I’m tired of the lack of working class women’s representation in feminist spaces. I’m tired of working class women’s erasure from feminist history. I’m tired of seeing images and reading articles about owning class ladies & their achievements- don’t misunderstand me, I’m full of respect for these women’s achievements, but I know that not only were they were enabled by armies of working class women cleaning their homes & caring for their children, but that their wealth & that of their families was built on the economic exploitation of working class women & children in the UK & in colonised countries. Working class women are the majority & a movement ignoring them is ignoring the majority of women.
- 1 week ago
I seriously do not get the whole thing with “HOW DARE YOU REBLOG THIS POST ABOUT FEMINISM THAT YOU AGREE WITH!! A RADICAL FEMINIST/TERF MADE IT” like you do realize that you’re not supporting their entire system of beliefs and ideology by reblogging a text post…
I think it’s about safety - if I reblog a post from a TERF blog (something which I have done in the past) that makes a really good point about rape culture or whatever, then on some level I’m endorsing that blog. If a trans* woman who’s chosen to follow me clicks on the link she’ll then find herself on a blog that expresses transphobic hatred towards her. I don’t want any of my followers inadvertently ending up on blogs that are going to make them feel unsafe or disrespected so therefore I need to take responsibility to check out who I’m reblogging, in order to show respect and care towards my followers.Source: acoolshark
- 1 week ago
Natalie Reed’s done some writing which meshes with the talk on my twitter/blog back in early November about what it means when white feminists claim to “be” (not do) intersectionality. Here’s my post, here’s a post by strugglingtobeheard I reblogged, and here’s the link to Natalie Reed’s Interrogating Intersectionality; and Julia Serano’s ‘Excluded’.
For what it’s worth I’ve been quiet about the subject since then, because some friends have suggested that this is the wrong time to talk about white appropriations of intersectionality when the idea is still under such overt, direct attack by white feminists - basically that any white critique (even not of intersectionality but of appropriation) is irresponsible.
I’m still thinking hard about the subject and making a lot of links, and given that Natalie’s obviously been doing the same I think/hope it’s right to link her work. However if I see anyone linking or quoting my posts or this one as a way to attack intersectionality itself, you can fuck right off (and anyone that’s being used on, please feel free to refer them right back here if you wanna).
I think there’s a particular approach to feminism which is rooted in owning class, imperialist practices of exercising individual power, and stealing resources, including cultural resources, from oppressed groups. Women whose feminist practice comes from this place hear that there’s a concept called ‘intersectionality’ and think ‘How can I use this to enhance my own personal power at the expense of others?’ ‘How can I appropriate this concept and neutralise the threat it poses to me by taking control of it’s meaning?’
In other words, you offer them a concept like this to use as a weapon to smash their own privilege and the racist capitalist patriarchy, and they turn around and hit you over the head with it.Source: radtransfem
- 2 weeks ago
“The pregnancy rate for teenagers who identify as lesbian or as bisexual is two to seven times greater than their heterosexual counterparts”
A friend who works with LGBT youth told me that straight boys coerce a lot of the lesbian and bi teenage girls she works with into abusive relationships and unwanted sex (ie rape) to ‘prove that they’re normal’ (ie straight).
- 2 weeks ago
"We’re all formed by this world that we live in. The fact that our sexuality participates in SM scenarios and is excited by hierarchy and differentials of power and that women are trained basically from birth to eroticise powerlessness and pain should not come as a surprise. The only thing that is a surprise is that a bunch of people would call it feminism and say it’s good."
- 2 weeks ago
TW - rape, victim blaming
I was taking a look at the RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, the main anti-sexual violence charity in the USA) website just now, and was really disappointed to find a page on the site called ‘Preventing Sexual Assault’ featuring such gems as:
Try to avoid dangerous situations:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you find a way to get out of a bad situation.
- Avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
- Walk with purpose — even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
- Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags, as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
Try not to allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know:
- Try to stay in a group. If someone you don’t know or trust asks you to go somewhere together, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group.
If someone is pressuring you:
- Trust your instincts. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to. “I don’t want to” isalways a good enough reason.
- Be true to yourself. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
- Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you say no, say it like you mean it. Be loud and clear, and be firm — in body language as well as words.
In a social situation:
- Don’t leave any beverages unattended or accept drinks from open containers.
- Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable, or if you are worried about your safety or your friend’s safety.
I mean seriously… Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags? So women get raped if they carry things in public?
And then there’s Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you say no, say it like you mean it. Be loud and clear, and be firm — in body language as well as words.
