Anonymous: I am of European heritage, considered white and it seems as though I face many of the same issues that you face in terms of beauty. I know your argument about feminism for WoC extends far beyond physical appearances, but I find it a little insulting when you basically put the need to shave to only WoC. As a child I was teased endlessly regarding my 'hairiness'. Most women have an issue with body hair so distinguishing between white/WoC feminism counterproductive and unfair in this sense. Thanks!

While I was writing that comment I had exactly this thought but I am highly aware that when I speak about these topics, I can only speak on behalf of the person or group that I represent. Because I am Anglo-Indian, I speak for a broader community of brown people, half Indian people, Anglo-Indian and biracial coloured people (among others, and also very generally). I can empathise to some degree with your experience of course, but it is not the same because it does not have the same histories as mine. I can’t talk about your experience as a European person because it’s not my lived experience and for this reason I think it’s inappropriate for me to be a voice in what is essentially your conversation. You are entitled to your experiences and of course, your feelings and opinions shaped by these are completely valid – it would be so wrong of me to invalidate them! Especially because this validation of experience is what I aim for by participating in intersectional feminist discourse.

It is important that you remember too that intersectional feminism only exists because identity is intersectional and of course, experiences are common among many women from all walks of life. Intersectionality as a branch of cultural studies considers that experience as a coloured woman intersects with many cultural issues – for example, my experience as a half-Indian woman can’t be divided up into “half-Indian issues” and “women’s issues” as for me, these two parts of my identity are so entwined and their issues are often common ones. Because my experience intersects with issues that are common among many women, both white and non-white, it’s a more appropriate discourse for me to be involved in because it caters to me but also to a broader range of women.

I am always very explicit about the context at which I speak from, which of course is the perspective of an Anglo-Indian woman in White Australian society. I am explicit about this because, as I stated earlier, I am not able to truly empathise with your experience and so have no right to control this discourse – I can contribute, but should only foster conversation, not direct it. This is exactly how I feel about white women in the black feminist conversation – participation in this discourse is important, but white women must stand beside or behind coloured women, and not tell them how it’s going to be or what they “deserve” but instead stand in support. This is because whiteness is coded with a long history of institutionalised privilege and Western standards of living aren’t necessarily appropriate for all women (but that’s a whole other conversation).

Distinguishing between coloured feminism and white feminism is extremely important, and not differentiating them is damaging and counterproductive for every community that doesn’t fit the mainstream ideas of feminism (which are overwhelmingly middle class and white). Distinguishing differences and celebrating cultural pluralism is important because to not do that is to render my experience invalid which of course, is exactly what you took from my comment and have been offended by. It is also incredibly important for us to learn from the experiences of the Other, whether it be through cultural practices or expressions, or through ways of making, living and doing. To not do this is the effectively “colonise” the feminist conversation as being one that can only conform to mainstream ideas of “freedom”, “liberation” and “civility”, which unfortunately exist almost exclusively within Western, European grammar (because “globalisation”/”colonialism”/”Western dominance”). Intersectional feminism allows a negotiation of these terms, which is a major, major part of all the work that I do.

Unsurprisingly, the blame game is now playing out on Wikipedia, where editors battle to record the polemics that best reflect their side of the story. Earlier this morning, the Russian-language Wikipedia entry for commercial aviation accidents hosted one such skirmish, when someone with an IP address based in Kyiv edited the MH17 record to say that the plane was shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.” Less than an hour later, someone with a Moscow IP address replaced this text with the sentence, “The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers.”

Thanks to a Twitter bot that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits made from IP addresses used by the Russian government, we know that the second edit to the MH17 article came from a computer at VGTRK, the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.


Eric Garner and the Plague of Police Brutality Against Black Men

If you haven’t heard about Eric Garner yet, let me fill you in. He was a 43-year-old father of six who lived in Staten Island, and he died in the street on Thursday after as many as four New York police officers choked him and slammed his head on the ground. The NYPD told the Associated Press that they stopped Garner because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, something he’d been arrested for before. However, witnesses who spoke with local news website Staten Island Live have basically said that’s bullshit. Ramsey Orta, who was on the scene and shot a now infamous video that is making the rounds, can be heard in the clip saying that all Garner had done to get bothered by the police was break up a fight.

