Feminism is in flux these days.
As the waves lap at the shore, generational differences are crashing into one another and creating a lot of white water. I’m not old enough to remember the start of the second wave, but I am almost certain that there would have been conflict between first wavers who concentrated on the political and legal situation of women, and the next generation who explored the social and sexual. Not, of course, that these are necessarily in conflict: the legal framework of any group defines its social position, and indeed it was only at the start of the second wave that the Equal Pay act was introduced, and well into it before women got the right of independent taxation.
The last blogpost generated quite a bit of discussion in various places about the use of the term “Scab”, the power it holds and when its use is appropriate.
Only two schools in Glasgow were open on N30, both heavily picketed with lively and cheerful, if a bit damp, strikers. A number of non-unionised workers crossed the picket lines and as might be expected they were challenged about whether they really wanted to work when other people were losing a day’s pay for the terms and conditions that they too enjoy. People crossing picket lines and entering unionised workplaces during an industrial dispute can generally be divided into three categories.
Since discovering the term kyriarchy earlier this year, I’ve become a big fan.
I’ve always been quite uncomfortable about the inter-relationship between feminism and race, not only with the temptation to “rank the oppressions” (as one wit said on twitter – being feminist and anti-racist is all very well, but who wins when Julie Bindel meets Louis Farrakan?) but also the tolerence of racism inherent in some feminist discourses and the tolerance of sexism inherent in some anti-racist activism. As the Lesbian and Gay movement has expanded over the years to include various other “deviant” sexualities and gender identities, landing us in the alphabet soup of LGBTQIA, the relationship between gender and sexuality based oppression has become ever more confused.
Furthermore going beyond the “big three” of gender, race and sexuality, it is clear that there are a number of different oppressions and prejudices which affect people, frequently only situationally, the list of discovered oppressions has expanded beyond all reasonable dimensions to the extent that listing them seems almost to trivialise, but none the less they exist and affect people. Kyriarchy gives us new way to look at oppression which can encompass the unseen power structures without reification of their modes and manners.
Update – Open Letter from Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum
I cant honestly say that I was ever that enthused about the “Occupy Movement“. After seeing a live link up from Occupy Wall Street earlier this month, I did feel a frisson of revolutionary excitement, but it faded by the time that 15th October came round. It was genuinely amazing and inspiring to hear from an OWS activist live on video link, and when asked what we could do to support them his immediate response was to bring the Occupy movement to wherever we were. But once the initial rosy glow evaporated, I cant say it was an action which filled me with much enthusiasm.
In Glasgow there was considerable debate within the activist community in the lead up to the global day of action on 15th October. Should we be supporting the better planned Edinburgh Occupy? Should we be looking to set up our own Glasgow Occupy? Or should we be concentrating our activities elsewhere? In the end the decision was kind of made for us when people unknown to the activist community set up a facebook event which attracted considerable support. In such circumstances it would have been horribly elitist of us to stand at the edges shouting “Look, you’re doing it all wrong”, we needed to roll up our sleeves and muck in, at least to some extent.
Posted in Activism, Temporary Autonomous Zones
Tagged conspiracy theories, feminism, glasgow, Hetherington, kyriarchy, occupation, Occupy, power, rape, safer spaces, temporary autonomous zones
Privilege manifests itself in all kinds of different ways. People are brought up with notions of what is right and proper and oftentimes these notions include deeply biased value systems. Each generation battles the ideas of the one before, the one that brought them up both collectively and individually. Sometimes these battles were fought in private, sometimes within a community as well as being played out in physical spaces, these cultural changes manifested themselves through shared media – pop music, fashion and film. Traditional public challenges to established hegemony were obtuse, coded and diffuse – aimed less at any particular individual but at generalised attitudes The advent of the internet, and in particular the interactivity that we have seen develop over the past five years has particularised hegemonic challenge, especially within the realm of identity politics. It is in this context that the culture of the “call-out” has emerged.
Over on Bella Caledonia, David Tobin writes on Post-Colonial Scotland, examining the “national identity politics” which are shaping us on our course to independence. This is indeed a key question for us as a nation as we forge an identity of ourselves in the world – what narratives and images represent Scotland in this modern era?
Tobin situates this discussion within the discourse of identity politics, suggesting that artifical barriers are being drawn on the basis of geography while the differential is (or should be) class. This argument is certainly not a new one to anyone familiar with the debates that have gone on within feminism, Black politics or LGBT liberation in the past 50 years. There is a constant tension between the call of class politics and acknowledgement that class differentials use subtle strategies of power to divide the class.
Kyriarchy is a term coined in But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation by Fiorenza and adopted by many third wave feminists as a more encompassing view of power and privilege than the concept of patriarchy, which dominated the analysis of most second wave feminists. Understanding the concerns of, in particular, women of colour, third wave feminists have attempted to go beyond the narrow “ranking of the oppressions” which caused so many difficulties towards the end of the second wave, causing division and resentment within feminist ranks.
Difficulties in addressing issues of gender, race and sexuality are notoriously fraught with difficulty. Sometimes, an issue is so common and accepted that you don’t actually see it. Sometimes there are real cries of anguish masked in attention seeking behaviour, and sometimes there is genuine confusion behind crass attempts to overcome the issue. This week, I’ve seen some of those cries. Two things in particular stood out for me – firstly the unmasking of gay, female Black bloggers living in dangerous situations as straight white Western men sipping Chardonnay as they typed and secondly attending a straight white male dominated meeting on Scottish Independence and the coming cuts to public sector spending.