I wrote this for openDemocracy. It follows an article I wrote in January analysing conflict in the feminist movement and aims to help the movement break our current stalemate and find alternate ways forward.
When The Spectator published Julie Burchill’s ‘Don’t you dare tell me to check my privilege’ last week, it was yet another salvo in the ongoing conflict around inclusion and diversity on both sides of the Atlantic. These discussions take place in all movements but they have recently taken particular prominence in online feminism.
Social media doesn’t start these conversations, it amplifies them. Tweets and online articles feed each other and create increasing polarisation and conflict. Feminists are occupied by seemingly endless, frustrating cycles of accusation, defensiveness and recriminations. These have an attendant drag on our motivations for continued engagement.
But this is a politics of representation, a process of looking at who speaks for whom about what. Our attention needs to move towards a politics of change: re-visioning a shared future and working towards its realisation through activism. In doing so, we may also open up more fruitful arenas for discussion.
I end by saying:
Issues of power, exclusion and marginalisation should inform our activism. This has to be in terms of prioritisation of issues, whose realities we address andrepresentation. When we do this, we move towards a more holistic vision of ensuring all are being carried forward by a movement purported to be universal in nature.
Enough of paying lip service to concepts like ‘inclusion’, ‘diversity’ and ‘intersectionality’. Let us now focus on doing them in practice.
I have been talking about inclusion, diversity and pushing the horizons of the feminist movement for years. This is the fifth of 5 pieces that I’ve written on this.
- why linked liberation is integral to feminism in May 2012
- you don’t need a MA in gender studies to know race matters to feminism in October 2012
- white domination, challenge and the feminist movement –
#solidarityisforwhitewomen and what it meant for me in August 2013
- reaching out across the battle lines: moving beyond conflict in the feminist movement in January 2013
- enough talk about intersectionality. let’s get on with it in February 2013