Originally published: 16.12.15
The problem with this modern obsession for ‘inclusion’, especially for university societies, is that it’s not only killing the soul of feminism or lesbian/gay rights but it’s basically devoid of any common sense.
The reason we’ve always had separation in activism has never been particularly about exclusion specifically, but for reasons of focus, empowerment, allowing an oppressed voice space to speak and sharing experience. This, in turn, lead to clear analysis and particular campaigning. Separation in activism is both common and successful and has been used in anything from civil to gay rights.
However, uni societies, like feminist women-only groups, were put under pressure to change, to be more inclusive, which hasn’t meant being more accessible to disadvantaged women like lesbians or woc, but has meant including men. While mixed activism has always been a choice in feminism, women-only groups were/are especially valuable for women’s autonomy, crucial to a movement about the liberation of women themselves.When any oppressed group works with the group of people who oppress them, the emphasis and direction will of course change to suit the dominant group, that’s inevitable.
In Goldsmiths University, what once would have been a group supporting the rights of gay and lesbian students now includes ‘trans, queer, questioning, asexual, intersex, pansexual, polyamorous people….’. This could include anyone, including already much advantaged straight people. How very ‘queer’…..I would argue that somewhere in that mix the rights and much needed support for gay and lesbian students are lost in a harmful fog of ‘inclusion’.
The fact that more dominant groups are entering societies means that not only are such societies losing focus, and not protecting the rights of the oppressed groups they are supposed to represent, but are in some cases actively working against themselves!?
Recently at Goldsmiths both the fem soc and LGBT group actually worked with a group whose leader has anti women’s rights and anti gay views, to the determent of a woc – a female speaker and human rights activist, gay rights supporter and feminist. You can call yourself ‘inclusive or intersectional’ while apparently never challenging your own oppressive beliefs, having no clear analysis and while joining in with bullying and silencing in the name of inclusion.
This is far from the first or last case of feminist socs actively attempting to silence other women/feminists. There is no getting away from how senseless that is. The obsession with ‘inclusion’ has even lead to using the word ‘exclusionary’ as a slur from one feminist to another, a word also seemingly allowing the acceptability of threats of rape and murder from men to women.
This seemingly modern interpretation of inclusion ignores both systematic and structural oppression and does not regard the existing context of inequality. The more white men you have in your feminist group the less likely you are to listen to woc. It does nothing but serve the needs of the dominant groups in society, the groups which have the power and voice anyway. This, in turn, is a regressive and hugely harmful step that will actually undo much of the rights that many have fought for over the past decades and beyond.
Please include me out.
sister hex: A blog about women, lesbians, racism, class, politics and art