By now you have probably heard about Patricia Arquette’s Oscar win for best supporting actress. And you’ve probably heard about her war cry for wage equality for women that practically had the audience on their feet. But maybe you didn’t hear her unscripted comments backstage that ended with “It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for — to fight for us now!”
And the thing is, we get that she’s coming from a good place, but that doesn’t mean that her argument isn’t hugely flawed. And as people came to Arquette’s defense, it became clear just how this problematic thinking permeates the progressive space when it comes to intersectionality:
The criticism of critique methodology is nothing new. From cries of Toxic Twitter to dismissals of callouts based on perceived tone or demonstrable anger, there is a constant desire within the liberal space for it to be inclusive but not accountable. To speak for all but for some to be silent.
Team Blackness took the full show to break down this important and divisive issue.
Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS
Okay, haven’t been paying attention to this and have been bewildered by headlines along the lines of “What Arquette didn’t say about feminism’s whitecentric history.” Having only caught her onstage remarks, I wondered how much people thought could be covered in a 10-second acceptance speech comment. But hearing her backstage remarks puts a very different face on this indeed.
Chauncey Devega wrote an excellent essay on the subject: “At the 2015 Oscars, Patricia Arquette Unintentionally Exposed White Feminism’s Racist Blind Spot”
Ms.Arquette’s “backstage” comments were not an argument as much as they were an adrenaline powered riff. And, they are a prime example of why important topics be given the privilege of being discussed during thoughtful moments.
She gets kudos for her wish to highlight an important issue.
She’s getting trashed on Twitter, called an awful person, a racist, etc.
I don’t even know why right wing “meninists” bother attacking feminists; the left is doing such a good job of eating its own.
I get the impression her backstage comments were in-artfully phrased and so therefore she is a bad person.
Is that correct?
If so isn’t that just another derivative of a purity fight?
Are we allowed to discuss the wage gap as it applies to women of color? Because even when you break things down by race/ethnicity, black and Latina women make less than black and Latino men:
That’s what drives me nuts when this comes up — black women in particular are being doubly screwed by a race AND gender wage gap, but god forbid a white woman mention that the gender gap exists.
And this is why liberals can’t have nice things. Stupid, idiotic circular firing squads. As if the poor woman was going to be able to give a dissertation on feminism and race in a 30-second soundbite right after winning an Oscar.
Sorry but the outrage over this is ridiculous. It makes me embarrassed to be a liberal.
I feel two ways about this. On the one hand, you’re right, she wasn’t expressing intersectional thought processes.
OTOH, I’ve seen plenty of misogyny from black men and gay men, and there are plenty of white women, a majority of white women in fact, who support gay marriage, for example. It is also intersectional to recognize that race and sexual orientation are not the most marginalizing factors in every social situation.
I get that white women have not always been as inclusive as they should be. But you know what—none of the social movements have been as inclusive as they should be, but only feminism seems to get spanked for it. To an extent, that is exactly what Arquette was talking about.
Also, any discussion of this year’s Oscars has to include the fact that Ava DuVernay was not only snubbed because she’s black — it was also because she’s a woman, and there is still huge pressure against women directors. There have been 4 women total nominated as Best Director in the history of the awards.
If we’re going to talk about intersectionality, we need to acknowledge that DuVernay’s sex had as much to do with her movie being snubbed as her race did.
David in NY
I think that, if you really want to help women, a group that includes black women, going off on a “who’s been to blame all these years” riff is really not helpful.
And I agree with these folks, too: @geg6: @Mnemosyne (iPhone): @Keith G: @kc:
David in NY
And do I now have to talk about intersectionality? Whatever that is? Fuck it.
Can’t we like, concentrate on our common goals? I mean, they don’t have a cool name like intersectionality — but can’t we just go for “equal pay for equal work” and not try to screw it up?
I’ve gotta thing that the conservatives are loving this little brouhaha. Thanks for that.
Always remember it is important for the left to criticize one of their own in detail because of course it is.
It’s the premise that somehow black people or LGBT people or anyone else, owe white women anything that comes across as tin eared and entitled.
To put some perspective on it, no mention was made of the indigenous people of the Americas – Should they too, feel compelled put their struggles on the back burner to make sure white ladies (because let’s be honest, that’ s who really matters in these here United States) can haz wage equality?
As a black man, I’m happy to be an ally and do whatever I can for gender equality within the larger framework advancement of human rights.
What I’m NOT going to do is reorder my priorities on the say so of Patricia Arquette.
She can take several seats on this one.
Great. More liberals policing liberals about the precise tone of their liberalism.
Next up: a two-minutes hate on some dude who put the letters in the wrong order in some super-inclusive acronym.
Fuck her and anyone defending her. She threw blacks and LGBTs under the bus with her bullshit speech.
@Jackie Chiles: I don’t disagree with much of what you say, but if you honestly think that white women are Who Really Matters in this country, I submit that you are confused.
Not sure how to respond to something that is reported to have been an impromptu back-stage riff or rant. Where can I find out what she actually said? As opposed to reports, or trying to suss it out from the ensuing debate and twitter skirmishes?
