White Feminist Series: #6 Carol Gilligan Part 2
White Feminist Victimization Industry
This is Part 2 of an essay written by a fellow BIWOC who wishes to remain anonymous. Please see Part 1 for discussion of most of essay; the below illustrates some examples of white fragility and the tactical/strategic self-deceptive maneuvers that white feminists employ.
I emphasize that I publish these because I believe women of color and intersectional feminists MUST SEPARATE from white feminism and create a separate movement.
Continuation of article by anonymous:
“Equivocations: The Purview of the Privileged
Authentically oppressed people separate from their oppressors; privileged people who haven’t admitted their privilege adhere to those they oppress and try to underline alleged similarities.
In most contexts, privileged people will attempt to hide their privilege by assuming and marketing the concept of ‘similarity’ with those they oppress. This tactical approach allows them to maintain privilege by erasing the difference between their privilege and subsequent BIPOC oppression.
People who understand oppression will emphasize the DIFFERENCES, not similarities, between themselves as part of an oppressed collective and those in the group of oppressors.
Equivocation #1: p16
On page 16, Gilligan compares Jewish and Palestinian self-determination as if they are similar without acknowledging the significant differences in both historical and political reality. Palestinians have been indigenous to that land for thousands of years; Zionism is a political movement which started in the mid-1800’s in Europe, and it led to Al Nakba and continues to oppress Palestinians in an apartheid state. The differences are glaring and undeniable.
Gilligan completes her sentiment with an equivocation, implying that Jewish and Palestinian self-determination are similar without acknowledging the power differential inherent in the collective oppression. This equivocation exposes Gilligan’s privilege once again: she minimizes the collective advantages that Zionists have gained at the expenses of Palestinians — for generations –and instead implies that the approach to the area is equal. In fact, Israel receives much more financial support than Palestine AND it utilizes that support to maximally oppress Palestinians.
Gilligan’s statement erases this critical and extreme difference without acknowledging facts: Palestinians have lived on that land for millenia, and white people in Europe stole it and gave it to Zionists. These facts indicate a significant difference — it is Palestinian land, save for personal religious allegories, and ‘self-determination’ for these two groups is different, not the same. Gilligan’s eagerness to cast Zionists as similar to Palestinians is absurd given the power differential. It reveals her willingness to participate in the manufactured ‘victimization’ of white feminism.
Equivocation #2: p 17
Gilligan continues her equivocation: that somehow the history of Jewish oppression is similar to African-American oppression. Despite the fact that Gilligan attempts to find multiple examples to the contrary, my own 25 or so years in the US observations indicate that African-Americans are oppressed while Jewish people are privileged: to me, the difference at a collective/group level is stark. Baldwin seems to agree, as do Mallory, Perez, Sarsour, and Bland. Yet, Gilligan continues to equivocate, exposing her investment in manufacturing white feminist ‘victimization:’
‘Like the division of women into colored and not colored, the division of people into Jews and non-Jews is not trivial. At various times and places, being of color or being Jewish has been grounds for being murdered. As it was and continues to be for Blacks in America; as it was for Jews in Europe during my childhood and is now here in America.’ (my emphasis)
My reaction to this was ‘what T F?!’ This conflation is an equivocation: it omits the fact that the TransAtlantic Slave Trade was a global movement denigrating people of African descent AND it conflates the Holocaust in Germany with American slavery. These conflations erase the basic facts, as described by the very astute Baldwin quotation she herself offers: Jewish people are white in America, which is DIFFERENT from him and other African-Americans; the dilemma of global, centuries-long TransAtlantic Slavery is DIFFERENT from anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, a German crime. Gilligan’s attempts to create ‘victims’ from a group Baldwin himself — not to mention Mallory, Sarsour, and Perez — perceive as collective oppressors — largely reflects her own unconscious devotion to the perpetual manufacturing of white feminist (faux)- ‘victimization.’
Equivocation #3: p18
Narcissism: Gilligan’s revelation: ‘non Jews don’t think of themselves as nonJews’ and: ‘I said, “So to you I am a woman of no color and to me you are a non-Jew. Where do we go from here?”’
Again, what t f ?! This equivocation makes no sense: as an Egyptian, I do not think of myself as an Egyptian and then proceed to wonder if others view themselves as ‘nonEgyptian.’ If all of us participated in this sort of infantile indulgence, all of us would be focused on: 1. Ourselves (narcissism); 2. How non-‘us’ everyone else is (internalized superiority).
