Thursday, July 20, 2006

How to Win Friends and Influence People, NOT

1) Say, in so many words, "you're not a feminist if you don't blahblah."

2) Back it up with heavy-handed shaming tactics and going LALALALALALA or -crickets- whenever someone else tries to actually explain her own position, often with a good deal of thought and care

3) When other person finally throws her hands up and goes, "nu, so all right, I'm not a feminist,"

4) Wring hands, cast eyes to the heavens and wonder,

Where O Where have all the feminists gone???

head. desk. bang.

Here's a hint for all y'all making this sort of argument out there who still might be reading:

At this point, even if you did have sole possession of The Truth, the One Way and One Way Only: it doesn't matter.

That's right.

Because your communication skills--as in, listening and actual dialogue, not just making Pronouncements and whacking people over the head when they don't fall in line quickly enough--frankly, suck.

If all you want is the deep tingly satisfaction of waving the bloody martyr shirt, then by all means continue doing what you're doing.

If you actually want to change any minds? At least, in your favor? You are seriously doing a piss-poor job.

Or: pull the "my way or the highway" shit if you want to; just don't be surprised when a bunch of people take the highway, if only because they think it might be more likely to actually get them where they want to go.

This public service announcement was brought to you from the Department Of Huge, Honking Clues.


Alon Levy said...

Here's the thing: in every political movement, there are people who are deeply concerned with image and with convincing people, and who might put on a more moderate show, or even compromise on a principle or two, in order to make the public support the movement's goals more. Now, the radicals generally don't like the compromisers. Usually they'll take a legitimate beef, such as the overzealous compromises of the Democratic Party, and transform their splinter movement into a near-cultlike structure, where every issue that gets taken up by moderates is suspect.

So you get a vicious cycle of radicalization, which ultimately causes people to despise any form of outreach, or any language that aims at convincing outsiders.

belledame222 said...

also see: Northern Ireland, India/Pakistan, the entire fucking Middle East, etc. ad nauseum.

so the question is: what is to be done? about such people. assuming one doesn't want to become such a person oneself.

belledame222 said...

...the other thing is, there is a difference between "putting on a show" and actually allowing as to how the other party might genuinely have a point, and even rethinking one's own position to a certain degree.

while i understand that the former is probably far more common than the latter in realpolitik (and frankly is probably unavoidable to a certain degree as well), if no one's doing the latter then we might as well all play an hour of recorded music and go home; now it's just a question of who has the bigger stick and bullhorn.

what feminists and leftists of a certain stripe don't seem to realize is that if it comes down to that and only that, *they will lose.*

Why? Because the whole point of being an evil Oppressor is that you already *have* the bigger stick and the louder bullhorn. You aren't gonna win that way. Just not gonna happen. All that'll happen is that you'll manage to drown out some people wielding even smaller sticks, with even lesser voices. If that's all you care about, again: go right ahead.

but to me this has little or nothing to do with actual change. at least none that I want to see.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I have a friend here who makes a living getting grants for corporations so that she can come in and help them understand heterosexist and male oriented assumptions - BUT, because she also works on a committee for the rights of sex workers, most of the other "feminists" won't talk to her.

It doesn't seem a very effective strategy to continiously purge the ranks of non-true believers on the basis that we will one day present a united front - when has any group of humans presented a united front. And wasn't this what started the lavender menace during ERA days?

I understand being angry - a lot about society makes me angry - I just don't understand being angry with each other?

Bitch | Lab said...

hah. you know, Andrea Dworkin says that it's important to keep the middle ground.

RM just showed up to tell me she's trolling me to get me to be molded in her image. That'll be the fucking day. I told her to fuck off.

Bitch | Lab said...

addendum. Dworkin says there needs to be fiery rads like her and that others will have to do the work of keeping the middle ground for the rads.

Oh, I love being handmaid!

belledame222 said...

See, this is what drives me batty--the whole "oh, we won't even TALK to you." i have seen/heard a number of other stories in which prominent anti's refused to so much as share a speakers' platform with pro-sex-worker feminists.

and this is different from the traditional shunning of the scarlet letter'd, *how*?

Alon Levy said...

Dworkin says there needs to be fiery rads like her and that others will have to do the work of keeping the middle ground for the rads.

You know, that could actually make sense, in theory. The problem is that the left never does that. Just look at the mainstream feminist blogosphere to Twisty: a few jokes, a few attempts to see both sides, and a few criticisms buried well inside comment threads.

Liberal feminism has always tried to accommodate the scary radicals, even as the right busily set up its conservative/radical mechanics in such a way that there was a steady rightward shift of the political center. The only person to seriously disown the radical left, Bill Clinton, wasn't even a real liberal.

antiprincess said...

And wasn't this what started the lavender menace during ERA days?

Oh my Molly Bloom! YES!

Dan L-K said...

I've been following the well-intentioned but doomed Sex Wars Truce thread on Alas, keeping myself from reaching for a pair of No. 2 pencils to put through my eyes, and I think the "Oh, for fuck's sake" breaking point for me was seeing Amp (who I generally like and respect) asking people not to use the term "sex-positive" because it offends.

Because, one, this is just a little damn arch in a "community" (such as it is) that claims to honor what people choose to call themselves;

And, two, I'm mildly surprised I haven't seen a comparison to men feeling they're being unfairly excluded by the idea of "feminism." Because my response to both is: Get the hell over yourself.

Once again, over and over, world without end: "I don't hate sex, just the kind you're having. (you filthy hoor.)"

belledame222 said...