This buys straight into the myth that men don’t realise they’re raping, and that the way to prevent rape is to teach women how to say ‘no’ properly. RAPISTS KNOW. They KNOW what they are doing. They set the situation up. They plan it. Even if the woman does say no, he’ll claim that he thought she meant yes, because everyone knows women say no when we mean yes, right?
This is terrible advice, it reinforces the stereotype that most rape involves being attacked outdoors by a stranger when we’ve known for decades that most rapists are partners, fathers, friends, brothers. It tells women to be fearful, and that it is our responsibility to protect ourselves from rapists. I really hope most member centres of RAINN are smarter than this and don’t dish out this kind of counter-productive victim-blaming advice to women who turn to them for support.
And now for some real advice on preventing sexual assault:
- 3 weeks ago
Source: dilemmagoldmanby Nicole Ouimette The revolution will not be cited. It will not have a bibliography, or a title page. The revolution will never happen in the seclusion of the ivory tower built by racist, sexist, and classist institutions. Professional academic researchers in the social sciences of many colleges and universities exploit the struggles of oppressed peoples. Oppressed peoples are left stranded with little to no resources after researchers leave their communities high and dry. Researchers steal value from oppressed peoples by making them the subjects of theoretical research without lending them access to information that could better help their communities. Articles, books, and dissertations written about marginalized populations are written for academics, not working people, and as such have little impact on the people whose lives are the subject of this research. Liberal academics and social scientists are more concerned about developing the wealth of academic literature than addressing the immediate material concerns of the communities they research. Penelope Herideen is a Sociology researcher in Western Massachusetts (MA) and a professor of Sociology at the local community college from which I recently graduated. Herideen has written about the importance of critical pedagogy in community colleges. ‘Policy, Pedagogy, and Social Inequality: Community College Student Realities In Post-Industrial America’ was the title of Herideen’s research discussing the realities that community college students face as they navigate their social and academic worlds. Herideen’s research is important, and yet, she was hardly involved in student organizing campaigns against budget cuts that affect low-income students. Community college students need resources developed through research like Herideen’s. This is a major flaw in academic research in the social sciences. Liberal academics and social scientists need to understand their effect on the communities and people they study. Oppressed people who are put under the magnifying glass of academic research have to live with real consequences after the researcher leaves. This is especially true in the field of women’s and ethnic studies — where class, gender, and race consciousness are a part of the research process. Researchers leave behind a stranded community with little to no resources to help them organize movements that will create real change. Tim Wise, a well-known anti-racist writer and activist receives thousands of dollars for speaking at various colleges and universities about the impact that white privilege and white supremacy have on communities of color. Wise has yet to give back to these communities in any real or substantial way, such as offering resources and support to the various communities he speaks of in his writings. Researchers in the fields of women’s and ethnic studies entering oppressed communities without any desire to change serious inequities are in direct contradiction of their supposedly ‘progressive’ fields. Women’s and ethnic studies were created out of the social movements of the 1960s. The aims of the people who started these fields of study were to catapult a movement of better access to education for people of color, poor people, and women. These goals were met in conflict with a desire in academia to concentrate knowledge among groups of specialized elites, instead of a focus on popularizing this knowledge for the greater good. Try reading any academic text from your local women’s studies, ethnic studies, post-colonial studies, or anthropology department. The texts are almost always written so that only academics can understand. Some students and scholars call it ‘acadamese.’ It is writing that needs to be decoded before it can be understood. This is what inaccessible language looks like in academic texts written about oppressed groups, but not for them. Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy discusses the importance of âordinary languageâ in social justice work in her speech given at Hampshire College in 2001: I think itâs vital to de-professionalize the public debate on matters that vitally affect the lives of ordinary people. Itâs time to snatch our futures back from the âexperts.â Time to ask, in ordinary language, the public question and to demand, in ordinary language, the public answer. Roy purposefully writes for oppressed groups of people by writing in âordinary language.â Ordinary language becomes extraordinary when groups of people who have been historically âotheredâ are able to read something that connects to their lives. Academics who use âordinary languageâ are able to encourage oppressed groups to consider their own agency in the fight for social, economic and political justice. Their advisors and colleagues constantly berate academics that attempt to write in ordinary language because their writing is âtoo accessible.â Academics use academic language and jargon to centralize knowledge and power in their hands. Academics would lose a certain amount of power if everyone had access to the same knowledge that they do. The division of labor in the ivory tower reinforces capitalist modes of production through individualized research and study that is hardly ever shared with those it most affects. This is how academia operates knowledge in the form of transactions that create restricted, instead of shared knowledge. Liberal academics become gatekeepers of knowledge by reinforcing ideas that knowledge should be bought and sold instead of shared among communities that are studied. In turn, serious activists who wish to create a world without capitalism and other forms of oppression are secluded from their communities through work in the non-profit sector. Andrea Smithâs âThe Revolution Will Not Be Fundedâ touches upon the issue of revolutionary praxis among intellectuals in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO): Progressive NGOs use peasants and the poor for their research projects, and they benefit from the publication - nothing comes back to the movements, not even copies of the studies done in their name! Moreover, peasant leaders ask why NGOs never risk their neck after their educational seminars - why do they not study the rich and powerful? Why us? The NGOs should stop being NGOs and convert themselves into members of socio-political movements. The fundamental question is whether a new generation of organic intellectuals can emerge from the burgeoning radical social movements which can avoid the NGO temptation and become integral members of the next revolutionary wave. It is time to stop depending on NGOs and academia to create revolutionary praxis for us. They won’t. It’s up to us, the oppressed peoples of the world to demand resources for our communities that are being studied by those whose lives are spent in ivory towers. The revolution starts from below and works its way to the ivory tower. Only then will education be free and accessible for all.