Gilligan states she realized that non-Jews don’t think of themselves as non-Jews. Why would anybody list the number of ethnicities they are not?
Imagine this: I see a Chinese person and think: I wonder if that person thinks of herself as a ‘non-Egyptian’?
Then, I see an African-American and realize: ‘wow, I’ll bet he doesn’t think of himself as a non-Egyptian!’
Then, I see a Mexican woman walking down the street, and the first thing I wonder is: ‘does she think of herself as a non-Egyptian’?
This stance overtly reveals Gilligan’s self-centered narcissism and its inherent centrality in white feminist narratives. Why does Gilligan assume we should center her? Because, as a white woman, she is centered by a white supremacist society, so it seems normative to her.
Why would ANY of us wonder about whether or not Gilligan thinks we are goyim instead of centering our own considerable challenges as women of color in a white supremacist society?
‘Divisive’ Narratives: Extending the ‘Angry’ Mallory Theory
Other hubris-dripping statements that reveal white feminism/white supremacy:
Gilligan describing why she had to expose anti-Semitism to other feminists: ‘I suspect that what prompted me to speak was the sinking feeling of watching hope drain from a group that had been so filled with hope.’ Condescension towards women of color: WHO, exactly, is drained of hope when BIWOCs speak up about white feminist oppression?
Gilligan describes a scene in which intersectional feminists disrupt white feminism and she restores its dominance by re-centering herself as victim instead of admitting her (white) privilege. These exposures render me, as an intersectional female, hopeful. Eventually, Gilligan states that the feminist group dissolved, and this made her less hopeful. An intersectional feminist had broached the topic of authentic divisiveness, and Gilligan didn’t like it, so she feels less hopeful. Intersectional feminists are generally MORE comfortable away from white feminists, so for us, it is unifying to have our own group.
Intersectional feminists have more hope when privileged white women like Gilligan center their privilege and acknowledge it, and set aside perceptions of their ‘victimhood.’
White Feminist Scolding:
‘the vision of women coming together, crossing racial alignments on behalf of girls, aligning instead with one another as women in an effort to spare the next generation from the scourges of racism; a vision of committing ourselves, as women, to repair the world by acting in concert as a force for transformation.’ (my emphasis).
Gilligan’s overt white feminism is shocking: she Friedans the reader to death, overtly marginalizing racial and ethnic issues which, in BIWOCs mind are CENTRAL, in order to center her white needs, desires, and feelings. She refuses, in this willful portion of writing, to understand that our oppression as BIWOCs is partially repaired and transformed only if white women and feminists expose their privilege, their difference. Ironically, Gilligan’s efforts to hide this difference expose the core problem: white women are NOT taking responsibility for their privilege: their over-resourcing at the expenses of women of color.
Gilligan repeatedly refuses to hear that her idea of ‘repair’ and ‘self-determination’ is ONLY ‘repair’ for her and other white feminists: it is actually damage, disfigurement, erasure, and destruction for many BIWOCs.
Victimhood: (Yet Another) Redux:
‘This remains true: when it comes to discussions of race in America, the experience of Jews is irrelevant; all that counts is that Jews are white.’
Extreme, binary statements that imply Jews are victims: once again, Gilligan actively, aggressively eschews her privilege as a WHITE woman in favor of centering her alleged ‘victimization.’ She uses words like ‘irrelevant’ and ‘all,’ extreme statements which fail to acknowledge that the very fact she is heard — the fact that she is allowed voice at all — is a privilege most women of color do not have AND never receive. Instead, her written words are like a continuous whine drifting away from the reality of her whiteness.
Woman of color to white women in AMERICAN group (including Gilligan): ‘Where were you, white woman, when they came for me in the middle of the night?’
Gilligan’s response: ‘You know, to you I am a woman who is not colored and therefore who cannot be trusted not to align with racism, but to me you are a non-Jew and therefore how can I count on you to be there for me when they come for me in the middle of the night? How can either of us trust one another? If one paints with a broad enough brush, history backs both of us up.’
