How to be a RESPONSIBLE woman
By Stephanie Phillips from Black Feminists.
So every feminist and her mother have been talking about the Caitlin Moran / Lena Dunham furore. If you haven’t heard Dunham has come under fire for the lack of diversity in her new show Girls, which is set in New York and has be sold as a representation of modern young women’s lives. A Twitter user asked Moran if she asked Dunham about the lack of diversity in Dunham’s show when she interviewed her for a piece in The Times. Moran, somewhat unprofessionally replied “I literally couldn’t give a shit about it”.
Before we move on I’ll just say now that I haven’t seen Girls. I don’t know if it is what people say and I won’t be arguing that in the piece. What I will say that as a journalist if I knew that people were concerned about issues of visibility with other races in the show I would research it and bring it up in the interview, not just dismiss it as a non-issue.
Note to the white women reading this that may think they’re liberal and open minded and listen to Bob Marley ’cause they’re cultured; if someone tells you that they are concerned that some shit is racist then believe that some shit is racist. Why would they lie? At least open your mind to the concept that this thing you may enjoy watching, saying, doing could offend another human being and then, here’s the tricky part, ask them what you can do to not offend them. Simple innit but its true. Studies have shown that the most effective way to stop people constantly being offended by things you do is to not do them anymore.
The accusations made about Girls needed to at least be acknowledged by Moran but instead she, like many people when confronted with race, became defensive and suggested people were over reacting. The whole ‘political correctness gone mad’ and ‘we’re all one race the human race’ argument is the same that is used in the liberal community by men when women start pointing out that sexism still exists in the left.
No one is asking Girls to represent all of womenhood. The question that was directed at Moran was to ask whether she asked Lena Dunham about the lack of diversity on the show. That was an apt question and white feminists can’t just go straight to defensive when the ‘R’ word pops up in the conversation. The reality is that there is a HUGE problem with diversity and representation in media. You can’t expect black women to be quiet about our concerns because white women don’t want to talk about the issue.
You don’t need a “token” woman of colour on the show. Is it that hard to believe that a black person could be a best friend, love interest, friendly teacher. We exist in many forms in the real world so it shouldn’t take a leap of faith to recreate us in the fictional world.
Moran’s dismissive comment blew up because it represented how women of colour felt mainstream feminists thought and we’ve had enough of it.
I’ve decided that I’m tired of this whole pretense that issues of race in the feminist community don’t matter any more because “we’re over that”. No. We’re not. Me and you are not on the same path and until a whole lot of privilege on everyone’s part is recognised we never will be.
To start I believe that white feminists have to understand just what kind of racism black women deal with on a daily basis and how we feel about our position in the movement. I’m opening up the floor if you want to know what it’s like to be a black woman in society today ask in the comments section and I will reply honestly.
I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or startle anyone that was comfortable with their views but I’m tired of the dismissive remarks, the constant lack of recognition, the lack of focus on issues that affect black women and every feminist conference that claim the only reason they always have all white panels and workshops is just because they couldn’t find anyone who knew about that stuff. I’m tired of it all, so let’s sort it out now, honestly, respectfully and peacefully.
Stephanie Phillips is the Editor of the female-focused music blog Don’t Dance Her Down Boys. She eats too much cake and spends far too much time thinking about cake.