Until recently the capitalist class with the help of unions had convinced men that if they got a rise in pay they got a rise in standard of living. That’s not true, and women always knew it. They give men a pay packet on Friday and take it back from us on Saturday at the shops. We have to organise the struggle for the other side of wages -against inflation -and that can only be done outside the unions, first because they only deal with the money we get and not with what we have immediately to give back; and second because they limit their fight -such as it is -only to that workplace where you get wages for being there, and not where your work involves giving the money back.
It is not simply that they don’t organise the shoppers; it is that the union prevents such organisation, by fragmenting the class into those who have wages and those who don’t. The unemployed, the old, the ill, children and housewives are wageless. So the unions ignore us and thereby separate us from each other and from the waged. That is, they structurally make a generalised struggle impossible. This is not because they are bureaucratised; this is. Their functions are to mediate the struggle in industry and keep it separate from struggles elsewhere. Because the most concentrated potential power of the class is at the point of direct production, the unions have convinced the wageless that only at that point can a struggle be waged at all. This is not so, and the most striking example has been the organisation of the Black community. Blacks, like women, cannot limit themselves to a struggle in direct production. And Blacks, like women, see the function of unions within the class writ large in their attitudes to them. For racism and sexism are not aberrations of an otherwise powerful working class weapon.
You will see by now that I believe in order to have our own politics we must make our own analysis of women and therefore our own analysis of the whole working class struggle. We have been taking so much for granted that happens to be around, and restricting, segregating ourselves to speaking and writing about women, that it looks like we are only supposed to analyse and understand women after others (men) have analysed the class in general–excluding us. This is to be male-dominated in the profoundest sense. Because there is no class in general-which doesn’t include us and all the wageless
Another day. Another piece on intersectionality written by a white man who positions himself, like the others, on the progressive side of the battle. I am not even going to be able to do justice to it but I will attempt a vain stab at it here.
Underpinning James Heartfield’s piece is the idea of what revolutionary politics should look like. He and the other critics of intersectional theory fear losing the revolutionary subject. This revolutionary subject is the mythical Marxian proletariat opposed to the political and social structures of capitalism. It is an essential and authoritarian identity which in the hands of Heartfield, Ross Wolfe, Mark Fisher et alia is used to assert a dominance that rests on the exclusion and subordination of not just Black identity but feminism too; difference is altogether precluded. Ranciere calls this tactic - la police.
Heartfield demonstrates this tactic by privileging class analysis - which is absent in his piece which skips over the identitarian arguments of the 1970s to the present date as if trying to please the anti-feminist tutor marking his coursework – it is also absent in Fisher. Class analysis is privileged over intersectionality even though what we understand “as objective class divisions are produced and maintained by the middle-class in the minutiaie of everyday practice, as judgements of culture are put into effect. Any judgement of the working as negative (waste, excess, vulgar, unmodern, authentic, etc.) is an attempt by the middle class to accrue value”.
Skeggs illuminates how dominant classes exploit and silence the less privileged while gaining legitimacy for themselves through practices of exclusion and degradation they perpetuate under dominant norms. She writes that representations of the working class “… have absolutely nothing to do with the working-class themselves, but are about the middle-class creating value for themselves in a myriad of ways, through distance, denigration and disgust as well as appropriation and affect of attribution” (Beverley Skeggs quoted in Gressgård 2008).
You can find an example of this when Ross Wolfe, who not-so-coincidentally is a colleague of Heartfield, commenting under his article describes a woman of colour blogger as idiotic, irrational. While another commenter – Trudy – finds her thoughtful and considered [acting in good faith] critique of the original article dismissed by Heartfield as unworthy of engaging with. He further demonstrates his indifference to her and what she brings to the discussion by refusing to address her by the name she posts her comments under and instead chooses to call her Judy. Something similar happens in the piece that Mark Fisher writes on The Vampire’s Castle in attacking intersectional theory as the purview of the “petit-bourgeois” in order to carry out a personal vendetta against certain pundits in the blogosphere and beyond, when it is clear to me that the targets of his ire appropriate intersectionality by alluding to it without doing the actual work because it is not their lived experience.