- 4 weeks ago
Has anyone else noticed how straight women who can’t find a partner ask “What’s wrong with me?” and straight men who can’t find a partner ask “What’s wrong with women?”
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
One of the major difficulties with trying to talk about social class within feminism and other social justice movements is that the language we have to describe class isn’t up to the job. Here in the UK we are encouraged to believe that there are 3 social classes – ‘upper’, ‘middle’ and ‘working’. But the aristocratic upper class seems to have faded away and not really exist any more or hold the power that it once did – the House of Lords is much less powerful than the House of Commons and has few hereditary peers left, many of Britain’s historic stately homes have been relinquished to the National Trust (or English Heritage in the case of the more crumbly ones) and the majority of powerful and wealthy people in politics, the media, banking and business don’t hold hereditary titles. Meanwhile the category of ‘middle class’ has ballooned to encompass a huge variety of people – a lawyer with an Oxbridge education earning £100k a year, sending their children to private school, and owning a five bedroom house and a delightful little holiday home down in Cornwall is considered ‘middle class’, and so is an administrator on £20k a year living in rented accommodation and having none of these luxuries. The working class, despite being the majority of people who live in the UK, are portrayed in the media as being a small and contemptible minority of lazy ignorant scroungers, or patronised and pitied in liberal newspapers like The Guardian which runs poverty-porn photoshoots of ‘the poor’ queueing up at Food Banks before trudging home to their awful council estates where their children attend bog-standard comprehensives and subsist on chips and mars bars.
There has long been a recognition that using these 3 categories to define class are inadequate. George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier described himself as ‘lower upper middle class’, to highlight the absurdity and complexity of the British class system – but ‘lower middle class’ and ‘upper middle class’ are commonly used and understood terms, terms which attempt to make sense of the broad and messy category of ‘middle class’ and the very real and extreme differences between people in this category. In marketing, people are divided into 6 categories – A, B, C1, C2, D and E – and in 2013 the BBC commissioned a piece of research suggesting that there are now 7 social classes with catchy names like ‘emergent service workers’ and ‘technical middle class’ (Emergent Service Workers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your silly name!)
This general confusion about social class, and who fits into what category, causes several problems within radical politics and activism. Firstly, it makes it hard to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for what. If ‘everyone is middle class now’, then who is responsible for class oppression and who suffers from it? Who actually holds power and benefits from the system? It’s impossible to fight an oppressor we can’t even name.
Secondly it can lead to individuals choosing to misrepresent their own place in the social class hierarchy. Many people from privileged backgrounds will choose to downplay their wealth and privilege, as a way to avoid having to take responsibility for their words, actions and behaviour or because they believe that being perceived as coming from a lower social class than they actually do will make them seem cooler or more down-to-earth. For example, if an individual has had the privilege of a private education, this will have equipped them to dominate an activist group by being more verbally articulate and confident of their beliefs and opinions, being skilled in humiliating and silencing others through displays of cultural superiority and knowing how to speak in a way that will make others perceive them as having ‘leadership qualities’ leading to their having a significant influence on group decision making and not being expected to perform ‘menial’ tasks such as washing-up or stacking chairs. By being able to say that they are ‘just an average middle class person’, or choosing to emphasise characteristics that make them sound lower class (‘I never went to university’) while omitting to mention others (‘I went to a private school’), they are relieved from having to take any responsibility for their privilege or from having to confront the power and wealth differences between themselves and other members of the group. If we had access to accurate language and concepts to describe social class it would make it much easier to name where someone like this is coming from and understand what differentiates them from ‘lower middle class’ or ‘working class’ people.
