Why I’m assigning Full Frontal Feminism: a follow-up

Anyone who’s been reading the feminist blogs in the past week knows that we’ve come dangerously close to forming the proverbial circular firing squad. The issue this time is Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism.

For some background, see Jill here and here, and Piny here (both at Feministe). If you read Piny’s post, you’ll see that she has posted links to many of the most prominent negative reactions to the book. They’re worth a read.

I reviewed Jessica’s book two weeks ago, and gave it a enthusiastic endorsement. Indeed, I’ve made the decision to add FFF (as it is now widely abbreviated) to my women’s studies course syllabus beginning with the fall semester. I think it’s that good and that important.

The bulk of the negative reaction seems to focus on two things: some feminists are troubled by what they perceive as the “breeziness” of Jessica’s text. It seems too chatty, too informal, and too frequently punctuated by profanity. Others, more troublingly, accuse Jessica of ignoring or underplaying the important role of women of color in the feminist movement. FFF, it seems, comes across as too white. Blackamazon’s ringing denunciation came here, and I quote it because it seems typical of most of the criticisms I’ve seen:

As a 22 year old women reading this book , I felt disrespected. As a teacher of nearly 9 years especially of “at risk ” youth, I was appalled.

Young women do not need friends who reduce their problems with feminism to some issue with the coolness factor.

The definitely do not need it from people who would choose a very specific half naked torso and various approximations of Valley girl lingo .

I am a young woman who is NOT a feminist. I am a young woman who is one of many young women who has disagreed ,disengaged, delinked, and been disrespected by many of the feminist sisterhood.

I am part of a much longer line of women who has been caricatured, stolen from, and used.

So I reread much of FFF over the past couple of days. And frankly, I don’t think the criticism is warranted. Of course, I’m a moderately privileged heterosexual white man, so perhaps my ability to sense the “silencing” of women of color is inherently suspect. But Jessica has her numerous defenders among young women of color, not least among them her colleagues at Feministing like Samhita and Celina. Samhita has an anguished post up today, decrying the way in which some of Jessica’s critics have silenced her and other women of color who have embraced FFF.

I’m late to this battle, but I’ll weigh in once again with an emphatic defense of the book. I may be white and male and middle-aged and middle-class and married to a woman in blissful heterosexual privilege, but dang it all, I do know a thing or two about teaching young people of color. Community colleges are ladders into the middle class; they are intellectual reception centers for those who have no other gateway into academia. In my women’s history class, my students are overwhelmingly female (not surprising), and overwhelmingly women of color. The majority are first-generation college students. Few come to the class knowing much of anything about feminism, and what they have heard has left them suspicious and doubtful about its relevance to their own lives.

I do not expect my students to read Full Frontal Feminism and accept it as gospel. It has a colloqial, even confrontational style that invites debate and discussion. It’s feminist apologetics at its best, and as someone who is fond of good Christian apolegetics, I think there’s a lot to be said for a text that makes an impassioned (yet often humorous) appeal for folks to abandon their skepticism. I like to think of Jessica Valenti as the Max Lucado or Lee Strobel of contemporary feminism, and I can only hope that her work (both FFF and whatever she produces in the future) will have as powerful an impact on the cause of gender justice as the work of Lucado and Strobel has had in spreading the gospel. (I suspect I’m one of the few people out there who reads both Jessica Valenti and Max Lucado. All others, raise your hands.)

Why have FFF on the syllabus? My course in women’s history deals with both past and present; in the latter part of the class, we ask whether feminism continues to be relevant for young women. I don’t grade my students on their feminism; I do, however, expect them to be able to understand what feminism really is, distinguished from the distortions created by popular culture. The stereotype that feminism is a “white thing” is as much a misrepresentation as the notion that all feminists don’t wear bras. While it is true that the contributions and concerns of women of color have been marginalized in both academic and political feminism, we’ve collectively come along way towards integration. Feminism has never had so many powerful non-white, non-heterosexual, non-able bodied, non-middle-classes voices. Can we do better? Sure. Could Jessica’s book have done better? I don’t think so. It’s pretty darned inclusive as it is.

