My White Feminism
April 7, 2016
Apr 7, 2016
Photograph: Molly Matalone
Once on or about 1970 Germaine Greer sat on the floor and a photographer took a photo
of her through her spread legs, a photograph that might be thought of as having a
crotch point of view, and then someone many years later uploaded it to the
In this photograph she is clothed. Unlike the ones for Suck magazine.
It looks like she was wearing the same brand of boots I often wear.
Germaine Greer is a white feminist.
And I resemble that remark.
All day long My White Feminism do this and do that.
It is, for instance, My White Feminism that looks up images of Germaine Greer on the
internet and then wonders about crotch point of view.
Do crotch shots make women look more beautiful?
Was there not some “study” in the 70s with two photos of the same blond woman, I
remember her as breasty too, one photo showing her with her legs spread and
another with her legs crossed and didn’t we all say when asked that we were more
attracted to the woman in the legs spread photo?
Or that was the point. If you spread your legs, we will like you more.
This seems true even about poems.
Once I shared a poem I wrote with a friend and he said it is boring.
So My White Feminism changed the listing of childhood memories into a sex scene
where my hometown is fucking someone, maybe me.
Maybe I am fucking it.
I can’t tell.
I wrote it so I couldn’t tell.
I stole a lot of the language from a movie called American Beauty.
The moment where the older man takes the virginity of the much younger woman.
People liked it better then.
By people I mean men.
I was ogling Germaine Greer like that photographer.
I mean I was googling her because My White Feminism wanted to read her 30,000 word
love letter to Martin Amis. It was in the news.
It sounded awful, as in it reminded me of things I have probably written at some point
and maybe even sent to someone.
For some reason I wanted to read someone else’s awful.
I turn to a friend, they are sitting beside me, and say, gesturing, look at her then, so pretty.
Her is Germaine Greer.
Then I switch the screen to images of him.
He is there with his dad and his dad’s second wife. The wife looks angry, bundled up,
arms crossed as if to say how the fuck did I end up here? Later she will deadpan, I
told myself at first that the sex was better than it was.
She’s the center of this photograph and I don’t envy her.
We laugh at him.
We are two people of different age and gender identity in a coffee shop laughing at
images of Martin Amis, son of Sir Kingsley Amis, known for writing about
women with a ribald fascination, himself the son of a mustard manufacturer's
They don’t bother with him. I mean who does?
But they don’t bother with Germaine Greer either.
She’s so stupidly transexclusionary.
And the minute My White Feminism said look at her so pretty to them I felt stupid rude
for talking to them about Germaine Greer and her pretty crotch.
They looked at me and rolled their eyes as if to say stop pointing to images of a
transexclusionary feminist on the internet and going so pretty.
Why do I let My White Feminism keep searching this and searching that on the internet?
My White Feminism seems to have bashed open my skull and ate up my brains and
imagination and it sends me to internet ogling not only Germaine Greer but all the
lovers of Ted Hughes.
Each name its own tab. Each tab its endless images.
Sylvia Plath. Assia Wevill. Susan Alliston. Brenda Hedden. Carol Orchard. Jill Barber.
Next My White Feminism has me searching all the references to breasts in Karl
Ove Knausgård’s volume four.
There are over forty fairly mundane references.
He seems to like them large, round, big, inviting, pendulous, firm, bouncing, white,
tanned, magnificent, like apples.
Gloria Steinem went to bed with Norman Mailer out of kindness twelve years after he
stabbed his wife.
I just read a version of this sentence on the internet.
My White Feminism as nothing but bothers and annoys.
Is it that the feminists of that generation got gender forced on them, crotch shot by crotch
Is that where I can find some sympathy for them?
I kept thinking that maybe they, the they sitting beside me, had found a way out, maybe,
maybe they had figured out how to never be a crotch shot.
They had changed their pronouns earlier in the year and now they were writing a poem
called “Kill All Bros.”
