of the Michigan Board of Education,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment publicly on your draft Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for LGBTQ Students.

I bring two perspectives. First, I am a neuropsychologist and have dedicated my career to empowering at risk youth, including advocating alongside and on behalf of youth in the welfare system, traumatized youth, and neurologically different youth. From this perspective, I firmly embrace and recognize your important point that Michigan will not be a leader state in education as long as the message is sent that, in school, “open season” is observed on some groups of at-risk children. Your guidance sends a clear message that LGBTQ students matter, and that they are worthy of respect and dignity in Michigan schools.

Second, I am a transgender woman. I did not come out when I was in school – in fact I came out just about two years ago. Like many young people who are increasingly being open about their gender and sexual identities, part of my reasoning in coming out was that, by owning my whole identity, I could be more authentic. This has helped me be a better fiancée to my fiancé, a better neighbor, a better psychologist, and a better community member, because I bring my whole self to my work, advocacy, and play. But importantly, like many young people coming out, a very important second reason is that I wanted to use my visibility and privilege to, in taking a public stance and being “out,” help make the world a safer place for at risk youth. My childhood was significantly affected by in school bullying and victimization. I was able to receive support and rise beyond this. However, for many vulnerable students, this cycle leads to increased days of school missed because they do not feel safe in school, poor academic performance, dropping out, and getting caught up in pipelines that lead to negative outcomes in young adulthood.

I have had the opportunity to integrate my two perspectives. Here in Michigan, I serve as a board member of Equality Michigan. Nationally, I have been involved in policy development for serving LGBTQ youth at the Association of Children’s Residential Centers, where I am a board advisor, and I am also co-chair of the Committee for Transgender People and Gender Diversity at the American Psychological Association. In these settings, I have had the opportunity to review many model policies and guidances from schools and governing bodies, and this gives me confidence in saying that the guidance you are proposing is very consistent with national and international best practice in serving LGBTQ youth.

I hope I don’t need to tell you what I suspect, from these excellent guidelines, you already know. There is simply no evidence, from the many, many schools that already implement policies that are informed by guidance like yours, that this policy creates room for new victimization. Indeed, it merely acts to eliminate victimization already happening. We know this not just from outside of Michigan, but from many Michigan school districts that quietly, in service of creating schools where all Michigan kids belong, have already implemented policies that significantly mirror your guidance. Nor, of course, do guidances like yours create a situation in which LGBTQ students receive preferential treatment – indeed, we as LGBTQ Michiganders just want to be treated like anyone else.

In summary, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and recognize you for setting forth a high quality guidance that brings international best practice to Michigan, and which will help Michigan schools in their path towards being consistently the best in the world, for all kinds of children, which is precisely what all Michigan children deserve.


So Done With Primaries Rancor

I feel a little badly complaining about this. I mean, the Democratic Party candidates for President are really good. And the majority of the debate is really civil. Whereas, on the Republican side, when anyone actually has anything interesting to say, it’s a rare exception to the rule of foolishness. A really rare exception to the rule of foolishness. Like, I don’t know that anyone has said anything interesting yet. Some of them haven’t said anything interesting in their whole lives.

I wrote last year about how I finally joined the Democratic Party and exited a lifetime of being a self-declared (and practicing) independent. This was a work in progress – a year ago, I wasn’t ready to make this kind of commitment, but a few months later, I was ready. Although I still value tremendously the local options to work across the aisle (they seem fewer and further between in Washington), I’ve generally thrown my voice in with those who are focused on being “all in” for whomever wins the nomination.


More of this and less bickering, please. Because this? Kind of melts my heart. Source:

To be fair, primaries have traditionally been hard for me. I didn’t really have a strongly held opinion even by the early summer of the year Mr. Obama was first elected, although when I saw the elderly ladies in Chicago waiting for the bus with Obama tees over their dresses, I kind of fell in love with that. In fact, again, this time, I did enjoy getting to learn the positive side of how Ms. Clinton and Mr. Sanders make people excited about our country, and I think probably in the end I am more swayed in my ultimate decision by how the candidates move the Americans all around me and stir them to make this a better country, than the relatively fine points of the differences between the two of them in policies or views.


For a while, there was some really wonderful role modeling going on, here. (Source: NPR)

For a while, I likewise enjoyed the debate process, because it showed that Democrats can be civil and fierce at the same time. It didn’t teach me anything much that I didn’t already know about the candidates, but I liked the conversation the debates engendered, and I learned things from that conversation.

That’s maybe something I’ve learned, very slowly, about myself. I have strongly held opinions on all kinds of things, and I think about all kinds of ideas all the time, and about how to solve all kinds of problems, but the thing I personally value the most is how people feel. A president who can help make Americans feel like heroes and help us get back to acting like heroes is what I want, more than anything. Because I think there’s so much more hero in so many more people than they realize, and leadership is about helping them embrace the truth about themselves. I want to be a heroine, and I want to live in a world full of heroes and heroines.

With respect to the Primary process, though, we’ve gone past the point where we’re doing much of that.

Over the past several weeks, I have simply gotten sick of what is left. I’ve gotten sick of the bickering and the posturing and the attacking. It’s not that I want to keep Democrats poised to attack Republicans … it’s that I think we have an immense amount of work to do — I think there are many ways in which this is a pivotal election, and things could go good, or they could go crazy bad. I’ve gotten to the point where we’re not really building people up anymore, we’re just trying to bully people to get them to endorse “our” candidate. And I’m just not interested in tearing other progressives down.