Again, as if with power of will, Gilligan reorganizes, rearranges, and re-tools so that she can frame herself as a victim. The BIWOC has specifically underlined the fact that white women have abandoned women of color, and instead of accepting her reality as privileged, Gilligan AGAIN chooses to frame herself as victim. Repeat: the woman of color has framed white woman as privileged, and Gilligan POINTEDLY refuses to acknowledge it AND FURTHERMORE, depicts herself as ‘victim.’
The speaker has painted with the speakers’ brush as a woman of color, but no matter: only white women are REAL victims. Gilligan marginalizes this — so she can be a victim AGAIN.
…and AGAIN: Inappropriate Conflation
‘we also have too much in common — Jewish women and women of color — even when the categories of oppression don’t overlap and the white women are, so to speak, pure white. Because we both have a sharp eye for hypocrisy and betrayal, and we both have been activists and initiators of movements for social justice and peace’
No, many women of color view her as DIFFERENT, not the same. The fact that she erases this difference contributes to our oppression. This is zero-sum psychology: BIWOC oppression, in some contexts, is predicated on white extrinsic privileged. Thus, in these contexts, white women are DIFFERENT: privileged because BIWOCS are deprived.
This conflation is typical of individuals in the dominant, oppressor group: Gilligan underlines ‘similarities’ because she is motivated to erase her privilege. In this context, as a BIWOC, I would emphasize Gilligan’s DIFFERENCE relative to the rest of us. Her desire to erase her privilege leads to this continuous willful desire to convince us we are ‘the same’ when reality is that she is privileged.
On the contrary, women of color benefit by exposing the DIFFERENCE.
Repeatedly Declines Intersectional Feminism…. While Implying It is ‘Divisive:’
Gilligan: ‘Once suffrage has been won, women are a voting majority, which may be a clue to the investment of some in fomenting dissention among women, especially now when the gender gap in voting is increasing and women’s votes may be critical to electoral success.’
Gilligan makes a white feminist assumption: that ALL women view ourselves as a ‘voting majority,’ as if the priority is white feminism: being female. This is NOT the stance of many women and of most intersectional feminists: BIWOCs do not automatically view ourselves as primarily women invested in (white) feminism; many of us view the racial and ethnic dimension as more powerful.
Gilligan not only condescends but also triangulates, harking back to Winona Ryder in Heathers: triangulation is the behavior of malignant narcissists. Who does she mean when she writes ‘investment of some…” Who are the ‘some’? Why is she triangulating instead of stating what she believes? Who is really fomenting dissent: BIWOCS exposing white supremacy, or white feminists trying to participate in it?
The ‘dissent’ is that of BIWOCs who no longer want to be subordinated by white feminists — like Gilligan. Instead of taking responsibility for this, Gilligan shirks it, dumping it on some unknown force as if it is a ‘Mr. Hyde.’ Rather, Gilligan should take responsibility for it: white feminists should acknowledge their relative privilege and act to ameliorate it — rather than centering her ‘victimization’ repeatedly. Of note, Zionism is a significant issue in the global feminist arena and continues to expose the differences between white and intersectional feminists. Gilligan’s embrace of Zionism is a form of white supremacy.
????Mallory, Bland, Sarsour resigned ‘to remove the stain of anti-Semitism from the march’???
Gilligan’s arrogance assumes that three women of color who were leaders of the women’s march ALL prioritized Gilligan, Gilligan’s feelings, and Gilligan’s needs and, with the proper humility that women of color should display, resigned.
As a woman of color, I perceive Gilligan’s view as delusional. All three of these women were incensed about the way they were ostracized and marginalized, and all three stated this sentiment at some point or another in interviews. As BIWOCs in our writing group, ALL of us felt that these women of color were discriminated against. I personally believe that Mallory was scapegoated in the interest of whitewashing Zionism.
These women of color do NOT owe humility to individuals in their oppressor group: white people. NONE of these women should have been forced to apologize — and that’s what it was: they were bullied into apologizing just to make the privileged white feminist Wrubles of the world comfortable. Women of color should NOT have to erase our own agenda because coddled white women like us beneath them.
The fact that these women were forced to apologize only strengthens our resolve to separate from white feminists as a movement. I have gone to a number of women’s marches over the years but will NOT go to another event if there is any risk of white feminists like Wruble and Gilligan will ruin it again.
Women of color leave white feminist marches because our equality is not considered. As a result, white feminists are Janus-faced: claiming victimhood while refusing to admit their privilege. White feminism is fundamentally hypocritical. We, as BIWOCs, do NOT want white feminists in our marches.