I gave a copy of FFF to a former student of mine last week. She’s 20, Latina, daughter of Mexican immigrants. English is her second language. She said she was a bit put off by the profanity, but otherwise loved the book. She’s getting a copy for her younger sister, still in high school. (And unlike me, she was utterly untroubled by the cover. While I wondered about objectification, she saw assertiveness and power.) She endorsed wholeheartedly my decision to assign the book to my future students. “It explains why feminism still matters for everyone”, she said. Good enough for me.

Part of being committed to social justice — particularly as a feminist and as a Christian — is learning to not only listen to criticism, but to really hear it. The left is famous for its internecine wars; in the feminist world, the most common accusations are of “privilege”, “insensitivity”, and “marginalization.” All of us who are committed to gender justice understand that an atmosphere of honest dialogue and accountability is important. As we build and expand a movement, it’s vital that no group gets left behind. But at times, as in any family, the criticism of our loved ones is harsher and uglier than the criticism of our actual opponents. This has been an ugly week in the feminist blogosphere, with many folks feeling exasperated, misrepresented and hurt.

Here’s hoping we can get our eyes back on the prize.

UPDATE: This thread is limited to feminist or pro-feminist commenters — or, at the least, those who are not generally hostile to feminism. When we’re having a family squabble, those who are generally our ideological opponents are unlikely to promote much healing.

0 thoughts on “Why I’m assigning Full Frontal Feminism: a follow-up

  1. While I no longer read Lucado (the last time I picked up one of his books was three years ago), I suspect I’m one of few 20-year-old women who has read both Valenti and Lucado at all. So, I guess we’re part of the same weird little club?

  2. Excuse me? Silences. Knwo what I posted at least four posts and critiques in this thread and you can’t even do me the courtesy of actively engaging me. SOmething I at least extended to others and the things i have spoken about feeling silenced or the women who have felt silenced for not agreeing with this book as well ? But please do prioritize Jessica and Samhita’s anguish because you agree?

    And of course suddenly the voices of the women of color who like it are more important and more considered than mine.

    Know what fine. I never read it I was of course unhurt by it and nothing i said matters or is true.

  3. So Hugo, as a Christian, how welcome do you think young Christian women will feel being characterized as “prudes” and “good Christian girls” in a sarcastic tone in FFF?

    Maybe the book isn’t as inclusive as you think.

    Bridge Na Build

  4. Donna, if you read the whole book in context, I don’t find it disrespectful to Christianity. Jessica doesn’t say all Christians are prudes; it’s disingenuous to suggest she does.

    And what does “bridge na build” mean? It makes me think of something Robert Burns would write, probably to say “the bridge wasn’t built”.

  5. I am sorry Hugo, but I completely disagree. I second what Donna said. I was actually really turned off by the profanity and the crudeness of her writing style, as I was with Melody Berger’s “We Don’t Need Another Wave.” She made excellent points, of course. I finished the book within two days because Jessica is such a fine, easy-to-read writer. On the other hand, though, FFF reminded me why I did not consider myself a feminist for so long. One line in particular stands out. When she was discussing the whole last-name thing, she wrote, “Hypenate, bitch!” As if it’s that easy. It’s as if to say, if I change my last name upon marriage, I am not a feminist. There are plently of feminists who change their last name and with good reasons. Your wife is one of them.

    I agree that assigning contemporary, up-to-date texts is crucial for your class. I just feel that it might turn some girls who were in my position off. I strive for a more approachable, encompassing version of feminism where even conservative Christian women would feel welcome. Jessica’s side comment about not sleeping with Republicans was out of line and disrespectful. Yeah, yeah. If you’re a Republican, you’re evil. I get it.

    Part of the reasons I loved your class was because you were the first person who made feminism approachable to women of all sorts of backgrounds. I think Jessica’s book is sharp and up-to-date, but I think she reinforces stereotypes about feminism. (That we’re angry bitches, specifically).

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that you assign Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters instead and use the good points made in FFF in your lectures. But that’s just me.