@Jackie Chiles: I will always remember what happened to King when he tried to go intersectional: he walked into a lot of criticism from his allies, including whites he was trying to help. I was just a little kid, but remember my white liberal family members who had always supported him. They didn’t and I guess couldn’t use the word ‘uppity’, but that is what I remember them saying. It was confusing, especially since he was trying to help them get out from under economic injustice. A confusing set of issues, and I can see why people shy away.
@David in NY:
Apologies, I should have been more precise in my language.
My point is that white women are certainly higher on the socio-economic totem pole than the groups called out by Ms. Arquette.
LOL. I rest my case.
@Jackie Chiles: Intersectional thinking would indicate that sometimes sex is more of a marginalizing factor than race or orientation at times, depending on the social situation. And that at other times, race would be more of a factor, and orientation at still others.
Also, a higher percentage of minority children live in single-parent households, the vast majority of which are headed by mothers, so wage equality may be one of the most important leveling factors for children of minority races. A thought.
Ok, found it on youtube I think. Listening now to see what all the fuss is about.
Not sure that her backstage interview was the whole of her riff on her acceptance speech, does seem like she made an unfortunate implicit contrast between ‘people of color’ and ‘women’, which makes no sense, and doesn’t seem like she consciously considers ‘white women’ as a separate interest group given the rest of her statements.
I’ll listen to the show later, see if I can figure this intersectionality thing.
If that is the whole of her problematic statements, seems like a good topic for discussion. Why all the rancor though? If she had said as part of prepared or even semi-prepared remarks, I would understand the rancor.
Really, she threw black women and lesbians under the bus by calling for gender equality in pay?
I guess I missed her aside that this would apply to white, straight women only.
Take another look at my link above and tell me that women of color don’t need to worry about pay inequality due to gender. Even if you compare black women to black men, black women still get shorted.
If people took this as divisive, they aren’t paying attention.
Also, too, quite a few people writing about this seem to think that “white women” and “white feminists” are synonyms. It’s true that most white Democratic women say they’re feminists — but less than 40 percent of white Republican women say that:
David in NY
@AxelFoley: “threw blacks and LGBTs under the bus”
She gave equal pay for women the equivalent of a commercial ad on the Oscars. You know what that’s worth in advertising money? (Clue, one or two million dollars). And you just want to piss on it. Who’s throwing whom under the bus?
This phrasing makes gay people and people of color separate from “us.” I’m sure she’d say she didn’t mean it that way, but it’s just damned weird to say “we” fought for “you” if your vision of feminism really includes, say, the black women for whom the civil rights movement was/is about their own damn rights.
It’s a throwaway line and it doesn’t make her History’s Greatest Monster, but it is a symptom of a problem that’s real, which is that too often feminism by white women has been primarily for white women.
And you can’t address the gender pay gap fully without also addressing race, because the reason black and Latina women make so much less is because of both their gender and their race. So again, it just doesn’t make sense to act like these are separate issues.
And this is why you never, never ever, get recognized as an “ally”.
Rich straight white girl says what now?
@someguy: @brantl: What aren’t they paying attention to?
@TooManyJens: You are right.
However, I do think that lost in all of this discussion is a bit of real talk about how men, including some black and gay men, are sometimes shitty allies to women, and I think Arquette was talking to them. And all this talk about Arquette’s intersectionality fail is forgetting that intersectionality means by definition that sometimes and in some situations black and gay men (and black, gay men) are ” higher on the totem pole” than white women because they are men. It is a fail all around.
Does anyone remember a certain set of SONY e-mails a few months back???
That’s the thing, though — to me, the people acting like these are separate issues are the people calling her a racist on Twitter. The gender pay gap is a real problem for women of color, and you can’t solve it solely by fixing the race gap any more than you can solve it by fixing the gender gap. You have to fix both, but no one can agree on which one to fix first.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): The other thing that I think is shitty is the amount of nastiness thrown Arquette’s way due to her financial/class privilege. I want everyone to have an equal opportunity to succeed at every level. I can be concerned for people in poverty as well as concerned about wage equality and glass ceilings at the highest levels AT THE SAME TIME. If we are waiting for the perfect spokesperson before we can talk about an issue, we will be waiting a long-ass time.
@Suzanne: You’re right, though I’d much rather have gay women/women of color making the point that men in those communities have sometimes been bad allies.
Frankly, a whole hell of a lot of white/straight women haven’t fought for gay rights and civil rights. As a demographic group, we still vote Republican. So I don’t know how shirty I want to see white women getting about this.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): They both have to be addressed, that’s definitely true. Just that phrasing of “we fought for you” makes it sound like “we” and “you” are two different categories instead of having vast overlap.
“And I think what I hate most about you is your textbook liberal agenda, how we should ‘legalize pot, man,’ how big business is crushing the underclass, how homelessness is the biggest tragedy in America. Well, what have you done to help? I work down at the soup kitchen, Brian. Never seen you down there! You wanna help? Grab a ladle!”
@Kylroy: What she said. She said that it’s time for all people to get behind equal pay for women. What in that is remotely wrong? Did she not say as much as many other people would want? Sure. Did Cesar Chavez fight for better wages for all under-payed people, everywhere? No. Well, what an asshole he must have been, amirite? /Snark off. Everybody doesn’t have to say EVERY good thing, EVERY time.
Except that, as I pointed out above, the majority of those white women are NOT feminists. It’s the conflation of white feminists and all white women that’s getting my goat.
