A Year of Feminist Classics

Because they're better together :)

Tag Archives: Audre Lorde

Introduction to Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde

I am excited to be hosting discussions about Sister Outsider this month, as I’ve been looking forward to this one all year! I know that many of us will be very busy leading up to the winter holidays, but most of these essays look short and, well, anything’s bound to feel a breeze in comparison to Butler! (I admit that I did not get to it last month, but have struggled through the section on performativity for many a college course).

According to Wikipedia, Audre Lorde was, in her own words, a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who wrote throughout the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s. Like bell hooks, she wrote compellingly about racism within U.S. feminist movements and argued that recognition of, and respect for, differences amongst women is crucial for any movement seeking to build meaningful relationships of solidarity between them. This is pretty standard feminist discourse, now, I think; back in Lorde’s day, though, this was a highly contentious claim and a lot of other feminists reacted defensively, marking her an “outsider”.

Still according to Wikipedia,

In her essay “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”, Lorde attacked the underlying racism of feminism, describing it as unrecognized dependence on the patriarchy. She argued that, by denying difference in the category of women, feminists merely passed on old systems of oppression and that, in so doing, they were preventing any real, lasting change. Her argument aligned white feminists with white male slave-masters, describing both as “agents of oppression”.

This is the essay I see mentioned most frequently in conjunction with Lorde’s name, so it is the one around which I will probably focus discussion. I will be reading all of them, though, so if there’s another essay you think is particularly interesting or important that I don’t bring up in my next few posts, please don’t hesitate to interject! Lorde had a huge impact on feminist thought, so I’m sure there will be no shortage of worthy discussion topics 🙂