The trailer for the film “Miss Representation” seems very promising in its exposure of media’s harmful effect on young women. I hope to see it in Montreal theatres soon. This also seems to have come at an appropriate time, right when I’m starting to doubt my own feminist orientation after an incident like the photo below:
The recent controversy surrounding the NYC Slutwalk involved a white woman marched with a sign that said “Woman is N***** of the World” – after the John Lennon/Yoko Ono duet. According to this Racialicious post, a black woman did ask the protester to take the sign down – but not before many pictures had already been taken.
Lots of good responses have been circulating on the internet already, like this one from Crunk Feminist Collective, so I’ll try not to be redundant.
It’s disconcerting to me that it took a woman of colour to point out the problem of the message. It also troubles me to see that some people are defending the sign because apparently John and Yoko had no racist intent (and here we are, talking about intention again).
Ever since I was 19 I’ve been calling myself a feminist. Yet, these days I find myself qualifying that word – I’m a feminist interested in anti-racist work, I’m a feminist interested in LGBTQ rights also, etc. If mainstream feminism is so race-blind that it takes a woman of colour to correct it, then where is the hope? If I continue to call myself a feminist will I just be a smattering of “diversity” at the mostly-white table of big-league feminists? I also see the insidious mark of capitalism seeping in, where feminism is now about book deals and speaking engagements at universities and/or luncheons that aren’t very accessible to those who might need it the most. Has feminism been co-opted so much that it’s only about expanding one’s social capital rather than growing a strong society? The proliferation of faux-”empowerment” books for women that has not translated into more representation of women in leadership positions in society certainly seems to indicate that. What have I, a 1.5-generation immigrant woman of colour, have actually done for women like me in the times I’ve called myself a feminist? Is it time to frame myself in another ‘-ism’ to actually give back to the community, rather than pat myself on the back for coming this far?