I really hate to see people once again trying to make it sound like the feminist movement is inherently racist, and that it’s impossible for feminists to care about issues that affect women of color because feminism is only for white women.
According to that poll above, women of color are actually more likely to identify themselves as feminists than white women are. So all the sneers about how feminism is all about white women ring more than a little hollow for me.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Equating “female” with “feminist” is a common American error, on both sides.
Arquette is example #1 of why so many Black women refuse to call themselves feminists.
I have been following this on twitter.
YOU have been accused of trying to start a RACE WAR?!!?
BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
That tickled me. It was too funny for words.
the clueless can be hilarious sometimes.
@TooManyJens: A not-insignificant amount of white gay men are Libertarian or Republican, too, but that doesn’t make their needs less valid. Even though my right to get an abortion should I be raped is more important to me than the right to smoke weed, or the right to not have the NSA listen to my phone calls.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): You’re right that most of those white women aren’t feminists, but then again Arquette’s calling for equal pay for women, not just for feminists*. So I’m not sure that negates my point.
And the feminist movement does have problems with race. It does. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for feminists to care about issues that affect women of color. It does mean, among other things, that white feminists need to actively work at being inclusive. And I think Arquette did a poor job of that with her remarks. I say that not to attack Arquette, but to point out a trapdoor that I think and hope people don’t want to fall into.
*On my meaner days, I’d take this deal. You’re an anti-feminist woman? Fine, enjoy your lower pay.**
** No, not really.
@Suzanne: I have no idea how or why you’re interpreting this as me saying that equal pay isn’t valid. So, whatever.
And the rest of what you said. I give her a pass… it wasn’t a prepared speech but she had to know she was wading into some dangerous territory. Her intensity betrayed an anger that probably related to maybe being a little resentful about those other minorities and the attention they have been getting of late? Her words did kind of throw black women and LGBT women (plus minority men) – under a minibus of some sort of pique she was experiencing..otherwise why call them out at all? She may have misspoken but I am thinking there was at least a little fire under that smoke.
I know that historically the second wave of feminists had problems with both race and class, because they were primarily white and middle-class, if not upper-class — basically, the women who had time to muck around with philosophy. I am not willing to say that most white feminists in 2014 are racist, especially those under 40. Are you?
I think Arquette spoke inartfully in the excitement of the moment. Frankly, most actors are poor public speakers unless someone else writes the words for then. I will need more proof than this one speech to decide that she’s a racist who only wants equal pay for white women.
What she said that was the issue was that women (we ) had fought for everyone else’s rights, so it was time for everyone else to fight for women’s rights — its “our” turn. It was what raised eyebrows — the “we did it for you now its our turn” thing…. it spoke of a resentment that is not clearly explained by just having been imprecise in her language.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I’m willing to say that white U.S. feminists, even in 2015, even those under 40, grew up in a society that privileges white voices over others, especially black voices, and that they have to actively work to counteract that.
Jay Smooth did a good video about this (not Arquette specifically, but having to actively work to be inclusive): http://fusion.net/video/53663/oscars-and-being-good/
I would never label her a racist from this…Lordy, if I was held to account for every verbal slipup I made, well, I won’t do that to her or anyone.
We humans are pretty complex beings with lots of conflicting and confusing traits. I do think the meta of this discussion — about the issue of women’s rights and minority rights and how they all fit together without tearing each other up. The meta for me is NOT a Patricia Arquette gotcha.
Whoop, OT, but Oliver Willis has more lies from O’Reilly.
Not that I expect Billo to suffer any consequences.
I will say as someone who works in the same industry that Arquette does (though at a very different level), sexism is much, much more open and obvious than racism or homophobia in the workplace. Executives like the ones at Sony will say racist things in emails to each other that they don’t say out loud because it’s not socially acceptable here, but they have no problem telling an actress to her face that she’s fat or ugly or that her co-star is getting paid more because men are better box office. So it’s very possible that in her day-to-day life in this industry, sexism is much more visible than racism or homophobia towards gay men.
@TooManyJens: I’m not interpreting it that way. But I’m saying that white women have a right to saying that gay men and black men can be shitty allies. I don’t know why it would be a good idea for only black women or lesbians to make that claim. Plenty of black men legitimately claim that white women are shitty allies. The inverse is just as true.
@Suzanne: OK, I see what you’re saying. I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world, but I think it requires a great deal of care. More than is possible in an off-the-cuff comment backstage at the Oscars, certainly.
So therefore Arquette meant that only white women deserve equal pay. Gotcha.
Also, thank you for assuming that I’ve never given any thought to how racism and feminism interact. Because of course all white feminists are completely clueless about intersectionality.
@TooManyJens: Yes, this really was not a discussion best served by a sound bite.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I give up. That’s not what I said, and since you can read, you know that.
the women’s gap is because of WOMEN OF COLOR.
From Willard….to Cucinelli in Virginia..
if women’s rights were left up to WHITE WOMEN…
we’d be going to back alleys if we weren’t getting our transvaginal ultrasounds.
My ultimate takeaway from this is that Twitter hot-takery is excessively worthless activism, and the hacks who engage in it perpetually should really hope their closet doors are locked and bolted thricefold.
The mob can and will turn on you, too.
It’s also been nice to finally come to grips to who is no longer deserving of my reading time.
