Oh fuck off Eve Ensler: how white feminists dehumanise women of colour masterclass

So Eve Ensler, most famous for writing The Vagina Monologues, wrote a thing, and I’m deliberately fudging the link and strongly advising you not to read it, especially as it deals with rape, surgery, and reducing a woman of colour to her vagina for the purposes of Ensler’s personal epiphany.

http://talkmag.in/ cms/columns/ book-talk/item/ 1564-the-congo-stigmata

Instead, I thoroughly endorse reading the Storify created by Mikki Kendall/karnythia which is a fantastic summary of something that’s a major problem in today’s white feminism: using women of colour for Special Teaching Moments.


  1. Rhinocrates

    First comment on the comments: ew, goosebumps. I’m not going to follow links because of the commentary you’ve pointed to, and because of refugee students of mine who have told me of their experience (shocking all the more because they’ve been taught to accept what happened) and my “significant other” who spent over a decade in Ethiopia seeing… um, I’m trying and failing to avoid triggering here, so I’ll leave things out. However, while a stopped clock is right once a day, some clocks work adequately generally but have wrong numbers on some places on their dials. I hope that you don’t discount all of what’s good because of what’s awful. I would question then the first five words of your headline if they applied to everything Eve Ensler said, wrote and did. You might be interested in Edward Said’s Reith Lecture on disillusionment, “Gods that always fail”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00gmx4c

    Certainly honest criticism within any community is to be praised – and by “honest” I mean something that can also be described as direct, blunt and harsh. God forbid that it always be “polite”.

    • QoT

      Oh the one hand, sure, a person’s Bad Thing doesn’t immediately erase any Good Things they might have done.

      On the other, Eve Ensler has pretty much done one Good Thing in writing The Vagina Monologues, and that’s a good thing which has pretty much benefited white university-educated cis women. And the Bad Thing in question is sufficiently Bad that I’m quite happy to look elsewhere for my whiteciswoman empowerment in future.

      i.e. She can, actually, fuck right off.

  2. Rhinocrates

    Yeah, OK… read much Joanna Russ? She’s brought up your points too. Thanks for your perspective – and REALLY, I don’t mean that in a condescending way (I’ve been informed that condescension is my main vice). I try to learn from what people tell me about their experience.

  3. weka

    QoT, are you around today? I’m looking for a couple of links that demonstrate what is sexist and racist about this thread on ts. http://thestandard.org.nz/unacceptable-2/#comment-745057

    I can link to the Rebecca Kamm Herald article on the fetishisation of Asian women, but am looking for a feminism 101 article on the problems with reducing women to their genitals (would link to this post on Ensler but am pretty sure it would just confuse them). Got anything you can lay your hands on easily?