afrolatinidade@gmail.com

Friday, 5 December 2014

Why I am disappointed with Carlos Latuff

16:10 Posted by Afro Latina , , No comments


So cartoonist Carlos Latuff has declared war on Radical Feminism. Well, for a myriad of reasons I try not to expect much from men, anyway. But I must confess I feel pretty hurt with the news that I saw with my very own eyes, today. 


It saddens me that I have to write this post. Here is the cartoon he drew earlier in the day. In it, he claims there is two types of feminism. One, supposedly a "good" one, where women fight against patriarchy, and the "bad" feminism, which happens to be radical feminism, that wants to destroy men. 

Note he didn't even draw a different woman to represent his version of "radical" feminist, maybe because in the end he just sees us as being all the same.

But what exactly triggered a man who is well-known to take a stand for the oppressed, being vocal about the injustices that go on in Palestine and supporting leftist causes and revolution? It appears to me that the answer is quite simple: the possibility of having his male privilege tainted. That's the only possible reason, in my humble opinion. The whole story behind his reaction is still developing and all I can say is: it involves women being emotionally abused and apparently, there was pedophilia too.


There is this big Brazilian blogger who is also a professor in the United States, his name is Idelber Avelar, and from what I can infer, he is close enough to Latuff to make him go so far as comparing what is going on with the U.S lynchings of black people. Yes, in a big post which can be read in Portuguese here, Latuff resorts to the argument that Avelar, a white privileged male, is being a victim of 'lynching' in the same fashion African Americans were in the 60s. Yep, he went that far. 


Avelar, a self-declared feminist male, apparently has the habit of flirting married women who are NOT in open/polyamory arrangements, because he enjoys laughing on their betrayed men. So much that there is a print circulating in Brazil where he jokes about one such husband keeping his wife at gunpoint upon discovering the affair she had with him. 


There's many tales going around the web and they all reveal a man who is far away from being feminist. It shows a guy who is comfortable in his position of a white privileged male and who is fine with calling women names they are clearly not comfortable with. He is now ranting Brazilian feminists are 'moralists' and whatever he does in his private life should be none of our business. The only problem is, those women got vocal about the issue and collectively created a Tumblr where they expose all the abusive chats they had with the guy. 


I am pretty sure nothing will really happen to him, even though one of the girls he was targeting was only 15 (apparently he gave up on her upon learning her age, but she was already tainted by the aggressive tone of the talks). Also, there was a 17-year-old who actually got to go out with him, they went to a motel together (cultural note - in Brazil, a motel is a place people go to have sex away from their homes, there's all sorts of motels, from very cheap to very sophisticated ones). Getting there he began the unsolicited dirty talk calling her - repeatedly - a whore. She got terrified and asked him to take her back home and he dropped her, not without claiming she was a 'moralist' and cursing her all through. 


Well, I trust those women. I honestly don't know if they took the right course of action, but I am sure something had to be done. Their intention was clearly to raise awareness for such cases, to tell other women that they felt abused and gaslighted by that professor and also that we should all be careful not to idealise the so-called 'feminist men' too much, for we don't really know whether that's only a social mask they are wearing just to attract more women and then have fun at their expenses. 


What I do know is that I am disappointed with Latuff's reaction. I had him in high esteem and somehow feel let down by his arrogant posts. I decided to translate an excerpt from a facebook status update that captures well what is really going on in Brazil (and maybe everywhere else, really): 


"Leftist guys are able to recognize institutional and economic oppression easily. They can spot whenever a rich guy has oppressed a poor one, they can see whenever a boss is a dick with a worker, when a policeman abuses a citizen, they can see economic, racial, sexual orientation and elitist oppression. They know how hard it is to collect evidence whenever the violence has not been physical, when it is symbolical and institutional and they are usually quite contented with the account given by the oppressed. They only fail to analyse class when the class under scrutiny is gender. You are all brothers because you have been socialized into being so, just so you won't review your privileges and therefore lose structural power over women" - Daiane Novaes. 

I really don't know if this post is clear enough, as I am really tired at the moment. All I can say is I am largely disappointed with Latuff's position right now. That is not who I thought him to be. He probably has the best intentions in his mind, like he wants things to be discussed in a civilized manner without the metaphorical lynching of anyone, but let's face it, the guy is talking about misandry, as if that was really a thing. Will men ever be able to honestly, earnestly, sincerely review their privileges?

If you are into reading/translating Portuguese, the whole story can be read here


UPDATE:

Okay, so he apologized. I still find it quite bizarre that a guy like Latuff could not review his privileges before attacking radical feminism in order to defend a white, privileged man who is being accused of pedophilia. I just feel sorry for the whole thing but quite relieved with his latest take on the issue. I just wish this got broader attention, maybe from international media, because it really is something we should be discussing more: are all leftist men gender aware? I'd say no.