I am confused. Does this mean Chait, Sullivan and Freddie are still wrong? I honestly can’t tell when this is satire or not.
Also, I love- just love!- that one of the bloated trolls spewing about this wrote a column vaguely forgiving friggin child abuse on Salon last year. As far as original-sin-gets-you-the-meat-grinder goes, somehow this woman went unscathed. So it goes in HackLand.
Yeah — no doubt. That said, the “me too” reaction of Meryl Streep and JLo was interesting. Again, for me the hard kernel of her statement was not that women should have equal rights but that somehow a) women worked for minorities to have rights and therefore b) its about time they worked for US. Not sure if that was what the other ladies were applauding, but it was the lump of coal in her remarks.
It’s pretty self-evident that white women as a group are blocking advances all over the board right now. And, yes, those white women are in a position to do it thanks to feminism. But that doesn’t mean that, say, Michelle Bachmann is or ever was a feminist. In fact, most conservative women spend a lot of time disavowing feminism and saying feminism is evil even though they benefited from it.
So, yes, I get a little annoyed when people point at conservative white women as being typical white feminists when they’ve spent decades doing their best to reverse every civil rights advancement of the last 50 years, including feminism. Feminism has enough racial problems of its own that need to be overcome even before we get lumped in with women who aren’t feminists at all.
Another Holocene Human
Her comments aren’t a one-off either. They’re part of a long, long line since 2nd wave feminism began. People reacted angrily because they’re tired of it. Arquette stepped on her own little moment (which was selfless in a way) by being selfish. She didn’t say something nuanced, she said something thoughtless. And while the circular firing squad sucks, it exists in this case because while we are all seeking these common yet varied goals, some people in the alliance haven’t been listening very carefully to others. They’re still enmeshed in their own privilege.
Another Holocene Human
Also, Arquette seems to have forgotten that there are “GLBT” people other than privilege white gay cisgendered men, and that those gender outlaws and dykes and queers and gay people of color have been on the front lines fighting for gender equality and reproductive freedom all along. It’s the heterosexual white women in the women’s movement who felt the discomfort about the gays and the transgendered people being there. Queer people never stayed away and they were never away. They were on the front lines in the trenches the whole time. As for people of color, does Arquette not know who bell hooks is? Or Audre Lorde? How about Oprah? Lack of perspective much? Hasn’t Barack Obama been one of best feminist warriors in the political sphere in a generation? (I mean, kudos to Gillibrand but hopefully she’s just getting started.) Isn’t he a Black male? What a ridiculous discussion. What about Al Sharpton? The guy concerned white liberals love to hate. He talks about feminist issues all the time. Okay, take pop culture. What about Wiz Khalifia? Or Jay Z? I mean it’s just amazing how some white people just can’t SEE Black people at all. Certainly not give them any credit. Here you have Oprah stone cold bankrolling whole movies … is Precious not a feminist movie? Who is Michelle Obama? Isn’t she a feminist icon? I mean just because you can cherry pick dudes who haven’t been on board with your issues yet still pretend to be liberals doesn’t mean most liberals of whatever demographic aren’t down with this issue. That’s so condescending.
I don’t know Arquette from Adam but the lady does need to check her privilege. That was embarrassing.
Another Holocene Human
@jl: Of course, but that presupposes Arquette knew what she was talking about to the same degree MLK did. Her remarks showed a remarkable lack of insight or empathy.
I’m not why you’re lumping Streep and JLo together, though. JLo is Latina, so she has that dual sexism/racism problem to deal with.
Streep … I have problems with sometimes. She is frequently that clueless upper-class white lady who means well but doesn’t think things through. But she has also experienced a huge amount of sexism in her 30+ years in entertainment, and she probably does like the idea of being paid the same as male actors at her level.
The top 10 highest paid actors of 2014 were all men. The highest paid woman, Angelina Jolie, made less than the man who’s #10 on that list:
Another Holocene Human
@Kylroy: If you’re trying to get “recognized” you’re doing it wrong.
@Another Holocene Human: I agree with almost all of what you’re saying, except Jay-Z and Wiz Khalifa are absolutely not feminist icons. Need I pick some lyrics for you?
Ah, never mind. This is pointless.
Another Holocene Human
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Have you maybe missed the point of the sneers? That maybe it is feminists who are making them? That they are directed at institutionalized feminism which is still controlled by middle class and above white women with college degrees for the most part and pushes an agenda tailored to that class?
Or more to the point, have you not watched the drama at Jezebel where a senior Black member of staff was passed over for a privileged fresh faced college kid who, surprise surprise, happened to be white?
White feminists still talk about their issues as if they are speaking for all feminists, but they’re not, but they’re blinded by white privilege. Even years of the ritual acknowledgement of this privilege it seems like it hasn’t changed anything in how they understand feminism or communicate.
@Another Holocene Human:
And yet people here are perfectly comfortable saying that white feminists never give a thought to women of color or LGBT people, so therefore Arquette was only talking about pay equality for white, straight women.
Another Holocene Human
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Turning the other side into a straw man does not, in fact, make your assertions look more reasonable or valid.
@Another Holocene Human:
Perhaps you should deconstruct your own straw man first. It’s kind of assholish to declare that someone whose sister is transgender is clueless about trans issues. (That sister is Alexis Arquette, in case you were unaware they were related.)
