Something happened on the feminist Internet, something you can read about at Flavia Dzodan’s tumblr, for a start. I am not hashing out the specifics, not because they are not very important indeed, but because I feel tainted talking about it. An abuser profited off his ties to mainstream feminism, got a career out of it, got power out of it, and he did it in ways that specifically took advantage of and demonised women of colour, while white women stood by or actively helped. Only now is he being publicly disowned. He profited directly off me a few months ago, in a very minor way that sickened me, but he actively, publicly, and brutally targeted women like Flavia and brownfemipower, and he fed on an environment in which women of colour get to be sidelined and manipulated while white women get to be centred.
That environment has long existed. It says a lot that an abusive white man can sell a false story of redemption over and over and be accepted in a white feminist mainstream where more marginalised women are sidelined forever because we’re too angry, or not palatable enough, or too alien for white feminism. It says a lot that an abuser is more palatable than those copping the abuse. And that is the kind of dynamic that feminists should never tolerate, let alone foster.
The sickening and tainting part of this is how it happens over and over again. I mean the way in which feminism treats non-white women as something other. How we’re just too divergent, not human enough for violence against us to matter as much as the humanising narrative of a white person who made a few bad turns and now is sunnily relatable again. Our stories are not held to be relatable or universal. It’s the kind of dynamic that caused many Feministe readers to treat me as someone encroaching on the dynamics of “their” space when I was on staff there, and it’s the kind of dynamic that keeps people supporting any number of white feminists, no matter what they do, before they support the women of colour on the other side of those encounters.
The sickening lunge is for the thing I really wanted to talk about. I mean the way in which community fosters abuse. My word, not just in the feminist blogosphere but in life, how I have seen communities rally around abusers, making any excuse for them, while the vulnerable women I love continue to cop abuse. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Even in the event that they escape from their abusers, they are still tainted in community eyes because they supposedly rocked the boat. They are angry or upset or not genial, always divergent in some way from their charming abusers and the narrative that says community is a nice little place of caring. And it is gobsmackingly awful for all those survivors, the ways in which that experience shapes your life, how it’s never really over. It is also gobsmackingly awful that white women are held to be the more sympathetic victims in these circumstances. It makes me sick that violence is held to be more awful when it is conducted against white people, and white abusers are more sympathetic and more quickly redeemed.
I would like the feminist community to fulfil its raison d’etre, to recognise and stop abuse. I would like the feminist community to recognise and stop its dehumanisation of women like me. Thank you.