In the video, Garner denies any wrongdoing and asks why he’s being hassled. “Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” he says in an exasperated tone that most men of color across this country can relate to. Garner, who was 400 pounds and has been described by people who knew him as a “gentle giant,” suffered from chronic asthma and police claim his death was the result of a heart attack suffered during the arrest.

Police say that Garner made a “fighting stance” and resisted arrest. Which, based on the video clip, is complete nonsense, considering we can see him pleading to the officers, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” before going completely silent as several officers pile on him.

The video of Garner’s death is disgusting, but I can’t say I was shocked or even outraged the first time I watched it. At this point, as someone who’s read and written about some of these stories time and time again—and who’s had firsthand experiences with the way cops treat black males—this kind of reprehensible shit is not surprising at all. After so many cases like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, you start to feel desensitized by the seemingly insurmountable injustice that plagues communities of color.


I remember being asked a lot, by a lot of different writers, zines, and shit, like, ‘Why don’t you incorporate your race, your ethnicity, where you’ve grown up, into your music?’ I don’t identify with that shit, like, my identity is the music, everything you need to know about me is in the music: my home, it’s where I originate, it’s where I fall apart, it’s where I come to life.

Anonymous: So you're basically saying female better do things your way or no way? I'm sorry but if a female feels empowered by looking hot because hey maybe it gives her confidence then why the fuck not. They aren't telling everyone else to do it and you're just acting fucking ignorant and sexist by putting females down and basically telling them what to do.


This message doesn’t really make any sense I feel like you don’t have much knowledge of feminism or didn’t read the post properly ahhh I’m just going to answer this in dot points

  • I am a feminist duh 
  • That post is a critique of what is known as “white feminism” which is really white middle class women’s feminism that pretty much only focuses on the sexual liberation of white women (which is important but not the crux issue of feminism lbr) and completely ignores the struggle of WoC and trans women and women that are not rich / well off…… 
  • Like yes of course it’s great if a woman feels empowered if she shaves / wears make up / heels etc etc but like… you have to think CRITICALLY, why are you really doing that? There’s NO escaping the fact that shaving / make up / heels etc were acts born of patriarchy and about constructing a female beauty standard for the pleasure + power of men.
  • Through those doing those things to empower yrself you are playing to the Patriarchy, even if it empowers you are an only empowered thru USING the Patriarchy when really the aim of feminism should be the DISMANTLING of the Patriarchy and the total disregard of that…   
  • The point the post made about “Hot Girls Only Club” is so important, like this branch of feminism that is all about wearing make up to seduce men / have power over men has sort of turned feminism on its head like by wearing make up to get men / feeling empowered by the attention to men it’s like perpetuating male validation in a weird way. It disregards all the women that don’t do that as well, like there is SO much more attention for white girls that are wearing eyeliner / red lipstick as a feminist statement than there is for WoC that are being badasses and not shaving / not wearing make up and are really upholding the fuck you attitude to beauty standards. I’m just saying…
  • Lastly, 2 clarify, I don’t think it’s bad if women do wear make up or do shave but I think if you’re a woman and you do do those things you have to think critically about why you do. Like for example I wear very basic make up, and I do it because I honestly feel obliged to look good / cute / whatever because I’m a woman and it’s fucked but I’m insecure and I fall prey to male validation! I’ve just started to not shave  / not give a fuck about how feminine I look and at least I feel better about that aspect… 

I just really feel like I needed to interject here and so I word vomited this, sorry to be that guy but wanted to inject some realness in here from the perspective of a coloured feminist.

RE: The intersectional feminism conversation – although it’s awesome that you’re aware and interested in intersectional feminism and the challenge of being coloured in a world run by the white privilege, some of what you’re saying is problematic. As a feminist and a woman of colour I appreciate that women can dismantle the patriarchy by not submitting to male imposed standards of beauty, however, it is paradoxical to expect women to subscribe to the imposition of what it is to be a “good” feminist also. As a coloured woman in Australia, my lived experience has been/currently is very different to yours – for you to say that my desire to wear make-up and shave my legs is somehow a disservice to my feminist agenda is problematic, only because it really doesn’t consider the differences between you and I. 

