infuriating inaccessibility of "accessible" feminism
June 14, 2017
Okay, I have not really engaged with Facebook for a few weeks, because it is an unnecessary aggravation to my already tenuous sense of human connection. And just exacerbates my anger and sense of feeling desperately quashed by everything difficult of the world. While reinforcing this assessment of this platform, I feel compelled to express my utter disgust at the way that Mia Freedman treated Roxane Gay. I don't know... Sometimes, all I can muster, when things like this hit my core, is a physical reaction that is sort of a collapsing inward, and to feel like I'm being choked by my own rage. Roxane Gay writes so eloquently and with such witty nuance about how feminism isn't an exact science. She advocates educating yourself, and being critical of the things you consume, taking notice of the power structures at play. These things are so much how I operate that I want to call them 'basic', of course they aren't, but they fucking need to be for any thorough journalist, especially one who professes to be feminist and progressive. Even though my trust in the Mamma Mia enterprise can barely fit under my pinky fingernail, I cannot even fathom how such a well-packaged 'liberal' brand didn't strategise about discussing -shock/horror- fat and body image, especially because it's such a massive social taboo *cough cough*. Fuck, I'm still shuddering with such frustration at Mia Freedman! I try so hard to tolerate her awkward, but very accessible defining of feminism, as something women can practice without really straying from the mainstream patriarchal norms, because it obviously has a market and a purpose in this society. But degrading such a strong, funny and intelligent woman, because that narrow narrow narrow conception of being 'radical and brave' (Come on guys, her podcast is called '#nofilter') doesn't permit different ways of interacting with the world. As thinking about someone's access requirements in this context was embarrassingly novel to her, she used it as a way of making herself seem so empathetic, 'open-minded' and maybe even feeling it was in keeping with "having no filter". She positioned Gay's body as 'other' and atypical, in order to make herself feel better and still as a champion of women's rights, proving the way white feminism works. There's undeniable poignant parallels with disabled in any discussion involving mainstream feminism, but people are rarely as forthright about our natural place of exclusion in their minds, because physical access, feel-good charity and being uncomfortable comes with the territory. Feminism, and just any social movement needs to centre universal access if it's really for social equality. But they don't, because it takes more time and energy, especially when the predominant cross section of activists in Australia are normally very average. It would take time and connection to form trust and make room for those who are living on the margins, so the unintended exclusion and ignorance continues.