So I’m done…

Done with the BernieBros.
Done with the BernieBashers.
Done with questioning someone’s feminism because they say, “I’m with her.”
Done with questioning someone’s feminism because they “feel the Bern.”
Done with arguing about whose campaign team is cheating whom.
Done with questioning speakers’s fees.
Done with pulling out LGBT rights histories and measuring them like they’re, you know.
Done with criticizing Millenial voters for being young and dumb.
Done with criticizing women of the second wave for wanting a woman in the White House.
Done with disputing whether Mr. Sanders was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Done with questioning whether Ms. Clinton is all about the Benjamins.

SO done.


My vote is in there. I promise, you guys. Please vote. Your voice matters, even if you use it privately.

I have to vote by absentee ballot, which is actually the first time I’ve ever done this, and thank you to my friends at the Michigan Democratic Party for helping me through the process. And I’m not going to talk about who I endorsed in here, although obviously, it wasn’t any of the Republican buffoons. I did something like this once before, when it came to using my own life as an education into HIV prevention, and I ended my article by noting that I got tested, but my results were none of your business.


I love this, every time I see it (and I get to be reminded of it thankfully often). Source: sisterhoodnotcisterhood on Tumblr

Here it goes again. I endorsed one of the two of them. I’m not going to tell you which. The way things are right now, I feel like this is the radicalest thing I can do, and you know I love being radicaler and radicaler (and I still love neologisms).  I’m not making this choice because I’m better than anyone. I get into fights, and I have to make pledges to myself not to pick fights — not in the sisterhood, and not in the Democratic Party. My call to other Democrats: please, please, engage in the rest of the Primary Season, and then really, really engage after that. Be proud, if you’re a strong supporter of either candidate. But just like we must protect our sisters, let’s keep our eyes on making a stronger country, and a stronger Party, and a little less on being right or beating other Democrats.


Our Everyday Chance to Politicize Our Purchasing power

I saw this video from Fusion Network, on Facebook, and it made me think about how many choices we make, every day, that we don’t realize have direct links to class warfare and the devastation of poor or developing communities.

In fairness (not to Monsanto, but to reality), the situation is more complicated in India among small farmers than being solely driven by Monsanto. Mother Jones provides an excellent summary of research on this topic, demonstrating that GMO crops are good for large, heavily industrialized, commercial farms, but bad for small Indian farmers. Which actually (since there are those who get angry and rush to defend Monsanto and the rest of big farming) amplifies the situation, because there are known harms of big farming that are not directly linked to Monsanto*. By, erm, well, exposing the panties we wear, the video highlights how intimately the damages of industrialized farming touch us, but it also teaches us a decision we make — what, a few times a year, maybe once every month or two? — is tied into a larger political context. Of course, all the other clothes besides our panties, and obviously, the groceries we buy, play large roles in this, but it emphasizes that, just like we choose to recycle, we choose to limit overconsumption, we choose to take energy saving actions, we have meaningful choices to act in humanitarian ways, when we do consume, as well.

This provides additional context to something I already knew about — I knew about the farmer suicide crisis, and I am attuned to, but admittedly don’t make purchases regularly based on, the dangers of big farming. But it re-emphasizes for me how small purchase decisions add up — last year, we went through this with a big purchase decision, in that we decided early that I didn’t want an engagement ring that meant that some kid in Africa had lost his arms in the blood diamond trade. There are more and more options emerging to avoid this, but we liked the idea of an old ring as a solution, and the one we found, from 1760, older than the Declaration of Independence, made before Jane Austen was born, fit the bill. In this case, I ended up with a ring that I love more than I could ever have imagined loving any jewelry.


Getting to spend my life with Teri is what matters, not any ring… 

Just last week, we were dealing with our furnace, which had broken down due to a problem for which Carrier faced and settled a class-action lawsuit**, and a news article that showed up on Google News, about Carrier driving jobs out of the Midwest to low labor foreign markets came up.

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The thing is, I really, really like being warm.

Which makes me ask, who is being devastated so I can be warm? In the case of our furnace, we had the lawsuit-related work done, and we didn’t find downstream damage at this time, and so we decided to keep it. We did pro-actively get two quotes yesterday, and one more coming on Monday, to know what our options are. It had occurred to me only that the relative merits of continuing to use a 93% efficiency furnace from 15 years ago (because a lot of the environmental harm from products comes from creating them in the first place) might outweigh the benefits of jumping to 96% efficiency in a new furnace, but it had not occurred to me, again, that my decision was not loosely tied to class politics but much more directly tied. Interestingly, even the National Review is angry about this, although, predictably, they see a conspiracy in green company stimulus, on which Carrier “dined and dashed” in accepting these funds and later moving jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico.


Without having to engage in jingoism, it is true that there has been a huge outflow of manufacturing jobs in the US, and that these jobs were replaced with service sector jobs at much, much lower wages, and often altogether without benefits (source:

Now I perceive the geopolitical questions involved in “American” jobs vs. overseas (or over-border) jobs as complicated, and as I’ve mentioned, after only driving cars, for instance, made inside the US, I currently drive a Prius made in Japan (primarily because of concern over global warming and the link of air pollution affecting early brain development) and an EOS made in Portugal. But it had really not occurred to me at all that there might be salient differences in the employment practices of these companies, even though, for instance, I know like the back of my hand, from my diversity consulting and training work, that certain durable goods manufacturers (Whirlpool and Maytag being examples) see aspects of hiring practices as strategic.