Lastly it leads to many people being unable to understand their own position in the social class hierarchy. To go back to the example I gave earlier, the administrator on £20k a year may find herself being talked down, patronised or humiliated by the lawyer on £100k a year, but because her understanding is that they are both middle class she has no concept upon which to hang the alienation and humiliation she has been subjected to and so attributes it to her own inadequacy – she internalises her own oppression. The stigma and negative stereotypes attached to being ‘working class’ lead many working class people to reject this part of their identity and perceive themselves as middle class, aligning their beliefs and values towards those of their oppressors and losing any sense of solidarity with other working class people. Meanwhile university-educated wannabe-working-class heroes wearing ‘ironic’ flat caps sit in activist groups speaking on behalf of working class people whose life experiences, culture and values they neither respect nor understand.
In order to begin to break these patterns and raise our class consciousness, we need ditch the redundant term ‘upper class’ and start adopting and using the concept of the ‘owning class’. This is not a new term, but it is one that doesn’t seem to have caught on within feminism or most other activist movements, and we need to understand the difference between the owning class, the middle class and the working class before we can begin to have effective conversations within our movements about class oppression.
The ‘owning class’ consists of the people who have been traditionally labelled ‘upper class’ plus the people who have been traditionally labelled ‘upper middle class’. They are the richest 10% of the population who own over half of the UK’s wealth. They “own the things that generate wealth without them having to work: essentially, land and buildings (giving them income from rent) and businesses (giving them income from the sale of goods or services)”. They have large inheritances, private education and healthcare, and as well as their economic power they also have political power – most politicians are drawn from this class – and cultural power – they control the media, the arts and academia. This gives them near-absolute power not just economically, but over what people think and what knowledge they are or are not allowed access to. They are even able to obscure the fact that their class exists, firstly by minimising opportunities for those outside of their class to have contact with them (for example through educational segregation based on wealth) and secondly through their control over all the institutions of cultural productions in our society enabling them to perpetuate myths such as ‘we are all middle class now.’
In addition to the ‘owning class’, we also have the ‘middle class’. ‘Middle class’ functions much more effectively as a category if we use it to describe people conventionally labelled ‘middle middle class’ and ‘lower middle class’. Teachers, small business owners, junior managers and social workers are not the main power holders in our society but they do experience a level of material comfort and security that working class people do not have and their children are much more likely to have access to higher education and the increased economic opportunities this brings. They also have a set of cultural beliefs and values distinct to a certain extent from those of both the owning class and the working class. For example many middle class people believe in ‘meritocracy’ in a way that owning class and working class people do not. They have a cultural belief that the system is reasonably fair, and that if a person works hard and is determined they will be justly rewarded with a socially prestigious job and a comfortable standard of living, in contrast to the owning class and the working class who both know that it is wealth and social connections that enable people to obtain and retain power.
While the redrawing of boundaries that I’m arguing for here is about creating a division between the owning and middle class, it is also imperative that members of both these classes stop ‘squatting’ on the concept of ‘the working class’ so that working class people can control for themselves how their identity and culture is defined. Members of both these classes – with the owning class leading the way and the middle class collaborating - have created two main stereotypes of the working class. The violent, drug-addicted, promiscuous scrounging chav, and the helpless hopeless recession victim desperately in need of charitable rescue by the liberal owning class. Working class people cannot see themselves in either image. The presence of these pernicious stereotypes within owning-class-led activist groups is a block to the full participation and empowerment of working class people within feminism and other activist movements.
Ultimately, the economic and political interests of working class people and middle class people are aligned. Both groups are oppressed economically and culturally by the owning class, and there is potential for powerful alliances between these two groups. It is also essential that we acknowledge the power difference between middle class and working class people, and that there are important economic and cultural differences between these two groups. Middle class people must not be allowed to speak on behalf of working class people. But effective alliances of working and middle class people won’t happen for as long as we continue to blunder on with outdated and deliberately obscure definitions that lump together in the category of ‘middle class’ people who are in fact class enemies. Naming the true oppressor – the owning class – is a first step towards building activists movements which can effectively fight against class oppression both out in society and within activist movements themselves.