The Becky Thing

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Cuevas4676

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The Becky Thing

Post by Cuevas4676 » Fri Sep 1, 15:54 2017

Hi all,

Has anyone read the recent essay online - I believe it was originally dispersed on theroot.com - about the five types of Beckies? I saw it posted by Bitchmedia (which I am no longer following because they have pissed me off in the past and this was kind of the last straw). It made me extremely angry. I found the article simplistic and not well-thought out. My overall impression was that a man thought it was politically provocative, or maybe funny, or maybe just sadistic, to try and minimize white woman personhood into a nice, clean little box so that they could be dismissed as a "Becky." The thoughts expressed in the article made clear and simplistic generalizations about white women, based on things like their sexual activity, what they wear, and where they work. I found it disturbing.

What I found to be also (and maybe a little more) disturbing was the comment section that I read on Facebook. It was a few white women expressing their disapproval of these kinds of ideas, and many MANY more white women attempting to shut them down and calling them Beckies in response. There were a few comments by non white people, but not many, and they differed. The whole thing saddened me.

Does anyone want to share their opinion on this subject? I'd love to discuss.

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Sonic#
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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by Sonic# » Sun Sep 3, 9:57 2017

It's an interesting article.

Just personally, sweeping generalization isn't something I'm that interested in if I can avoid it. I wouldn't write the article that way. Nonetheless, reading the article, I don't see it maligning white women in general (the first paragraph: "Not all white women are Beckys"), but rather making fun of five common approaches to racial politics practiced by white women (the quoted statement finishes, "but all Beckys are white women"). The "Becky"s are allegories. Each of them does harm, with some doing more than others:

Rebecca and Reba both rely on forms of color-blindness, one who doesn't really concern herself with equality, the other who does without reflecting on how racism ought to be a part of that practice.
Beckeisha practices cultural appropriation while being in the privileged position of being able to set aside black culture when it becomes inconvenient.
Beckzilla weaponizes privilege, using it explicitly to her advantage.
Becca generally practices progressive and race-conscious politics, but has big blind spots, like opposing desegregated school districts when it affects her neighborhood.

I don't see how that minimizes "white woman personhood," any more than criticizing toxic masculinity or treatments of abuse does not criticize all men (where the immediate rebuttal was #notallmen) but does speak generally to women's experiences (#yesallwomen). Of course #notallmen, but it needs to be said because these behaviors hurt a whole lot of women, so if men can do more to not be that guy, all the better. So in this case, do you see yourself in "Becca" or "Rebecca"? Then that ought to be the occasion for reflection. How can you be a better ally? And if you really don't fit either person, congrats. How can you work within white spaces to push dialogue on race and privilege forward?

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rowan
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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by rowan » Sun Sep 3, 10:27 2017

In my experience, "Becky" is generally used by black women to talk about problematic white woman behavior, though this might be because I follow/read more black women than black men. I think Sonic# has it pretty much nailed. I know women pretty along all of those "types" of Becky, though of course there are plenty who pull from more than one of the categories. If nothing else I see things in that which are things I fight within myself to varying degrees of success and failure. I always have to be vigilant or it's easy to fall back into not doing anything, which only serves to support the status quo inequity.
spacefem wrote:All your logical argue are belong to us!

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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by spacefem » Sun Sep 3, 20:37 2017

There are so many white women pretending that they can do no wrong and dismissing criticism by women of color that it started feeling like there should be a word for it. The word is going viral because it strikes a cord. When you name something and point out common ways to recognize it, people have the words to point it out. Then they can fix it. It's hard to fix things you can't see or name.

Don't get mad at people who name a problem. Get mad at the problem.
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Cuevas4676

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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by Cuevas4676 » Thu Sep 7, 22:32 2017

For sure you all make valid points, and thanks for engaging. There's definitely content within the article that should be thought about and reflected upon, and I'm certainly less mad about it today. By "it" I mean the article - not the subject it attempts to address. I am mad about that, and I should have been clearer in my original post. There is an abundance of white ignorance and complicity in systemic racism, and I agree with Harriot that white privilege must be recognized. He calls out some things in our society that need to be called out, but I don't think it's the most productive tactic to name call and diminish. And I still think some of his ideas are problematic.