So obviously, I knew about this — I’ve even used this Maytag ad in presentations as an example of the evolution of companies embracing gender and sexual diversity (source: Maytag)

The point isn’t that I’m better than other people when I succeed in thinking about these things, or that I’m worse when I fail to think about them, but more that these opportunities to politicize our lives and our voices are actually all around us. When we stop and think about them, we’re cognizant of them, but in my case, I haven’t trained myself to think quickly enough about the implications of my choices in the everyday.

And while people bemoan things being politicized, I want my voice to be politicized. Because, back to Fusion’s point, there’s so much more at stake than panties. And even if they aren’t going to save the world, how I talk about how I buy them, who knows? It just might.

* One thing I want to be fair about is that there is a lot of rhetoric in this conversation, particularly around GMOs and claims of direct health harms that have not really materialized. I am mostly concerned here not with the possibility that the GMO food you might eat (or wear) might make you sick, but with the probability that the farming practices used to make it are making communities and countries sick, economically.

** Of course, this also generated response pieces like this one — for what it’s worth, our furnace is diligently inspected annually, and all the HVAC people we spoke to about the problem agreed that, in their experience, this was a design issue with the furnace and not primarily a care / maintenance issue.

Embracing Feminism Young and Old

An interesting juxtaposition of events occurred, Saturday, and of course, it is precisely these juxtapositions that contextualize experiences, and in the best of times, help me learn to use them to be a better feminist.


The beautiful Hope College campus (source: Flickr @Leo Herzog)

I went to Holland, MI (my hometown) to see a production of Vagina Monologues at Hope College. Hope is a well-regarded, albeit socially conservative liberal arts college, affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, a mainline Protestant church. The Monologues are needed at Hope — when I was in high school, I attended special programming for high school students there, and later, I also took two Hope classes before I went to Michigan (Russian and Calculus II, an interesting combination). So it was never my “home,” but I have been thankful to be its guest many times — and irrespective of the form of its policies, I have felt pretty welcome when I have been there. Even back twenty years ago, in connecting with students, particularly in environmental action, I remember learning from young women at Hope their concerns about sexual assault and a general atmosphere in which women did not feel safe on their campus. And yet, the Monologues have played there for years, but this was the first time that Hope “allowed”* them to be performed on campus.

This year’s production was directed by the granddaughter of dear friends. That grandmother, herself, was involved in the production of the Monologues a generation before, and this presaged other intergenerational feminist moments the Sisters on stage shared. That made it deeply special, in a whole other way besides seeing the justice of this play finally airing on campus at Hope, these voices finding wind on those grounds. The production she directed, the art that she and her friends and colleagues created, was brilliant — it married Monologues both old and new** with the ferocity of young feminism in 2016. It was cutting, reflective, considerate, angry, funny, sad, joyful, hopeful, worried, and all gloriously at the same time.

After the play, Teri and I went out for drinks and had an amazing, intergenerational feminist dialogue. We got home a bit before one in the morning. Back to the juxtaposition I mentioned, the second event then happened, when I came home that night, by way of seeing posts on my Facebook timeline (I first heard of this from my fabulous and inspiring friend, Lizz Winstead). It was something I really expected never to see: Gloria Steinem letting Sisters down by saying things that were frightfully wrong. There are really hardly any people alive whom I respect like I respect Gloria Steinem, and prior to that night, I didn’t even consider such a moment possible.

You can watch this, for yourself, above (and also read Ms. Steinem’s subsequent apology). This is not a call out nor even a call in to Ms. Steinem, not primarily. I don’t feel at all qualified to do anything of the sort. This is also not the important conversation about idolizing Sisters in movement, and forgetting that they are human beings*****. My position on the Democratic primary (the young feminist comment occurred in the context of support for Bernie Sanders) remains that I will fight hard for the winner, and I appreciate the (usually) respectful dialogue and engagement in problem solving that is being generated by the Primary. I don’t even have much to say about the equally awful things said about trans women in the conversation.

All I want to do, at the moment, is talk about my experiences being around young feminists.

I have been engaging with young feminists a lot — locally, in informal and formal settings, and online — and what I saw from this fierce group of young Sisters (and from the men and others, as well, in the room) mirrors my experience with young feminism. Tumblr doesn’t really work for me, and although I have an account there, my primary online experience with feminists is Cuntry Living***. I’ve been learning there, from feminists half my age and even younger. To my delight. Seeing them, or hearing this production at Hope, leaves no doubt in my mind that the future of feminism (not that I’m passing my torch anytime soon) is in very good hands.

Young feminists are fiery. They are deeply, naturally, unaffectedly inclusive — approaching the very dream we all have, as represented by the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., that one day his children and “their” children would someday play, side by side. For young feminists play, side by side, and true play is always glorious. Young feminists are intersectional in a real, true way — they are learning, as I have been investing in learning, how to move beyond white intersectional feminism. For them, feminism is so much more clearly and artlessly a way they talk about the web of kyriarchical oppression, and I love that they are finding not just ways to ally and advocate for those who are oppressed outside of girls and women, without denying their womanhood or the concerns of our sex, but a way to make this their lifestyle. They are reflective and introspective, both when they are not, and when they are, loud and proud. They are so brave in melding their personal, lived experience, the fount of feminist authority for all of us, with the broader issues that affect us all.

