Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.
There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.
That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.
“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.
Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.
Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.
But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.
Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.
There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.
With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?"
But the Euro-American feminists, being part of the dominant culture, deal with Hispanic women - and other racial/ethnic women - differently from the way they deal with each other. They take for granted that feminism in the USA is THEIR garden, and therefore they will decide what manner of work racial/ethnic women will do there.
By the time I began to experience all this, I had learned much about the dynamics of oppression and prejudice and I could understand what was going on. However, what took me totally by surprise was the inability or unwillingness of the Euro-American feminists to acknowledge their prejudice.
Most feminists ‘believe that because they are feminists, they cannot be racists.’ Euro-American feminists, like all liberals, sooner or later, have come to the point at which they are willing to ‘acknowledge that racism exists, reluctantly of course, but nobody admits to being a racist.’
While whitewashing - pun intended - their personal sins of racism/ethnic prejudice in the restful waters of guilt, they continue to control access to power within the movement. Euro-American feminists need to understand that as long as they refuse to recognize that oppressive power-over is an intrinsic element of their racism/ethnic prejudice, they will continue to do violence to feminism."
As a Privileged Person®, it is natural that you would feel excluded and frustrated by the recent spate of Marginalised People “reclaiming” historically negative words to refer to themselves.
Not only do these Marginalised People™ kick up a great big ole stink by making it “politically incorrect” for Privileged People® to use these words - even going so far as to have some of them defined under ‘hate crime’ legislation! - they take the insult one step further and use them freely amongst themselves!
This is very perplexing and annoying for Privileged People®, who can only stand on the outside, gazing wistfully in, wishing it were a simpler time when it was totally okay for everyone to call women whores, Mexicans spics, Trans* folk trannies, gay men faggots and people of African descent the n-word.
After all, who do those Marginalised People™ think they are, taking ownership of language traditionally used to oppress them! That just isn’t playing fair!
But take heart, because there is a way you can worm around this one - where there’s Privilege®, there’s always a way!
First of all, you must feign utter cluelessness about the ins & outs of reclaimation and behave as though you were under the impression that in these ‘post race/sex/sexuality/gender/etc times’ that we had all evolved into a new era where ‘words don’t mean anything’ and it’s totally okay for everyone to use offensive slurs and then… well: use them.
When a Marginalised Person™ calls you out on it, become indignant. Express confusion. Demand an explanation. Say that you just don’t understand - if you people use those words to refer to each other, why can’t I?!
You see, you’re implying that they’re being hypocritical. That if they are going to use abusive & oppressionist language aongst each other, they simply have to accept that they’re employing a ‘double standard’ by preventing the Privileged® from using them.
What this enables you to ignore is the reality of the power dynamic involved. Language reclaimation is a means by which Marginalised People™ gain back some power they are traditionally denied by taking control of words used to demean and discriminate against them. When these words come from Privileged People®, there is a long and very serious negative history behind them that cannot be divorced from the words themselves. Thus, when Privileged People® employ these words, they are perpetuating that history and the psychology behind the word. They are exercising oppressive power that have become inherent to those words - a power Marginalised People™ seek to subvert and dismantle when they use them.
Pretend not to understand this. Just continue to imply hypocrisy and pout that it isn’t fair.
It also ignores the fact that, from within Marginalised Groups™, discourses around abusive language are actually not simple and there are many divided and varied opinions on the subject. Treating Marginalised People™ like a hive mind is always a great way to further subtly insult them and since the point of this entire debacle is to come out with as many notches on your belt as possible, you want to make sure you slip in as many knocks below their belt as you can manage."
[Sherry] Ortner thinks that argument about the universality of sexual inequality has continued for more than two decades because anthropologists assumed that each society would be internally consistent, an expectation she now believes to be unreasonable: ‘no society or culture is totally consistent. Every society/culture has some axes of male prestige and some of female, some of gender equality, and some (sometimes many) axes of prestige that have nothing to do with gender. The problem in the past has been that all of us were trying to pigeonhole each case.’
But feminists, too, have incorrigible propositions, and a central one has been that all cultures, as the Nigerian anthropologist Oyeronke Oyewumi writes, ‘organize their social world through a perception of human bodies’ as male or female. In taking European and North American feminists to task over this proposition, Oyewumi shows how the imposition of a system of gender—in this case, through colonialism followed by scholarly imperialism—can alter our understandings of ethnic and racial difference. In her own detailed analysis of Yoruba culture, Oyewumi finds that relative age is a far more significant social organizer. Yoruba pronouns, for example, do not indicate sex, but rather who is older or younger than the speaker. What they think about how the world works shapes the knowledge that scholars produce about the world. That knowledge, in turn, affects the world at work.
If Yoruba intellectuals had constructed the original scholarship on Yoruba-land, Oyewumi thinks that ‘seniority would have been privileged over gender’. Seeing Yoruba society through the lens of seniority rather than that of gender would have two important effects. First, if Euro-American scholars learned about Nigeria from Yoruba anthropologists, our own belief systems about the universality of gender might change. Eventually, such knowledge might alter our own gender constructs. Second, the articulation of a seniority-based vision of social organization among the Yoruba would, presumably, reinforce such social structures.
Oyewumi finds, however, that African scholarship often imports European gender categories. And ‘by writing about any society through a gendered perspective, scholars necessarily write gender into that society. …Thus scholarship is implicated in the process of gender-formation’."