Jessica Hoffmann

The Phenomenology of Body

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | August 03, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement
Tags: cultural appropriation, Daphne Guinness, fashion sense, feminism, gender, Phenomenology of the Body, racism, white privilege

A big hat tip to CureThis.

In which the Hon. Daphne Suzannah Diana Joan Guinness, a socialite of Irish descent and an heiress of the Guinness family, aims to deconstruct the political power of fashion by personally slow-spinning in iconic clothing, borders and linear time be damned! (Or, culturally imperialist, privileged white so-called feminism strikes again--this time with a dose of binary-gender-enforcing essentialism!)

One of the biggest problems of certain so-called feminisms is a tendency to drape all analysis of gender-based oppression on a white/Western woman's body. What a stunning visual representation of such Ms. Guinness has provided! Included: Body-based universalizing of "woman" as a coherent political category across cultures and history; cultural appropriation on a white/Western woman's body (spoiler alert: an isn't-this-a-few-seasons-ago? unveiling!); and a comment linking racist white so-called feminism to choice feminism.

Video after the jump...

iPhone users: Click to watch

Because "the message," Guinness-the-heiress explains, "is that we all have the power to choose."

Thanks to all the anti-racist, post-colonial, queer, trans, social-constructionist, and radical-woman-of-color feminists I've known for doing your part in ensuring I wouldn't be seduced by the pretty pictures!

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They should have consulted Rebbecca Walker on this first. I prefer her perspective on feminism myself.
I think that part of the phenomenon of any sort of movement towards rights is going to be shaped by the first people to concern themselves with a subject and the tendency of so many people to contextualize relative to """"ME""" so first wave feminist were well to do and contextualized the movement to themselves because this was what they knew and classism was innate to them. And second wave feminist do the same thing but they were not limited to the upper classes mature women and included younger educated women and at that time this was the context so less class focused but still not considerate of variety of culture or race and not recognizing in males a voice on the issues at all.
Now we see third wave feminism which intentionally tries to give voice (at least in theory) to everyone and so attempts to include by intention, the voices of various races and ethnicities (and combinations now more present in our society) and cultures and the voices of all ages and even the voices of the male of the species.
My daughter is a feminist and learned more about it from her father not her mother.
I wonder what will the theorists on feminism and queer in the future have to say about us???
I'm certainly not defending her but she is limited by her experience. So we should educate and educate and educate and expose expose and expose.

Weird. That's what I thought too when I saw the unveiling - how can she critique something that belongs to a race/ethnicity that her race/ethnicity oppresses? I mean, I know how she can, and I've seen it a bunch before, and it's not surprising, but it still stands out.

It kinda gets me, when we talk about critiquing human rights abuses in post-colonial societies, especially around queer issues (since that's what I'm reading up on a lot now), that some people can make the most outlandish statements in what they think is a queer vs. straight context and they fail to even realize or acknowledge that they're also discussing the subject in a white vs. non-white context, a colonial power vs. former colony context, that maybe other cultures have different interpretations of queerness.

I think that Guiness's visual interpretation of that here really hits home with me because I think the same thing when I hear those "international queer nationalism" sorts... why do they just assume that their oppression as queer people is the same in Iran as it is in New York, the same in Colombia as it is in Sweden?

On another note, I've noticed that you've stopped referring to white feminism as "well, that's not my feminism" (from a few articles and interviews I remember reading from you a year ago) to "so-called feminisms," a phrase you use both here and in a recent Alternet piece I read from you. Is there a reason for the change?