For all the issues that white feminists seem to have with inclusion, it’s good to know that one of the originals knows what she’s talking about. In a recent interview, Gloria Steinem explained the huge impact that black woman have had on the movement:
“I thought they invented the feminist movement. I know we all have different experiences, but I learned feminism disproportionately from black women,” Steinem told Black Enterprise reporter Stacey Tisdale. … “I realize that things being what they are, probably the white middle-class part of the movement got reported more,” Steinem continued. “But if you look at the numbers and the very first poll of women thinking about responding on women’s issues, African-American women were twice as likely to support feminism and feminist issues as White women.”
Team Blackness also discussed the ramifications Indiana’s LGBT discrimination, the German pilot that deliberately flew a plane full of people into a mountain, and Rep. Peter King’s bold pronouncement if Ted Cruz gets the GOP nomination.
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My favorite Steinem quote: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
I don’t really see anything to be outraged about in Steinem’s comments.
I don’t think the post was meant to be sarcastic. The title might be amended with, “…no, really.”
@schrodinger’s cat: that’s not outrage, it’s snark.
@ruemara: I don’t see what she said as snark worthy either.
@steve: Yes. That might have been the only non-sarcastic use of that phrase in the history of Balloon Juice. Or so I assume without listening to the podcast.
IIRC, of the second wave feminists it’s usually Betty Friedan who gets tagged as the one who was out of touch about both race and class issues, particularly since “The Feminine Mystique” was all about the discontents of upper-class (mostly) white housewives. If anyone has links showing that Steinem was equally out of touch, I’m willing to read them.
Slightly off the topic, but I wonder what you guys think of this mini MoU columnist whose op-ed was published in the NYT lamenting how English is killing Indian literature. He opines that not knowing English in India is just like being black in America.
I think it is total BS.
Steinem did a sit down with bell hooks last year that was all manner of awesome.
@schrodinger’s cat: I don’t know. My second to last corporate job was in a building, we had an entire floor, that was owned by Cable & Wireless. Most of the tech people were from India and we bonded over smoking on the loading dock and after work for a beer. Then in my last corporate job, I worked with many people based in India and that part of the world (we outsourced some programming).
I was always embarrassed. They could speak English but I could not speak their language. They knew who Nancy Pelosi was but I didn’t even know what type of government Malaysia had. I often used the phrase “stupid American” when I would talk with them and have to ask them to repeat what they said because their accent was hard for me to get from time to time.
In a long-winded way the business world’s language is English. Easy for me. Harder for the rest of the world that isn’t English speaking. But that is the way it is.
I can see how a nation might start to lose their native lit in conditions like this.
@Tommy: Did you read my post or just my comment? India has many regional languages, English is the bridge between the different linguistic regions. There is more to English than it just being the language of ex-colonizers. In India there is no easy substitute for English.
@schrodinger’s cat: I read your comment and not the entire post. Just skimmed it to be honest. English is a bridge. In India there are dozens and dozens if not hundreds of languages (not including regional dialects).
@Betty Cracker: My favorite is: We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.
I have three older brothers and despite the fact that Mom (and Dad, to a lesser degree) was an ardent feminist, all three of those lovable bastards are confirmed sexists. One brother had the NERVE to say he thought he was smarter than me simply because he was a man.
That was a fun New Years Eve.
This is not my area of expertise at all but: there is a north/south divide here that matters as well, right? The Dravidian-language speaking folks in the South versus the Hindi/Sanskrit-derived language speaking people of the North.
My understanding is that Hindi is a national language along with English while no Dravidian-languages are recognized. Hindi can be assumed/imposed on the folks in the South (I’ve heard some coworkers grumble about occasionally). Whether out of distaste for that assumption/imposition or simply out of ease of communication between folks who speak a variety of very different languages, Southerners might learn/use/prefer English even if it used to be the language of colonial oppression.
Is this tension implicit in the article? “Why don’t you southerners speak Hindi like you should?”
Overall, Steinem was pretty good on racial issues, although she did write an article during the 2008 primary wars saying that black women should support Clinton over Obama because gender solidarity should trump racial solidarity. She got a fair amount of pushback on that. It struck me as tone-deaf at the time, but since it was Steinem, it seemed uncharacteristically tone-deaf.