  6. Merm, know that I’m going to have the text be used in the second half of the class, not the first. And sometimes, as you surely know, the texts (and the teachers) from which we learn the most are the ones that challenge and even infuriate us.

    Courtney’s book will probably be used in my “Beauty, the Body, and the Western Tradition” course in Spring 2008, to be taught under the rubric of Humanities 4.

    I welcome your passionate disagreement!

  7. I will definitely take your Humanities 4 class! I plan on staying at PCC one semester longer than originally planned, and I will be able to fit it into my schedule. I’m almost finished with Courtney’s book. It’s awesome!

    I am glad you decided to teach Jessica’s book during the second half of the semester. That makes more sense. :-)

  8. Hugo said: “Part of being committed to social justice — particularly as a feminist and as a Christian — is learning to not only listen to criticism, but to really hear it. The left is famous for its internecine wars; in the feminist world, the most common accusations are of “privilege”, “insensitivity”, and “marginalization.” All of us who are committed to gender justice understand that an atmosphere of honest dialogue and accountability is important.”

    Really? Based on numerous experiences here and elsewhere in feminist blogosphere you sure could have fooled me.

    Re. the topic, I’ve read many criticisms of the inherent racism in feminism felt by women of color, the most recent being the experiences of women of color who work in women’s shelters. For example, see here. This was published just last month and their stories are real, whether or not the ordinary white feminists want to hear, let alone believe them.

    Feminists of color have been discussing issues re. the arrogance, etc., of women they term “Miss Anne” feminists for decades, so personally I tend to believe the words of Blackamazon and her sisters.

    (As an aside, it strikes me as a bit surprising that an MRA like me seems more in tune with this issue than a feminist like you Hugo)

  9. Not so surprising Mr Bad, an MRA would be more open to criticism of feminism than a feminist for obvious reasons. But at the same time, you are sort of right, if feminism was really inclusive WOC wouldn’t be seen as outsiders attacking.

    Hugo, be careful making fun of the title of that link I left. It’s a post by BlackAmazon and it’s written the way that her parents speak English.

  10. Donna, good point. However, Hugo is practically obsessed with playing the riffs of “holding ourselves accountable,” “growth through self-criticism,” etc., so I would have thought he’d be more on top of this sort of thing. Unless he intended the accountability, self-criticism, change, growth, etc., for people other than himself and his allies.

  11. I hadn’t realized that, Donna. It still doesn’t help me understand what it means. Does it or doesn’t it mean that the bridge wasn’t built? Or am I just a bear of little brain? I’m not being wilfully obtuse, I just don’t get it.

    Mr. Bad, let’s make this a feminist-only thread, shall we?

  12. I don’t think it’s possible to write a book that appeals to all young feminists. In fact, I think a problem within the movement is viewing ‘young feminists’ as a monoculture when in fact there is great diversity. So the profanity, for example, might be alienating to some but essential to others.

    Also, Mermade, what’s so wrong with being angry? There’s a lot to be angry about. I’m sure you’re aware of the feminist critique of our culture’s double standard of conduct, which requires women to be ‘nice’ at all times, regardless of their own feelings or how poorly they have been treated.

  13. I’m not in Hugo’s Women’s Studies classes, but I just wanted to weigh in on the cursing issue. I’m still waiting for my bookstore to call and tell me that my copy of the book is in, but I’m really looking forward to the cursing. When I was doing my Women’s Studies degree at Univ. of Wisconsin (2002-2006), it was a wonderfully enlightening experiance to be able to use “naughty” words in class, to be able to use words that had been “forbidden” to me because I was a woman, because I was raised Christian, and because people in my hometown are *obsessed* with the concept of “not our kind of people”. It was the first time I was able to use the words I wanted, without feeling like I had something to be ashamed of.

    Women are constantly taught not to say things that will make people *uncomfortable*, not to be *strident* or (heaven help us) *shrill*. Not to be confrontational or ever be rude. Women are taught to value others feelings above our own opinions. We’re told that curse words are *low class* and not benfitting a *lady*. Well fuck that shit.

