A bit about me and a statement of purpose
April 6, 2008
Hello out there!!
A bit about me: I’m a 27-year-old Canadian who has been living in the UK for the past 3 years. I originally came to do an MA in Gender Studies, met The Composer, got married and stayed. I’m a feminist activist who firmly believes that all forms of oppression are intersecting, and I do my best to ensure my activism reflects that.
That last sentence also serves as a statement of purpose for this blog. I’m a very privileged woman – white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied. This privilege is sometimes – maybe often – invisible to me. Yet, I’ve been convinced by the books and articles I’ve read, and my own experience of activism, that it is absolutely crucial that I decentre whiteness and privilege from my feminist politics.
It is impossible to sort out sexist oppression from racism, capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, abelism, or any other form of oppression. Modern ideas about gender roles, for example, the idea that women should stay at home while men go out and work, are racialised and classed. Working-class women and women of colour were expected to work, not only because the capitalist system demanded their labour (wouldn’t want to have to pay a man enough to support a family), but because the ideal of “domestic motherhood” for middle-class white women could only exist in opposition to a constructed “other”. If every woman stayed at home, then domestic motherhood would not longer be a marker of class and race privilege , and as such, would no longer be so highly valued.
Therefore, sexism cannot be fought effectively if we are not simultaneously fighting racism, capitalism and other forms of oppression. There is no such thing as a “women’s issue” separate from “race issues” and “class issues”.
Furthermore, it should be obvious to any who is paying attention that in the UK, at least, our basic liberties are increasingly under threat. Women (and men) who experience multiple oppressions are at particular risk – look at the way in which it’s become completely acceptable to lock up asylum seekers. But, once it has been decided that, for example, someone’s national origin can deprive them of their basic human rights, what other groups may find themselves in a similar situation? Feminism must fight against all forms of oppression today, because if privileged women such as myself remain silent while asylum-seekers are persecuted, we may one day find ourselves arbitrarily deprived of our liberties.
I hope that my blog will reflect this statement. I’m sure I won’t always get it right (privilege works by being invisible), but I pledge to do my best.