Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.- Ashley Judd
Since not all choices are feminist, and not all “choices” are actually choices, being a feminist doesn’t stop you from doing things that are anti-feminist. – Erin McKelle
Lokyitsang and co. use the ‘Angry Tibetan Girl’ blog to anonymously disseminate and promote an unashamed loathing of ‘white women’, ‘white feminism’, ‘western culture’ and a political viewpoint heavily influenced by US radical-Left black feminism. My ‘crime’ is being a ‘whiter then crack’ (sic) female who writes about issues regarding sexism, racism, international Tibet NGOs and conflict in the Tibetan exile community and for seeing the burqa as a symbol of male oppression, not female empowerment.
Here’s a typical post from her blog, (in which she proudly details her online stalking) which also targets another white, female Tibet supporter and feminist, Cassie Childers and her commendable work with the Tibetan Women’s Football Team:
Please keep in mind to be critical of white feminism/nist who want to save Tibetans through writing, sports, or any other activity. The focus should always be Tibetan women and girls and not on how great these white women are for being such a big-hearted feminist.
In another spiteful post called Wearing a White Woman as a Status Symbol: White Wives and Tibetan Men, Lokyitsang stalks and screen shots one of my FB posts about a Tibetan scholar, Lama Jabb at Oxford University that drew attention to the praise he gives his wife ( a white, English woman) as rebutting the misogynist, yet pervasive, myth in that white women are merely ‘trophy wives’ for men of colour and that such relations are doomed to fail.
However, instead of supporting Lama Jabb and interracial relationships Lokyitsang bizarrely decides to insult them (and all people in interracial relationships) by linking it with an offensive photo of a mixed race male ‘artist’, Nate Hill, with a white woman who appears unconscious in a bikini hanging over his shoulders like a rape or murder victim.
Despite referring to the photo as ‘madness’ and ‘sinister’, she then contradicts herself by condoning and encouraging such a view of white women in interracial relationships (myself included) as mere trophies or ‘just for sex’ by denying any agency, emotions or intelligence to them and their relationships. In addition, she ignores the harmful effect such insulting objectification has on their mixed race children and the fact that, guess what, people of different races can and do fall in love.
So in a nutshell, white women are racist if they have relations with white men, and racist/trophies if they have relations with men of colour. A no-win situation. Perhaps such people would prefer it if white women just disappeared and never fell in love with anyone unless THEY (the self appointed arbiters of racism, morality and justice) approve?
Regardless of one’s ethnicity or cultural background, such cowardly and counter-productive attacks are commonplace for women who speak out about injustice, double standards, sexism and racism. For example, even Tibetan feminist and writer, Kunsang Dolma, (author of memoir One Hundred Thousand White Stones) who grew up and escaped from Tibet, and bravely give a first hand account of her own experience of rape, sexism and misogyny in the Tibetan community has been patronisingly accused and dismissed by some exile Tibetans of becoming ‘westernised‘ or that her white, American husband and father of her two children has brainwashed her. As Dolma rightly asserts:
The purist’s excuse dismisses calls for women’s rights, not because it’s a bad idea, but because it’s seen as a Western idea. Western ideas, they believe, are sure to be terrible; they won’t even think about causes they believe originated with Western thinking. Arrogantly convinced they are always right, purists are the kind of people who can see the dirt on the bottom of another person’s shoes, and meanwhile have no idea that they are walking around with a bad smell coming from the back of their own pants. Convinced that their culture is always right, they are quick to find faults elsewhere while they have no idea how disgusting their own behavior is. Of course no one likes to be criticised or admit that they’re wrong. However, if we are going to grow and improve, acknowledging problems and occasionally accepting outside ideas are necessary. It would be foolish to impede our growth simply because we are too proud to adopt good ideas we didn’t think of first. I don’t mean that every Western idea is good, but we can benefit from the ones that are. Democratic government is an example of a good Western idea, and so is gender equality.
