Get to it

F: A festival. A conference. A future.

April 10-11. Sydney, Australia.

This is a response to Kate O’Halloran’s review of F – The future of feminism

I think feminism, especially ‘these days’, is (and should be) less about ‘women’ and more about what I will reluctantly term ‘human rights’ – the right to be treated fairly; to not be abused, mistreated, disrespected. You can’t divorce gendered oppression from racism, nor can you separate women’s oppression from the gendered oppression of trans people.

The ways in which feminism created, took up, and continues to (way too often but not always) rely on a politics of identity is disappointing at best. Identity necessitates exclusion – the exclusion of trans people from political spaces (women’s, but also, ‘feminist’) is, I think, the most obvious and perhaps simplest (most easily overcome) example of this.

What I like so much about (the prospect of) F is that the organisers have really taken this on. It’s not just that “feminism comes in many forms” but so do feminists. Ways in which our differing experiences ([and] of oppression) affect our ways of organising and prioritising feminist movement and change (the possibilities of the future) are really important. Too often this has been (and continues to be) overlooked by a failure of participants to interrogate their own privileges.

Building alliances through our differing feminist struggles and coalescing about the possibilities of feminist futures is really freakin exciting. Get to it.

Register (and read the conference blog) here.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Get to it

  1. Claire N

    Hey Max,

    I’m totally with you on some of your points.

    I’m not interested in identity politics and much more interested in coalition building. I totally agree that building on the basis of identities leads to exclusions – because when we talk about identity, we tend to look for the similarities – no matter how superficial they are. However I do think someone can talk about being proud to be of what they are – especially when they are marginalised, and not necessarily exclude others. For myself, I do talk about blackness – and I do think it evolves and changes and percolates – and is quite ‘postmodern’ for want of a better word. There must be something about identity in that but it isn’t based on identity.

    I prefer the term ‘social positions’, and am basically obsessed with intersectionality.

    And yes feminism is not just about ‘women’, and my interview responses indicated that feminists need to stop assuming that every other feminist can base their activism solely on the category of the cis gendered woman.

    • Dear Claire,

      I think pride is important. It’s the first ‘step’ (I guess) to change; overcoming the shame which is part (integral) to the way oppression works. Ie that ‘who you are’ ‘isn’t wrong.’

      The problem (I’ve seen way too often) is people (white, nontrans, queer women [and men]) use that ‘pride’ – that oppressed identity – as an excuse, or even justification, for abusive behaviour. This is why I’m concerned with what people do a lot more than ‘who they are’.

      I am trying to emphasise the [feminist] need for people to not only take responsibility for their actions, but to consider them politically *in advance.* That is, what does it mean (and how valid is it) to say – my desires/needs are more important? (I don’t think it’s good enough to base one’s answer on identity, and it seems to happen all the time).

      Mostly I want this to be kept in mind in all things: “At its best, feminism has always been committed to learning to think differently, of questioning what concepts do, how they work and the forces any act of thinking enables.”

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