On the Subject of Feminist Alliances
Power lines are those heavy cables carrying vital bits of data that gain
relevance as they connect people across time and space. These lines of
contact have become vital not only to how we live, work, and love, but
also to relations of domination and resistance in the (post)modern
world. Power lines take on di√erent forms for di√erent purposes. Some-
times they are weighty wires scooping up and down, up, down, con-
nected by high and complicated webs of steel. Sometimes their thin dark
wires are connected by tall brown creosoted poles, like so many totems
of development, lining dirt roads in rural third world spaces. Sometimes
power lines run underground, invisibly transmitting power from place
to place—lighting up our homes, powering our computers, mechaniz-
ing our maquiladores. Power lines criss-cross the globe. Power lines are
manmade circuits through which people are joined and power is trans-
mitted. They are intentionally constructed. Without our recognition
they do the invisible work of enabling the messy connectivity of lives.∞
Like so many webs criss-crossing the globe, feminist alliances are also
power lines that connect us to one another and to circuits of power. We
build alliances to link our lives together, to transmit power, and poten-
tially for the purpose of transforming power. Through their mindful
construction, these alliances function as sites where ‘‘power over’’ may be
remade as ‘‘power with’’ and ‘‘power to’’ (Albrecht and Brewer 1990).
What is required for such mindfulness is the recognition that the lines of
intimacy, trust, and collaboration that we build with others are embed-
ded in power. We too easily assume that whom we love is not political, is
not something that we choose, is not a function of power. Belonging is
something that just is. ‘‘Despite intense and frequent disavowal that
whiteness means anything at all to those designated,’’ George Lipsitz
observes (1998, viii), the insistence that race does not matter is belied by
relational choices. Whites make virtually every major life decision around
issues of race: whom they or their children may love, where they might
work or go to school, what neighborhood they live in, who their friends
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