I know the article says "not all white women..." but he contradicts himself. For instance, in the "Becca" section, one of the examples he lists is white women who work at nonprofits. I just think that's silly. Just because a white woman works for a nonprofit that doesn't make her a Becca. She is a worker. She may be passionate about the nonprofit, or she may not be. And if she is passionate about it, is that such a bad thing? A lot of nonprofits do important work. And I also question his description of the "Beckeisha" persona, in regards to her treating Black penises as commodities to use and discard of at her whim...huh? So would it make it any better if Beckeisha only had one sexual partner for life? No. I don't see how her busy sexual activity contributes to her being a Beckeisha.

Well, those are the two main things that bothered me. Like I said, there's a lot in it that needs to be heard. It's absolutely important to work within white spaces to talk about privilege and address it. And it's important to work in other spaces too. I myself am not a white woman, but I have many friends and family members that are. Some of them are unfortunately unaware or mistakenly think they're aware. But I'm not going to call them Becky.

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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by Sonic# » Fri Sep 8, 15:23 2017

Just to be clear, I appreciated you bringing up the article. It's been a good opportunity for me to make some connections and self-assess.
Cuevas4676 wrote:For instance, in the "Becca" section, one of the examples he lists is white women who work at nonprofits. I just think that's silly. Just because a white woman works for a nonprofit that doesn't make her a Becca. She is a worker. She may be passionate about the nonprofit, or she may not be. And if she is passionate about it, is that such a bad thing? A lot of nonprofits do important work.
The article wrote:Famous Beccas: Hillary Clinton; Katy Perry; white women who work at “nonprofits.”
That's overgeneralization, yeah. I can think of a few friends who are white, work at nonprofits, and really do grapple with racial injustice in their daily work. I wish they'd qualified that statement.

That aside, I have a couple of guesses for what they were going for. First, they put quotes around "nonprofits." Are these scare quotes, as if there's some doubt about the legitimacy of non-profits? Is it kind of a commentary on many non-profits, which may make a living from the situations they intervene in? Or that may intervene in poverty but tend to disregard community leaders or questions of diversity? Years ago, there was an article written by a diversity expert who would meet with leaders in largely white feminist groups and nonprofits who wanted help growing diversity in their organization. Some of these groups would be flabbergasted when they realized how they were speaking to middle-class and white needs rather than the needs directly pertaining to the communities they were trying to help. They were being exclusionary, however passively and benignly that exclusion was. The expert would recommend the groups make active efforts to talk to people from the community and partner with them. Then these groups would decide it was too hard to change. That fits statements like this:
Becca wants to help ... as long as it is convenient and comfortable.
So that's one guess of what's meant by "nonprofits."

Second, they may be referring to the "white savior complex," where white people really want to help other people, including people of other races, but their actions inadvertently support systemic racism. They may support systemic racist when the self-satisfaction of nonprofit work matters more than the actually helping others. They may think that every problem a nonprofit faces can be solved by charity or direct intervention of that group, rather than recognizing the power of partnerships with community leaders, active listening and rapport within the community, and so on. They may support charity but maintain the segregation of their own school district and neighborhood by the privilege of inaction They may be very passionate about their work, but expect people of color to always take the lead on issues related to race. They may be open to diversity, but not express curiosity about why their hiring processes repeatedly end up in interviewing three white candidates.

I'm probably not going to call them Becky either. But I think when it comes to many white women working at nonprofits, they can be better allies. Even if that wasn't expressed in the best possible way, I can respect needing to vent, joke, or otherwise call that out.

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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by geldofc » Wed Sep 13, 12:11 2017

WW that work at nonprofits, ok that is so specific lmao but i probably don't go out enough.
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Re: The Becky Thing

Post by melsbells » Tue Sep 26, 13:12 2017

I'm not sure why this thread has stuck in my mind, but I don't think generalized statements like "white women who work at non-profits" needs to be qualified. The author beats the "not all white women" cat call to the punch, and yet the reaction is still there. I think of the white woman who told me that the non-profit she worked for was trying to shut down Planned Parenthood clinics, and in doing so stop the genocide of unborn black babies. I'm not sure where she got the idea that dismantling local health clinics would help the problem she perceived. "Non-Profit" and "NGO" is often used as a sort of leftist calling card, but there's no inherent political alignment and no criteria that what they're even attempting to do is good.

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