To clarify here, I am not attacking IS theorists, Black feminists , women of colour, et cetera, queer of colour theorists, the working class: it’s all getting very complicated now but saying that I recognise the targets of Fisher’s critique who are indeed middle-class (or bourgeois ideologists in marxist phraseology – think now about why Derrida might have taken a wrong turn by avoiding deconstructing this ideology post ‘68). What this suggests is that all of the hostility towards intersectionality prefigures this discussion because they - Heartfield, Wolfe, Fisher and the object of their critiques (this “petit-bourgeois”) - assume an objective reality which, as Skegg would argue, is dominated by middle-class ideological constructions. However - as we see in these debates raging around the validity of intersectional theory’s place in the arsenal of revolutionary and radical politics - when women of colour choose to break their enforced silences in these spaces in which diversity’s denied a presence, we can also use these moments to lay bare and open to criticism the constructed nature of this middle-class ideology.
According to Ranciere, claims for recognition assume that not only are all speaking subjects equal but that this equality can be tested in practice. He says:
The process of emancipation is the verification of the equality of any speaking being with any other speaking being. It is always enacted in the name of a category denied either the principle or the consequences of that equality: workers, women, people of color or others. But the enactment of equality is not, for all that, the enactment of the self, of the attributes or properties of the community in question. The name of an injured community that invokes its rights is always the name of the anonym, the name of anyone.
While Ranciere shares Heartfield’s antipathy towards identity politics, ironically, the enactment of what Ranciere would call the properly political can be seen in US and European queer of colour politics with its anti-identitarian, anti-statist, anti-normative deviation from the language of gay and lesbian civil rights.
The feminist movement was criticised by Black feminists in the late 1970s and 80s for “its homogenizing and totalizing pressupposition, and for silencing black women in particular, by presuming an exclusionary (white, middle class) concept of ‘woman’.” What this Black feminist critique highlighted was the need to reflect upon and theorise the meaning of “woman”. The charge made against intersectionality by its objectors is that it advances notions of social forces as separable and distinct.
According to Avtar Brah and Ann Phoenix intersectionaity “emphasizes that different dimensions of social life cannot be separately extracted and presented as discrete and pure strands.” While Baukje Prins argues that the concept of intersectionality is a critical alternative to identity politics for it not only pays attention to difference between groups but also focusses on intra-group differences as well. Intersectionality therefore avoids the totalising logic that is the hallmark of modernist reasoning and identity politics.
For Kimberly Crenshaw who is usually attributed as coining the concept of intersectionality [Patrica Hill Collins was there first - actually - although the Combahee River Collective beat them all to defining it what it looked like], the problem with identity politics is not that it fails to transcend difference but that it often conflates or dismisses intra-group difference. Intersectionality offered a way out of the impasse of the 80’s clash of identitarian articulations of difference and the radical inquiry of the epistemological and political foundations of feminism.
Now further. A problem arises when we talk about intersectionality, either to affirm its validity or as its objectors, because we speak as if it embodies a singular meaning rather than viewing it as a “plurality of doorways” opening onto a multiplicity of places and meanings. In talking this way we limit what it is possible to do with it. So, previously, I wrote that intersectionality is useful in reaching empirical truths about race, class, et cetera, gender, and sexuality and is an important tool for fashioning social justice and in doing so, I place a limitation on what might emerge from intersectionality, if we would just allow ourselves to play with language. As Ferguson notes, “anti racist feminist and queer work has to be an insistence on that sense of play, a sense of play that is absolutely vital for the emergence of new kinds of political and intellectual subjects” (Ferguson 2012:6) and not as a positivist, empiricist project that attempts to reveal the “fact” of minority life and “the truth” about heterogeneity. In Fatima El_Tayeb’s European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe, intersectionality becomes a way to imagine a coalition politics as part of a comparative analytical agenda. She writes, “In pushing beyond binary, essentialist notions of identity, women of color feminism initiated a shift in paradigms, lastingly shaping the search for methodological tools that allow for ‘fuzzy edges’ and intersections rather than depending on the creation of boundaries, making possible the exploration of commonalities while paying close attention to specific circumstances” (cited in Ferguson 2012:7). In Tayebs hands, intersectionality becomes “a comparative and disaporic reading practice for local and global processes that impact European communities of color” and is not called upon to fix meanings or the truth of women of colour or queer of colour bodies and experiences.
