Mimi Nguyen is (or probably ‘was’ now) a columnist in Punk Planet who is quickly becoming one of my favourite critical writers…she’s done the thing I always aim for, managing to blend a rigorous academic approach with the passion and belief she feels for the punk rawk community. So that despite her obvious grasp of critical theory she never gets lost in the backwater of intellectual discourse. She is fucking cool.
In the extract that I read from ‘Over my Head, feminist interruptions into privilege’ she declares that Riot Grrrl was her first love, a world built around public testimony and private trauma as a way to gain public legitimacy, a world where you were encouraged to bear yr scars with the ultimate goal of an intimate, protected feminist community…
But Mimi believes that the utopian impulse broke down and safety became synonymous with sameness – this transcendental ‘grrrl love’ acknowledged difference, but only so far…and she is of the opinion that it is race and racism which threw the promise of utopian grrrl love and fulfilment all askew.
I don’t think that she’s saying that personal revelation and bonding have no relevance – shared recollections of rape, madness and sex have and i believe always will be a vital life support for women who are isolated (that’s why I write this zine for fucks sake). the problem comes when this is the only thing written/spoken about. when analysis/engagement with structural inequalities is abandoned so that we get to the point where we can only talk of racism in terms of personal/individual.
i guess i see how it came to be so, after all its much easier to write about yr experiences of racism/yr desire for the eradication of it, that to engage with often complex, insidious structural inequalities and prejudice.
maybe some women don’t feel they have the knowledge to write about that accurately, whereas no fucker can deny your own experience and thoughts.
but is it ‘enough’? i think Mimi’s concluding suggestion is important
‘we cannot let all the complex and contradictory histories of love, sex and cultural production…social movements, political work and collective memory dissolve into the murk of assumptions of safety and sameness. of personal revelation at the cost of political accountability. We have to conceive of a feminist politics as embodied and personal, but also strategically responsible and critically, importantly public’.