i’ve seen this more times than i can count.
i get that these kinds of quotes can be a “gateway drug” to feminism and/or critical thinking for lots of young folks… but lately i am just so TIRED of seeing and hearing them.
because you know what?
sometimes feminism DOES mean you hate men.
sometimes feminism means you ARE a bitch.
sometimes feminists ARE hairy angry dykes…
and they’re fucking allowed to be. i know that’s not really the message they are trying to presenting but it just feels watered down to me. i know the goal is to challenge the stereotype that only one kind of (lesbian-man-hating-fat-ugly-angry-hairy-butch-dyke) woman can be feminist, and that that idea is problematic and prescriptive… but consistently, when i see young women challenging that, they still tend to have an inherently negative tone about feminists who happen to be hairy. or butch. or angry.
i think that’s why i can’t handle this shit.
i think that’s why i miss the friends i had who would laugh about this shit with me. friends who would create zines like “dirty (un)feminist secrets.” it’s why i still hunt for moments like that online, it’s why i connect with rgr-pop’s and k’s and cassie’s ways of mocking this sanitized version of feminism with their own dark humour or unbridled rage.
perhaps it’s because i’m conscious that even at twenty-six, i’m still unlearning. still unlearning the sexist-racist-homophobic bullshit that i was immersed in on so many occassions as a kid. still unlearning that i don’t need to apologize. i’m pissed that i can still remember the number of times i apologized to men for not wanting to have sex. or for wanting to have too much sex. apologized to women for having slept with men, or vice versa. apologized for getting “too drunk.” or wearing too short of a dress. or for swearing in public. or for my body, my hips, my body hair. for my vulgarity. for being loud. for being angry.
i don’t want anyone to have to apologize for simply learning how to be themselves.
i understand that these quotes are, for some people, their own way of resisting that, and that taking the time (especially when you’re young) to put those frustrations into words, art, zines, and share them with everyone can be cathartic and productive.
but the number of times fellow feminists have asked me to “tone down” my anger? that talking about race is “getting us off topic.” that my suggestion that we use a different chant instead of “stand up fight back” for a less ableist chant is marked as “sidetracking” or “besides the point.” that other queers, activists and critical folks have used my femme presentation as a way to discredit the work i do? successfully?! of course i’m going to be fucking angry.
it’s why i “get” the humour behind memes like “is this feminist” and need to let myself laugh my ass off every once in a while at a movement i often consider myself a part of. it’s why i laugh at almost all of rgr-pop’s response to whoneedsfeminism. i get, to a certain extent, the message that the creators of projects and quotes and zines like this are trying to convey (discrimination/oppression/subjugation based on gender should be challenged) but i can’t handle the simplification of an incredibly complicated interconnected system. no one is challenging white privilege with these statements. no one is talking about how we can fight the good fight together. instead it just feels divisive and glossy. if it were as simple as quotes like this purport the fight to be, we wouldn’t need a century of “capital F” feminism and a million fucking waves and STILL be bringing up the need for intersectional analysis, and STILL be fighting transphobic assholes who actually dare to call themselves radfems, etc. etc.
goddamn. i just feel like everyone wants these guidelines of what is and isn’t feminist so they can simultaneously reward themselves and punish/chastise others (but in the most unproductive of ways).
on this series from carla william’s personal website carlagirl.net:
“Sorting through all of my photo boxes, I came upon a stack of Type 669 Polaroid 3½ x 4¼ prints, ones I’d quickly made about twenty years ago using one of those old Vivitar instant slide printers. Most I had shot using Polaroid 35mm instant slide film—Polagraph, Polapan, and Polablue. They were taken during my late undergraduate and early graduate years of study, when I was roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four.
I recognize in these photographs an exploration of one’s physicality, beauty, sexuality, power, and pleasure through humor, seduction, and performance. As much as my older, wiser self would like to claim otherwise, what I know is that there was nothing deliberate or political in their creation—that came later—I was a young black woman exploring the way I looked before the camera. Their directness and honesty and playfulness were only possible for me before I knew the degree to which any of it “mattered.” As I continue to see some of my favorite young black women artists like Takara Portis and Zanele Muholi exploring the representation of our bodies I am certain that it is still important, still vital to make ourselves—our bodies—seen.”
I’M ANGRY AND I FEEL LIKE WRITING ABOUT IT
…that the anonymous death threats and personal attacks in my ask box are sandwiched between love notes to twerkinfortheweekend and support from cassie and mccall. kind of perfect; it’s like their awesomeness is warding off the evil bullshit i don’t have the time/patience to deal with.
“Learning from the experiences of queer femmes of colour is paramount to building an inclusive, anti-racist queer movement. Too often, femmes of colour find that only parts of their identities are recognized; they do not conform to acceptable standards of heterosexual femininity or androgynous/masculine lesbianism. Ortiz, for example, describes herself as existing in-between communities. Latina communities regularly perceive her to be white, and queer communities perceive her to be heterosexual. Ortiz’s situation reflects Muñoz’s astute observation that queers of colour must face the barrier of white normativity as well as heteronormativity. Often, the queer community is not a place in which queers of colour have their identities affirmed and respected. Amy André, a “mixed-race bisexual African American Jew,” echoes Ortiz’s sentiment of being rendered invisible within the queer community because of her feminine gender presentation. In addition to being perceived by straight men as sexually available, she must constantly re-assert her queer identity within the lesbian community. As long as white, masculine gender presentation is seen as the queer body ideal, queer femmes of colour will continue to be invisible. Queers, as members of a community that places so much emphasis on deconstructing gender roles, must reject the sexist and racist notions that femininity is inferior to masculinity and that all queers have access to white privilege.”
I mean, I’m sick of all the white cisgender bullshit. What’s the fucking point of reviving a movement if your gunna revive its flaws while you’re at it?
And don’t start with arguing for positive insular-ism, because that will NOT fly. So fucking WHAT if you’re doing good for SOME women, you need to be doing good for ALL women. And in this day and age, and on THIS platform with so much education at your fingertips, you have no excuse. That’s the reason I kind of stopped posting riot grrrl stuff, it’s beyond problematic.
If we continue to propagate all the problematic, offensive crap that the 90s did, then there’s no point. Kathleen Hanna is openly cissexist and transmisogynist and the original riot grrrl movement was ridiculously white and middle class, but there is NO reason for us to be that way now. We have the benefit of internet education and communication; we don’t need to rely on these figureheads, we can take it in to our own hands and create something beautiful and important.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that EVERYONE who is reviving Riot Grrl is doing this, or that Riot Grrrl as a concept is inherently like this. I’m saying the opposite. A lot of its fundamental principles are fantastic; I think a lot of the media would flourish tenfold now we have advanced technologically, and without losing any of its DIY aspects. I mean, just look at all the great zines that have been circulating here on tumblr. The art and self-expression of the movement is something that should be cherished and explored. I think it would really appeal to a new generation of potential feminists.
I want to start an INTERSECTIONAL RIOT GRRRL movement. Be it in zine, tumblr, whatever form. Because the revivals I’m seeing at the moment are guilty of all the same faults that the original movement was.
If anyone would be interested in starting such a thing with me, starting afresh, taking the good parts - the DIY, the loud anger, the separation of academia and focus on lived experience, the focus on creativity and outreach, etc - and abandoning the whiteness, the cissexism and the classism in the trashcan of history where they belong, then send me a message and let’s do it.
We need to stand up against those who are reviving these oppressive aspects of Riot Grrrl.
Because if your feminism can only succeed by subjugating or ignoring others, then it is bullshit.