There are challenges, to be sure, that young feminists face. One, I think, is that the young feminist movement, alongside the young queer movement, shows a tendency right now to engage in what, to me, seems like a very taxonomical, classification-oriented approach — this can be seen, for instance, in Tumblr graphs of sexualities or genders.


Source: Tumblr @queerascat

What I want to, gently, say about this, is not that all these identity states are not important (they are!), or that advocacy around them is not important (it is — for instance, one of my ally priorities this year is to educate myself about asexual/aromantic people by way of being a better ally). My concern — gently — is that down the road of this kind of approach is the challenge that understanding feminism, or understanding queer theory is really not well suited to the approach of memorizing tables of information.

In young feminist discourse, this often means that, quite separately from content notes or trigger warnings (which have their own complicated politic), there is an intense classificatory urge, that I see in the discursive system (and in which I participate, myself), when I am around young feminists, to label or assign things — as transphobic, as biphobic, as heterocentric, as cispatriarchical, as sex-worker-exclusive, as classist, as ableist. Identifying our prejudices and biases, our internalized self-hatred, and problematic**** views and mindsets is so important. But sometimes, I see reticence to have in-depth conversation about the processes at work, beyond just applying the labels. This is where the danger lies — for this to be the end point and not the beginning point of feminist process. The process, in a way, mirrors how we use social technology — this blog post itself is tagged and categorized, and hashtags are a kind of taxonomy, and these kinds of taxonomical processes really underwrite much of the explosive capability of these tools to get activist information out in people’s hands. But, again, to me, and I say this gently, I think a Future Feminism (more on my thoughts on Future Feminism) that stops here (which young feminists have not done, but which will be a challenge down the way), that limits itself to classifications and tags and categories and markers, will not be enough, and although it will spread information among the educated like wildfire, it will not teach or nurture or build up subsequent generations of feminists.

These challenges mirror the challenges of every generation of feminism. In many ways, they are far milder — they are not the racism of the first wave, or the heterocentrism of the second wave, or the gender essentialism of the third wave (or wave 2b, you know, I’m trying not to be overly classificatory here). They are challenges nonetheless, and they belong to us all — not just young feminists as defined by chronological age.

I think the very discursive system in which we argue about whether “young feminism” or “old feminism” is better to be deeply problematic. To me, one of the most beautiful things about being a feminist woman is that I have so many mothers, so many sisters, and now, even so many daughters in movement. Like when I work with young children, my goal in support of this future generation and their future feminism is not to tell them what to dream, or even how to dream it, but to support them in acquiring the tools they need to push feminism farther, to dream their own dreams, and to bring those dreams into reality. That is a privilege — not in the acknowledging one’s privilege sense, but in sense of honor. I want them to be good feminists, but I do not presume to know what a good feminist is, nor do I presume that I measure up to that moniker. As a mother in movement, I expect to be uncool at times. When I was young, this was where we made our parents drop us off a block from school so that our friends wouldn’t see us kiss them goodbye. And although I engage in moments to teach what I can teach, I learn, also, and I truly do receive far more than I give.

To see our relationship as “old” feminists not this way, but as a form of seniority in movement, will be disastrous. We will not win tomorrow’s war with yesterday’s weapons. We will not build a sexism-free, an any-ism-free, future, with the tools of the patriarchy. This is my opinion — not my dogma: we cannot think hierarchically about young and old feminists. We have to be unafraid to learn more than we teach, as I have always done when I am around young feminists. We have to stop dictating who wears the mantle of authority if we wish to abolish mantles of authority and the privilege they confer. Put very simply, I will make no one free if I say to them, “You belong to me.”

I spoke with the grandmother of the director the next morning, about other things, and we touched on this issue, sharing our very positive experiences working with feminists younger than us (since she is a generation older than me, and I am a generation older than her granddaughter), how we are inspired and draw energy from our work alongside them, and how we work hard not to control but to nurture them. And that, ultimately, is what I want to say in response to Ms. Steinem’s comments. I just want to share my lived experience, a middle-aged woman who is proud to stand among young feminists.

* We all ultimately are allowed and disallowed, although we are all ultimately freed not by others, but by ourselves. So whoever stamped the approval, those young women took their rights, for rights are not truly given.

** The Vagina Monologues is a living work, and over time, vaginas, or monologues, as you wish, have been added, and their voices lifted. Notably, the Monologues of today bring voice to Sisters who might not have been heard when the play was created, including trans women and ethnic minority Sisters.

*** I’d love to settle the score on how CL is represented in the press — I will do that another time, but for now, I will just say that my experience with CL so much differs from what is claimed about it, that when I read about it, it is barely recognizable to me.

**** By problematic, one typically means throwing someone else under a bus for one’s own sake.

***** It’s noteworthy here that I already crossed a threshold of disagreeing with something bell hooks said, likewise, not something I had expected myself to be doing.

Really Embracing People with Mental Illness

Self-disclosure is scary, and we’re taught not to do it. Sometimes, that’s the right call – one study I read suggested 85% of physician self-disclosure in care was not helpful to the patient. But it’s important to just talk about the experience of being ill, particularly when other privileges mean I might get taken more seriously than some of my siblings, and particularly when it’s the experience of mental illness. In my case, that experience was with anorexia, which started around 2001 and tailed on and off over the next several years (“pulling myself up by my bootstraps”), followed by progressive, fairly steady recovery after treatment (in Chicago, in 2008-2009).