    I found it really wonderful to be able to say that I don’t give a fuck about something or that something really fucking sucks when it clearly does. I’ve fought with my family members about it (especially my grandparents who don’t understand why a ‘nice girl’ like me uses such ‘masculine’ and ‘low class’ language) I’m not going to remove regular use of curse words from my vocabulary. I like having the ability to express myself the way I see fit, not the way people think I should.

    I mean, I’m sure that not everyone will like the cursing and not everyone will see at as the extremely liberating experiance like mine was, all anyone has said about the cursing is that it is a problem. For me, its one of the reasons why I’m ordering the book.

  14. Anecdotally, I once told one of the girls in my youth group who was struggling with people pleasing in a painful way that she ought to start cursing daily. Even if no one could hear.

    Curse words are loaded with sexualized and sometimes racialized violence. That doesn’t mean that there use can’t be genuinely empowering.

  15. Bridge na build = Bridge not built

    My parents are Guyanese. We speak a form of Creolese

  16. Ok Hugo, I’ll refrain from further comment other than to reiterate a point I made in my initial post: Your comment ““Part of being committed to social justice — particularly as a feminist and as a Christian — is learning to not only listen to criticism, but to really hear it. The left is famous for its internecine wars; in the feminist world, the most common accusations are of “privilege”, “insensitivity”, and “marginalization.” “ rings quite hollow to those of us who are not part of the privieged class vis-a-vis discussions re. gender and who have been marginalized by society at-large, especially by the left. I used to be left-wing, but it’s attitudes like this that make my membership in that political class past-tense.

    Oh, and one more thing: I very much got what BLackamazon meant with her phrase “bridge na build.” Growing up amongst Jamaicans, Trinnies and Scots, it brought back fond memories.

    Ok, now I’m gone.

  17. I have concerns about some things in this post (not at all about using FFF, which I have not read, as part of the syllabus, etc), but before I express them I’d like to get clarification on something, if you would.

    While it is true that the contributions and concerns of women of color have been marginalized in both academic and political feminism, we’ve collectively come along way towards integration. Feminism has never had so many powerful non-white, non-heterosexual, non-able bodied, non-middle-classes voices. Can we do better? Sure. Could Jessica’s book have done better? I don’t think so. It’s pretty darned inclusive as it is.

    I realize (because you say so 😉 that you consider the book adequately inclusive but, while you do acknowledge the objections, I’ve not seen any indication that you fully understand why some other young women of color do not.

    I think this is important, especially considering who you will be teaching – and, of course, I realize it won’t be the only book, but still – anyway, if you could elaborate on that point a bit, I’d appreciate it.

  18. From what I gather, Nanette, some folks are worried that Jessica’s book places the discourse of autonomy over the body front and center. Abortion rights, fighting back against the commodification of women in advertising, etc — some women of color sometimes call these “middle-class white women’s issues” because they often fail to take into account how race and poverty intersect powerfully with the oppression of poor, non-white women. Endlessly focusing on porn, for example, is often singled out as evidence of the problem. Even though porn does fetishize women of color, in the contemporary political and economic climate, it’s rare that one hears women steeped in the politics of radical women of color place porn front and center on the agenda.

    I think some folks got the impression that Jessica wants to recruit white middle-class girls whose worldview is shaped by Laguna Beach, and is less interested in women whose reality is far different. I didn’t get that impression, and I don’t think my largely non-white students will either. But we’ll see.

  19. Hugo, thanks for explaining.

    From what I gather, Nanette, some folks are worried that Jessica’s book places the discourse of autonomy over the body front and center.

    Those issues were part of the criticisms expressed by various young women (that I saw), but there was also much more to it, when it comes to the “inclusive” part of it. I was worried that you weren’t seeing the full scope of what their concerns were, and that does appear to be the case.

