Friday, April 11, 2008

Youtube Favorite Fridays: Calpernia Addams Chaps Your Ass (or, Hitting the Brick Wall)

For this week, I chose Calpernia Addams's long list of Bad Questions to Ask a Transsexual.

Her smiling rage is so lovely and righteous. There can only be so many polite, even-toned education moments (usually met with confusion, skepticism or flat-out offense) before a person either stops bothering or starts screaming. I live a relatively comfortable and privileged life, and still, I know I've run out of steam (or, less often, had steam build up to the point of explosion) when trying to engage others in real conversation about sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and so forth from time to time. Sometimes it just feels like there's no progress, not even that seed of enlightenment planted, and you just want to shout some sense into some eardrums. That, of course, gets you labeled as over-sensitive (or a feminazi, or a reverse racist, or selfish, or a plain old bitch) and others use it to undercut your credibility. Sometimes it's a brick wall that you no longer have the strength to dismantle.

That devastating discouragement has hit progressive bloggers hard in the past, and right now it seems to be particularly affecting women of color. Brownfemipower is down, and the permanence is unclear. Holly at Feministe covers that better than I could. Reappropriate also went on hiatus late last month, and Jenn, the blogger there, posted a comprehensive explanation. You should really go read it, and I'll end with an excerpt:

I’m tired of discussions of sexism being misconstrued as male-bashing, I’m tired of people who don’t know feminism thinking they can define it, and above all, I am tired of the suspicion of my racial solidarity and my pride in the Asian American community because of my identification as a feminist and the choices in my personal life. I’m tired of constantly talking and not being heard, and having to defend who I am to the men in my community. I’m saddened by the countless emails from feminists who write to me to tell me that the hoarde of anti-feminist commentors on this blog have chased them from commenting. I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall, and all I have to show for it is ostracization, derision, and occasionally ridicule from some Asian American men. I feel like the adage “working twice as hard to get half as far” is poignantly relevant to how hard I’ve struggled for the same acceptance in the APIA online community that some of my male colleagues enjoy almost innately.
It’s telling to me that this kind of hiatus occurs so frequently in the feminism of colour blogosphere. Something about having to fight the tides of racism in the feminist community and the sexism within our racialized communities makes us more susceptible to weariness. We are fighting a war on two fronts; perhaps this is why so few feminists of colour blog, and our blogosphere community remains so small. Perhaps this periodic need to rejuvenate is all the evidence needed to demonstrate how difficult it is to exist at the political intersection of race and gender.

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