(Yes, this whole thing ticks me off so much, I forgot to title this post when I first published it.)
I'm new to feminism. I'm rather wholly ignorant of its history, and am just now, in pieces, starting to learn about it.
There are some names I've heard, often, and I thought they were "good people." Good women. Sisters.
They are not.
I know there are three "waves" of feminism, and apparently the third one is the least bad, shall we say, but I don't know what each one means or entails or whatever. And at this point, I don't really think I want to put the energy into finding out.
This morning I re-tweeted a quote by a supposed "feminist," saying something about women needing to let go of their own misogyny. It was a good quote. Too bad it came from a transmisogynistic hypocrite who claimed to fight for women's rights but worked even harder to oppress and erase women who didn't look like her.
Then I found out about this blog post, eulogizing Mary Daly. I had no idea who she was until yesterday, when someone else had tweeted about her death. I Googled her, and her Wikipedia entry (I was feeling very lazy) gave a brief overview of her which did not make me mourn her passing. She chose to resign from her teaching job rather than allow dirty, stinky men in her women's studies classes. She did not consider people of color to be people, and she did not consider trans women to be women.
I'm not familiar with Shakesville, but from the comments on the Daly post, and th sentiments expressed on Twitter, it used to be a fairly trans-friendly place. Even has regular contributors who are trans folk.
Yet the post on Mary Daly sings her praises as a wonderful champion of women's rights, a foremother ahead of her time, blah blah. Not a peep about her racism or transphobia. Oh, wait! What's that, there at the bottom? Oh, there it is! It's a little footnote, acknowledging someone pointed these facets of Daly's personality in the comments to the post, and the post author wanted to say someone pointed these things out to her.
No, dude. Not okay.
Maybe you write a quick footnote to note the error, apologize for it, and say "hold on while I check on it and fix it" and then you go back and fix it. You educate yourself (which, seriously, you should have done BEFORE writing the eulogy, dude. For serious -- you didn't even go to Wikipedia?? Because it was RIGHT THERE). Then you write and appropriate response, giving at least as much screen time to the lasting hurt this woman caused as you did to blowing her kisses.
You can check out the fail in the comments section. *sigh*
(I'm irked that my comment wasn't posted until after comments were closed -- I'd written it, but I had to "verify" my account before they'd show it, and I had technical difficulties. At least it posted, which makes me happy because I have apparently become a virtual exhibitionist, but I really wanted someone to respond to my comment. Oh, well...)
This afternoon I read this post on Feministe. Same violent photo, but at least both sides were presented. Fairly, equally? I don't know.
Hate harms more than good does good. The evil that men do, as Marc Anthony said, does live after them; the good is, often, forgotten with their bones. That's not our faulty selective memory; it's much easier to rally hate and fear than it is to breed love and solidarity (Tea-baggers, anyone?) I'm not going to put the energy into studying this woman to find out which legacy is more lasting -- her work to promote rights for cis-only, white-only women, or her work to oppress, other, exclude and exterminate women of color and trans women.
Later on @genderbitch tweeted this link, which tells the story of Mary Daly that cannot be erased or ignored. Please make sure you read that one.
And on that note, I'm off to unpack (yes, from the trip I returned from on Sunday. Hush it). I was so psyched when I first claimed the term "feminist" to describe myself. I had come out of two long, abusive relationships, and calling myself a "feminist" was so empowering. But the more I learn about the "feminists" who came before me, the more I wonder if I really want to be a part of that group... Can we save it? Are we, the "new" (or whatever wave) "feminists" enough to undo all that harm? Can we own our past enough to work through it, and overcome it?
Looking at the comments from "feminists" on Shakesville, it's not looking too likely, is it?