The Amanda Marcotte Controversy: Race in the Feminist Blogosphere.

Amanda Marcotte.

BrownFemiPower is a well-respected, much-read blogger who took up the mantle of immigration as a feminist issue on the innanets.

Amanda Marcotte, another well-respected, much-read feminist blogger (who is no stranger to controversy) wrote an article for Alternet that some some people say borrowed liberally from an uncredited BFP (of whom Marcotte was admittedly a regular reader).

Since then, BFP’s site has been taken down.

Complicating all this is the fact that Marcotte is white, and her alleged sponging of BFP’s work is seen by some as another example of the marginalization of the intellectual work of feminist women of color. (And it’s pretty inarguable that, Marcotte’s article, appropriation of BFP’s work or no, goes to the issue of whose voices are recognized when telling stories about people of color.)

It’s possible here that Marcotte did what we’re probably all guilty of doing: having back-and-forths and synthesizing our ideas with those of the folks we’re building with. But it’s also possible that it went way beyond innocent osmosis. But Marcotte also didn’t help the situation by vigorously digging a deeper hole for herself in the comments section of a very thoughtful post on Feministe about this whole unfortunate episode. (Her tone is generally on some ‘y’all-are-angry-haters-and-fucking-up-my-good-name.’) Indeed, staring at the redwoods, missing all the fauna flora.

What’s frustrating as a latecoming, casual observer to this fracas is that feminism can be such a hard sell among black folks, even among social justice-types for whom it would ostensibly seem a logical extension of their worldviews. I’ve had conversations with people who have more or less said that feminism for middle-class white women; it’s not ‘our’ issue. But the converse is true of many feminists, who clearly see race and class as someone else’s issue.

BFP weighed in today.

“Feminists,” on the other hand, are not movement building, they are actively destroying women and blaming those women for the destruction.They are saying the point of feminism is “equality with men” without even thinking to acknowledge that “equality with women” is just as admirable of a goal and maybe even possibly the first step to achieving the goal of equality with men.They are saying, Just do it, just do it, JUST FUCKING DO IT.

 

And so I withdraw myself from this “movement”.

 

And I reject and rebel at the label “feminist.”

I reject and rebel at the label “feminist” because I reject and rebel against silence and erasure.

I purposefully and deliberately burn all bridges to all people/movements with the purposeful and deliberate awareness that I will build bridges again, but ONLY WITH a person/movement and only if those bridges require no body parts to build.


And I do so without rejecting the absolute necessity of a gendered analysis of media justice, violence against and within communities of color, etc. Because if you think I haven’t noticed the gendered dynamics written all over this fucking blow up, you’d be 100% wrong.

 

One last note—to all those who are concerned that I’m just “giving up.”

 

I appreciate the sentiment.It’s one that I struggle with.I don’t want to just give up, I don’t want to “let them win.”

 

But at the same time, my goal has never been to “not let them win.”My goal has been to end violence against women of color.And while I think that erasing an entire community through words is violence—at the same time, I personally don’t think that making a battle about me and X and winning is the route I want to take to achieve my goal.I want to do something different—but I need time to think about what it is that I want to do.And I want to think about it from a position of health and strength—but let’s be real.Sifting through comment after comment and post after post about how I obviously think I’m Sigmund fucking Frued does not promote health and strength and clarity.It does nothing for me but waste time and energy and personal resources.

 

Furthermore, I can not relax and contemplate while I worry about how my own words are being used to destroy me in the blogosphere (yes, I noticed all the little rodents sniffing around my archives looking for evidence that I am a plagiarizing bitch that is just out to get white women).

Trust me when I say that I have treated my archives gently and with the respect they deserve.

I realize now that “feminism” and I stand in direct opposition to each other—that the feminists who aren’t actively working against me and my community are, like Seymour Hersch, few and far between.

 

This has caused a radical shifting in my thinking.A shifting that I have no desire to work through online—but that I need to think through before I can act. I am not giving up.I am just thinking. And resting.And reading my beloved books and soaking my tired dogs.

 

Cuz giiirls, my dogs are TIRED.

[Big, big hat tip to Cindy.]

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Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs about race and ethnicity for National Public Radio. He is a native of South Philly and reads and writes and runs and rants. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook.

17 comments to The Amanda Marcotte Controversy: Race in the Feminist Blogosphere.

  • I’ve been keeping up with this for the past week. But instead of me thinking about white feminists, I started thinking about my own feelings and actions when it comes to women of color. Before I dismiss a complaint of ‘feminist dog whistles’ from a woman of color , I should listen to her before getting defensive or dismissive, for the only true ally I will ever have are my sisters, mothers and women from the community. It’s time we as men start looking at the damage we’ve caused our sisters and ourselves with our bullshit.

  • universeexpanding

    I saw some blogging about BFP going down over on racialicious I think last week but this is the first I’m hearing about this plagiarism issue. I too have had the experience of being told that feminism is a bourgeoise notion dreamt up by white women. In a recent discussion I was involved in there was a distressing amount of sniping back and forth about what it even means to be feminist…among a bunch of women :-(
    I find this kind of infighting difficult to stomach. If we cannot reach some accord with other *women* that undermines us even further.
    It’s also difficult for me to understand anyone thinking that feminism shouldn’t be a concern for women of colour. There’s a false hierarchy set up in that kind of thinking – that race or class somehow trump gender, or any ordering of the three you wish.