Translating here what he said: "Feminism is necessary and relevant, indeed, however aggressive their approach might appear, the Radfems are not the ones who kill in Brazil and in the world, what kills is machismo".

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I don't blame women.

10:48 Posted by Afro Latina , No comments

Today I came across a quote the internet attributes to Amy Poehler, allegedly about women who renounce feminism, and it reads "That's like someone being like, 'I don't really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don't know what I would do without it'."


I took a deep breath and responded to it, and the backlash was immediate. I understand I might have sounded a bit confusing in my discomfort with said remarks, so I decided to blog about it, in order to try to clarify where I stand in relation to this type of argument, which unfortunately keeps popping time and again in many mainstream feminist online pages. 


First off, this is not about Amy Poehler. Her analogy is one in millions, but somehow I had time to argue and now I avail of the patience to try to develop it further, although I am not quite sure I would be able to express everything in one blog post - that's how complex this is. But here, I am a feminist who used to engage in that very type of reasoning, by blogging and even thundering things like "being woman and not supporting feminism is like being black and racist, gay and homophobic, jew and nazi, a cat person who adopts a dog" and so on. 


I did that until someone pointed out to me that I was actually blaming the victims. And I know liberal feminism is particularly attached to the notion of 'agency', but failing to understand why someone does not subscribe to a certain view because it OBVIOUSLY benefits her is, to say the least, arrogant and condescending. Not only it fails to take women who fall outside the category "white-middle-class" into consideration, it also exempts men from any guilt. And I do believe men are the main perpetrators of violence in patriarchy. I wouldn't be a feminist if I thought it is merely half-half. 


That said, I also do need to point out that many people think I just can't argue this is victim blaming, because otherwise I would need to be as compassionate with men, for that's just how both males and females are raised in a patriarchal society. Now it is time for me to inhale and unhurriedly let the air out of my lungs until I am calm enough to say: if that was the case, such quotes wouldn't really exist, they wouldn't be so popular. Their popularity lies precisely in the fact they are directed at women. Apparently, Amy did not have men in mind when she uttered those words, and in all honesty I also didn't when I used to subscribe to such view. That's why I feel it is an oversimplification to assert that the oppressed who agree with the system are part of the problem. 


So I realized it is a counterproductive thing to do in my personal practice and, even though that particular page might be directed at the white, middle-class niche of North America, I do think we need more intersectional considerations before we just go ahead with certain posts. The most obvious reason is, we live in a globalized world where English is the lingua franca and that is reason enough to efface other practices, other points of view that might be of particular relevance to any given discussion. So I think it's a good idea to contemplate whether a quote is important in any context other than that of privileged women, just for a change. 


I also believe my experience is relevant, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it. Like, I clearly remember when I quit straightening my hair. As a black woman, I've been always aware that racism is beyond terrible. However, for over 20 years I tried to disguise the blackest thing about my being, which is my hair, in the name of unattainable beauty standards that somehow benefited me, as I would 'pass' as non-black in many contexts, and even be able to gain access to a job I wouldn't have gotten with natural curls. In other words, my hair feels offensive to many people, and when I decided to love it, a revolution took place in my life. 


However, I grew resented of others who weren't as 'enlightened' as I was, those friends who insisted in ironing their tresses in order to benefit a little from the system. Thankfully, I realized my narcissism soon enough. So today I wouldn't say I cannot understand what it is that makes women of color straighten their hair. Because I do - sadly, I do. I comprehend them well enough to refrain from judging. And I think that's precisely what is missing from feminism. Looking back in time and realizing that maybe those women who 'renounce' feminism are not really different from what I was is essential to keep my struggle humane, I guess.


And let's be careful with lines such as "MRA's use women, homossexuals and people of color who rebuff activism in order to validate their arguments". As militants, we should be able to recognize tokenism well enough to refrain from it. Again, I am not here saying what you should and shouldn't be doing in your activism. I am not a mind colonizer. I just felt I should clarify where I stand in this, and I believe many people would give it a second thought and re-direct their attention to the root of the issue: men oppressing women. 


So this is what I have to say today. I am not denying the agency of women, I am just stating that maybe the limitations patriarchy imposes in such agency make it even harder to engage in facile, black-and-white statements. And again, I fight for women. I acknowledge and celebrate the fact that men can benefit from feminism as well, but today, at this very minute, I want to be with women, embrace them, not judge them, for patriarchy does that all the time.