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Into the New Year January 6, 2007

Posted by Winter in feminist blogging.

2006 could probably be dubbed year of the inter-feminist blog war. We saw battles over feminine beauty practices, a confrontation centring on blow jobs (but really about sexual practices), “Boobygate” (response to Ann Althouse criticising the appearance of Jessica from Feministing), swiftly followed by “Burqagate,” as radical WOC took on white feminists over their use of racist imagery to make political points, the Alas controversy and, most recently, a serious eruption over transphobia among feminists. In each case, the “war” did not represent a new argument, but rather a point of crisis bringing longstanding tensions to a head.

On the one hand, the struggles that followed resulted in much hurt, anger and falling out, not to mention increasing factionalism and ever more entrenched divisions between different groupings of feminists. I was particularly upset to see so much disillusionment and the shutting down of voices as various bloggers decided it really wasn’t worth the trouble. On the other hand, many of the issues raised were, and still are, crucial ones, much of the discussion was challenging, vibrant and informative, new conversations opened up, and new alliances and friendships were forged. My own feeling is that these struggles were inevitable, although I’m very sorry for the damage that has been done in the process.

Whatever the points of contention, all the arguments have been charged with uncomfortable questions for feminists who belong to the dominant groups in society:

Who gets to name feminist priorities?

Who gets to set the terms for the discussions that follow?

Who gets to say what feminists should and should not be doing?

Who is marginalised or excluded?

Who does the marginalising and excluding?

To what extent does the hierarchy within feminism replicate and perpetuate wider racial, social, sexual and class hierarchies?

This blog will continue to focus on discussion, information sharing and community building, but in 2007 one of my resolutions as a feminist blogger is to make a lot more effort to think about the way different forms of oppression intersect in people’s lives and bring them to very different perspectives on feminism. I’ve done some work on the blogroll over the holidays and I hope it’s now a bit easier to negotiate and presents a more inclusive picture of what’s going on out there.

I do think Natalie Bennett deserves a special shout, for no matter how bad things looked, the feminist carnival soldiered on, going from strength to strength, presenting us every two weeks with yet another inspiring showcase of feminist writing from around the world.



1. DeniseUMLaw - January 10, 2007

Wow. I agree with the shout out! I just followed that link to the latest carnival. Really, really impressive.

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