Unlike Gilligan, we do NOT view ourselves as BIWOCs as DIRTY, as ‘staining’ others. As long as white feminists view us as inferior, we don’t want THEM in OUR marches.
Gilligan: ADL and Greenblatt as ‘Reliable’
Gilligan refers to the ADL and Jonathan Greenblatt’s beliefs as if they are legitimate. Greenblatt is an aggressive, long-standing purveyor of Zionism and anti-Palestinian activism. Gilligan’s reliance on his beliefs forces me to consider her views with skepticism. Most damaging, Greenblatt deliberately conflates Judaism and Zionism; Gilligan implies she agrees.
Gilligan’s Questions… And Relevant Answers
‘How, at this particular moment, did the Women’s March turn into a dire referendum on Jewish racism and “the crime of Zionism”? How has the decades-old journey of women from exclusion to inclusion become diverted?’
The above is NOT accurate: there has NEVER been a journey from exclusion to inclusion; white feminists have excluded women of color.
Gilligan’s statement reveals her focus on ‘divisiveness’ and her implication that the divisiveness in the woman’s movement is about ‘Jewish racism.’ Thus, she implies that exposure of Zionism’s racism is ‘divisive’ even as she promotes the idea of tikkun olam: Jewish people repair the world. Zionism has created the Holocaust known as Al Nakba for Palestinians: it has been directly damaging — the opposite of reparative — to Palestinians. Israelis frequently march in the satirically-named ‘Tolerance Square,’ claiming that ‘all Arabs are dirty,’ c. half a billion human beings. Thus, many of Middle Eastern descent have been indirectly damaged by Zionism. The connection between Albright’s ‘discovery’ of being Jewish and her casual classification of 500,000 Iraq children as worthless is clear to many ‘Arabs’ who are not Palestinian.
Gilligan’s tikkun olam only repairs HER world: it leaves ours damaged. What sort of ‘repair’ is considered valuable when it uplifts one group by destroying another, and by extension, demonizing yet another half a billion people? What sort of farce is it to call that ‘repair’?
Rather, Zionism is destructive apartheid, and by interpretation of some, a failure to negotiate transgenerational trauma imposed by one group of white people, Germans, on another group of white people, Ashkenazi Jews. These are different views on the same topic, yet Gilligan implies that Zionism is being inappropriately emphasized when, to others, Israel’s behavior is extreme and should have been exposed — and stopped — long ago.
Gilligan also shares the common white feminist delusion that the ‘decades-long journey of women’ towards inclusion was normative when intersectional feminists perceive the history of feminism as white and oppressive towards women of color from its inception. From the standpoint of intersectional feminism, there hasn’t been a journey from exclusion to inclusion; rather, the centuries-long history of feminism in the US and Western world is white feminism, and it has been consistently divisive, actively excluding: African-Americans, Indigenous-Americans, Palestinian-Americans in overt ways, and possibly many others. Gilligan reveals her white feminism: she perceives baseline (white) feminism as ‘inclusive’ and the exposure of its biases as ‘divisive,’ when to many BIWOCs, it is the exposure of the domineering attitudes of white feminists which will lead to inclusion and unity, idealistic goals we have not reached thus far.
‘If we listen closely enough, we might ask: What is the conversation under this conversation?’ Narcissistic Triangulation, Redux
Gilligan poses this question after a long paragraph criticizing the women’s march for inviting Zahra Billo, an activist for the Palestinian cause many consider legitimate, in covert narcissistic fashion, by triangulating. Gilligan repeatedly implies that Palestinian rights are the problem, that all of us should center Jewish people as victims, yet even in conclusion she exhibits her covert narcissism/white feminism.
Why isn’t Gilligan asking this question directly, instead of triangulating it in the context of this essay? What is Gilligan’s conversation under her conversation?
What is the value in demonizing Billoo, who was only briefly a member of that board and a small player in this overall scenario? In criticizing Omar, who wasn’t even part of this march dilemma? In condescending to Mallory, just like centuries of white feminist condescension towards African-American women in the US? In patronizing Sarsour, a victim of an apartheid regime? In quoting Greenblatt, whose work focuses almost exclusively on marginalizing and diminishing Palestinians?
