A couple things first – I didn’t post last week, because I am sick. Sick, sick, sick. Sickity sick. I came down with the crud HARD from Radcon, starting Tuesday night and lasting until … undertermined. Sore throat and fever that spiked to 101 and bounced up and down for a few days, now has morphed into a gross phlegmy chest cold and I guess we’ll just see where it goes from here. I’m miserable and have done little other than lie on the couch for days. Today I’m back at work, but my brain is fuzzy. However, even with a fuzzy brain, I have something I’d like to rant about. The rant will not be as impassioned as maybe it should be, because I don’t have the energy to spare. But I think it’s important, so Imma give it a try.
Intersectionality – I’ll get there, but I’ll ramble first. Sick, remember.
Last night, against my better judgement, I watched the Oscars. I watched it because, even though it’s racist AF and sexist and really more of a barometer of how inner circle cool kids felt about movies than how the world that watches felt about movies, I like NPH, and I like Twitter, and I like watching things that are being live-tweeted while watching Twitter, and my brain is fuzzy so I said why not. The show was … uneven. NPH kinda didn’t make it work, and I don’t know how much of that was the Academy pulling his jokes and saying no beforehand, and how much was he just was having an off night. But there were a couple of jokes that acknowledged the racism of the Oscars in a way that felt weirdly congratulatory, and a bit that was totally a bit (even though he said it wasn’t a bit) that went on WAAY TOO LONG, NEIL. Also, please don’t ask Octavia Butler to be part of a boring bit that makes it look like she has to do you a favor. Because … that looked weird, too. And there some of the jokes just weren’t really that funny. It’s a hard gig, I know, but he’s been a good host of other shows, so … I don’t know why it was kind of blah. I mean, I do blame him for those iffy jokes that were “we’re totally racist! Haha!” That doesn’t help as much as he might think. There was a sexist one there at the end that I just … blanked out on, because I was tired. Some of the presenters were kind of off, but that’s always true. And why was John Travolta touching women like a weird creepy relative? Can he not do that? Seriously, Scarlet Johansen and Idina Menzel, he was pawing them. Weird.
And, yeah, a really awful racist moment with Sean Penn. I don’t care if the director who won is a pal – that kind of shitty, racist joke is scattershot, and it hurts everyone it barrels into. I already knew Sean Penn was a horrible person, so I guess it’s not a surprise he has racist blind spots and likes to diminish a victorious moment with a racist joke, but it really sucked.
The speeches were actually pretty good this year, for the most part. I have to admit I was kind of tuning in and out, half zonked with this cold, and I paid a bit more attention to Twitter than the show here and there, but it seemed like there were some nice speeches going on, with something to say beyond a list of names. Several people were super cute in their shock and happiness, and I always like that. We had some fun messages going out: Call your parents, love to families and in one instance, one guy’s dog and in another, some donut shop, disease awareness, mental health awareness, and various calls for rights for all. Common and John Legend in particular had a really great, powerful duo of speeches, and they had a great performance of their song, and I loved it. I think they raised some great points, and they took the chance of that platform to make them.
Patricia Arquette had what sounded like a really great moment, where she called for equal wage rights for all women. At least, it sounded like she said/meant all women, although the “all the women who gave birth” moment gave me pause, and the “we’ve worked so hard for everyone else” thing made me side-eye. But it ended strong and I couldn’t be sure I wasn’t misunderstanding what she’d said, as it went by fast, and I’m sick. But it turns out no, she did say those things. And then in her backstage comments, she made it worse. She basically is saying that “women” have “fought for gays and people of color and everyone else,” so now it’s “our turn.” Uh … that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. First of all, there are women in the LGTBQ community, and there are (shocker!) women of color. And there are disabled women, and there are women who are not citizens of this country that our country treats poorly, as well. So in the words of Flavia Dzodan – My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.
I don’t have the energy to go into all what intersectionality means. Read Dzodan’s essay, read this essay by Jarune Uwujaren and Jamie Utt, read and do your homework about intersectionality. I’m still doing mine – it’s important work, and it’s important to understand it. But the TL:DR version of all of this is – feminism should not only have white, middle-class, cishet women in it. And the needs of women of color, of disabled women, of transwomen, of lesbian women, need to be included in the fight, because oppression doesn’t take turns as to which part of you it’s oppressing. If you are more than one thing, then oppression hits you at all points of awful, not just one at a time. And I’m sorry, Patricia, I really like your work, but you are not being inclusive and your words are actively making things worse.
White women don’t get to tell people – many of whom are already doing the work of fighting for everyone’s rights, by the flipping way – that they are doing it wrong and they should stop it and follow their (our) extremely problematic lead. It’s not OK to tell women who are Black that they need to stop fighting for equal rights for Black people, so that they can support you because you’re a woman? What? How does that even follow? Yes, equal rights for all women. By the way, Black women are paid less than White women. Yes, White women are paid less than White Men. If you add in other intersectional oppressions, then the person makes less than that. So a disabled transwoman of color is making even less for the same job – did Ms. Arquette acknowledge that in her speech? No. Did she even think of it at all? We need to recognize that our privileges make us blind to some things, and try to make it better if we screw up. This was a screw-up that angered and injured a lot of women, intentional or not. I hope she works to make it better.
For my part, I will continue to do my homework and learn how to be a better ally to women who don’t fit into the white middle class mold. And I say equal rights for all women – every single last intersectional one of them.
Title is from “Sweet Nothing” which it turns out is by some guy named Clavin Harris, but Florence from Florence and the Machine sings it, so … did I mention I’m sick?