An estimated half of the population will never experience mental illness of any kind. Far fewer will experience an eating disorder, specifically, and none will know just what it was like to be me, since my anorexia experience is not like your bipolar experience, and it is not even, truly, just like other anorexia experiences. So, you may not understand “us.” For we do still become an us, for people with mental illness experiences are a marginalized group, of sorts.

That 85% statistic – it arises when self-disclosure is really to make me feel better. That’s where self-disclosure goes wrong. I’m not posting this for me. I’m posting it for all of you who will never know what this is like.

This is my MMPI profile. I took the test eleven years ago, in the winter of my first term in psychology graduate school, at the University of Florida, at the age of 29.

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My MMPI-2 taken just over eleven years ago, during my first year in graduate school.

I’m not going to tell you everything about how to read this. The short version of the scales on the left is that I didn’t have a biased responding pattern – I told it like it was. In the past, at many psychology programs, it was actually a requirement (dating back to the intermixing of psychoanalytic blood into psychology) to not only take the MMPI but undergo psychotherapy with a faculty member, and that MMPI would actually be used clinically on the graduate student. There is so much wrong with this that one scarcely knows where to begin. At Florida, we were asked to take it, but we could fill in whatever responses we wanted, and no one saw our MMPIs but us. But in my case, I wanted to see what it said, and I was honest – navigating the thin line between covering over my flaws and making my problems out to be worse than they really were.

The good stuff is the right-hand side. Ignore scale 5. It basically says, “She’s a girl.” That reveal hadn’t been done, yet. For the rest of the ten scales on the right, scores above the red line are called “elevations,” pretty much just like any other elevated lab result. Of the nine scales (ignoring the girl one), six are elevated. That could be interpreted as being pretty bad news. By general practice, this much elevation in an unbiased profile is worrisome.

There’s a lot to the profile. Some have commented that young women seeking psychological help actually have this pattern not uncommonly – in fact, it almost seems like it’s a young-women-figuring-themselves-out scale pattern (at least in our culture and time). Some choice statements about the profile – that I may be trying to change the way the world perceives me (very true, in those days), and that women like me “tend to approach problems with animation, are sensitive, and feel that they are unduly controlled, limited, and mistreated” (okay, yeah, so it’s like you KNOW me… and thank you for the Oxford comma).

So don’t say, “Well, these numbers didn’t represent you.” They did. I was pretty sick at that time, and I was certainly trying to figure myself out and trying to deal with a world that thought I was things I was not. On all sorts of levels. Although I made so many new friends in Gainesville, the loss of stability of living in one state for all my life was significant. My diet was restrictive, and although I was stabilizing, and I made a conscious decision to be ready to be able to take care of patients the next year (no clinical work in year one), I had gotten to a point where I was always hungry, I had lost so much fat that my back hurt sitting in hard chairs for very long at all, and food scared the hell out of me. I would be done with purging – I may even have been by then, but if I had, this was a brand new accomplishment. That bit about becoming paranoid under extreme stress? Yeah… ummm, that happened a couple of times, that year. There were other times, sadly, and this is kind of a statement about graduate school, that my paranoia was not paranoia at all, but well-founded and cross-validated fear – and since I know this facet of how I work, I am sometimes overly conservative in admitting that I am not being paranoid and that, rather, my fears are justified and my persecution is real.

I pulled up a 2008 study of women who had midlife eating disorders. My profile wasn’t totally standard – in particular, somatic distress was much higher in most of them, whereas it wasn’t an issue for me, really (I sort of trooper’ed through when my back hurt, for instance). The mean profile , a 2-3 combination, is different than my 6-7 – my highest scales were much more elevated than the mean participant in this study. Other data, though, including anorexic teen girls, was more similar to mine.  Meaning simply, that, together with what I mentioned above, this data was actually pretty consistent with how I was doing that year.

There’s more that I’m not going to bother turning into pictures and putting in this blog. Although there are many changes that were part of the anorexia experience that have been permanent, generally speaking, my mental health has been better, most of my life – consistent with this, that old MMPI is very clear that it is short-term distress that is being captured and not long-term personality problems.

Library - 0593

There’s a teeny-tiny self-portrait in there.

In the context of that distress, what did I accomplish in the year (roughly) centered on this data point? Well, having been accepted into a world class graduate program, I moved out of my home state (from Michigan, to Florida) for the first time, ever. I completed the jump from engineering to psychology. I acclimated to graduate school and made significant progress towards my Master’s Thesis, as well as making many new friends and doing well generally in my new program. I read dozens of books (for work and play) and god-knows-how-many journal articles. I wrote a novel (I never liked the ending, so it’s been sort of a shelved project, although I hope to figure out the ending and resurrect it someday). I ran my first (and only) marathon (I’ve since run numerous half marathons and a couple of 25k races, although right now, I just run short distances, for fun). As far as my anorexia went, I stopped purging, permanently, that year. I didn’t gain back to a healthy weight for some time after that, but I stabilized, reversing the course of weight loss over the prior three years and stepping away from the rock bottom and ridiculously unhealthy low weight I had hit the prior summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had other rather remarkable years. But the summer of 2004 to the summer of 2005 is a contender, for sure.