It is when Heartfield rehearses the oppression olympics argument which was prevelant among feminists groups in the UK during the 80s that I can see all the ways in which this moment misrepresented returns as history. Heartfield is relying on the record set down in national UK media without doing any serious reading or even offering a critical reading of feminist writings of this period so he points you to Linda Bellos without even providing a context for why you dear Citizen should care about her. The heady days of the GLC with Linda Bellos embedded within it are not something that young people today are going to be able to relate to because it’s just written out. Bellos was an angry, black, feminist, lesbian, separatist. So many ideas to deconstruct and Mr Heartfield has no interest in deconstructing this represenatation, except to warn you to steer clear. Because she’s been written out of that history.
These attempts to argue that intersectional theory wants to privilege the most marginal voices in order to overturn the revolutionary subject are wrong and subscribe to a binary form of thinking which Derrida’s deconstructionism has helped critical theorists unpack. What I am seeing is an attempt to keep intact a hierarchical, authoritarian power structure which intersectional theory deconstructs. IS theory is not attempting to invert existing power structures by making the most marginal voice primary as a means to overturn the hierarchy but to make more objective the conditions of the working class by looking at the most marginal. Consequently, it seems that what underpins the current hostility towards IS theory is that it appears inimical to political economy while essentialising identity. This is all wrong. Derrida is criticised for not having this critique of Marxism as it became the target post ‘68. Let’s not fall into a similar Dark Ages now.
sorry too tired to cite sources here. return later. i lost the original piece which was shit hot because of pc problems so basically have had to write again in the course of one day. deal with it.
ADDENDUM RESPONSE TO THIS THOUGHT “What is more important than this is that a) no detailed report that I’ve seen supports the claim that the FSA is just a proxy army. On the contrary, any support it is receiving is almost certainly pitifully slight (see eg: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/a… b) while there isn’t any institutional coordination between insurgent groups, the attempted counterposition of the armed to the non-armed revolt doesn’t seem to be borne out ‘on the ground’, where cooperation rather than antagonism is the rule - *even if* the main grassroots organisations have tended to oppose the trend toward militarisation for fear of what Assad will do.
ME THINKING THIS THROUGH:I’m not claiming the FSA are a *unified* proxy army. The FSA is a collection of some 70 militias working independently of each other, without central command and who don’t agree ideologically. How can you be certain of what class interests any of these militias represent? How are you making this evaluation? Dissidents within Syria warn they do not stand a chance of defeating Assad’s forces, claiming also that arming them can only lead to a protracted civil war. Further, the US has sidestepped working with the SNC or the FSA directly. It leaves that to Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have been dealing directly with the militias, channelling weapons and money directly to those Washington wishes to assist. Again, this is on public record. So here is where the logic of your position breaks down: why would arms be funelled to militias opposed to any of these interests in Syria?
Further, it is clear that the US has been working to “hijack” the opposition all along. The United States Institute of Peace has been working quietly behind the scenes. Here is their director Steven Heydemann on the deliberate absence of Obama officials on US plans for Assad’s overthrow:
"We have very purposely stayed away from contributing to the direct overthrow of the Assad regime.. Our project is called ‘the day after.’ There are other groups working on the day before… This is a situation where too visible a U.S. role would have been deeply counterproductive. It would have given the Assad regime and elements of the opposition an excuse to delegitimize the process… We are providing the opposition with an opportunity for the opposition itself to demonstrate its ability to undertake this work, which is actually quite significant"
“The one factor that is missing is the organised working class, which is not difficult to understand given the fact that the unions in Syria are basically controlled by the regime and are useless hulks.”
