It’s a Small Feminist World

by Cara on April 23, 2008

in blogging, feminism, race and racism

It’s an ironic one, too.

I will admit that I have not been following the Seal Press debacle extremely closely. I paid attention for the first week, and not a whole lot of new stuff seemed to happen after that. And though they’re definitely related, the BFP/Amanda “thing” came up and it kind of dropped off of my radar.

I thought that Seal Press was wrong from the beginning. The super-duper condensed version of what happened? Black Amazon wrote a comment on her blog that said “Fuck Seal Press.” Then a representative from Seal Press showed up and proceeded to begin a blog war by acting like a stupid, unprofessional, privileged asshole (sorry, calling them like I see them). Again, this was a pretty clear cut situation.

There was a question up in the air: why did BA say “Fuck Seal Press”? It was a remark addressed in a sort of private way to a friend, and for good reason, BA refused to say.

Last week, it turns out that the story emerged, and I missed it. Adele Nieves, a published woman of color writer and editor, came forward:

An informal meeting with an editor from Seal Press at the WAM conference regarding the proposal for my anthology left me feeling frustrated and deflated. I was not seeking or particularly interested in having them publish the anthology, but merely hoping for advice on my book proposal. The editor, while impressed with the format of the proposal, advised me that anthologies don’t sell, and I should get someone like Gloria Steinem or Katha Pollitt to contribute, even though, as she said, I wouldn’t be able to get access to them. I was struck by the fact that she did not suggest I contact Daisy Hernandez, bell hooks, Andrea Smith, or Alice Walker. I might not have access to them either, of course, but given the intent of the anthology is to highlight the voices of people of diverse backgrounds, especially those we’ve not heard from in other works, I found her comments discouraging.

Afterwards, I had a private conversation about the meeting with a small group of friends, including Black Amazon, in hopes they could help me work through this. They did.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about my feelings on the Amanda Marcotte controversy. In it, I briefly mentioned an article I had written for a feminist anthology that was shopping around for publishers. Today, about half an hour before happening to stumble across Adele’s explanation in a roundabout way via Ilyka, I got a message from the woman behind that anthology (saying that the project was now on hiatus for reasons that don’t seem to be very important here — for me this is sad, but not devastating).

Why is this relevant?

Because the woman behind the anthology is Adele. We’re talking about the same damn book.

And do you remember the title of the article I wrote? The Importance of Allies: A Call to White, Straight, Middle-Class Feminists.

You know, this thread got me close but not quite there. Now I’m going to go cry about how much my fellow white feminists can suck.

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{ 16 comments }

1 ilyka April 23, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Aw HELL.

And I’m way disappointed to hear that it’s on hold.

2 Cara April 23, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Er, I hope it wasn’t a secret . . . (I obviously didn’t get the impression that it was; just sayin’.)

3 Astraea April 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm

What a disappointment. I am so sickened by what’s happened. I’m also ashamed that this is what it took to get me to pay attention.

I’m sorry about the book deal, for both you and Adele.

4 Cara April 23, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Well, we never really had a book deal. And like I said, the hiatus is, as far as I know, unrelated to the Seal shit.

While I’m kind sad for me, I just wrote a single contribution — this was Adele’s project. And hopefully she will be reviving it in the not too distant future.

5 Cara April 23, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Oh, and I didn’t write that to whine about the lost publication opportunity (in a way I’m a little bit relieved — like I said in the other post, I feel that it’s outdated now, and so if it ever is published I’ll have a chance to correct that first). I wrote it because the little twist of irony was too fucking ridiculous to ignore.

6 faith April 23, 2008 at 9:34 pm

I hope it gets published by someone else then. it’s a shame to see all that hard work go to waste.

7 Ashley April 23, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Ugh. I am so so sad about what is happening right now. I keep seeing the most hurtful stuff said by white feminists. Stuff that sounds _exactly like_ the bullshit I’ve had thrown at me by men… Shut up, stop being so irrational, stop being so angry, calm down. Blah blah blah. It makes me wanna puke.

Like you Cara, I am just so disappointed in feminism right now. After everything that’s happened with the election and now this, I want to throw up my hands.

8 Cara April 23, 2008 at 10:14 pm

I hope so, too, Faith, but again — there was never a deal with Seal Press!!! And from her post, I don’t think that Adele was particularly chasing after one.

9 Redstar April 23, 2008 at 10:22 pm

It is a small world! I was also invited to submit to that anthology, but I couldn’t get it done at the time.

Weird.