I am your ally. I always have been and I always will be. But this comment is so incredibly insulting. I want all women and all men to have equality and opportunity. I fight for anyone who needs people to stand up for them and expand and protect their rights. their rights. I guess I’d be considered a second wave feminist but I’m also a voting rights and economic justice warrior. Not sure how anyone other than the prominent feminists and theorists left minority women and LGBT women out of their battles. I worked many a political campaign and/or legislative push with women of all stripes. Creating these us v them situations is exactly how we get divided and conquered. I’m not your enemy. We have a common one: wealthy straight conservative/libertarian white men and their minions. How about we concentrate on fighting them? This benefits women, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, LGBTs and even non-wealthy straight white men (though they won’t thank us for it and will actively fight against us). I do not understand why this is so difficult. We all want the same thing, including Patricia Arquette. And we all speak inartfully at times, which what I hope happened here, both Ms. Arquette and you. And probably me in this comment. But we are on the same side. Let’s concentrate on that.
Did a majority of White women vote for John McCain?
Did a majority of White women vote for Willard Romney?
Did a majority of White women in the state of Virginia vote for the candidate who was anti-gay, and wanted all up in my uterus?
In each of these cases, the report was that there was a ‘ GENDER GAP’ with the Republican candidate with women.
The facts are, that these Gender Gaps were caused because of Non-White Women.
Didn’t matter if the GOP candidate voted to take away healthcare from children, or take away food assistance from children, or voted to take away access to decent women’s healthcare via Planned Parenthood, or would have put a probe into my uterus if I ‘ dared’ to exercise control over my own body with the choice of getting an abortion..
the majority of White women were all for it.
I stand by what I said.
if left to the devices of a majority of White women….
women, in this country, would be up shyt’s creek without a paddle.
Holy shit, that’s a lot of words about what some actor said. All I know is, I’m not gonna say word one about equal pay for women or people of color in public ever. Fuck it. I’m not anyone’s ally. I’m just trying to keep a roof over my kids’ heads. I’m privileged as fuck, and it’s still tough. Easier to keep my head down and focus on the only three people in the world who really matter to me.
White women =/= white feminists.
I do think that lost in all of this discussion is a bit of real talk about how men, including some black and gay men, are sometimes shitty allies to women, and I think Arquette was talking to them.
And this, children is why we can never have nice things.
Because when a relatively privileged woman uses the mic to call out the crisis that the wage gap in this country represents for [young] women [of color], there are genuinely affronted members of the groups that do a shitty job of allying on this particular issue, who are deeply offended.
Not by being called out for the fact that gay men, in the aggregate (and the organizations they fund) are not allies that the movement for reproductive choice or the movement for wage equality can rely on.
Oh no, the problem is that in an attempt to be inclusive, she said ‘LGBT’ instead of what’s true, ‘white gay men with money’.
The problem is that she said ‘people of color’ instead of ‘black and Latino men’, who are not, where and when they have the power to affect the outcome, reliable allies to those causes.
Just as the majority of white women are not, which she also said, but never mind that.
The problem is never that, as you know, wage inequality and choice might already be solved but for the fact that black men and white/Asian gay men as groups cannot be relied upon to VOTE for the candidates and parties that advocate solving those problems, in midterm elections (and we will soon find out if it’s only when there is a black man on the ballot, and won’t that be nice?).
And other white women who consider themselves more evolved intersectional feminists would prefer that a white woman wasn’t the one leading that charge.
Even though the whole reason she was the one raising her voice was that various forms of inequality put her in the position to be holding the mic.
Let’s stone the witch! She misspoke!
The Koch brothers laughed so hard, they called their personal physicians for a house call to make sure it wasn’t dangerous.
I don’t get the defensiveness here.
1) Rikyrah talked about in several posts about a majority of white women voting for Republicans, and the push back is that white women = / = white feminists. But that’s not what Rikyrah was claiming.
2) What’s up with this, “Well, I won’t support x, y, z anymore because [not even my own, but someone else’s] support is being criticized’? (“All I know is, I’m not gonna say word one about equal pay for women or people of color in public ever.” ) How committed to the cause are you if that’s all it takes?
And note, the folks criticizing Arquette are NOT saying that they don’t/won’t support equal pay for women. In fact, none of the folks criticizing her for her tone-deafness (as far as I know) are criticizing her remarks made when she received the award. Because they *agree* with them. It’s what she said backstage that is concerning.
I’m a black woman and I care a lot about issues that affect black people. But I’m a light-skinned black woman, and so I know that I have not faced the racism that darker skinned women, or that black men face. But if someone points that out, I’m not about to say, “Well, I’ll just not do anything about black issues anymore.”
@Another Holocene Human: Say what jack?
No, these attacks are being made on a person who used overinclusive language for 19 words. Because she’s a more appealing victim than the people holding the keys to the two most profound crises faced by women in this country, the wage gap and forced pregnancy.
Because these are hard problems and it’s more rewarding to look down on someone who used the wrong words to make the right point than try to solve them.
This is why I don’t do a damn thing for any ‘issue’ that doesn’t directly affect me. Because progressives are so committed to horizontal violence that it’s a waste of hours of my life that I don’t have to give.
Seriously? Income inequality is due to black men and gay men not voting enough during the midterms?
