more on the white washing of “victim blaming”
so im reading this one essay “On the Issue of Roles” written by toni cade bambara. she says in referring to the black woman being stereotyped within the black community, “one who needs constant protection and guidance, for she has a lascivious nature that must be curbed.”
& i start thinking, is black femininity really framed in this way? as one who needs protection? & if so, who is doing the protecting? is it being done at all? this is part of what ill be focusing on in my graduate thesis, where do black womyn go after we’ve experienced sexual violence? what do we do? who do we turn to? are there systems in place within the community to help us? & since some (if not all or most) of us do a shitty of making space for trans/intersex womyn & checking our privilege, are there any resources within the community for black trans/intersex womyn survivors? do they feel safe with us? what are the differences & similarities there with regard to coping mechanisms? & what can we do to facilitate these spaces??
& then on the point of guidance. who is guiding black womyn & girls besides ourselves? & even when we guide each other, we still sometimes police each other. we police each other for a lot of reasons, because some of us dont want to recognize the other’s humanity cuz then you’d have to deal with your own humanity & how its been taken from you on a whole bunch of different levels. or we police each other in an effort to pass on skills that we feel have kept us out of harm’s way & kept us alive, like slut shaming for example. slut shaming in the black community is this effort for black womyn to attempt to achieve cis, able bodied, thin white femininity in the best way we know how, even though i believe some of us refuse to acknowledge that this is denied to us on institutional and structural levels. but even deeper, its knowing either consciously or subconsciously that being white & achieving white femininity has privileges that black [trans/intersex] womyn & girls arent afforded.
i think this is why terms like ghetto, ratchet, ugly, bitch, ho are all god things to reclaim. at least for me personally. its about being counter to and not complicit with being forced into a box of white femininity. i also like to reimagine the term “lady” for myself. i call myself a lady no matter what specific behavior i might be referring to. or dainty. or elegant. or fragile. or femme. or innocent. like im all the things that i want to be whether i’ve been told i was that & it was supposed to be a bad thing because im black or i was denied that because im black but i know that i can and do still embody it. its revolutionary to repurpose those terms for ourselves & for our own self determination(s).
there’s been no general, concerted effort on the part of black men to protect the sexual honor, innocence, fragility of those black womyn & girls who [choose to] embody that. nor has there been any mass efforts to reinstate or preserve self determination or bodily autonomy for black womyn & girls. its an either or thing. either youre a virgin & you get chastised for that while not embodying white femininity. or youre sexually active, promiscuous, ho, slut whatever & you get trashed for that in various ways which can include being made to believe that being raped is a result of that. & i believe those in the latter situation get it a lot rougher.
but THERE IS a concerted effort to police black womyn’s sexuality as a way to plead to the larger society that we’re not ALL hypersexual ho’s & that we deserve respect. therefore, black womyn are asked to be anti-sex, to bend for the purpose of everyone else but ourselves. again.
but all this to say, that mainstream feminism does a shitty job of articulating why the concept of victim blaming isnt just a one size fits all paradigm. its involves race too & its faulty as fuck to white wash it.
“In general terms, black women survivors of violence exist within a dominant conceptual space that make it difficult for them to easily occupy the status of “victim.” Some of these reactions were described by many feminist bloggers as classic “victim blaming” which does not necessarily require a particular racialized context in order to proliferate.”
like, if black womyn are not “victim” blamed in the normative/white sense of the phrase because we are not seen as victims, because we are denied the privileges associated with white femininity (no harm can be done to us because we are not REAL womyn, instead we are STRONG BLACK WOMYN incapable of hurt, pain, frailty, & weakness & because we are constantly being stepped on in this society for everyone BUT us) then “victim blaming” assumes that woman is white, middle class, cis and able bodied because they are the only ones constructed as eternal victims.
it is particularly difficult for black men to see black womyn as victims (even when black men are the perpetrators as in cases of intra-racial violence) since largely black womyn are stereotyped as emasculating & castrating of black men. & since a lot of black men endorse victorian sexual ideals & believe black womyn’s rightful place is at the back. there may have also been efforts to silence black womyn about our/their experiences of intra racial violence, in an effort to “save the race” and continue the “real” and “more important” fight for civil rights.
slut shaming for black womyn is used within the community to convince black womyn to endorse victorian sexual ideals to ask for respect from larger society & to ask for protection for black womyn. while victim blaming in the ”white community” doesnt bear the weight of stereotypes & general the need for protection.
this is a really good post and i would love to think about it more and discuss but not tonight.
I want to discuss it, but maybe not on Tumblr. This is one of those areas where I know the intrusion of white feminists & random derailers will only upset and hurt us.