I saved this MMPI profile all this time, and after a number of years (or more particularly, once I was board-certified and there was less potential to use this to discriminate against me), I started jokingly mentioning it in talks I gave. I came across it cleaning up some of my files in storage, and I pulled it out to scan a copy, since it’s something I want to keep. And it occurred to me that it was time to talk about this openly. I recognize it’s truth – that it did, indeed, identify me, but I incorporate all I accomplished that year, because it certainly did not define me in any holistic sense.

No one needs to write a blog about how much someone can do or be or accomplish while they have some physical ailment. It just goes without saying. It doesn’t, for us. And sometimes it isn’t true for us (just like it isn’t always true for them). Sometimes it wasn’t true, for me. But, it’s a single-dimensional lens to look at that MMPI profile and over-infer what the person who holds it could or could not do. You might have gotten her wrong. You might have gotten caught up on what sorry Admissions Committee even let her into graduate school, or point out the obvious, that she’s lucky to be alive (I am, every day). Think of it another way, as a story of the walking wounded. Think of it as a story of resilience. Think of what it portended, that in that time, 11 years ago, she could accomplish all that, for what I can do, now. And along the way, come to celebrate with me, instead of pitying me. For no one ever needed your pity.

On Being a White Feminist (No, Wait, Please Hear Me Out)

I am a white feminist. You guys*. It’s true. I’ve made the argument before that the idea that I function as a woman of color is at best, problematic and defies any uncritical acceptance. I want to go further, now, and point out that I am a white feminist. This puts me in illustrious company – Amy Schumer, Taylor Swift, that actress** who said something ignorant at an awards show, that other one who said something ignorant at an awards show, that other one who said something ignorant at an awards show. Well, you get the picture. And a pretty one, she is not.


You guys, our feminism is WHITE. With just a touch of color over on the far end. Just like this picture. (Source: Unilever)

I don’t actually want to spend this post proving this to you. But let me start with the whitest feminist of my white feminist perspectives. When people say things like, “Can’t we understand that we’re all just people first?” I shut these conversations down, often, particularly recently. I shut them down by pointing out that, precisely because I am a woman, I am messaged in subtle and overt ways, over and over again and since my birth, that I am not a person – that women are not people. The second wave rallying cry, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people,” was necessary as precisely in that day, because society did not behave in a fashion that suggested it believed this statement, as the phrase Black Lives Matter is necessary in more recent discourse.

This is the whitest thing I have to say, of all the white things I say and all the white things I do – I see myself as a woman first, before all my other identities. This is white feminist precisely because, as I’ve come to be educated, my feminist – even my womanist – sisters of color very rarely see things this way, because race is almost always their most unignorable experience. It isn’t mine. So they’re proudly women, but woman is somewhere lower on their list, most commonly. Often second. In contrast, most of the time, like other white feminists, my race is only relevant in discussing my experience because it privileges and protects me. And like my white sisters, I am more often unaware of it than in any other state. What is important about this is that I am not saying I “pass” for white – I am saying I function as white. These two are not at all the same thing. I benefit from privilege. I did not seek it out.


You guys, this is how far our sisters of color have to go to correct the bullshit that we too often call feminism.

But back, for a moment, to my white feminist identity. I say I am a woman first, not because I want all sisters to say this, but because this is how I experience the world. I stop, later, and recognize, yes, I do have a race, and that it is indeed part of who I am. And that I have a class – actually, I am aware of my class more often than my race. But even that is a relative rarity, while I am almost never unaware of how being a woman affects my experiences.

I’m not entirely saying I don’t experience racial microaggression***. Occasionally, other white people – like really, really white people – can make a play to erase my privilege. In fact, last night, I had one of these conversations with a white woman. You know the one. It began with. “You’re so exotic. Where are you from? Don’t say Michigan.” But this not only happens less and less, but it seems to be less and less effective at marginalizing me.

Sisters of color, if you are not already fed up with me, have not already stopped reading, please know this (and continue reading, if you’d like). My goal is simple: I want to help us white feminists figure out how to stop being such a pain in the ass. Don’t be nice. You know it’s true. That is precisely what we are. My goal is to help us be the good Sisters we are meant to be, and not the bad Sisters we have been most of the time. My goal is not to celebrate the outsize space we take up in movement, but to help us to a path to actually allow us to address our misbehavior and stop stealing your space.

Back to my fellow white feminists. Okay, so a solid chunk into this screed, how am I going to accomplish this goal, if I have not turned you, too, off? I think I have an answer. Like all very complicated things, it is also very simple.

We are faced with a conundrum. We are rightly called out for our white feminism. We are told to knock it off. In fact, we want to knock it off. Badly. Erm. We want it badly, but we actually instead do it badly. Here’s why. We replace white feminism with white intersectional feminism. Which, unsurprisingly, is crap. What do I mean by this? White feminism is the queen of all single-cause social justice movements. Its one cause is to help white women feel less worthless all the time. You see, we take up outsize space within movement, and we take up even outsize space in racially mixed groups outside movement, but we take up far less space than we are due in polite white society. And we do, actually, feel worthless, like all the time.

