While there seemed to be a lot of cause to celebrate post-election on the national level (I’ve basically started referring to the 2012 election as the Swan Song of the GOP, sorry I’m not sorry, rape apologists, racists, and homophobes), Oklahoma, like many of our neighbor states, was left out of the celebration, both by our own set-backs in state and the usual mockery and disdain from the national media and people who have an inexplicable love for electoral college maps. I pouted, I live-tweeted my rage, I cried while eating cheese and watching the Walking Dead… my usual stages of political grief. But then I moved on to my final stage: what can we learn from this and how can we incorporate what we’ve learned into a larger organizing strategy?
I think that perhaps the one thing that most (if not all) Oklahomans working to promote left-leaning and/or progressive organizing and policy can agree on is that you don’t do things the same way you would in California, New York or some other state that traditionally goes blue in a presidential election.
Where opinions diverge is what exactly different should look like.
Tyrone: At the Revolutionary Giving session, we talked about the idea of living with/caring for families of origin. You posed it as a challenge to privileged people: “Would you be willing to move back home as part of your commitment to revolutionary giving?” It was pretty challenging and provocative for people. Could you talk more about what this idea means to you?
Tiny: There are a few different threads to this. The first one is the concrete level: the tangible results of collective living—resource sharing, reducing consumption, and so on—are in themselves radical acts that challenge capitalism.
But the other thread, the deeper one, is about redesigning ways that people are in relationship with each other. At POOR, we believe that if we aim to transform the world and to caretake communities and movements, caretaking has to start with our roots—our family, if that’s possible. Instead of behaving like a twenty-first-century missionary activist, only taking action in communities that you aren’t a part of, or that are more oppressed than you, you also need to care for your own people. There’s a separation that results from a certain kind of activism; increasingly, the nonprofit industrial complex creates compartmentalization between our personal lives and our movement work. But justice in the world and justice in our families—we don’t see these things as separate. So to us, if you talk about community reparations, you need to also talk about how are you caregiving for the elders in your family.
Often it’s easier to say, “My family are Republicans, my family are capitalists, they told me to get out at eighteen, they have an attitude, my mom is a nightmare, my mom’s CRAZY.” So fucking what. I caregave for a mom who had a horrible life, and from a western, Eurocentric perspective she was considered crazy. She was extremely not user-friendly and not easy to deal with. And it’s in my deep structure as a person of color, as an indigenous person, that that doesn’t matter. It’s not an excuse or a reason to abandon her or to warehouse her. Now, I know that this gets really touchy with folks. Especially folks who’ve had a lot of years of therapy. No, seriously—I want to call that out. In dominant culture, the support is not given for staying and caregiving. The support is given to leave, cut ties, and become independent. That’s really embedded in western psychotherapy, in Freudian and Jungian theory. And let’s be real about white folks—that’s a lot of where their knowledge comes from, especially folks with privilege.
This feels especially relevant in light of Oklahoma’s recent election results. I’ll just include a quote from OK4RJ’s Sandra Criswell here:
“I hope that this election was a lesson learned for Oklahoma progressives who throw people of color, queers, and other marginalized folk under the bus in hopes of pleasing the white male heterosexual “majority.” Wake up and smell the demographic change y’all.”
This post is part of our feminist theory series meant to showcase the diversity of feminist thought. You can find the rest of the series here.
Remember that one time when Sally Field declared that if mothers ruled the world, there would be no war? I don’t know if Field considers herself a cultural feminist or even a feminist, but I’m here to learn you some feminist theory* so let’s talk about how that statement reflects cultural feminist beliefs.
Field’s statement assumes that all mothers are the same in some way. She also implies that women are morally superior to men. Cultural feminism is based on the ideology of innate differences between the sexes. Cultural feminists see all women as essentially creative, transforming, spiritual and pure. The converse of that is that men are destructive and corrupt. Cultural opposition between men and women is the problem, and the solution is to establish a separate women’s culture. Cultural feminists attempt to do this by countering the devaluation of women with a celebration of women’s culture, power, energy, and creativity and by focusing on women’s liberation from patriarchy.
Immediately upon graduating from Oklahoma State in December 2009, I moved the hell out of Oklahoma, heading eight hours east to Saint Louis, Missouri. I had no student debt, no pressure to stay from family, a place to live, and graduation money from my generous, middle-class family to help keep my rent paid while I found a job. In other words, it required a fair amount of privilege to be able to just pick up and move to a new place where I didn’t know anyone.
This past week in one of my Women and Gender Studies classes at OU, we watched a documentary about the abortion service known as Jane that operated in Chicago in the late 1960s and early 1970s before Roe v. Wade. The documentary, “Jane, An Abortion Service,” is awesome, inspiring, touching, and totally worth your time. It feels very relevant to listen to what some women did to serve their communities when abortion was not a legal option. I think this will be even more relevant as Roe is chipped away in the states with every election cycle and congressional session. As frightening and enraging as that thought is, it is not really the point of this post.