To put it simply, as a half Indian woman in Australia, not wearing make-up exposes my under-eye circles – everyday that I don’t wear make-up I get told I look tired, constantly. Although these under eye circles are a badge of honour for me because they tie me to my family visually and culture geographically, they have more often than not been an obvious point of difference and a reason for me to feel “otherised”. I honestly believe that people just don’t realise that that’s how my face looks (through lack of exposure I guess), and although I am taking pains to ween myself off wearing make-up and instead re-educating the people around me, sometimes I just don’t wanna deal. I also research intercultural understanding in the hopes that other people like me don’t go through the confidence issues that I did as a child.

Similarly to my under eye circles, my Indian genes mean that the hair on my legs is really dark, but being half white, my skin is relatively fair. It’s not really something I know how to feel good about yet, and think it’s unfair to say that shaving my legs makes me less of a feminist – again, I feel like my differences are not being considered here at all. Also, smooth skin makes me feel sexy. My boyfriend couldn’t give a shit either way because he thinks I’m a goddess no matter what, but it’s really important that I am entitled to the things that do make me feel good. To impose standards of “good feminism” on me is a denial of my autonomy as a coloured woman.

By doing these things and feeling empowered by them, I may meet Western standards of beauty that are constructed by men – and that’s totally fine, because it’s not my intention to please the men around me by doing those things, I’m just pleasing me. I do those things because I want to and because I am entitled to. Yes, there is a long history of colonialism, racism and sexism tied to those things – but just like the recoding of “nigger/nigga” in African American culture, and just like the ownership of “bitch” in feminism, those things are symbols that, instead of casting aside, we have the ability to re-interpret and take ownership of. Plus, my actions as a feminist are subversive in other ways and I don’t feel I need to subscribe to any way of existing in order to make my point.

Lastly, it is incredibly important for you to consider your privilege as a white, educated female at this point. Although it’s excellent that you feel as though you can reject normative standards of “beauty” and are happy to not wear make-up or shave, you also must consider that to some degree the fact that you are a White person changes how these signifiers are perceived on you. The image of the androgynous, lanky white girl are trendy images in at least some sects of popular culture – the image of an unshaven, make-up free half Indian girl are not necessarily, and are only maybe trendy among smaller, feminist subcultures. To be honest, I think that that image has been coded as “uncivilised” through colonialism and this idea still prevails. I am fully capable of being critical about the signifiers that I wear every day and whether I subscribe to mainstream ideas of female and Western beauty, as well as whether I am satisfying ideas of “exotic” beauty as well (or rejecting them). Yes, it is incredibly important to be critical of your participation in those things, but it is also SO important to be critical of yourself and your presence/relevance to these conversations. A better understanding of what it is to be “other” would potentially shift your perspective on what shaving and wearing make-up can be for some women.

This rhetoric of “both sides” implies that pain and fault belong equally to Palestinians and Israelis. It erases manifold, unmistakable, qualitative and quantitative differences at play in Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip and the political-historical context in which this is taking place — most centrally, that what is occurring is part of a settler-colonial invasion.

“Both sides” rhetoric refuses to make even the easiest, most obvious judgment, to which any honest evaluation of the information points: that Israel is massacring Palestinian adults and children, 77% of whom are civilians, and subjecting them to collective punishment; that Israel evidently claims for itself a right to extra-judicially execute anyone who it says is a Hamas member, a practice too few among even Palestine’s allies have denounced; that Israel is bombarding what is essentially a giant refugee camp home to an imprisoned population of a people Israel has ethnically cleansed, occupied, subjected to apartheid, and repeatedly slaughtered; that international law does not grant Israel a “right to defend itself” against the Gaza Strip. And that international law does grant Palestinians a right to resist using armed struggle.

To employ “both sides” rhetoric completely misrepresents the situation. It is not “both sides” who take thousands of political prisoners. Both sides do not systematically torture each other. Both sides do not control each other’s freedom of movement, or access to the sea, drinking water, and education.

Greg Shupak - "A Plague on One House" via Jacobin Magazine

In addition to these distinctions, the “both sides” idea is dangerous because it is immobilizing. With its use, it becomes impossible to demand an end to colonial practices. And that is exactly the point.

(via mizoguchi)

(via schisms)