Given all of this, how do you reach the conclusion that this is a “popular revolt?”
Given this it would seem that the US looks favourably on a Syria riven by civil war leading inevitably to the country’s fragmentation. We saw how this unraveled in Iraq and how it now plays out in Libya.
On negotiations – Annan’s earlier attempts were scuppered by Saudi Arabia and Qatar funneling money to the FSA hosted by Turkey who escalated attacks on Assad forces. Assad is keen to negotiate with the factions inside Syria who call for negotiations and who are also opposed to militarizing the revolution. It might mean he lives to see another day but left factions have political demands that go beyond seeing the fall of Assad. Unfortunately, this is not the solution that Washington seeks.
It’s pretty depressing that black women are still fighting to get white men [and women] to recognise how racism structures our lives. It seems raising these issues on social media platforms is killing the enjoyment of a certain Mark Fisher, author of Exiting The Vampire’s Castle published recently at North Star. Fisher argues that class analysis has been replaced by privilege theory and, by implication, intersectionality although he doesn’t mention this by name. This he claims is “because we have allowed bourgeois modes of subjectivity to contaminate our movement.” The left, he argues, is no longer terrorised by the right but by subaltern demands to have “’identities’ [sic] recognised by a bourgeois big Other.”
This demand for recognition was memorably expressed by the African-American women’s rights activist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth who demonstrated how womanhood was denied to Black women in a speech given to the Women’s Convention of 1851. A speech that powerfully encapsulates the inequalities facing women and Blacks of the time
That man over there says women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best places everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages and lifted over ditches, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And aint I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And aint I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And aint I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus hear me! And aint I a woman?
Moving along to the present, a battle for dominance is being played out on the terrain of identity by white male leftists stung by the explosion of new, subaltern perspectives emerging on social media platforms like twitter. What is being reconfigured here is the notion of democracy. If Fisher was listening he would hear that it is a democracy that moves beyond the kind of nationalism celebrated by Fisher, Owen Jones and Left Unity types who would like to see Labour return to being the party that built the NHS and the welfare state in 1945. Forgetting, of course, that the Labour party of ‘45 built these through exploitation of low-wage and non-unionised Black labour from the colonies and in the colonies [so many broken promises] which subsequently spurred the upward movement of whites into better paying, high skilled jobs. Also forgetting that from a gendered perspective, ‘the Beveridgian welfare state appears less the harbinger of social equality than the guarantor of the domestic rights and status of [heterosexual] men.’ Women continued to ‘produce not only the population and the workforce but also the nation.’ This welfare state was designed to maximise the wellbeing of white British citizens at the expense of racialised others. It’s a form of wilful ignorance that I note frequently when on twitter or reading blogs.
Today in this climate of mass-unemployment and social, political and economic upheaval, I can see that most of the ire directed at black feminist scholarship and theory in the UK is coming from white males on the left who fear losing their privilege. Judging from Fisher’s latest, the noise on twitter terrifies them but instead of listening to what this strange new sound might mean, he chooses instead to launch an attack on a nameless group of twitterati he sees living in the Vampire’s Castle. He believes they feed off the energy of others, like mythical succubi. He chooses to call them vampires. According to him they are ‘petit-bourgeois’ moralists… Like high-priests whose motivation is to destroy his enjoyment – an enjoyment that seems to consist of remaining oblivious to the tumultuous change our society is undergoing all around him. He sees hope in Brand’s call for revolution or a return to this post-war settlement already addressed above. What hope for the vampires when Brand’s revolution comes?
