Bibliobitch: Feminism FOR REAL Available at BitchMart!
Bitch is super excited to be selling Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, edited by Jessica Yee, a self-described "Two Spirit multi-racial Indigenous hip hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter," who founded The Native Youth Sexual Health Network. This anthology takes on the feminist academic industrial complex, asking and answering questions such as, "When feminism itself becomes its own form of oppression, what do we have to say about it?" In Feminism FOR REAL, Yee and more than twenty contributors take on academic and mainstream feminism, exposing ways that "capital F" feminism has failed.
Many of Feminism FOR REAL's contributors use their own experiences in feminist academia as a framework for their critiques of mainstream feminism. Several contributors write very specifically about their alienating experiences within women's studies departments. Shabiki Crane writes about a time when a women's studies professor "announced to the class that when white women like Britney Spears presented themselves in a sexual manner it was because they were asserting their sexuality; however, when black women, like Beyoncé did, they were simply being puppets and degrading themselves." Megan Lee tells us about sitting in a women's studies class where a white blonde girl raised her hand to complain about how uncomfortable she felt talking to black people because "they" might act hostile towards her. Lee writes, "There were a couple of black women in the room, and I wish to god that I could transcribe their facial expressions because their faces said it all." Many women's studies students have been in similar situations, sitting in classes where white students have commented on a person of color as if they weren't sitting right next to them, where white women have been praised for doing the bulk of feminist work, where race has only been discussed as a footnote. Feminism FOR REAL asks academics to rethink their experiences in academia and to begin thinking about how to build a feminist classroom that is less oppressive.
Some of the book's contributors are college drop-outs, some of them have lots to say about their experiences working towards master's degrees, and a few of them are still in high school. This book does not require you to have studied feminist theory in academia, and explains to us that mainstream feminism shouldn't either. Feminism FOR REAL breaks many of the rules of "capital F" feminism, in addition to breaking many academic literary rules. The anthology begins with a conversation between Krysta Williams and Erin Konsmo in which they list the titles they pondered naming their piece in a bullet pointed list (potential titles include "Young Native Women Ragin' it up with Feminism" and "Fuck the 3 waves—We are the Ocean!").
In another contribution, titled "This Shit is Real: Deconstructing dialogue in feminist education," Krysta Williams and Ashling Ligate transcribe a conversation they had critiquing women's studies for not seeing personal conversations as a legitimate form of academic discourse. Ligate writes, "As an academic in Women's Studies, I often feel as though I am required to climb mountains in order to have peer-to-peer learning experiences recognized and appreciated as legitimate and grounded sources of knowledge...I should be able to cite a conversation I have with Krysta in a paper focused on decolonization, just as I should be able to draw upon my own lived experiences of homophobia in a seminar course on Feminist Theory."
As a whole, Feminism FOR REAL questions and challenges widely accepted feminist and academic discourse, from the varied writing forms of each chapter to questioning words like "marginalization," defying rules of both typical anthologies and mainstream feminist expectations by writing not from the margins, but on a different page altogether.
In a recent interview with Vancouver Cooperative Radio, Yee was asked to talk about the audience she had in mind when editing the anthology. She said she certainly had a younger audience in mind, "people who haven't engaged with feminist dialogue or academia," as well as a second audience:
I think the other audience would be feminist scholars...and institutions, and folks who think that they've done the work or that we're just ungrateful twenty-somethings. I think that there's a particular response that has to be said to people who think that we're ungrateful or that we're just ranting, particularly because so many of the contributors of the book are Indigenous people and people of color, trans people, sex workers...so many different peoples that feminism itself has questioned—whether our participation in the movement is OK, or whether the way that we choose to live our lives is OK either.
Yee describes the policing of feminism, something which is discussed quite often in Feminism FOR REAL, and says that she finds feminists who police others as more oppressive than people who say that women have already gained equality. She tells Vancouver Cooperative Radio, "This is about so much more than just women's rights and I think that the book really pushes those boundaries. But you have to come to terms with reality if you're going to understand what's going on in the book."
This anthology will resonate with people who have felt excluded from feminism, and will shake feminists who haven't dealt with this exclusion—demanding that we wake up, come to terms with reality, and begin to work for a radical shift within mainstream feminism. Feminism FOR REAL refuses to be ignored, and demands that readers confront uncomfortable truths: that many of us are part of the oppressions that exist within feminism, and that if we want a more fair and real feminism, we need to begin to hold ourselves accountable for the fact that so many have been excluded from mainstream and academic feminism.
We're pleased to announce that BitchMart, the online store for Bitch Media, is going to begin selling more books. Feminism For Real is the first book we are adding to the store. Browse our selection here!
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