    I don’t presume to speak for Blackamazon or Sylvia or any of the other young women both white and of color – although I will admit to a sense of amazement that of all the people I see proclaiming that it IS, it IS inclusive, while these young women are saying it is not, not one (that I have seen) has stopped to ask them “Why do you think that?” –

    But to continue with my not speaking for anyone, the impression I gathered was that, while the book does include sections on woc in history and in the present, much or all of it is presented in a sort of “talking about” instead of a “talking to” type way, positions woc as people one should care about and help, but not as agents of their own salvation, and is more theory like than the rest of the book. And that it also gives these issues, or historical figures or something or other fairly short shrift. Any of those that read the book, of course, could explain much better than I and hopefully will.

    My worry directly relates to your classes, though… and I am just going by your explanation of who your students generally are, their level of knowledge about feminism and so on, and so forth. Which is not much. Most of the young women online who have read and rejected (or loved) the book are pretty brilliant, highly educated, active and involved, even if some don’t call themselves feminists. Because of this, even tho they consider this particular book non-inclusive, they have quite a lot of context within which to to place the book and while there may be personal hurt or distress that *they* are not in the book, this is not as debilitating as it could be because they are fully aware of both their own successes and contributions and those that came before them. They know that the sort of inclusiveness that is in FFF is not all their is to it.

    The young women (and men) in your classes most likely will not have this good of a self grounding, and most of the knowledge they do gain will be what you teach them, so it does sort of worry me that you would wave away the impressions of very bright women who do have concerns about those issues and declare that the way they are handled in the book could not be better – and are presumably planning on telling your students the same thing.

    I think using the book is a great idea if you believe it will speak to your students and help them see the relevance of feminism in their lives… but I also think that you should do a bit more listening to the concerns so that when you get to certain sections of it, you might be more aware of what those sections are saying to some people and why they feel a need to speak up about it.

    (sorry for the scattered thoughts and any typos, am doing a few things at once)

  20. I hear you, Nanette. Trust me, this book isn’t appearing in a vacuum — we’ve got other books to read and discuss. And of course, any text will have its shortcomings — part of teaching students is teaching them to challenge a text not merely accept it blindly.

  21. Good to hear.

    Not that I thought that it would be the only book you were teaching, of course, but I did worry that in your two readings of FFF (admittedly coming from a far different place than BA and others are) those particular points were not visible to you and might not be subject to any sort of challenge.

    Thanks for setting my mind at rest.

  22. All the discussion of FFF has prompted me to buy it sooner than later, so I can make sense of all this. But I am going to read it first, because otherwise I don’t deserve to say anything.

    If BFP or Nubian are still around (on this thread I mean!) I have read both of your blogs (I was an avid BlacKademic reader when it was up) and what do you each think is the most important issue for a better Feminism to focus on? (As opposed to bodily autonomy). I would guess workplace rights is where most women would benefit most, but that is just a guess.

  23. I know you didn’t ask me KMTBerry, but I’d say immigrant rights. It’s unbelievable that in this country we have whole families imprisoned basically for civil disobedience. There has got to be a better answer than ripping mothers away from their children. And beating up Americans for peacefully assembling? It’s madness and unAmerican. And the root cause is NAFTA, when whole industries are wiped out people get desperate for work to feed their families. This doesn’t fall entirely on Mexico or Central American governments, the US and Canada are to blame too for this. This is what happens when corporate greed comes before peoples lives. We’re seeing it too here and I think that is fueling some of the rage against immigrants. Instead of seeing offshoring and cheap labor as the problem people want to blame the latin@s and other immigrants.

  24. “This has been an ugly week in the feminist blogosphere, with many folks feeling exasperated, misrepresented and hurt.”

    Your saying that BA’s criticisms are unwarranted, and that you hope feminists can get their eyes back on the prize, is probably not going to help that.

    The prize right now is figuring out how to heal a real divide in the online feminist movement. You don’t walk away from people– saying you want to get back to the real issues at hand– because you disagree with them.

    Also this is a misrepresentation: “But Jessica has her numerous defenders among young women of color.” I actually haven’t seen woc defenders beyond feministing.

  25. Hugo, I think you’re making a mistake here in that in all of the discussions about the book, I don’t think anyone who had a problem with it said anything about how it should not be assigned in a class. It’s a choice you don’t need to defend.