Perhaps that debate on intersectionality/privilege is too academic or alienating for him but it is nevertheless an important one. What he is incapable of seeing is that intersectionality is coalitional-building. It is a critical thinking tool that enables us all to analyse how race, gender, sexuality, disability, income, language, nationality and so on work together to shape our experiences. In short it helps to deconstruct difference and the Other. Pointing out to Fisher that BLACK feminists have done this work already appears to shame him into awareness for as he admits, “The privilege I certainly enjoy as a white male consists in part in my not being aware of my ethnicity and my gender, and it is a sobering and revelatory experience to occasionally be made aware of these blind-spots.” Note, “occassionally”. Kudos though he acknowledges that as a white males he is rarely called upon to acknowledge his own privilege. Yet, in the light of the SWP rape crisis it is surprising that Fisher doesn’t acknowledge that things have got to change in this configuration we call the British left. We’ve been listening to the wrong voices. People think that intersectionality is just some high-faluting theory out of the US academy and that it has no relevance to anything they value. More on this wilful ignorance later. But it matters. Why? Firstly, intersectionality could not exist without the work of Black femininists who came out of the British marxist feminist movement of the ’70s. That’s rarely acknowledged. I’m writing something on it. But let’s take something like health inequalities in migrant “communities”.
Maternal mortality rates are 3.85 times higher for Black African women, 3.75 times higher for Black Caribbean women, 1.77 times higher for Chinese women and 1.44 times higher for Asian women than for White women. Infant mortality is also higher amongst mothers born outside the UK. Evidence suggests that the majority of this is preventable. In Sheffield, the scene of the recent brouhaha over Roma, the mortality rate for Black African women is 6 times higher than White women. These racial disparities should be intolerable for anyone who cares about social justice. An intersectional approach would acknowledge the intersection of race, reproductive health and economic security as structural factors that produce these disparities, not as a dry intellectual exercise or to shame and castigate those who have privilege, but in order to shape public policy.
A class analysis focussed on political economy alone which assumes universality would not achieve reproductive justice. In fact by starting with an analysis of maternal care received by African women we can arrive at a more complete empirical understanding of the differences of outcomes for all women. The grounds of which rest on the systemic ways African women’s lives differ from White women in the UK.
Critiques by subaltern feminists challenge and bring into view the universal [universality matters to Fisher, he prioritises class analysis because he is worried that the revolution isn’t going to happen in his life time unless we all accept a certain theory of revolution - it’s weird - he’s blaming Vampire’s Castle for the lack of solidarity or class consciousness] anyway universality obscures and invisibilises the neutral,objective point of view of class – but vampire’s castly reminds us that all knowledge is situated. And sometimes we say crazy things. Even so, we always speak from a particular location in the power structure. I see this insistency on the primacy of class as a silencing technique, an attempt to erase questions of race, sex, gender from debates about where we go from here, reignited by the social struggles of the last decade. And isn’t this silencing exactly what Fisher claims he is opposing? As a man Fisher will have less interest in raising questions about male dominance while it is also arguable that he, as a white male and member of the dominant social group, is also more likely to be invested in “seeing the world wrongly.” He admits that he is given to a kind of perceptual awareness that enables things to remain murky for him until it is pointed out. This perhaps explains why Fisher is incapable of seeing how his piece works as hit piece on Black and subaltern feminist critique and scholarship and establishes the ground on which reactionary, white privileged males can attack it..
However, just because one is located on the side of the oppressed (working class, Black, disabled…) does not mean that one automatically talks from the position of the oppressed. David Lammy, for instance, encapsulates this. Or as Fisher clumsily argues in his post, there are “petit-bourgeois” opinion-shapers who adopt the voice and language of the subaltern but whose privilege remains unexamined or unacknowledged. So full disclosure, I am - by Marx’s definition - working class. I identify as Black working class woman and yet I can’t accept that Fisher or Owen Jones and the countless other media pundits speak for people like me who are “the working class”. God knows they’ve appeared on my twitter timeline in the past admonishing me or threatening to report me to other leftists for expressing views that they considered beyond the pale. I’ve also been critiqued at times in way that I perceived were not comradely, with predictable results. It’s a medium I still don’t really have a handle on. I can lose my temper and flounce off in a strop wanting to scream., “Shut up. I hate you” like my teenage son. You see, no solidarity here. I wonder why? I see only gate-keepers setting the parameters of what is acceptable speech and primarily seeking dominance. And this Vampire’s Castle is just more of the same. Considering Fisher’s post set itself up to be the defender of class analysis, where is the class analysis in this mean-spirited stream of consciousness.
