Some vague, messy thoughts in response to some shit being thrown around the twitter and blogosphere.
In the original blog post by Glosswatch (which has been edited to remove some remarks but no apology or note that it’s been edited has been posted) White women who identify as disabled, especially those with mental illness, were accused of using their disabilities and MH problems to ‘score points’ in some sort of oppression bingo, of leverage in a battle to become ‘the best intersectional white feminist’. This is reminiscent of the ‘queerio’ bullshit spouted by TERFs on twitter . The ‘smugsexual’ stuff. How Women of Colour have been accused of ‘not looking like a WoC’ and ‘making it up to further your agenda’. All these examples use women’s identities against them in an attempt to discredit their arguments. They are prejudiced bullshit. They attempt to tell women that their lived experience isn’t valid or that it’s only worth is to be used as some sort of cheat code in an argument or game of oppression olympics.
Yes many white feminists who are onboard with intersectionality identify as disabled, LGBTQ or face some other oppression in addition to gender. I’m going to suggest that this isn’t because we all want to join some special club of smugness which requires us to “create a tragic narrative out of their own twitter bio” or to claim cookies of oppression which we then use to ‘silence’ critics, it’s because perhaps intersectionality applied to feminism is a better fit for us than the ‘gender is the main oppression!’ of much mainstream feminism. It’s because, and this is the revolutionary shocking bit here, we experience intersecting oppressions and many of us feel mainstream ‘white feminism’ doesn’t cater to this. I am not in any clique, I don’t feel I belong to any ‘gang’ on twitter and I certainly don’t engage in ‘pile ons’ or whatever I’m supposed to do as a believer in intersectionality. I didn’t want to ‘take sides’ or make it an ‘us vs them’ thing but
in the words of arch twat Morrisey it’s because a lot of mainstream ‘white feminism’ ‘Says nothing to me about my life’ and doesn’t seem to care or take steps to rectify this. When women; Women of Colour, LGBTQ women, Disabled Women, Sex Workers, marginalised women of many backgrounds , raise our concerns we are often not listened to, our concerns are seen as side issues whilst the concerns of white, abled, hetero, cis women are cast as ‘universal’ ‘women’s issues’ . We get angry and frustrated being ignored, then our anger and frustration is used against us. Sound familiar? Yeah it’s all a bit like when men say class is the real issue and gender can wait whilst they go on being sexist isn’t it?
I’m especially disgusted a feminist, one who has in the past written articles I admire, would use a trope laden with misogyny to call women ‘misogofems’ and to make snide remarks about women’s health. For years women’s health, especially mental health, has been belittled, ignored and brushed off as ‘hysterical’ women ‘making it up for attention’, this is standard 101 feminist stuff, so why is it OK to use a woman’s mental health status or her disability as a stick to beat her with?
It ignores the very real struggles many of us face with identifying as disabled and feeling OK or even proud to claim that label. Many of us only get to have discussions about disability issues online and identifying as disabled or a ‘spoonie’ or ‘mad’ or ‘depressed’ in our twitter bios or openly online is one way of initiating those conversations and working towards an acceptance of who you are. It’s a bit like old skool feminist consciousness raising. I cannot separate my life into neat little compartments such as ‘woman’ and ‘disabled’ and ‘mentally ill’, I am ALL of these AT THE SAME TIME so why should it be OK to identify as a ‘woman’ but not as ‘disabled’ or ‘depressed’?
When intersectional feminism is brushed off as ‘just doing stuff on twitter’ and ‘not doing any REAL activism’ it hurts. Firstly, many’ intersectional twitter feminists’ do do a ton of ‘real’ activism and secondly online activism is real activism. Many women can’t go to demos, organise campaigns or volunteer in ‘meat space’. We feel our contributions dismissed and our guilt multiplied as we are accused of “not doing anything'” or “moaning” when some of us can’t get out of bed, let alone hang around demos for hours. This dismissal of the experience of disabled women hurts, I’m not in any way saying its intentional but the fact so many react badly to being ‘called out’ on it and refuse to grow is one reason why I have found myself becoming increasingly distant from more mainstream feminism.