Author Archives: Billie_Blue

On Epistemic Violence

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Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and while perusing my usual daily fare of blogposts and daily updates ( as well as thinking more of my research), I noticed  a bit of a trend. I think as activists/feminists/womyn we often get so caught up in championing our collective causes, that we are unaware of the universalizing, stereotypes and distortions that we might be replicating.

Spivak defines epistemic violence as the violence of knowledge production, notably by white feminists in their writings on Africa, women in the global south and even feminism in the global south. Such epistemic violence includes the distortions, sterotyping and generalizaing of Third World women’s conditions, as if they were all homogenously belaboured, lacking agency and needing saving.

The truth of the matter is that as we wage our collective battles against multiple forms of transnational oppression, especially in the constrained written nuggets of the world of social media, we need to be wary of not being complicit  in this epistemic violence. Writing from a position of privilege, either by virtue of geographical location and context, class, access, what have you,we need to be careful of making sweeping generalizations like ‘ African women and girls are the most oppressed group in the world’. Well..not always, and not all the time. In our enthusiasm to champion our causes we sometimes make reductionist statements to get people on board, kinda like those WorldVision ads. Yes, we want to bring people to the table, and yes we want others to be as passionate about the issues as we are, but at what cost? Are we ultimately replicating relations of inequality, and saying that African women need to be saved by rich people in the West. Or that I, as a privileged, Western educated, Western- located expert, can go back and save the people. This smacks a little of a messianic complex, and as women working for change we need to check our hubris at the door. That is not to say that we can not make change, but to bear in mind that people have their own solutions, knowledge and expertise, and that I women’s studies major, do not know everything about community development, international development or gender issues.

Love, love, and encouragement to everyone fighting the good fight in the academy, on the streets, and in this world we love that is the blogosphere!

On Epistemic Violence

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Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and while perusing my usual daily fare of blogposts and daily updates ( as well as thinking more of my research), I noticed  a bit of a trend. I think as activists/feminists/womyn we often get so caught up in championing our collective causes, that we are unaware of the universalizing, stereotypes and distortions that we might be replicating.

Mohanty defines epistemic violence as the violence of knowledge production, notably by white feminist in their writings on Africa, women in the global south and even feminism in the global south. Such epistemic includes the distortions, sterotyping and generalizaing of Third World women’s conditions, as they were all homogenously belaboured, lacking agency and needing saving.

 

The truth of the matter is that as we wage our collective battles against multiple forms of transnational oppression, especially in the constrained written nuggets of the world of social media, we need to be wary of not being complicit  in this epistemic violence. Writing from a position of privilege, either by virtue of geographical location and context, class, access, what have you,we need to be careful of making sweeping generalizations like ‘ African women and girls are the most oppressed group in the world’. Well..not always, and not all the time. In our enthusiasm to champion our causes we sometimes make reductionist statements to get people on board, kinda like those WorldVision ads. Yes, we want to bring people to the table, and yes we want others to be as passionate about the issues as we are, but at what cost? Are we ultimately replicating relations of inequality, and saying that African women need to be saved by rich people in the West. Or that I, as a privileged, Western educated, Western- located expert, can go back and save the people. This smacks a little of a messianic complex, and as women working for change we need to check our hubris at the door. That is not to say that we can not make change, but to bear in mind that people have their own solutions, knowledge and expertise, and that I women’s studies major, do not know everything about community development, international development or gender issues.

Love, love, and encouragement to everyone fighting the good fight in the academy, on the streets, and this world we love that is the blogosphere!

A Frank Discussion on Black Sexualities

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Black communities often seem to shy away from discussions on sexualities, as if somehow this clashes with culture, identity, or religiosity. A conversation about sexualities is not just about sex, which in itself is a discussion that begs having. Talking about sexualities encompasses: identity, culture, power, politics, gender, orientation and yes…sex, the act and/or the physiologically/socially constituted category.

What brought me to the question of black sexualities was my work in early sexualization and hypersexualization. I did a project a couple years back on the early sexualisation of pre-teen girls. This was in 2006, and at the time there seemed to be this pervading moral panic, mainly stoked by white middle class parents and academics about the sexualisation of their daughters, grand-daughters, relatives, friends etc… Super-sexy Bratz dolls, push-up bras for 8 year-olds, Katy Perry/Xtina and MTV were all culprits in this process. The rhetoric hearkened back to a time, when apparently Barbie let young girls know they could be all they ever wanted to be (with a perma-smile, butt-skimming hair, and boobs that would realistically result in a concave chest). Stories abounded about 5th grade girls providing oral sex to boys in the back of the school bus and lipstick parties. These were all very legitimate concerns. But nowhere in the reams of pop-psychology books, interviews, studies and Oprah and Tyra exclusives did I see a race or class-based analysis. Sure, Jada Pinkett Smith wrote a whole children’s book about loving yourself and your hair, because 8 year-old Willow had said something about wanting to be sexy. But there was no real engagement with non-white, non-middle class pre-teens.

It is precisely because of this glaring gap (deliberate or not) that we need to talk about sexualities. Black women’s bodies have been sexualized, historicized, objectified and used as symbols. We are rarely the architects of our own sexual stories and experts in our experiences. Sex is something that is done to black women, by the media, hip-hop, Johnny-down-the-way, or bs studies.  We are painted as either these ravenous sexual succubi, completely asexual and undesirable non-beings, or hyper-masculine. It boggles the mind that we can be all three at once.

And yet, despite the ass-swiping credit card of Nelly’s tip-drill video, marathon gang rape of a California teen outside her prom, and sexual assault in the campus hallway, we still refuse to talk about it. That is until it explodes onto our screens in voyeuristic orgies penned by Tyler Perry…like Precious. But even then, the melodrama is just excessive enough for us to easily detach.