My White Feminism was there pathetically inventorying bros I did not know how to kill
but maybe would, if I felt I could somehow.
If I wrote these into a poem it might be called “My White Feminism” or “My White
Feminism Manages to Not Kill Any Bros at All.”
“My White Feminism” would probably be a history of jobs I didn’t get:
I applied for that job and they hired the guy who wrote poems about how going to faculty
meetings made him feel like he was wearing lady panties.
And he barely went to any faculty meetings.
That job went to the guy who invited female students over for wrestling matches in his
sunken living room.
That job to the guy who got in bar fight with a student and end up spending the night in
the drunk tank.
That job to the guy who called an undergraduate worse than a cop because she
complained about him hitting on her.
That job to the guy who raped the too drunk to consent undergraduate at the party.
That job to the guy who at the faculty meeting took down his pants and said do you want
to fuck with me, because if you want to fuck with me then start by sucking this.
That job to the guy who wrote the essay about how everyone looks better with a dick in
That job to the guy who…
If My White Feminism is nothing but a gendered inventory of jobs I didn’t get and the
men who got them then I should be writing “Kill My White Feminism.”
I mean what use is My White Feminism if it never gets me to fuck work, to fuck gender,
to kill all bros?
When the women occupied the offices of Grove Press one of their demands was jobs for
The white feminism of the women of the Grove Press occupation.
But it isn’t just jobs.
I mean it is something more complicated, this My White Feminism.
Gloria Steinem claims, perhaps unkindly, Norman Mailer couldn’t get it up.
That’s on another part of the internet.
I get why she would try to fuck Norman Mailer twelve years after he tried to kill his wife.
Once someone hit on me with the line “let’s make this into an alt-lit sort of thing.”
As they sat there working on their “Kill All Bros” poem, I envied them with some
idealism, their refusal of compromising, their demanding otherwise, their
insistence on neither, both, and all.
Not that I thought it was easy.
Everything about gender so fraught.
But I knew also that I had worn my apples out too long to allow me to convincingly insist
on another pronoun possibility for myself much less that I had a body that was my
My White Feminism does not know the way out of showing up in the bar, at the grocery
store, at the coffee shop to meet my mundane bourgeois needs with this body,
with these apples not like apples at all, wearing a version of the same boots that
Germaine Greer wears.
When I told my friend about my endless tabs he just rolled his eyes and told me I should
look at some other websites. Maybe get off the computer too.
Then he added you should go to that Revolutionary Feminism reading group; week ten on
Black Feminism might interest you: Mary Ann Weathers, Third World Women’s
Alliance, Frances Beal, Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde.
I was already going to the Revolutionary Feminism reading group.
It met Monday nights in the basement of a failing social center.
Black Feminism week was three weeks ago.
Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, those sorts: they didn’t show up in the Revolutionary
Neither did anyone trans although a trans woman had edited it.
She said it was because she was told to end the anthology in 1973, the year we often
shorthand as the beginnings of the downturn and its resulting unemployment
Then when I complained about My White Feminism to a white feminist friend, she
chastised me for my lack of solidarity and forgiveness. One of the characteristics
of oppressed peoples, she said, is they always fight among themselves.
Actually my friend didn’t say that.
Germaine Greer said that to Diana Trilling when Diana Trilling complained about her
My friend said each new wave wants to take the previous wave down and each previous
wave wants to take the new wave down too and that’s just how it is.
Sometimes I want to say to My White Feminism go home, you’re drunk.
That’s just how it is.
And sometimes I want to just hold My White Feminism in my arms, stroke her long hair,
and tell her it will be ok, that I really love her apples, want to shake her tree.
That’s just how it is.
Holy forgiveness! I sometimes want to whisper to her.
I get it, I might next comfort, it was impossible; it still is impossible.
That’s just how it is.
Mercy! Charity! Faith! Holy! Ours! Bodies! Suffering! Magnanimity! Holy Forgiveness!
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April 07, 2016