Thursday, January 25, 2018

Black People - #Resist/#MeToo IS NOT FOR YOU!

theintercept |  At what point did we settle upon this fulcrum, over which our options are empowerment or helpless victimhood? The answer, of course, is that some establishment, centrist feminists have leveraged positions in the media to determine the terrain of this fight for the rest of us.

They presume that at its best, a feminist movement is all about individual empowerment, as opposed to fighting patriarchal oppression. Only a narrow outlook of feminism could see these two things as coextensive or interchangeable. It’s a position that wants to see the status quo improved but not upended. In political terms, this view is at best a reformist strategy, articulating a position that power can be shared, that power structures can be joined without first being radically challenged and broken.

As journalist Halima Mansoor pointed out on Twitter, the line taken by Weiss and others, Banfield and Whoopi Goldberg among them, betrays the privilege of their position by condemning a woman — “Grace,” the pseudonym of the Ansari accuser — for failing to speak up and walk out when made to feel sexually uncomfortable and violated. “Privilege blinds people who have it to assume everyone else has the same power and therefore should react how they might,” Mansoor wrote.

This is the problem with empty calls for more “empowerment”: They show little to no interest in how power works.

#MeToo risked limitations from the outset, popularized as it was mostly by white, liberal celebrities and framed around the excavation of individualized narratives of trauma. Any movement dependent on an endless string of victim and survivor stories accusing well-known predators and perpetrators can only reach so far.

When the national farmworker women’s organization Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote an open letter to sexual assault survivors in Hollywood “on behalf of the approximately 700,000 women who work in the agricultural fields and packing sheds across the United States,” it was an invitation for mutual solidarity that goes further than the tony neighborhoods of Los Angeles and New York.
Invocations of “empowerment” are of little use to these women who face harassment and sexual violence in workplaces, relationships, and situations they feel structurally, emotionally, or financially unable to walk away from — something the attacks against Ansari’s accuser seem to miss.

Divisions have attended every aspect of the so-called resistance since its birth after Trump’s election. Indeed, they color the history of social movements. The lead-up to the Women’s March a year ago was riddled with tensions over privileged, liberal leadership and framing. The demonstration was originally announced under the banner “Million Women March,” until activists condemned the name as an appropriation of the 1997 mass march by black women in Philadelphia.

It was only when a diverse and radically progressive group of organizers, including Sarsour, People for Bernie’s Winnie Wong, transgender icon Janet Mock, and the Working Families Party’s Nelini Stamp developed the Women’s March “Unity Principles” that a vision for an intersectional political movement emerged. Migrants, sex workers, and other vulnerable women were highlighted for solidarity.