A frank discussion about sexualities is more than the sum of its parts. It is what is needed. Black women need to be able to articulate their stories and experiences, to be their won advocates and architects, in whatever way and along whatever spectrum they so choose.

This is why this event is so important.:

Saddi Khali in Ottawa Neo-NegritudeExpressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

https://wocinsol.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/saddi-khali-in-ottawa-neo-negritude-expressions-reclaiming-our-sexualities-2/

It is important for Black women, and it is important for the Black community and for everyone in general. On November 18th, 19th and 20th do come out!

Gender-bending in hip-hop

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Cross-posted from clutch magazine.

Gender-Bending Rapper Starts ‘XY Movement,’ Is It Just A Gimmick?

FRIDAY NOV 11, 2011 – BY 

Hip-hop isn’t the most accepting of men who don’t fit the conventional definitions of masculinity. In a genre so comfortable disparaging gays and lesbians, it seems like career suicide for an new rapper to rock lipstick and wear pink tights–and NOT be in contention to be the next Nicki Minaj. But that’s exactly what 19-year-old Daryll Duane Philips is doing.

Philips, who goes by the name DPhill Spanglishman, created the XY movement to encourage men to get in touch with their feminine side.

Predictably, many aren’t feeling his style and question his sexuality (he’s straight), but DPhill says he’s unfazed.

He told reporters, “I believe I’m 40 percent female basically because of my emotions. I’m a very emotional person”

DPhill continues, “Everybody has a soft spot, I just embrace both sides.”

Collective commitments:

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  1. Respect and adhere to mandate, basis of solidarity, and confidentiality agreement;
  2. Attend at least one meeting per month with the understanding that meetings are biweekly;
  3. Provide at least 24 hours’ notice when possible when you can’t attend a meeting (attendance can be done virtually, for example, through Skype or a telephone call);
  4. Respond to email within 24 hours;
  5. Take accountability for actions. If you take on a task, it is your responsibility to complete the task or find someone else to take it on. If the task is incomplete, it is your responsibility to own up to this. “If you take a shit on the street, go and stand by it.”

N.B.: We need to ensure that womyn adhere to an anti-oppressive framework. As a collective we shall refer back to documents when necessary.

 

What Does InSol Do? Support – Challenge – Education – Change – Self-care

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We aim to create a space of solidarity for womyn of colour, where we can learn and develop together. Our meetings provide a supportive space to speak about our experiences as womyn of colour, engage in constructive criticism, and challenge ourselves to expand our understanding of anti-oppression practices.

At the same time we also work to challenge the oppressive structures around us. We engage in this work through educational endeavours (for example, by attending conferences or organizing speakers’ events) and by acting more directly for change, such as through campaigns. We also identify as allies….

We also make sure to take time for fun self-care as a group. We believe in the importance of having fun while acting to make the world around us a better place and taking care of ourselves while we do it.

InSol: Womyn of Colour Collective Mandate and Basis of Solidarity

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Mandate

To challenge and resist the many forms of violence inflicted upon womyn of colour, while acting in critical solidarity.

Basis of Solidarity

The Basis of Solidarity acts as the foundation for the work we do. All collective members work towards ensuring that our actions and initiatives remain aligned with our Basis of Solidarity.

We are a united front of multiethnic women existing at multiple ends of the colonial difference. The colonial difference as coined by Walter Mignolo speaks to the sharing of colonial experiences that have been shaped by

We proudly identify as a dynamic fusion of critical womyn who stand in solidarity with the transnational struggle against all forms of oppression(s), including, but not limited to, colonialism, racism, capitalism, imperialism, sexism, classism, homophobia, heterosexism, elitism, ableism, and ageism.

We endeavour to do the following:

  • provide an alternate and safe space for womyn of colour to unlearn and re-learn;
  • oppose violence against womyn of colour in all its forms;
  • apply a critical, anti-oppression intersectional approach to our work;
  • recognize the multi-faceted and complex identities and lived situations of our sisters in the struggle, understanding that womyn of colour are not homogenous and are impacted differently by oppression and violence;
  • remain critical and aware of our locations of power, privilege(s), and oppression(s) and how they remain interconnected;
  • remain critical of “using the Master’s tools to destroy the Master’s house”;
  • respect the diversities within the feminist movement and know that equity and not equality is our ultimate goal;
  • stand in solidarity with indigenous struggles for dignity and self-determination.

We recognize that violence is systemic and widespread. Following INCITE! Women of Colour Against Violence, we recognize that violence not only occurs in the personal sphere but also manifests as state violence. We understand violence against womyn of colour “to be a combination of ‘violence directed at communities,’ such as police violence, war, and colonialism, and ‘violence within communities,’ such as rape and domestic violence.” We see that existing social and political structures maintain the systems of domination that impact our lives.

We are part of the womyn’s liberation and resistance movement. We believe that womyn have the right to make choices about their lives and their bodies. We recognize the historical contributions to feminism of womyn of colour, indigenous womyn, immigrant and refugee womyn, womyn with disabilities, queer womyn, womyn who believe in various religions or spiritual paths, womyn living in poverty, womyn whose first language is not English, and feminism’s male allies.

We are committed to a collective process that includes consensus decision making and the sharing of power, tasks, responsibilities, and information. We believe this creates a grassroots alternative to existing hierarchical structures of domination. We all take responsibility for the collective’s work and activism. We recognize that these are interconnected and inseparable, with each informing the other. We recognize that each of us brings our own power, privilege, and experiences of oppression(s) to our work. We recognize the prevalence and interconnections between all forms of violence and oppressions and that these cannot be separated from each other. We are committed to unlearning and challenging these systems of domination both personally and collectively.

We are all responsible and accountable to each other in the Collective