I have been trying to figure out exactly what the Seal thing is all about. I’m still blown away by Amanda’s actions and the uneven lack of condemnation for it…

10 veronica April 24, 2008 at 10:17 am

Another anthology submitted here! I’m sad too, but not devastated. Just sad that such a great project hasn’t found a home yet. Back to the writing pad!

11 Thealogian April 24, 2008 at 10:44 am

Thanks for the post–I read something about this, but it was rather oblique, so I didn’t fully understand what was up. I have to admit I’m still confused about the Amanda Marcott/BFP blow-up, would you mind laying that all out sometime or linking up where I could read a more in-depth explanation of what happened between them?

I’m not disappointed with Feminism right now, I’m disappointed with individual feminists who might not have yet learned how to apply their consciousness raising skills in terms of sexism and patriarchy to race/ethnicity and most importantly, privilege.

There was a really cool exercise I learned in an ethics class that I think might help those who are interested in becoming allies, do so. Essentially, it shapes your imagination in terms of what do you see. Imagine yourself on a metro/public transport–you, in your present social situation (let’s say, we are primarily women here, perhaps white, perhaps not). Now, the train is packed, there are a few people standing, but all of the seats are taken. A pregnant woman gets on, she’s about seven months along and she has a small child with her and her groceries. Now, I got on earlier and so did the man next to me–my thought when I see her, “gosh, she should get a seat–she looks tired and its hard to hold the bar, the kid’s hand, and the groceries and have your center of gravity off with the pregnancy…gee, why hasn’t a man offered her a seat, shouldn’t a man do that? Well, I guess I better give up my seat.” So then I do. Now, the man next to me has never been pregnant, but is he paying attention to the conditions of others in the train? No, well, who was more morally obligated to give up the seat, chivalry tells us he should, but as a person who either has a notion of what its like to be pregnant or a direct experience of it, and sees the woman is more ethically obligated to give up her seat. Now, part of the exercise is to further imagine other circumstances in which by mentally imagining or simply paying attention in everyday life to how people experience the world, we then become more and more morally obligated to do something when we see an injustice or a need that can be addressed by us as individuals. Anyway, so by paying attention–hey, why are those black boys on bikes being spoken to by a cop? Was I stopped by a cop when playing in my neighborhood at 11? By paying attention, I increase my moral obligation to both try to understand how “all those little things” of systematic racism (just like “all those little things of sexism”) adds up to a HUGE DEFICIT in social justice. Its not about speaking for people of color, its for trying to get it. Now, this doesn’t mean that one can’t speak up–but one should especially speak up about racism when one is surrounded by all white people, you know, in those close quarters where some biases are less examined or censored. I’m doing a sermon this summer on exposing whiteness, its going to be good, but I am nervous because at my mixed church/pre-dominately white, whiteness is still a weird concept; I think I might use this exercise or adapt it into a mediation. Anyway, sorry for the long post, I’ll probably try to flesh it out later at my new blog :)

12 Cara April 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm

What would you like to know, Theologian? Here is a good basic summary of where the problem started. For why we’re still talking about it and why most of us are still really pissed off, I’d go to one of the primary sources: this thread where Amanda “defended” herself and attempted to burn the number of bridges needed to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

13 Kristen April 24, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Cara,

You might not be disappointed but I certainly am! I’d love to see more anthologies discussing these issues. Hopefully, Adele will have an opportunity to revisit this project in the future.

Theologian,

Shorter, have empathy. :) Too many people forget that the only thing that separates us from those who are marginalized is most often just the accident of birth.

Or, similarly (but with more pragmatism and less existentialism), in my husband’s words “Don’t expect someone to give a shit about you if you don’t give a shit about them.”

14 ouyangdan April 25, 2008 at 4:52 am

Cara,

I was disappointed also. I know it wasn’t a deal w/ Seal Press, but their role in this didn’t help.

Thanks, though, for shedding a little light on this. I felt like I was missing something in all of this all along.

I was excited to be listed w/ writers like yourself on that contributor list, and I really hope it works out in the future.

Plus, I really feel like Adele (in addition to being in my home state!) is an important contact for me now. I am so sorry that her project isn’t going through as planned, not only b/c of the writers I know who contributed, and not just for my own reasons, but b/c now knowing this extra information, I am frustrated for Adele.

*sigh*

And, I agree, hopefully this will give me a chance to improve what I submitted originally and make it more relevant to me.

15 Holly April 26, 2008 at 3:57 am

I haven’t been following the Seal Press debacle as closely as I should be. In fact, I haven’t been following much as much as I should be, but the anthology being on hiatus definitely does suck.

16 whatsername April 29, 2008 at 2:50 am

Oh irony, you’re so much fun!

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