On the other hand, re-reading the article she does say that the country probably needs two terms of Obama and two terms of Clinton to clean up the mess left by Jeb’s brother, and she was probably right about that.
@Tommy: 22 main languages besides Hindi. 60% of the population are not native Hindi speakers.
I thought I vaguely remembered something like that from 2008, but I couldn’t remember if it was Steinem or if I was conflating her with Geraldine Ferraro, whose remarks went well beyond merely “tone deaf.” Thanks!
India is the strongest example of this, but I think it’s true of a lot of former colonies. The former colonialist language has the advantage that it isn’t the native language of any of the major groups in the country, so it isn’t favoring one ethnic group over the others.
@steve: The southern state of Tamil Nadu even started a secession movement to protest against what they saw as the imposition of Hindi. Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali etc., may be derived from Sanskrit but they are separate languages not dialects of Hindi. If any thing the regional linguistic identity ( Bengali, Marathi, Tamil etc., ) is far more important than the national identity. India as one political unit is a fairly recent phenomenon.
The author is Delhi based and the examples in the op-ed are from the Hindi belt. He doesn’t say much about the north-south divide.
Yeah. The title doesn’t seem to fit the post. Or maybe not, maybe Elon thinks her comments were snark-worthy. It’s hard to tell.
@schrodinger’s cat: Some years ago I visited India. I got the impression that even though Hindi was the official language, and there were many regional languages, English seemed to be the less controversial common denominator. English speakers were not trying to assert the superiority of their own region, etc.
Also, there is a fun thing I have noticed since the first days of Internet bulletin boards and blogs. In an X Files forum, you would notice that Canadian English speakers and Hong Kong English speakers would subtly begin to influence how people wrote (or “spoke”) on the Internet by their use of phrases, metaphor, etc. I can imagine that Indian English speakers will have more influence as well.
And I also imagine that many Indians are doing more than speaking English. Techies are speaking maths and programming languages. The language of the cinema is also something else again, based in language, but not bounded by it.
It is also amusing to note that the writer is complaining in English in one of the most prestigious English language newspapers in the world. I wonder what the conversation would be in Indian media and blogs.
Ultimately, it seems like a silly, pointless rant. But I understand it. The French are always whining about English infiltrating their language, even though this is little more than the English returning the favor, since English is filled with Norman French.
@tsquared2001: I was a member on another political site. Didn’t say all the personal stuff I do here. After a year plus of posting I said something, no clue what it was now, and everybody was like “dude, you are a dude, you are not a women? We thought you were female.”
Honestly I though and still do one of the cooler things in my online life. Told my mother, she is a rock star, and she said “good, I raised you well.”
@kc: Think it boils down to this: if you see a famous white person named in a TWiB headline, odds are they’re probably being dressed down for saying something stupid.
As I reflect on the recent Raven Symone post, I’m thinking I might want to narrow that down to “person”.
@tsquared2001: That is a good one!
PS: My little brother would never have the nerve to express an opinion similar to your brother’s; he knows my sister and I would beat the living crap out of him! And his wife would help us!
@Roger Moore: Yes. Why in another comment I mentioned I worked in a Cable & Wireless building (British owned) in NOVA. We had a floor but the rest of it was Cable & Wireless’s Bluetooth research division before anybody had heard of Bluetooth.
Almost all the tech guys were from India. I smoke. Many of them did and I’d talk to them smoking on the loading dock. Became friends with them and often went for beers after work.
I should note how happy they were here working …. need to give out more work visas.
I love people from all over the world, but I got this little special place in my heart for India. My best friend is from Pakistan. Wealthy family. We’re trying to figure out, going on a year, now we can do a joint Pakistan/India trip.
His family says that if we go outside of the “Zone” (yes like in Iraq) I would not be safe. They don’t leave it without bodyguards and they live there. As you might guess this is what we are debating.
@Tommy: I like to leave my on-life life gender neutral but damn, if you don’t eventually get caught out.
@tsquared2001: I learned from that experience and people saying, “wow OK makes more sense what you were saying.” Came away thinking I should be more blunt and say my sex, family history, more personal stuff, that it would be helpful in making my point.
But I still LOVE that for the better part of two years people on Daily Kos thought I was a “chick.”
@Betty Cracker: I was 8 when my nephew was born and that was my first opportunity to be the big sister to a boy. To this day, keeping that guy in check is SO easy.
