White Women and Self-Obsession

January 27, 2008

I am really saddened by the recent events that have happened on the feminist blogosphere, between radical feminists (so-called), whom I mistakenly trusted to do better by their sisters. I am writing this post to address a particular issue that I am having with the white feminist bloggers that have proposed self-flagellation as their method of combating racism. I want to let everyone know that I no longer feel safe in the community of white women who have decided to jump on board the self-flagellation boat. I don’t feel safe when multiracial/biracial women are not allowed to have perspectives on race. I don’t feel safe when the mothers of biracial/multiracial children are not allowed to have perspectives on race. Right now, in the climate of the white feminist blogosphere, I do not feel safe.

And I don’t know what to do about it. I want to tell my white sisters where they can stick their self-flagellation antics. I want to let them know that I no longer feel safe to express myself on their blogs. I want to ask them, while they are doing their clueless white guilt dances, how they could dare do them on the backs of multiracial/biracial women. How they could dare do them on the backs of mothers of multiracial/biracial children. Because it shocks me silly to see these women who should bloody well know better all race to stomp other women into the mud to get points for working on their white privilege.

Not okay.

We are women. We have suffered. We have had our trust betrayed and our loyalties questioned. We suffer from guilt of things we have done, the guilt of things we haven’t done and are blamed for Every. Single. Bad. Thing on the planet. ‘Working’ on white-privilege by promoting guilt, self-flagellation, self-obsession, misdirection (blaming other white women) etc is doing shit all for the rights of people of colour.

I wrote a poem a while ago called Raped Down to Almost White and this quote seems appropriate: my grandmother has the darkest skin but this does not drive a wedge between us./I will say this bond is more than blood and more than skin and you diminish me by trying to deny it.

I don’t know how else to conclude except to say that when you deny Heart’s reality: her sacred bond with her children, you diminish her. You diminish me by making grand statements about people with white skin privilege, assuming that all of us are similarly situated to yourselves. My sacred bond with my grandmother is more than blood and more than skin and I feel as though you are trying to diminish me. Would you deny this as well?

I don’t know. I’m too afraid to ask.

I’m not all that interested in a sisterhood that carries on like this. I’m not interested in a sisterhood which involves itself in denying the lived realities of other women. If you come here onto my blog, please leave your guilt, self-obsession and woman-blaming at the door and let us get on with the revolution.


  1. Really well written, Allecto. I haven’t known what to say really, with all this going on. I don’t feel qualified to comment on any of it. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. But I am absolutely with you, “let’s get on with the revolution” xx

  2. “Because it shocks me silly to see these women who should bloody well know better all race to stomp other women into the mud to get points for working on their white privilege.

    Not okay.”

    Thank you. And yeah lets get on with the revolution.

  3. Hi Allecto. I was surprised by what you wrote because I thought I was alone in seeing it as you describe it.

  4. That is so brilliant – you are such a star!
    I think those women use “guilt” as a weapon, whilst hiding behind “I am doing my best”. When they speak of guilt of being white, they are speaking over women who have lived experiences. After all, although they may deny this they feel entitle to speak for others.
    I anm sickened at “feminists” who attack Heart, or try to explain to her why she is wrong and they are right.
    It seemed so detached and almost like a game to them.
    I know, from speaking with “feminists” about my experiences how they want women to be in neat boxes. When you do not fit their view of a “victim” or a “cause”, they will either tell why you are unimportant, wrong-headed or just “educate” you better.
    Many women’s lived experiences don’t fit in their academic views, and may be messy or do not act the “victim” These women get confused. Then the “guilt button” is switch on.
    It so easy to silenced women, by shouting over them. Guilt is self-indulgent and a bit of a luxury.
    It also paralyses movement, for all that matters is arguing the toss, rather doing something practical.

  5. Yes, that guilt as an excuse for inaction is an old trick. I’ve met so many white female academics and writers (as you know) who go and give their papers in exclusive white, academic settings and go on and on for twenty minutes about their ‘guilt’ and their ‘priviledge’ and write self-indulgent novels about some obscure incident that happened years and years ago where they or their family did wrong by Indigenous people, and how bad they feel about it now, and you’re just like, so what? How on earth does all this self-indulgent guilt actually help Indigenous people? Of course it doesn’t, nor is it meant to. Their guilt is meant to exhonerate them for doing nothing.

  6. Thanks for the support sisters. As you can probably tell this situation has made me pretty angry.

    It seemed so detached and almost like a game to them.

    This is how it feels to me too. 😦

    Their guilt is meant to exhonerate them for doing nothing.

    I totally agree.

  7. xxxooo

  8. Yeah, I understand your anger, Allecto. I also agree this is well-written.

    However, like Debs, I don’t feel very qualified to comment much on it.

    I don’t know much what to say apart from the facts that (1) I know that, living in a white supremacist society, women of color have so much more to say about oppression and their own perspectives on race, and (2) I’m not at all interested in a sisterhood which involves itself in denying the lived realities of other women either (especially considering the fact that some women are doubly oppressed).

  9. Just for the sake of discussion, what’s the alternative to sisterhood?

  10. Hi again, Lara. I have strong faith in sisterhood. I was angry when I wrote this. What I meant was that this is not what sisterhood should be about. I will continue to work with sisters from all walks of life, I just needed to vent. I also think that woman-hating is so strong in our cultures that these kinds of splits and denying of women’s realities are going to continue to occur. I think that when they do occur we need to call women out on the issue and hopefully as we learn more and grow, we will have less of these issues. But I think the key is that we can not blame individual women, we have to blame the system that makes women hate each other and mistrust each other. But as for myself, I’m not going to stop believing in sisterhood. No other form of ‘solidarity’ has given me as much as sisterhood has.

  11. As a woman of color, I agree.

  12. Hi Eich and welcome to my blog. Thanks heaps for your support. As a multiracial woman I know that often these divisions of colour seem pretty overwhelming. I often feel as though I have no right to comment on issues of race, even when they directly affect me. I have been called racist in the past by women of colour when I speak on issue of race. But I think that it would be even worse for me to refuse to speak of racism, out of fear of being attacked.

  13. You should really read Looking White People in the Eye by Sherene Razack, if you haven’t already. might add another layer of complexity to your thoughts. Or not. You might, conceivably, think it’s utter nonsense, Either way, it is worth reading.

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