When I wrote the preceding rant on Miss NAIDOC, I wasn't expecting my ideas to quite end up where they did. I wrote it because as well as being an issue I am passionate about, I was also inspired by a call-out from a wonderful woman who was promoting blogging on NAIDOC and so that opportunity gave me a bit of a kick.When I was contacted by Fairfax and asked if they could run it, I admit to nearly falling off my chair. When I was additionally contacted by ABC radio Darwin and asked for an interview on this issue, I nearly fell off the chair and off the ground as well. It's kind of amazing to me that something I wrote off-the-cuff whilst wearing my comfy clothes was picked up in this way, and I have to say, I am pretty thankful for the opportunity, as whilst what I wrote may have gotten some people thinking about intersectional issues for Indigenous women with regards to "beauty" and "identity", through all the responses I got I have been further inspired and become even more aware. That's a bit of a gift, really.
Some night have noticed that yesterday I changed my reply settings on this blog to "authorise" rather than continuing to allow open posting. Obviously, because of the increased traffic to this page due to my article I got trolled. Dealing with trolls is something I have a bit of experience with as I am not exactly a newbie when it comes to forum moderation. So rather than see inane abusive dribble written by those that have clearly drank away any IQ points they may have had all over my page, I decided to filter these comments first.
As well as trolls though, I received a few comments that made me really think what the purpose of this page was again, and why I wanted to start it in the first place. If you wrote a comment and I have not published it, what I write next will be the reason why.
This page is about claiming a space for alternative opinion. I created it, as I mentioned in my first post, because it was highlighted to me that Aboriginal women tend not to identify as feminists. As I know plenty of Aboriginal feminists, I saw this as an opportunity to claim a space for this type of discussion in the blogosphere, and perhaps get others to do the same. The internet provides an opportunity where we can do this, whereas in the past we would have just had to write letters in to the white-male-controlled media and hope we got published. Indeed, as the media is, in the main, controlled by white men, and as public opinion is therefore based still on the writings of white men, I am not even remotely interested in creating yet another space where white men control the opinion.
I don't, for example, have any desire to haggle over what is allegedly "racist" and what is not. I, as many other people not of the dominant culture, have had a lifetime of experience encountering and dealing with racism, and have also done a lot of work with others who have experienced it. Similarly, I have also had a lifetime of experience when it comes to having racism defined to me by a bunch of people who have not experienced it in any real systematic way. These people disregard our experiences and our right to define when we have experienced racism when they do this, and really, should they have the right to do that here? Through my article, my blog post and my addressing of this notion in the comments, I had already defined how I had experienced racism in an encounter mentioned three times. Additionally, through the many responses to the article, and through a couple of responses on this page, insight had been provided not just from Aboriginal sources, but also from other non-dominant cultural groups, on how they had experienced similar sorts of encounters and had interpreted these encounters as such. If you're going to continue to haggle over these points and be dismissive despite having all of this insight right in front of you then your comments won't be published as you are not really that interested in learning from an alternate source of information. As I stated, I am not interested in creating yet another space where the opinion is controlled by the dominant group, and therefore request that those wishing to haggle these points despite what is written all around them seek other avenues (of which there are many, and indeed, I provided one by publishing my article in a mainstream national publication yesterday) for getting their opinions out there.
Similarly, I am not interested in having men define to women what they should, or shouldn't, experience as "sexism". Yes, women have diverse opinions on what they believe is sexist, and what they encounter and interpret as sexism. I flagged in my first post where I am coming from, but to reiterate: I have found a lot more synergy in the socialist and the radical feminist arguments, and understand sexism, like racism, to be a structural form of oppression. I never deny an individual's agency to make decisions, act on those decisions, and feel empowered by those decisions, but I do question the circumstances under which these individual decisions are made and whether there is an opportunity through the actions of an individual to lead to the greater empowerment of an entire group of people. So I am not interested in creating a space where women are told by men what is sexist and what is not. That's for us, as women, to haggle over bringing our many different perspectives on issues, and for men to absorb so that in a few years time (PFFT!) we won't have to be discussing issues of sexism any more as all will be solved... ;)
I would like to thank everyone (except for the trolls) who took the time to write something following the article and the blog post. That something I wrote generated discussion is incredibly mind-blowing to me, and I am incredibly thankful that so many wanted to engage with the points I raised. If I am honest, I kind of thought I would get more negative responses because I had the propensity to criticise an Indigenous-run event from an Indigenous perspective. This has not been the case, and whilst there might still be some negative feedback to come, people have, on the whole, been more interested in engaging with the points that I raised and discussing those from a number of perspectives. That's a bit of a gift, that is! Oh yeah, and three members of the mob have contacted me expressing their disgust that there are also Aboriginal Debutante Balls running, so who knows what the next post may be on... ;)