This is the conundrum in which we’re stuck, much to the chagrin of our sisters of colors. We are white feminists because of our experience of marginalization. Our experience, in which race is a source of privilege and not marginalization, begins young. We are not born hating women, perhaps. We open our eyes and see our mother (most of us do), and we love her. She is, in fact, nearly everything. But soon, we notice that the world does not love her, does not value her. And perhaps we learn to hate women by first scorning her as the world scorns her, or perhaps we do not learn to hate women until we recognize ourselves in the mirror. But hate women, we do, sooner or later. And as we are nurtured on the mothers’ milk of misogyny, we learn that we are needy. Overly emotional. We are told and told constantly, although it seems like we try to take up no space at all, we are in fact taking up far too much space. We are told that, although it seems we give far more than everything we have to others, we are greedy for withholding our bodies, our hearts, even our smiles. This is, perhaps, why we sit on the edge of chairs even when they are made for only one person. Because we are not worth the space of one person – we can at most be a fraction of a person, and even then we are inevitably too large a fraction. This is, perhaps, why we paint our smiles on twice, once with makeup and once with the falsity of “putting forth one’s best.”

Our feminist experience then, white feminist sisters, is that we learn this state, we become awakened (often by sisters and sometimes even by brothers of color, who have always had our back in a way that we have not had theirs), and then we band together with others of like experience – that is, other white feminists (because, help us though they did, our experience did not feel quite like the experience of our sisters of color, because, in fact, it was not quite the same). So we bond with other white feminists. And we do get as far out of privilege-borne narcissism to realize that their suffering is like ours, and that the means to our own happiness and theirs are inextricably linked. This is our feminist experience – it is not quite like the feminist experience of our sisters of color, many of whom are taught to hate their race even before, and far more thoroughly than, they are taught to hate their sex.


Kyriarchy, as far as I know, has nothing to do with that annoying 80s song (Source: That annoying 80s artist who sings that annoying 80s song)

Being confronted with the white feminist nature of our white feminism, surprisingly, is precisely where we go most astray. For we are faced, it seems, with two options: White Feminism (capitalizing for the willful practice of foolishness), or intersectionalism. Some of us choose White Feminism. We turn to actively saying things that are destructive. Our feminism becomes a tool of kyriarchy**** and not of liberation. For the rest of us, who would rather die than knowingly put people in chains, the only option we have is intersectionalism. But we don’t know how to stop being white feminists (back to lower case), so we become white intersectional feminists. This, I am arguing, while insidious in its danger, has the possibility of being even more problematic than White Feminism.

The why and wherefore of this comes directly back to how we became feminists – our marginalization histories, and our years of internalized misogyny before we were awakened*****. Sadly, this is the only framework in which we can process the fact that we take up too much space in movement – both in feminist movement and in social justice movement. We do two deeply destructive things in response. They both run deep in us, but for different reasons.

The first, which comes from our marginalization, is that we cover over our need, as we always did before we awakened. We recognize that, in the scheme of things, although we are less privileged than wealthy white men, we are often very privileged. So we place ourselves in a classic old feminine hierarchy, one in which too many of us spent our whole childhood being victimized, deciding whether our pain is of enough merit to voice, and we find that it is not – almost always not. But our silence is precisely what suffocated us before, and it does precisely the same now. And suffocating, dying of asphyxiation, our feminist yearning to survive takes hold, and so even in trying to do this, we lash out. Except now, and precisely because we were holding our breath to try and make space for them (or rather, to try and avoid our habitual stealing of their space) that we lash out at our sisters and brothers in arms. But we know this is wrong, and we hate ourselves all the more for it.

The second thing we do is much like the first, but it comes not from our marginalization but our privilege. We take on the role of Overlady (or Overlord, if your feminism thinks you will be equal when you are a man). I have seen this so many times. White intersectional feminism, unlike intersectional feminism that is not white, is hegemonic in general, like all white feminisms. Its hegemony comes from our whiteness and not our feminism. When she is taught intersectionalism, she “naturally” takes on a conductress role in which she becomes Arbitress of the Intersections. She self-designates her role as deciding who matters more, and who matters less. She silences thus, not just herself, but her sisters as well, for the misguided hope of “giving her voice” to her sisters of color, when indeed, they need not be given her voice so much as she must stop stealing theirs. This, of course, is the prison of internalized and self-policed misogyny in which too many of us were reared – that is, we are leading our white feminist sisters back into precisely the gilded cage from whence we emerged, and we believe it is feminist that we lock them back in the cage and stand guard******.

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This is what that Arbitress role looks like when it is held by a dude. Please overlook the grammatical lapsing in my comment, however, which was originally directed to our new Mayor

It should hopefully have become very clear that she does this because she is white, not because she is a woman or because she is a feminist.

We need, very simply, to stop being white intersectional feminists and engage in a more assertive******* dialogue in which we embrace our feminism but learn to undo our whiteness. Our white feminism tries to say, because race marginalization is so much more onerous a burden on others than gender marginalization is on us, womanhood doesn’t matter. That is not a feminism at all. This is not an assault on our sisters of color – only we white feminists say anything this stupid. Note that our sisters of color who reject the label of feminist call themselves womanists. But we create a feminism that liberates others but does not liberate oneself, and this encapsulates, inevitably, that most unfeminist sentiment of all. If I do not believe I matter, then I cannot truly believe women matter, for I am a woman. I learned this years ago but forget it, time and time again, with surprising alacrity.