Maybe someone better with statistics can help me out, but this article seems to suggest that the biggest difference in the actual outcomes (not in the voter numbers, but in how they vote) between midterm and presidential election years is due to white voters:
I think Oliver Willis said most of what I’m thinking (someone posted a link to his post above). Arquette is really getting ripped apart on Twitter and on blogs, basically being called a racist for what she said. It’s way out of proportion to what she said, both onstage and off, IMO.
@PhoenixRising: Again, wow. I tried to find a compilation of some of the criticisms against Arquette, and came across this one:
So these are “attacks” that lead you to decide you don’t care about anyone else’s issues but your own? For the most part, they were just reminders to Arquette not to leave out other marginalized groups in her advocacy. And again, none of the critics then went off into a hissy fit saying they wouldn’t support equal pay because they didn’t like how she said it.
@Monala: Problem is that both of those groups are unlikely to vote compared to old, white, Republicans.
I think it’s safe to say that we are never going to move those people, so the only option is to outvote them. But that will require a coalition of all other kinds of Americans.
Which, again, we can’t have.
And the current excuse is that we can’t organize across those boundaries because when a white woman who gets paid a lot of money to act in the movies mentions that the wage gap is an issue on which we all need to do some lifting…we’re all screaming at her because she didn’t use the correct language, instead of observing that she had nothing to gain personally and a lot to lose by even raising the issue, and therefore might be open to being educated about how badly her off the cuff remarks came across.
You know, it’s just not even worth it some days. Give up hope. There will never be any solutions because the people who are calling attention to problems are too imperfect.
@Monala: I’m not very committed. That’s my point. I’ve got my own issues, and they’re very likely ones that you don’t care much about. Which is okay! We can’t all do everything. Still, I try to throw an ‘equal pay for women’ or a ‘people of color’ into the mix a bit, because you know, equal pay is important and people of color exist. But if I run the risk of coming across patronizing or offensive, that’s fair enough. I’ll just keep my mouth shut on issues I don’t have a mastery of. That doesn’t strike me as an unsupportable approach.
Like most people, I try to do as much good as I can, while remaining fundamentally selfish. So if talking about this stuff is a verbal minefield, I’ll just opt out. Easier to simply … not.
@David in NY:
But if you want to generate clicks, or spam out your podcast? Always bet on outrage.
a) Why do you assume that the wage gap doesn’t affect me? Or any other issue that wasn’t named, really?
b) I’m in my second decade of not working on shit that doesn’t affect me. So far, immigration, marriage equality, wage inequality, reproductive choice, labor rights, police violence and the environment are still in the pool.
Because, drum roll…all those issues affect me, even if I’m not the victim of them at this time.
That’s the whole point: I am affected by all of those issues because I live in a society that is being slowly destroyed by them, for everyone but the 1%. Not because I have a certain race, sex, class, etc. Because I am a human being and a citizen.
And privileged. Oh God, am I privileged, so I certainly shouldn’t speak out about any of those issues, I should check my privilege and make room for the voices of those directly affected.
If I could go back in time once, I would not use that opportunity to kill Hitler. I would go back to my 1990s college campus and set things on fire every time speech was policed based on who said it, and whether it appropriately genuflected to the sensibilities of those more oppressed than they. This disease, now that it’s spread across the progressives in our society, is now what’s choking us.
WTF does it matter that an imperfect rich white lady was the person who mentioned the issue? She’s who had the mic. I’m grateful that she spoke up for my child’s future.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I think Willis’ article is a good one, and I haven’t seen all the Twitter comments. The ones I’ve seen seem like they’re trying to make her aware of the tone-deafness of her words, and how hurtful it is, especially given history (and yeah, that’s often expressed with snark, given the character limitations of Twitter).
But I don’t think that the pushback she is getting is the same as those critics tearing down the idea that we should push for gender income equality. (If you’ve seen any, please share). In fact I see the opposite happening (at least twice on this thread alone): those defending Arquette saying that they won’t support issues her critics care about as a result.
God, some of you. I am all for gender equity in pay. I even wonder of Ms Arquette will suffer some consequences if her tv show does not perform well. What I and many others object to is the language where she boldly presents the civil rights of others as a cause that white women like her have fought for -to the exclusion of those races, genders and sexualities own agency in affecting change- then, demand we focus on the very pressing problem of wage equity for her tribe. While I agree about the urgency of the issue, I am offended at having my femininity be excised, at the very idea that change came due to white feminists efforts instead of the coalitions that worked hard and I’m very pissed that the blood sweat and tears of a whole lot of minorities was glossed over. READ what she said with an open mind. She isn’t a racist, but she is dismissive. She is operating from a position of privilege. It is infuriating. The fact that we’re supposed to infer inclusion from a statement that clearly excludes us is mindboggling. If that means you don’t want to be an ally so you will take your ally ball and go home, well. Fine. You weren’t serious about it any way if you can see a statement phrased that way and not call it out as being demeaning at best.
Yes. Some of her backstage comments were clumsy and I can see why people would be annoyed. But the level and intensity of the vituperation . . . it’s ludicrous. You’d think she was Darren Wilson.
FWIW, Arquette is very clear on her Twitter account that she’s talking about equal pay for ALL women, not just white women:
I think at this point people are talking past each other, because Arquette was not clear in her initial statement and people are running with that rather than looking at her clarification. She seems a little Twitter-annoyed that people automatically assumed she was deliberately excluding women of color and lesbians from her statement.