@Tommy: It is funny.
Gloria Steinem and bell hooks used to hang out with my mom at our place when I was still in school. Lots of interesting discussions to be had, and I certainly never saw Gloria as anything other than pitch-perfect regarding the intersection of feminism and other partner movements in coalition politics. (My mom was teaching about South Asian women’s movements at the time as well as running a South Asian domestic violence victims’ advocacy org, so there was a LOT of discussion regarding the intersection of different feminist movements and cultural trends as well as the struggle for “priority” of a kind between movements for gender equality, racial equality, and equality based on LGBTQ splits.)
@steve: Yeah, everyone learns Hindi in school but I’ve never gotten the impression that it’s a regional hot button any more than learning English in school might be in Germany or Sweden. (I’m South Indian, FWIW.) English is definitely a much, MUCH more universal way to communicate than Hindi in the South though. That said, one quirk of the way language breaks down is that Muslims, even in the South, are much more likely to use Hindi (probably because of the Urdu intersection; the languages as spoken are nearly identical).
Also, Hindi isn’t that old, especially relative to South Asian history; my mother once described it as “Sanskritized Urdu” and I think that’s the best description. If the government had gone with Marathi or Punjabi or some such as a lingua franca that might be arguably privileging an ethnic group, but Hindi doesn’t have serious roots in that respect.
@Tommy: Where does he live? Lahore, Islamabad, and the frontier can be scary but Karachi isn’t so bad. In general the crime rate in Pakistan is pretty insane though; reminds me of ’90s Colombia in terms of the potential for armed robbery and kidnapping. Lahore was the first time I ever rode in a car with multiple bodyguards.
It’s not snark on Steinem, it’s snark on the internecine fight between POC & a certain brand of feminism.
@schrodinger’s cat: oh my.
I actually have a friend who’s a rather serious novelist who laments the dearth of South Asians writing in their native languages, but that’s almost the exact opposite of what this tool is saying. Plus his pro-Modi stance is a dead giveaway to some kind of douchebaggery.
I have no idea how old Hindi is,but 40% of Indians who reside in India’s heartland are native speakers of Hindi or its various dialects(Bhojpuri, Brajbhasha etc.) . So Hindi definitely has a regional identity.
Yes, now, but that can happen really fast. The broader fact is that unless your experience differs radically from mine, for most of India hindi is something they learn in school and it is their vernacular (it’s not even heavily branded as a regional language). To assume a hegemonic or colonial character for Hindi is a stretch IMO.
I think the title is just good natured joke making for its own sake. I think TWIB is actually complimenting Gloria for getting it.
Best quote in that article – when asked what she’d say to black women who feel the feminist movement doesn’t speak to them, her reply – “I don’t say anything. I listen.”
@Mayur: Wouldn’t the vernacular be the mother tongue, which may or may not be Hindi.
@Goblue72: I listened to the episode, and yes, it’s definitely good natured joking. They were pretty pleased by what Steinem said.
When my husband used to play World of Warcraft, people were always mistaking him for a woman, because he played with a female avatar that was fully dressed.
@schrodinger’s cat: Not really. At least the way I use it, “vernacular” is “trade tongue” or “lingua franca.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. There is literally NO language other than English that would have served as a universal language for India, and choosing to put forth Hindi as an optional generic language was about the best compromise that anyone could have reached. I read and speak Kannada and I can promise you that my so-called fluency is almost entirely useless even in Bangalore.
That said, India could have dispensed with the idea of a national language, but then we get into optics and I’m sure you know how THAT works.
If you’re old enough to remember her, one of my favorite feminists from back in the day was Florence Kennedy. I may not have always agreed with her, but damn, she made me think.
auto-correct responsible for incorrect 1st name spelling
Another Holocene Human
@schrodinger’s cat: I think it’s more like not knowing English in a Spanish speaking corner of America. Sign of class status.
@Another Holocene Human: That’s a much better comparison.
@TooManyJens: This. It also is in the context of the past several weeks: Nicole Sanders/Patricia Arquette and a flood of white feminists who showed much blindness on the topic of privilege. So I read it as a bemused expression of pleasant surprise that Steinem acknowledged WoC which went against the current trend as well as Steinem’s prior reputation.