I become the proverbial empty pot from which no tea (but much hatred) may be poured. But likewise, a feminism that says that race marginalization is not real, or, astoundingly, says treatment by society is better when one is poor and black in America than rich and white, is just foolishness masquerading as feminism. Of all the intersectional feminisms, only white intersectional feminism would make either claim. The problem is not that we white feminists do not occupy intersecting identities, but that we occupy a great many privileging ones, and the still-profound marginalization we experience is due to just the one or two, having to do with our womanhood and femininity, that are not privileging.

We thus cannot simply drop the white and be intersectional feminists, which would be a simple answer and of great service to our sisters of color if it were possible. We do not know how to do this. We might, someday – this would do so much, if not everything, to stop racism. This is because, and we must learn this, race is entirely about the fact that our whiteness makes us “matter” in the kyriarchical system of racism, and the non-whiteness of others makes them not matter, or at least matter much less. Thus, if we could stop being white******** – that is, not stop having a racial identity, but stop having an hegemonic racial identity, then we should undo racism itself, because it is precisely the hegemonic nature of our racial identity that created and maintains racism.

It is not incidental but paramount in understanding the situation, to realize that white is not a single racial identity but a cluster of racial identities into which groups have been privileged, over time, and it, itself – not our skin color but the in-group powers we are conferred when our skin colors are granted the privilege of whiteness, is the source of the hegemonic systems that hurt us and with which we hurt our sisters and brothers in arms.

This is the non-parallel nature of the system. One does not need to learn to stop being African or Latina. But one must learn to stop being white. It actually does operate much in parallel with the hegemonic nature of manhood, into which one is privileged, and the captive role of womanhood, into which one is cast. Just as we have learned that eliminating sexism, even from ourselves, is no easy task, eliminating whiteness, even from ourselves, will be no easy task. One does not need to learn to stop being a woman. One must learn to stop being a man in the hegemonic identity sense, if one wants not to be a tool of patriarchy. African and woman are not hegemonic identities*********. White and man are. We white feminists have a foot in both worlds. The wealthy white feminist is like the child who leads far and periodically darts back to base to tag up and avoid being thrown out by the pitcher for stealing.


I make, dear sisters, a sporting analogy (source: Wikimedia)

What is different about this line of sentiment is that it recognizes we cannot fiat our way out of whiteness nor expect others to do so. It allows us to confront the domineering nature of the discursive system our whiteness creates, while continuing our own liberation as women, and reducing gender-based oppression. I am neither asking us to magically stop being white, nor asking us to accept our whiteness as “the way things are.” So in the end, I offer no magic bullet, but rather a turning into the sharp points. I call us as white feminists to do the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, and learn how to stop being white, and in this way, and this is precisely why I am recognizing my white feminism, I believe we can learn to stop being white feminists and finally become feminists.   

* After all, I do say “you guys.” Like, a lot. And like, like, a lot. And it labels me as in group instead of marginalizing me.

** Another post, another time, on why it is not such a feminist victory that we say actor instead of actress, but I will respect the preference of others, and it seems that Delpy uses actress, which is admittedly the term I would also use, were I an actress instead of a provocatrice.

*** And I’m certainly not saying that all my Indian-American feminist sisters are white feminists. Probably most of you don’t feel you are, and the circumstances of my experiencing life in such a white fashion are a complex thing that still remains much shrouded in mystery, even to me.

**** If intersectionalism is the recognition that we operate in intersecting identity spheres that confer on us layers of privilege and marginalization, and that make our experiences, each of us, unique, then kyriarchy is that kissing cousin who reminds us that patriarchy itself is one of intersecting systems of dominance and marginalization that, itself, interacts with other systems, such as racism and classism.

***** Awakened with a kiss, doubtless, this is a white feminist fairy tale, after all, and one reposes gracefully to be woken by kisses in our world. It’s just a fairy tale of the proper, Grimm sort. That is, the fantasy is more warning than pleasant distraction.

******  Right outside the cage door, since someone must be free, after all, and it might as well be me. And we fool ourselves that, because we are in the prison as wardens and not prisoners, we are free, when we can never be free as long as there are prisons.

******* When we teach communication, we teach that there are three principal styles – aggressive, assertive, and passive. A passive style – which is nadir and birthplace of most of us white feminists – is one in which the needs of others matter, but our own needs do not. We know this too well, but our feminism was liberating to us entirely because it exposed this lie, and it will never be a source of liberation for anyone if it returns to it. It is the style of the self-made martyr. An aggressive style – in which our needs matter but those of others do not, is the quintessentially White Feminist style. The white intersectional feminist style tends to be a mixture of the two – passive aggressive. Which you’ve probably been taught is not a compliment.

******** Here I reveal that when I talk about being white, I am entirely talking about privilege, and the harm done to the world because I am given it. I do not aspire to whiteness and claim to have reached it – I find myself stuck in it and am trying to escape it.

********* At the risk of having a ridiculous number of footnotes, there are some rare but notable exceptions to this statement. In the context of exclusionary feminists who operate not in the context of women and men, but in the context of cis women and trans women, woman in their usage becomes a hegemonic identity into which one must be privileged. In general, in this way, Straight is a hegemonic identity and queer identities are generally not, but a like exception in the context of queer women’s culture is when lesbian friends reject a woman whose partner comes out as a trans man, perhaps because he will now have to struggle with having moved into a hegemonic category as a man. I feel like I have to run the risk of footnote perversity and explain this exception, since I was reminded of it by a couple I just met yesterday, who had that latter experience.