    In a lot of ways it seems like the book is just being used as a starting point by the WoC blogging community to try to start talking about the very real divide that exists in the movement and in the blogging community. It kinda sucks for Jessica to be cast as the ignorant privileged white feminist in this situation, but frankly, she does come across that way sometimes (read Blackamazon’s post – the part that isn’t about the book is worth talking about). So do most white feminists, and that’s what a lot of Jessica’s allies who are too busy defending her to listen don’t get. This whole discussion really isn’t about the book, or about Jessica as a person.

    I’m interested in what Blackamazon has to say about feminism, and about feministing, for that matter, but I don’t think that has anything to do with whether or not Hugo ought to assign Jessica’s book in his class.

    As for the Christians who feel marginialized: Get over it. You get primacy in every facet of public life. If someone doesn’t talk about how great christians are and actually spends some time talking about how christianity (maybe not your christianity) has had a negative impact on society, try getting over yourself instead of taking it personally. I am so out of patience for reactions like Donna’s and Mermade’s. When someone has a beef with Christians, and you’re some kind of lefty granola Christian, it propably isn’t about you.

  26. I do think that talking about the divide is important. But the tenor of the criticism of Jessica was such that it made it hard for many of us to distinguish between attacks on Jessica herself and substantive criticisms of the book. The fault for that can be shared on both sides.

  27. Hugo, I know you didn’t do it for my benefit, but thank you for ejecting antifeminist commenters from this thread. And yet this hit a nerve for me:

    (As an aside, it strikes me as a bit surprising that an MRA like me seems more in tune with this issue than a feminist like you Hugo)

    Okay, we know that’s Mr. Bad being disingenuous (i.e. what Donna said in response to it; I think that’s exactly right).

    But I think it’s helped clarify for me some of the defensiveness I’ve seen from those who worry that Jessica is being unfairly attacked (and it’s interesting that it’s often the word “attacked,” rather than “engaged” or “criticized,” but that could be a whole other comment):

    I think there’s a sense of, “I cannot possibly be giving offense to women of color; I’m a progressive. I’m a good person! I’m a feminist. If anyone says otherwise, then, it must be because [they’re just jealous/they haven’t read the book/they’re irrational],” etc.

    And I can’t start from that position, because I don’t have those credentials. I’m an ex-Mormon, a former member of a church with an absolutely disgusting racial history. I’m an ex-Republican, a political party which, well–where to even start? I’m someone who has spent more time on the wrong sides of things than I have on the right sides.

    So maybe as a result, I don’t feel personally knocked off some pedestal when Blackamazon says white feminism has alienated her or favored the concerns of white middle- and upper-class women over the needs of women of color. I don’t feel as though she’s knocking anyone’s Good Person cred when BA speaks her mind–not even Jessica’s. Because from where I sit, it’s perfectly possible to be a good person and still fumble the ball once in awhile. I have to believe that, because my only other option is to believe that for most of my life, I’ve been a bad person. And maybe I’m too egotistical to accept that, or maybe I just believe people can change for the better.

  28. Ilyka at this point Jessica is more prominent and important than me or anything I ACTUALLY said so while I truly truly do appreciate your support don’t waste your energy

  29. MRAs and feminists are two peas in a pod. Like Randroids and big-L Libertarians, the two groups may hate each other’s guts, and may see each other as archenemies, but to the rest of us, they look largely the same. Both ideologies stem from the radical egalitarian notion that the sexes are virtually identical, and that any differentiation between them absolutely, positively MUST be motivated by an evil desire of one sex to oppress the other (or, goofier still, of one “disempowered” sex to intentionally oppress itself to benefit the other). Once you buy into that premise, the question of which sex is supposedly oppressing the other is largely a matter of details, with plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to support either theory. That’s why you see so many ex-feminists turned MRA; it’s a much easier cross-over between those two camps than from either of those camps to … um … normal?!

  30. Whoops, I missed X’s comment. X, this was and is a feminist-only thread, a designation I bring out periodically and intend to enforce. Since Ilyka responded, I’ll leave that comment up, but I do mean it — only those who are feminist or feminist-friendly are invited to this particular comment thread.

