This post, from This Ain’t Livin’ very powerfully addresses an issue that I have personally struggled with for quite some time now:
For a long time, I genuinely believed I could change the feminist movement from within. I thought if I fought hard enough, and long enough, feminism would make a place at the table for me, that I would be welcome in the feminist community. But it’s painfully evident I am not wanted, not in mainstream feminism, which is the ‘feminism’ most people are exposed to. I know well enough to know where I’m not wanted. The leaders of the feminist movement don’t just have a lack of interest in ‘my issues,’ they actively want to suppress my voice, and the voices of people like me. They want us to shut up and go away. It’s evident from the palpable sighs of relief when they manage to quash us, it’s evident from the total silence when a disabled women talks about why she is leaving feminism and not one person, not one, says anything about it.
So many disabled people, nonwhite people, transgender people, people of colour, poor people, adamantly refuse to identify with feminism in its current incarnation in the United States. ‘Feminists’ talk about this in the sense that we’re all really feminist in how we think, behave, and act, we just have some irrational resistance to the label. No, we’re not really feminist. The model of feminism we see is one where oppression perpetrated in the name of ‘activism’ is acceptable, where casual ableism, racism, classism, transphobia run so deep that many of us don’t even bother to point it out anymore. The model of feminism we see is one where a handful of people profit at the expense of others. And that’s not how we think, behave, and act. That is not what we believe. [Source: This Ain’t Livin’]
I want to believe that by calling myself a feminist while vocally advocating for the inclusion of trans people, people of color, people with bodies outside of our narrow cultural norms … really, anyone who faces systemic oppression of any kind, I can help to shift the tides of the feminist movement. Then, I read things like this and wonder: is it enough to declare I’m different! while still carrying the banner of a group that is guilty of oppression? I don’t know. Honestly, all I know is that those of us who call ourselves feminists need to step up our game, lest we embody the very spirit of exclusion that we are supposed to be rallying against.