  • “I find this kind of infighting difficult to stomach. ”

    Yeah. I’ve sort of withdrawn from “the feminist blogosphere”–though I think I’m no less a feminist blog–partly because feminism and feminist issues are a broad enough topic not to really require these constant turf battles.

    And the point about whose voices are recognized is an excellent one.

  • The whole thing is baffling and saddening.

    [I keep writing something and deleting it.]

    You know, I’ve never been able to identify with the feminism movement. Maybe it’s the Catholic upbringing.

  • aisha

    Like Cindy I’ve never really been able to identify with the feminism movement. I was able to at least take a brief peak during a women’s studies class I took my senior year. The class was taught by two Latinas and I could connect to their view points. I think them being women of color really made a difference.

    I really think it has to do with how our personal politics are developed. Being aware of race issues before experiencing personal racism. Experiencing sexism before being aware of gender discrimination and the feminist movement.

    All movements are made up of individuals who are flawed. The key is that the goals and guiding values are aligned with my beliefs and that people aren’t so staunch that the can’t see when they have marginalized a part of their own group.

  • nichole

    feminism left me wanting, too, so i turned to alice walker’s definition of womanism b/c it seemed to be more encompassing, and yet at the same time, it seemed to make people more uncomfortable.

    maybe it should.

  • BFP decided to leave the blogosphere which I have said in other online discussions was a GREAT mistake. If people who are stealing content from academic blogs have NO CONSEQUENCE at all professionally then they will continue to do it.

    I suggested that all sista bloggers create a WHITE LIST to identify websites that have content that is stolen from black authors. Few were prepared to take this drastic step and put the violators on FRONT STREET! And why not??

    We need to blow the trumpet until the sound shakes the blogosphere!
    Lisa

    http://blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com

  • quadmoniker

    I completely agree that much of the feminism movement was and is a movement for middle-class white women, and the nods the bigger groups make to including issues facing women of color are woefully inadequate. I will also say that, as a young white woman, feminism left me wanting as well. I’m not sure I can say exactly why. Groups like NOW don’t make efforts to be on campuses and address the issues a younger woman will face, even at all-women’s colleges like my alma mater. That leaves women to form their own on campus groups that dissipate once they leave. Also, I still feel like they’re addressing many of yesterday’s issues without an update for today. Check out NOW’S homepage — equal pay and electing Clinton and loving your body. Ok, we all got degrees and jobs and I love my body just fine. What now?

  • feministdonut

    Quad, I think you perfectly (albeit unintentionally) just illustrated white feminist privilege by paying quick lip service to how attention to woc issues is “woefully inadequate,” then proceeding to focus on your own white problems with the feminist movement.

    The way feminism leaves you—a white Bryn Mawr grad—wanting, and the way it leaves WOC—regardless of education or citizenship or socioeconomic status—wanting are two completely different things that don’t even belong in the same thread topic, much less the same paragraph.

    To you, the fact that NOW is addressing “yesterday’s issue” of equal pay is a novel concept that leaves you asking “what now?” to me, aware that black women make 63 cents and Latina women 52 cents to the white man’s dollar (with similar educations and in similar positions), it leaves me asking “what took you so long?” (And white women still make 77 cents to the white male dollar, btw, so don’t breathe your sigh of relief just yet.)

    Furthermore citing NOW as the feminist organization to look to for change is almost laughable, considering the racism/homophobia prevalent in its formative years that leaves a sour taste in many feminists’ mouths (white or otherwise) to this day.

  • quadmoniker

    I wanted to add a perspective. My ‘nod’ was to others’ comments, which have detailed the problems in a way that I obviously never could, not the whole condition. I only meant to make this point: I don’t think feminism is addressing anyone’s issues anymore.

  • Sam

    I’ve posted criticism of Amanda’s publications and it’s a shame that immediately, the reaction on the feminist blogs that are in a echo is that I must be a troll who must be stricken from the record. How can it be that I can write anything but flattery? That is an issue. How open are some of these feminist communities to vibrant ideas from different people if it steps on the toes of the likes of this person?

  • margeaux

    Fauna are animals, flora are plants.

  • [...] more I think about this lately, especially in light of some of the things I’ve been reading in the feminist blogs about race, class and privilege, the more I’m forced to consider my [...]

  • [...] “Feminists” … are not movement building, they are actively destroying women and blaming those women for the destruction. . . . And so I withdraw myself from this “movement”. . . . And I reject and rebel at the label “feminist.” . . . I realize now that “feminism” and I stand in direct opposition to each other—that the feminists who aren’t actively working against me and my community are . . . few and far between (full text available here). [...]

  • [...] femisphere about a presentation that excluded black women’s contribution to online feminism. Many women of color feel – with great merit – that mainstream white feminism doesn’t represent their interests. I followed that [...]

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