Feminist Friday: Audre Lorde; then a change of heart

I hesitate slightly in posting this particular piece. Not at all because I take issue with it, but because I have to wonder how it might be judged in the face of all that has been said and written about black lives and black experience in the recent weeks and months. I’m not concerned if anyone chooses to critique my thoughts. Feel free. My concern is that by posting this essay/speech by Audre Lorde from 1984, I may be perceived as perpetuating the very thing that she so strongly spoke against with her words.

The reason for pulling Lorde’s words from my archives though is simple in my opinion. Her words, at the time, were applied to the lived experience of black women, specifically the lesbian, black woman. Lorde’s words meant to inform a white feminist community that black feminist lived experience was far different from their own, and as such should not be addressed, nor acted upon, in the same manner. Lorde was introducing the concepts of intersectionality and building on sociologist Dorothy E. Smiths theories of standpoint and lived experience. After re-reading this essay I believe Lorde was also speaking with foresight. This essay, simply by changing a few pronouns, strongly informs the lived experience of female and male, black and white society today.

Perhaps this post also comes too late. Has anyone noticed the significant decrease in reporting of issues surrounding white police action against black members of society? My Google news feed is devoid of any stories related to this topic and I only heard a passing comment about one of the latest protests that occurred in Berkeley California, an area that was a central focus in the news for days. Are we to believe that tensions have ceased, that equilibrium is restored, that black communities have put aside their anger, that predominately white police forces and/or some officers have had radical changes in belief about how they protect and serve without bias…and should we assume that the media finds the ongoing protests inadequate in their levels of violence to bother putting them into their news line ups…Hurrah! We can all go back to ignoring racism and denying its existence because all is once more right in the white world of America.

**After writing this introduction, which feels now like an opening to a sociology paper, I have to stop. I haven’t changed my opinion in any way, and I suggest taking the time to read the link to Lorde’s essay. Let me know if you see parallels between her words then and what is occurring today in general, within unchanged racist America.

I am stopping because the whole idea of standing up on a feminist soapbox and ranting about issues that never seem to change is disheartening. I thought, after a short break from these sorts of posts I would be renewed and ready to take on the patriarchy again, ready to rant and opine and say fuck the world we are being made to live in. I am not. My convictions are still clear. I still believe that there is so much wrong here, actually more wrong than right. I want to believe/hope that somewhere in our future change will occur, but the fire and the passion to sustain an anger and hatred toward androcentric, patriarchal, misogynistic, homophobic society isn’t there anymore.

I believe in the ranting, the loud angry voices of women and men who can’t abide the fact that so little has changed within our world while good old white male capitalists are still forging ahead en-mass, strong and resilient and powerful. I want the ranting to continue, I want the ranters to know that I support them, but right now I can’t be one of them. The passion and the drive to rant and rail against the patriarchy and all they stand for must not stop, but the negativity that ranting brings necessitates that my voice be silent for now.

I really believe that for a short time, being immersed in courses on feminism and society and gender did two things. Those subjects opened my eyes to just how far we have not managed to grow positively in our society, and they brought forth a hidden need within me to speak out. I don’t have to hide my voice anymore, or myself, but putting all my focus into these issues causes me to feel overwhelmed and negative about life in general. I get pulled down into a pit where it’s hard to find any positives, or purpose, or reason to care because quite frankly, this society; this world, sucks big time.

There are positives though, and even though they may be small, it feels emotionally right and beneficial to focus on those areas. I have no intent to dismiss or avoid any social or feminist issues, and I know that on occasion a burst of passion will cause me to speak out and join the collective voices. So Feminist Friday will remain a part of this blog and make appearances on occasion because a feminist cannot be ignored nor silenced for long.




3 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: Audre Lorde; then a change of heart”

  1. I hear ya on the disheartening feeling of ranting the same rants, year after year! Self-care is important — is vital — even when it is your very activism wearing you down. At the same time, I hope you are acknowledging how the witnessing you do is itself a form of activism. Like noticing how the top news stories have already moved on, just because racism and state oppression are so rarely news/”new.”

    Also? Feminist rants on personal blogs are not terribly productive of anything, in and of themselves. (I say this as someone whose whole raison d’etre as a blogger could be thus described!) They are, it seems to me, an available tool for sustaining/propelling oneself into action in the bricks-and-mortar world. If it’s not doing that for you, then by all means, find other ways of living your beliefs. 🙂


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