Yet again, instead of offering public support and solidarity with Kunsang Dolma and the Tibetan football players, Lokyitsang et al chose to target the small handful of white women whose ‘crime’ was to publicly support these Tibetan women. I was even laughably accused of ‘using’ Kunsang Dolma to further my ‘white supremacy’, in relation to an interview I did on Dolma’s work in the Huffington Post. Totally ignoring the fact that a) Dolma and the soccer players are independent, autonomous Tibetan women who can decide and speak for themselves and b) that many women of colour (particularly Muslim and Arab women living in Islamic states) protest and advocate AGAINST the burqa.
UPDATE: After writing this article , former Miss Tibet winner, Tsering Kyi gave a speech in Dharamsala that was a perfect example of internalised sexism. In her speech, Kyi criticises Tibetan feminists for trying to copy ‘western culture’ and asserted that women should be homemakers and mothers first and foremost. As I have written about before, there is no doubt that such beauty pageants are sexist and regressive and originated from the USA. There is certainly nothing empowering or respectful about the attitude of Miss Tibet’s organiser either, Lonsang Wangyal, as is detailed in this Australian TV news report. In a well-reasoned and articulate response, Sang Mota, points out the flaws inherent in Kyi’s way of thinking and the irony:
You surely are aware that human nature learns and evolves by copying the best from each other. Likewise, historically, Tibetans do not have “beauty pageants.” Yet you yourself hold the title of “Miss Tibet.” You, too, are thus the product of the “aping” process, which you publicly denigrated.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, well-known feminists such as Caroline Criado-Perez , Maryam Namazie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali have also suffered misogynist abuse and been denied agency by the politically correct, cultural relativist brigade of men and women, who in the name of anti-racism would rather defend religious patriarchy and misogyny in people of colour communities than listen to anyone speak out against it. It is obvious that the most significant and dangerous threats to Tibetan women’s freedom and empowerment are the centuries of Tibetan religious patriarchy and decades of Chinese occupation and colonisation, not ‘white women’ or ‘western feminism’. In addition, there are no bullying campaigns or personal attacks against the majority of white, male Tibetologists or Buddhist Studies scholars, many of whom have written about the inequalities and social injustices in Tibet both pre- and post- China occupation.
Such attacks harm women and their families in the long term, but angry retaliation is not the answer. Ms Lokyitsang is also a product of patriarchal, sexist cultures (growing up in India and the USA). The portrayal of white women in Indian popular culture and media is particularly problematic, as Alex Delaney speaks about here in White Women in the Indian Imagination. As Erin McKelle eloquently states here:
Internalized misogyny is the “involuntary internalization by women of the sexist messages that are present in their societies and culture.” Basically, that means that we hold misogynistic ideas ourselves, even though we are women.It’s involuntary because the sexism that is present in our culture is taught to us through socialization (the process of learning culture through social interaction), a process we don’t have much say in……
Time after time, we see women adopting the language and attitude of their oppressors to attack other women they disagree with, conditioned into seeing this as normal and acceptable. The answer is therefore to understand and expose the root cause behind why women (and men) still reserve so much of their personal scorn and resentment for female scholars and commentators. However, as Holly Baxter says in ‘We Can’t let Misogynists Take Over the Internet: Be They Male or Female:
As Demos puts it: “Women are increasingly more inclined to engage in discourses using the same language that has been, and continues to be, used as derogatory against them.” I can’t help but feel that often there is a “joining in with the school bullies” mentality that accompanies this behaviour….We know that, sadly, one is not immune to misogyny merely by virtue of being female.
Indeed. One is not immune to misogyny or racism by virtue of being ‘feminist’ either. But let’s not fall into the trap laid out for us by sexist conditioning. A trap that wants us see other women as inherent threats and ‘enemies’ rather than ‘natural’ friends and allies.
We cannot be expected to agree on everything and women do face different issues depending on their race, class, culture, age, wealth and sexuality. When we do disagree though, let’s do that respectfully, minus the sexist slurs and insults. After all, that’s what true sisterhood is supposed to be about. Dedicated to my son.