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?

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Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem.

“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.

In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans’] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world”. He waxed nostalgically about “the old Indian territory”, when “no one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue”, “the white man settled the Indian territory”, and “the Injuns had bows and arrows and the cavalry had rifles.” His complaint was that “today’s Indian territory”—i.e., Muslim-majority countries (!)—now have nuclear weapons, and “the fellow from the badlands” can now ride planes and travel quickly. Later, Steyn recounted a story in which some youths in Belgium assaulted a bus passenger, alleging that it was not at all surprising that the youths were “of Moroccan origin”.

In other words, Maclean’s has already published an extremely racist (and Islamophobic) article in the past. Four years later in 2010, Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” article expresses the same fears about an “Asian invasion” and dismay at the increasing numbers of racialized people in relation to white people within a given population. Not only is Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” a repeat of the W5 “Campus Giveaway” program in 1979 that griped about Asians taking up space in Canadian universities, but it is also a repeat of Maclean’s 2006 article that bemoaned the changing of demographics from white to racialized.

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White culture rejects the agency of Asian women.

White culture humanizes white women more than Asian women. Racist stereotypes about the alleged submissiveness of Asian women convince even white women that Asian women lack agency. While most white women recognize the paternalism of a government deciding that women are incapable of exercising our personal choices responsibly, most white women think of Asian women in this way. According to most white women, Asian women need to be rescued from our own follies through the interventions of benevolent white folk.

White history teaches white people that white culture is the pinnacle of civilization. Because of this, most white people assume that social justice can only originate from white people, and that it must be taught by white people to brown people in order to achieve worldwide equality. Even white liberals have this colonial mentality and attempt to “civilize” brown people in other countries or at home. Unconscious white supremacist beliefs are so entrenched that most white feminists simply assume that gender equality must have originated from white imagination, when the history of North American feminism can be traced to Iroquois culture. The idea that white culture is not the most socially advanced is unimaginable to the vast majority of white people.

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Québec’s bill to control niqabi women is sexist and ableist.

In Canada, the province of Québec wants to pass Bill 94 to exclude niqabi women from essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care. They hope that this will make niqabi women uncover themselves.

Dana Olwan writes:

Bill 94 is borne out of a masculine logic that projects men as guardians of women’s independence and free will, rendering women dependents in constant need of state protection. As residents and citizens in need of state protection, we are to believe in the magnanimity of the writers and supporters of the bill. We are told that Bill 94 does not target one group or another but that it affirms the secular nature of Quebec in particular and Canada in general. To more readily absorb this historical and political distortion, we are reminded of the tyranny of religion and blinded to the dangers of staunch secularism.

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Québec wants to make niqabi women illegal.

The creeping racism and eroding of civil liberties of Arizona makes me worry about the Quebec Provincial Bill 94 to exclude niqabi women from social services, employment, health, and education.

If you are Canadian and if you are not, you can take action against Bill 94. If you are emailing or writing to a government official, you can make use of the Non/No Bill 94 Coalition Statement.

Update: There is a Sample No Bill 94 Letter to Premiere Jean Charest

White people lack empathy for brown people, brain research shows.

New research from the University of Toronto-Scarborough shows that white people’s mirror-neuron-system fires much less, if at all, when they watch people of colour performing motor tasks, and I’m not at all surprised. For years, I just assumed that this was true, and that someone just had to do a study to prove it.

After the United States invaded Iraq and massacred tens of thousands of Iraqis, worldwide terrorist recruitment skyrocketed, as well as terrorist attacks targetting the U.S. and coalition countries. Terrorist leaders cited the Iraq invasion and the deaths of Iraqis as the reason for the attacks. However, White Americans did not buy it, believing it to be a smokescreen for some other reason. It must be Islam, they reasoned, as they grasped at straws.

I then realized that the vast majority of White Americans could not empathize with brown people at a very basic level. For most White Americans, the death and violence of thousands of brown bodies was just part of some abstract ethical argument to position oneself as morally superior to the United States. For most White Americans, brown people dying just meant flickers on the television screen about something happening far away. They didn’t feel the overwhelming anger and sadness they would normally feel when someone they know dies without reason. They couldn’t see the full reality of what death means, when the people who die are brown.

I have seen white people complain online that they cannot see the facial expressions of (East) Asian faces. For many white people, East Asians are like emotionless robots who are efficient at machine-like things like number crunching. Some white people argue that while East Asians may be able to play musical instruments beautifully, they play music without soul.

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Kyriarchy in Canada: where oppressions intersect

Complaints overwhelm human rights watchdog (Toronto Star):

Ontario’s newly streamlined human rights watchdog is swamped with allegations of sex, race and disability discrimination, the Star has found.

[…]

Tribunal decisions show that women, minorities and the disabled are most vulnerable to discrimination by employers, landlords and businesses. In some cases both the victim and the defendant belong to racial minorities but are from different backgrounds.

One complaint example is of a Chinese doughnut shop owner blatantly expressing her hatred of “Turkish” people and calling a customer a “gypsy”. Another is of a company policy banning three Muslim women from speaking French (which happens to be one of the official languages of our country), as well banning the microwaving of foods that fit the criteria of “You don’t know until you smell.”

Another example:

• A black couple received $5,000 and a letter of apology after they were ignored at a restaurant they had gone to as part of a corporate training session.

After arriving, the couple were asked several times by restaurant staff if they were aware they were standing in a private function area. The couple twice showed them their tickets – and finally propped the tickets on their table.

The waitress ignored them but served drinks to all the white people at the table. Finally, a white person had to order drinks for them. Later, the manager tried to apologize for his staff’s behaviour, saying the black couple was dressed better than the rest of the group and suggesting the woman looked like she could be a “lady of the night.”

At the end of the evening, the manager stopped the couple at the elevators and tried to give them some souvenir boxes, which he said would be good for storing drugs. They told him they didn’t use drugs. The manager insisted they take the boxes.

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