The Paternalistic Academic-Industrial-Complex of Feminism

Here are some excerpts from Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, edited by Jessica Yee. (Excerpts via Racialicious):

Jessica Yee: “Introduction”

[W]e’re not really equal when we’re STILL supposed to uncritically and obediently cheer when white women are praised for winning “women’s rights,” and to painfully forget the Indigenous women and women of colour who were hurt in that same process. We are not equal when in the name of “feminism” so-called “women’s only” spaces are created and get to police and regulate who is and isn’t a woman based on their interpretation of your body parts and gender presentation, and not your own. We are not equal when initatives to support gender equality have reverted yet again to “saving” people and making decisions for them, rather than supporting their right to self-determination, whether it’s engaging in sex work or wearing a niqab. So when feminism itself has become it’s own form of oppression, what do we have to say about it?

Louis Esme Cruz: “Medicine Bundle of Contradictions: Female-man, Mi’kmaq/Acadian/Irish Diasporas, Invisible disAbilities, masculine-Feminist”

Two-Spirit people are not allowed to participate in societies as our full selves and then we are shamed and blamed for the ways we are hurt by this. When people say that a space is “women-only” they are assuming that women are always sensitive to each other’s needs, are always able to understand each other’s experiences, these experiences are always the same, and women are not violent. Explicitly, this says all women are safe; all men are unsafe. The inclusion of Two-Spirit people in women only space is arbitrary, shifting with who has the power to define the space. This person in power is rarely Native. From what I have seen, women who parade feminist ideals are the ones who decide who experiences gender-oppression. Two-Spirit people can talk about our oppression only when it parallels women’s experiences. When our lives get too complicated we are judged, ignored, punished, humiliated. Whether it’s women-only or men-only space, the naming of a space as only one gender encourages invasion and conquest because they don’t allow people to be the complex creatures we are. This pushes Two-Spirit people to the margins simply because we are not one thing or another. We need liberation from the confines of gender baggage, too. This parallels the larger call from Indigenous sovereignty movements asking for our Native Nations to be seen as distinct, sovereign entities. We are necessarily unique and complex for a reason.

Andrea Plaid: ” ‘No, I Would Follow the Porn Star’s Advice’: A Case Study in Educational Privilege and Kyriarchy”

I could have easily benefited from the feminist-academic complex. I concentrated on women’s studies as part of my liberal-arts degree and my Independent Study project when I was getting my master’s degree in library science – since writing a master’s thesis was not an option at the time – was on founding and operating a sex-positive library, though I did not specifically study sex as an undergraduate or graduate student. The fact that I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree allows me to be taken slightly more seriously because they signal that I know certain “privilege codes and signals” gotten from about seven years of beyond high school education, like knowing about or having “the right” books on my bookshelf or in my e-reader (Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, anything and just about everything by bell hooks, some Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein, etc.), having seen or heard about the “right” movies (anything Pedro Almodovar and Mira Nair, Outfoxed, Matrix, etc.) and the “right” music (usually some form of “alternative” hip-hop, rock, and country). It also means I know the “right” places to meet other like-minded educated people offline (coffee shops, poetry readings, film screenings, panel discussions, galleries and museums, and so on.) In other words, my stating that I’m degreed lets others know that I’m the kind of “culturedness” that only a bachelor’s and master’s degree “can give” (translation: “can pay for” – which, really, is what educational privilege is welded with and signals)…and if I wasn’t exposed to these things, I can damn sure learn it quickly because I know the “right” places to go find such things, including the “right” Internet sources and from those adjunct and tenured types.

The linchpin in all of this and what I’m signaling to others by my degrees is that I’m capable of talking about complex ideas and issues, like the various schools of feminism, because I’m trained to do it, based on the “virtue” of the “right” knowledge and furthermore, take my complex notions to “the masses” who need to hear it and embrace it as part of their lives. (This notion is one of the rawest forms of educational privilege.) Because that, from what we’re told in these social-class incubators called four-year colleges and advanced degrees, is the great responsibility that comes from the great advantage – and promise – of being an “educated person.” The more subtle lesson passed to us in college is The Degreed are the only ones worth listening to – the more degreed, the more you’re worth listening to, because you’re an “expert” due to all those years of studying.

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