What is the conversation about when it is virtually only about casting white women, repeatedly, as ‘victims’? What is the value of conflating privileged white women — whether they are Jewish or not — with the most oppressed group in the US, African-Americans? What is the value in erasing the subordination of African-Americans by equivocating their history of chattel slavery in the US with a foreign crime?
What, exactly, is Gilligan asking women of color to reveal? This covert accusation is a form of scolding as well as an expression of narcissim: it expresses the fundamental narcissism of white feminism.
What is the conversation under Gilligan’s conversation? Why does she continue to scold?
Gilligan: ‘Is it too early for a united feminist political front — or, more disconcertingly, too late?’
From many BIWOCs perspective, there has never been a united political front in the US: the US has always been, from its inception, a country based on oppressing others.
White feminism and intersectional feminism are drastically different from each other and should pursue their different goals through different paths so as not to delay further the necessity for global changes in overall equity.
Gilligan: ‘And what happened to the idea of the Women’s March as potentially transformative?’
The Women’s March has never been transformative: it has been about white feminists. It can be transformative, but to do so, it must include all women and aspects of equity in its agenda even under conditions of disagreement. That is, white women like Wruble act kindly towards Mallory, Sarsour, and Perez as long as her dominance isn’t threatened; as soon as her feelings are hurt, she is prioritized — and a wide range of women of color — in this case, three — are erased. This is NOT equality. Under equal terms, Wruble would not have been able to eject three different BIWOCs because all four points of view would have had to matter. To have real equity, ALL views must be equally considered in ZERO-SUM contexts, where the conflict is revealed.
But in reality, under zero-sum circumstances such as that between Wruble’s and Mallory’s point of view, the problem is ALWAYS resolved such as to favor the white women. So, BIWOCs should NOT be there. Real equality assumes that, even under zero-sum circumstances, ALL will be treated equally. In the US, white women dominate BIWOCS to protect their feelings and then, in this context of oppression, demand they receive equality. Intersectional feminists should NOT have to smell this hypocritical stench around us.
Intersectional feminists are potentially transformative but often in contrast with the agenda(s) of white feminism; thus, in order to be transformative, intersectional feminists must — MUST — separate from white feminists and move forward with purpose.
Gilligan’s assumption that three BIWOCS subjected to shameful public ostracization is somehow their fault — that BIWOCS left to remove their ‘stain’ — is the most onerous of her statements, dripping as it does with internalized superiority. BIWOCS did NOT leave your white feminist marches in shame: we left because white feminists are the collectively shameful ones, and we don’t want them around us.
Gilligan centers herself and manages to frame herself as victim relative to those loud ‘n angry, stained BIWOCs who, hanging their heads in shame, finally realized their error:
Three of the four original leaders of the Women’s March — Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland — resigned in the summer of 2019, in part to remove the stain of anti-Semitism from the march in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 elections. (my emphasis).
Many, many women of color — inclusive of me and women in our circle as well as a number of writers who eschewed the march due to Wruble’s temper tantrum — chose not to attend the march because Wruble and other white feminists were participating in the long-standing, time-tested white supremacist behavior of white faux-‘victimization:’ casting themselves as victims instead of as white people = in the oppressor, over-resourced group.
I repeat: we CHOSE not to attend because of white feminist immaturity and lack of empathy towards real equity. One of our group has NEVER attended a women’s march, even though she is 60, because her immigrant aunt told her that women’s marches in America were only for white women — and that was in 1978. She reports that nothing has changed since then: 2018 was just as oppressive for women of color as it has always been, favoring the Wrubles and Shires, the privileged Pogrebins and Friedans and Gilligans over the rest of us pigmented peons of many types.
What may be most shocking about this essay is her exclusion of Palestinian suffering at the hands of Zionism, an exclusion which is its own omission bias. In a course which Gilligan attended, a woman of color asked the white women in the group, ‘“Where were you, white woman, when they came for me in the middle of the night?’ Gilligan uses this statement to conflate herself with women of color, but many Palestinians — and other women of color — will view her as the white woman, as the one who has come for us.
This dilemma is basic for white women: the insistence on maintaining a delusion of ‘victimization’ in contexts in which, as a white person — Jewish or otherwise — she is in the oppressor group. Any white feminist’s refusal to center her privilege and act upon it is pure white feminism expressing its malignant narcissism as hubris.”