@ruemara: I objected to her implication that because [some other white] women at some times have fought for voting rights, the issue she’s concerned about should get a payback, as if white women own the wage gap.
My mom, who is now a old white woman, fought for voting rights because it was the right thing to do…not because she wanted to be compensated at some later point. I think it’s insulting.
But it’s also a complete distraction from the very real crisis in pay for [young] women [of color].
Try doing a search on Twitter of people calling her “bitch.”
@PhoenixRising: I didn’t assume the wage gap doesn’t affect you. Nor do I think that Arquette’s critics are reacting to her being a rich white lady speaking about the issue. Again, NO ONE (on the left at least) is criticizing her for what she said during her acceptance speech. They are criticizing her for her tone-deaf comments that she said afterward.
Maybe you think that’s inappropriate, that we should be happy she brought up the issue at all in such a public forum (btw, I am), but there is already too damn much white resentment in this country that holds back progress in so many other ways, and her words contributed to that narrative–the suggestion that it’s because people of color and LGBT people haven’t supported this issue that it’s not happening.
You added to that narrative yourself, with your comment that black men not voting in the midterms is why income inequality is still such a problem. I think that’s why rikyrah made her point about the fact that it’s white women’s voting patterns that are much more at issue here.
Take a look at Arquette’s Twitter. She did not deliberately exclude anyone and is very clear about that.
I think this is similar to what we were all talking about last week with Twitter storms — because Arquette was not able to immediately clarify her words, it built up into a Twitter frenzy of this is what she must have meant! before she had a chance to say, no, she was talking about equal pay and equal rights for all women.
And I don’t know who the heck these people are saying they’re not going to work on behalf of others anymore, but they don’t speak for me.
I think that people are understandably extra-sensitive to anything anyone said at the Oscars that seemed to touch on race. I think that in a different year, this would not have blown up into such a huge controversy.
Gender is a huge problem in Hollywood and, as I’ve said before, I think Ava DuVernay was snubbed as much for her gender as she was for her race. It was both/and this year, not either/or. But it’s tough to try and talk about both issues simultaneously, because one side or the other feels like they’re not being taken seriously enough.
@Monala: If you think that black and Latino men not showing up to vote is not part of the solution to the intractable white olds we’re stuck with, and that pointing that fact out is ‘white resentment’…your concern for ‘the narrative’ is duly noted.
I’m more concerned about GOP majorities in a record number of state legislatures, despite record-high registration patterns among young men of color who were eligible to vote in ’08, yet did not vote last November. Without their votes, progressive causes have no chance. The problem isn’t that the wrong people thought the wrong thoughts or felt the wrong feelings, as far as I’m concerned.
@PhoenixRising: Getting more people out to vote is always part of the solution. But not enough black and Latino men voting in the midterms is by far not the major source of the problem, and here’s why: the midterm elections primarily affect local districts that are gerrymandered and segregated by race. I’m not sure how much influence greater numbers of black and Latino men would have on the makeup of Congress, for instance.
Furthermore, you didn’t suggest that greater turnout by black and Latino men in midterms was part of the solution, but the solution, and therefore (since it’s currently not happening), the problem, since you wrote (emphasis added):
Again, as rikyrah notes, voting patterns by white women are a much bigger contributor to candidates and parties that oppose wage equality getting elected, particularly in the midterms.
I truly think some of the intensity is to each other rather than to the initial comment. People’s emotions bounce off of each other and amplify and the intensity reflects the amount of amplification. Over time, people equate the intensity of the exaggerated reaction to the initial reaction/comment and it is not accurate.
All actors are spokespersons. Especially when they are up there getting the highest award for the industry. Unless you have a prepared speech that you have memorized or read — and have thought about and edited prior to the event with enough time to weigh cost/benefit, it is probably wise to thank the fam, your production team and project warmth and graciousness. What she did was not that big a deal, but in our current media and internet reverb chamber, you had better measure twice before cutting.
Great TWIB episode again. Thank you for educating my White-Male self on this issue (though, honestly even my 101-level eyes could see that Arquette’s backstage remarks were problematic, pretty clearly.) I think you guys have been very fair in giving her credit for the good parts while also holding her feet to the fire on the parts where she stumbled. Imani, your performance on Nicole Sanders this morning was also great and showed a ton of patience.
The people calling Arquette a bitch on Twitter are being assholes, but that doesn’t mean that any/all criticisms of her statements (by people not calling her sexist names) are inappropriate.
I do think that Arquette did not know that women of color would not realize they were included in her statements about “women” without her specifically stating that they were included. It’s worthwhile making her aware of that, but I’m not sure that calling her a bitch on Twitter is really the best way to do it.
What a shock, purist assholes take to Twitter to gang-berate somebody for terminology offenses. This is why Twitter is horrible and why the intersection between Twitter and “activism” is worse than the intersection between country and western.
umm, care to look at exit polls and repeat that? There was a gap between white women and white men, just like there was a gap between black women and black men (13 and 8 pts, respectively), and given that there are so many more white people, it would be more accurate to say that the gender gap is because of white women.
But who gives a shit, right? If we can fit anyone into the same demographic as a Romney voter than they obviously suck. Men? Suck. White? Suck. Rich? Suck. Undereducated? Suck. Straight? Suck.