  31. I’m sorry… I tried to leave this alone, but I just have to say this. I’ll mention again that I don’t care about the book, haven’t read the book, let a thousand booklets bloom and etc.

    The reason I stopped to comment here in the first place after reading your post – which, like others, dismisses the concerns of young women of color (specifically Blackamazon, in your case) who, as a woman of color, has concerns about parts of a book written by a white woman, as “unwarranted” – without actually reading the full scope of her critiques by the way – and goes on to detail how you are, even as a White man, a better judge of this issue – nothing new about that in these “debates” that have been going on across the blogs, of course. Some haven’t read the book OR the critiques, but still know they believe what they believe.

    Anyway, as I said, you are not new or unusual in that. And I won’t get into your bringing your brown friend into the picture, also as a way of dismissal and of not actually addressing what Blackamazon wrote (or even bothering, apparently, to read what other young black or other women who read the book wrote at all) – that also is nothing new, and I would have actually just passed this post by, cuz all this is very tiring.

    And I’m not even going to point you to your own words about learning to hear

    No, all that is just par for the course – but that you do all that and then have the gall to end your post with:

    Here’s hoping we can get our eyes back on the prize.

    Well, that was just like a kick in the gut.

    I’m sure it’s used for other things, but as you may or may not know (though, I suspect you do), eyes on the prize has somewhat special significance for many US Black people and to use it as a topper for a post that effectively dismisses and marginalizes the unread words of more than one Black woman, in the service of promoting a White woman, however deserving she may be, is just…


  32. You know, the song is an explicitly Christian one. I know the Alice Wine track well, Nanette, and had it in my head a lot recently, as I’ve been playing the masterful Bruce Springsteen version.

    I watched the PBS series when it first came out. And I did read Black Amazon’s post, and bfp’s, and many others.

    I don’t think of the song — and its theme — as exclusive to the civil rights movement. It’s a larger, transcendent theme about moving on towards building a kingdom of justice. That said, I can see where it might be a bit galling to have me use that line.

  33. I read it, labyrus, and it does make me sad. I did feel that Amazon’s criticisms were unwarranted. I am sorry that she has been attacked and maligned, however; it’s one thing to say “I disagree with your conclusion” and another to say “You have no right to say what you said”. We can all do a better job of listening and hearing, that’s for sure, and finding ways to tell each other we disagree that aren’t inflammatory and profoundly hurtful.

  34. “it’s one thing to say “I disagree with your conclusion” and another to say “You have no right to say what you said”. ”

    But you didn’t say, “I disagree with your conclusion.” You said, “Here’s hoping we can get our eyes back on the prize.” That very clear subtext of a comment like that is “get over it, we have bigger issues.” It’s dismissive.

    You really need to learn that message. People are trying to teach it to you and you’re not listening.

  35. Sorry, I meant:

    You really need to learn that this is the message you’re sending. People are trying to teach this to you and you’re not listening.

  36. Pingback: Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2007-05-25

  37. The class is a flagrant flouting of Title IX. It would only be legal if equal masculist teaching was being done.

    Feminist hate masquerading as a college class at taxpayer expense is unadulterated evil.

  38. Hey I’ve read both Max L and FFF. Never thought I’d see that comparison come up. There are so many more open minded christians out there than anyone knows.
    Also, the wierd thing with all this criticism is that there are plenty of other books out there about feminism,,,,, this one, like many others, works really well for some people and not others. I thought the writing style of this book was totally too young for me but that doesn’t mean I didn’t gain a lot from it and that a lot of teenagers or women who are new to the issues are gonna gain even more from it. I didn’t find it racially exclusive at all.
    There are girls out there who need a book just like this, and they wouldn’t feel comfortable yet with something heavier. People need time to grow and how could anyone deny them they’re stepping stones.

  39. Pingback: Feminist blogosphere: Love it or leave it « Vox ex Machina

  40. Pingback: I Pledge To Do Better at Listening to Women of Color–Just Not These Women of Color, Because They’re Mean « Off Our Pedestals