Fisher paternalistically intones what the left’s approach to Brand and Jones should be, as if these maxims had been worked out a priori and as if the working class all share the same beliefs – or class consciousness which in his hands appears as some discrete homogeneous terrain decoupled from ideology, unable to withstand criticism yet also malleable. A comradely approach, he says, would have involved taking Brand aside and having a quiet word with him. Again, a contradiction as hisbelief and major complaint seems to be that there is a ‘petit-bourgeois’ left existing in the Vampire’s Castle who have set themselves the task of policing discourse. Well, Brand is a public figure (and a big boy), his comments were meant for public broadcast and he seems intelligent enough to listen to and reflect on the criticism that has been offloaded on social media. Are we to listen dewey-eyed to all their pronouncements delivered via media? Are Brand and Jones above criticism? Fisher? Unlike any of these posh boys [see what I did?] I have less invested in maintaining the status quo and less to lose by speaking out when I do.
The British working class is not some monolithic lump waiting to have the right ideas injected into it. We are always striving towards the truth of our situation. To get there involves discussion. Some of it uncomfortable because it shows up those those nether regions we’d rather ignore. Like the casual racism or casual sexism. And it takes an act of courage, not malice, to point it out
The Mo’Nique, Chaka and Maya Angelou photos have me in tears.
but why cant hey just hire a black woman lol
but still funny
I think part of the joke is that Black women look like men.
That’s DEFINITELY part of the joke.
And note how many of those women above are fat black women…
Fat black women = men in society’s eyes.
Which is why Mammy crossdressers are so acceptable…..
There’s this weird sort of almost transphobic vibe that comes with caricatures of fat Black women. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something really fucked up about it that relates to what trans women have said about how they are treated as “fake” women.
Yes which is also why black women especially of size have experiences with transphobic or transmisogyny simply by being thought to be a fake or a man (and a fat black trans woman, well). It ties too much into that mammy shit, the undesirability of black women. But also the service and deserving of work or being nothing but mules too. We are for work work work. And we can take all the pain and deserve it too. Or worse just don’t feel it. This is why black men have privilege over us and have ways of mocking us that get them rich while still abusing us. Black men enacting this behavior for a piece of the pie are still displaying the hate of black women and stereotypes made of black women by white people. This is why there are all these videos on WSHH with fat black (mostly darker too because somehow it’s funnier the darker she is) women being beat up and smacked and abused and not only is it funny but they deserve it can take it brought it on themselves.
This is why, if I see that shit from here on out, I’m not giving it my money or my eyeballs.
Its transphobic from many sides all at once. Because part of the joke is also that a black person assigned male at birth to “try and be a woman” is so ridiculous that its hilarious. Also that black men and male assigned at birth folks are so hypermasculine by virtue of blackness and assigned maleness, its hilarious to see them “try and be women.” then there is the the component of ridiculing black womanhood and/by creating a caricature of it carried out by black bodies assigned male at birth, “and who can tell the difference anyway right?”, which puts the final stamp on the hilarious seal. Add some mammy and weight tropes and you have the perfect formula for mainstream white audiences.
and then the part that really gets you is that the only component that black men and ppl within our community will see is the “feminizing and/or castrating of the black male.” Thats literally all we care about. Because “the black male phallus is the center of all our lives and community harharr amiright….”
I’m not seeing enough pictures of black/women of color strippers. So I’m throwing some up. This is called putting in motherfucking work. Do you see that fucking g-string? Wow. Magic City.
someone liked this and this was like one my first and only photosets of anything not involving me as the OP hahaha. get it girls.
Rene Magritte - The Traveler
With extended threads that weave through subject and form, Notion might be thought of as lyrical investigation somewhat akin to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, but as a detailed, narrative precursor to that film, if anything.
The 1850s and forward was when American was really becoming America — all of this technological innovation was happening, which made it easy for America to be who we are, easier for America to make claims regarding superiority, in terms of culture and technology. This time period was when pop culture was coming into existence, and the first American aspect of pop culture was minstrelsy.