Only a black, college-educated, middle-class lesbian can be a true Scotsman.
And don’t get me started on Scotsmen, they totally suck…
Where’s the equality for Lesbian Eskimo Midget Left-Handed Ninja Albinos? Always being erased by privileged white feminists.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I love you but, if her backstage comments are quoted correctly, she did. She’s a fine actress, we concur on many things, but she most certainly did-if quoted correctly.
” And don’t get me started on Scotsmen, they totally suck… ”
There is no true Scotsman! Liars, all of them!
Mnemosyne (iPad Mini)
Look at her Twitter feed. She says “people of color” and “gays” referred to men and that she meant to include all women when she referred to “women.” She’s pretty specific about it and seems confused that anyone thought that “women” excluded women of color or gay women when she thought it was obvious that it referred to all women.
I think it’s probably useful for someone to have a chat with Arquette and explain why WOC don’t automatically assume they’re included when white feminists say “women,” but I honestly don’t think she deliberately excluded women of color or gay women, even in her backstage remarks. She definitely didn’t deserve to have people on Twitter calling her a bitch, or racist, or ugly, or to have people tell her she should die.
@Mnemosyne (iPad Mini): She misspoke while showing she might care what racial minorities and LGBT people think of her, therefore she’s being verbally eviscerated. There’s no joy to be had in attacking someone whose feelings you can’t hurt.
I don’t see how the takeaway from this isn’t “never say anything in public about race, gender, or sexual orientation that hasn’t been focuss-group approved.” If she’d kept her mouth shut, none of us woukd give a damn.
Mnemosyne (iPad Mini)
As I said, I think a lot of this is happening because people are understandably upset that “Selma” and pretty much every actor of color in Hollywood got snubbed this year and Arquette is getting caught in that backlash because it provides “proof” that people in Hollywood are racist. It’s also part of the ongoing “who is feminism for?” debate that flared up again on Twitter over the summer. I think that, in a less volatile year, Arquette’s remarks would have been a medium-size “huh?” and people would have been more willing to accept her clarification at face value.
And, of course, it included a Twitter barrage by people who need to get a friggin’ life rather than piling onto someone on Twitter, so it got a lot of media attention.
@Mnemosyne (iPad Mini): Which is great context, but it does not alter the underlying lesson: white people have *nothing* to gain by talking about race. (And little to lose, but when one side of the scales is empty…) Without a college degree’s worth of background on the subject, you *will* mess up, and you *will* be pilloried for it. Best case scenario, you say something sufficiently milquetoast that you don’t lose face for it.
The degree of heat Arquette is taking for this is heightened by the circumstances, but the underlying issue of risking something to gain nothing remains.
Mnemosyne (iPad Mini)
I disagree — I think it’s important for white people to talk about race, but only if we listen to what the other person is saying and take it into account. I’ve been called out many times online and IRL for stupid shit I said about race without thinking it through, and I learned.
Hopefully what Arquette learned from this is that she needs to be sure to specify that she’s including women of color when she talks about “women,” because women of color don’t take that as a given when white feminists say it. If you look at her Twitter feed, she’s not getting drawn into side arguments (that I’ve seen so far) and is staying focused on her point that she wants to make things better for all women. I think that if she can stay focused on that, ultimately she will have done good.
Mnemosyne (iPad Mini)
And, yes, I did start this thread out mad. But then I had some conversations with people, and I felt like I got to state my case from the white feminist side even if they didn’t agree, and I calmed down. But it is very frustrating to feel like I’m getting lumped in with anti-feminist white women like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann because of my skin color even though I don’t have a single belief in common with them.
@Mnemosyne (iPad Mini):
Um, that sounds like a typical Wednesday for most women of color on Twitter.
@Allan: Which is an experience they were apparently eager to have her share, once she gave them an opening.
@Suzanne: Lolz whut ? In what galaxy exactly are Black men “higher on the totem pole” than White women ? You must be on crack to have posted such nonsense .
I’m sorry, but this is just horseshit. Arquette didn’t say “straight white women.” She said “women.” I’m not seeing any lack of intersectionality in her comments. The only lack of intersectionality I’m seeing is from the people who somehow think the word “women” means only “straight white women.” But that’s on them, not Arquette.
Women are half the human race; we come in all colors, creeds, ethnicities, and orientations. And women of all colors, creeds, ethnicities and orientations suffer gender discrimination, in addition to whatever other discrimination they suffer.
The fact is that it has been difficult to get everybody on the same page in terms of uniting against gender discrimination. There are many gay people (mostly men, but also some women) and many people of color (mostly men, but also some women) who have been vocal and adamant about racial discrimination and homophobia, but have shied away from addressing gender discrimination. And of course there are the vast numbers of white men who will at least give lip service to the importance of civil rights and gay rights, but continue to denigrate women’s rights activists as “feminazis.”
These are just the facts. What Arquette was saying was simply, hey everybody who has been vocal about these other discriminations? It’s time to join with those of us who are talking about gender discrimination too. Can we all join together for women’s equality?
But apparently we can’t. A simple call for us all to focus on the discrimination that all women suffer for being women, and people basically say, “no!” Oh hell no. Must tear her down. Must pretend she was only talking about straight white women. Must attack feminism.