Seriously. As I said over at BL's--as it happens I think wrt an earlier instance of dwama at Alas (the insistence of certain of the current radfem players that they have their very own threads--like, excuse me? don't you have your own boards and blogs? d'you invite yourself over to someone's house and then demand they throw out their other guests and maybe rearrange the furniture while they're at it?):

the *real* problem with too many people on the Left, if not the World, is the over-reluctance to say, in the face of supreme assiness:

"No. Fuck off."

Alon Levy said...

A while ago, when there was a high-profile thread on some wingnut blog about how evil women's suffrage is, I said, "Here's a point worth making: a person's nuttiness is reflected not only in what he believes, but also in what he finds serious. People who think the child vs. five embryos dilemma is real are insane even if they decide at the end to save the child."

belledame222 said...



Speaking of: ooh, I am so frigging tempted to go back to the Alas thread and start talking about, you know *what,* I could take pretty much most of these same arguments by appeal-to-the-misery-of-the-suffering-you're-so-selfish and plug it directly into any number of pro-lifer arguments.

not gonna do it, though. even i have some limits.

Bitch | Lab said...

i started out out in bloglandia making an argument against sexpos and hoping we could find something else. bunch of us talked abt whether we could deal with sex radical.

but, i'm sick and tired of folks being offended. we have explained what it means over and over again. that it has noting to do with not liking sex. but that it has to do with choosing to define some sexual activities as wrong and thus being negative to those sexualities.

doesn't matter. i might as well bang my head against a brickwall. at least i'd have wallhead toshow for it.

so. boo fuckin hoo. waaaaaaaaah. you ARE sex negative. own it. you have no problem saying you're opposed to blow jobs or BDSM or whathefuckever, you shouldn't have any problem agreeing that you are negative toward blow jobs, BDSm, etc. then.


if they don't want to read the thedefintion, then they are offended and can't address the above arguemnt, then can kiss my tooty.

belledame222 said...

I don't even see why people need to get all up in a snit about what the *implications* might or might not be. I am sex-positive; I may or may not have any particular opinion about what *you* are in that regard. If the comfortable shoe fits, well, what can I tell you.

I mean, I still call anti-abortion folks "pro-life" even though I think it's completely bogus. Particularly if I'm in a space where both pro-life and pro-choice are having a discussion in a supposedly "neutral" space.

I mean what the fuck, these are some of the same people who'ev appropriated not just *radical* feminism but in some cases *all* feminism for themselves, or are trying really really hard at any rate.

"You're not a feminist."

Uh huh. But I'm supposed to change *my* label/identity wrt sexuality in order to make *you* feel more comfortable on *top* of that?

In that case, I don't think "fuck off" expresses my sentiments strongly enough, but it'll have to do.

Bitch | Lab said...

Yah, but the term was coined by rubin who _does_ speak to it in terms of sex negativity. so, someone will someday call folks on that one, i figure be prepared with the fullness of rubin's argument so they don't get away with the cheap shots.

plus, i'm not sure how it doesn't impact others. the whole point is that it is a critique of both the wide sex negativity of society and the sex negativity reproduced within it.

which is why your discussion is always brilliant when you hook it into that. You wrote a most excellent rant once about this, experiencing the sex negativity of the wider society and how its reiteration here makes it worse. it was on BDSM. I'm trying to recall if it was her or in comments.

will look with search on bdsm. but you were on fire in that one post!

Bitch | Lab said...

i started writing something like that --about the demand that we change the label -- in response to amp in the post about learning a new language but i decided not to be more antagonistic than i was already.

belledame222 said...

Right--I was saying, "I am sex-positive means I am in opposition to sex-negative culture." really no particular need to take it y'know *personally,* any more than oh I don't know my calling myself anti-racist might make one bridle at the implication that because one does not use that particular ID, I am implying that one is a racist.

as per whether some feminists are sex-negative--well, again, if the comfy shoe fits. not all who call themselve radfems or any other brand of feminist are sex-negative, no. but some certainly are. anyone who goes into squeamish fainting fits over the mere suggestion that one enjoys giving head, or indeed any other sex act, much less (gasp horror details), while simultaneoualy going on and on about how *disgusting* blahblah is--yeh, you know what, that's pretty fucking sex-negative. I would say.

It's not everyone, obviously, no. But they exist, they're callin' themselves feminist--so, you know.

Renegade Evolution said...


Amen and pass the damn ammunition. Well said.

See, they can condemn my career, my appearance, my stances, my CHOICES...

and do they honestly think that is EVER going to make me agree with them? Oh, I think not.

belledame222 said...

But shaming people into submission works so well! and is not at all patriarchal!

and of course it makes perfect sense that a small band of fringe theorists will succeed whereBig Daddies Church and State and Family haven't, using the *exact same techniques* and fewer obvious benefits!

clearly the only reason they're failing is that they're *just not trying hard enough.*

that whole business about "doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is one definition of insanity?" Straight from the Patriarchy, ignore. full speed ahead.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Belledame. I'm relatively new to the feminist 'blogosphere'(for want of a better word), and am still figuring out where I stand on some issues. One thing I'm sure of though is that silencing women whose views you disagree with is NOT my idea of feminism.

Although I may not agree with all your views on prostitution etc, I still really want to hear what you, and others, have to say. Women's voices and experiences are so often unheard - surely as feminists we should be listening, not shouting each other down.

Thanks again.

belledame222 said...

Hey, no problem, Lucy; welcome!


Anonymous said...