I am going back among the last few posts and comment threads, to reassess if I've been, you know, just a teeny bit over the top.
And so I'm looking at this nugget culled from the Pandagon shitstorm, and, well, by golly, it's...even more amazingly amazing than the first time I read it, which is just, well, amazing.
In the proud spirit to which we seem to have recently become accustomed, I'm just gonna spotlight it here, without further context, and take it apart. Without the name of the criticized person, though, on account of that's been a -bit- overdone already, or of the poster, because frankly i can't make myself go back in there for it. So, without further ado, here 'tis:
>XXX is a woman. Her rationalizations are inarguably hurting her. Therefore XXX’s coping mechanisms are hurting a woman. This is an ongoing hurt–as long as she continues to think this way, she will continue to allow herself to be abused, and continue thinking that she deserves that abuse. The criticisms being leveled at her—insofar as they are directed at her personally—are meant to break her cycle of abuse and rationalization. She is being “hurt” as a patient is “hurt” during surgery.
The criticisms also serve a larger purpose, which is to attack her rationalization techniques on a larger stage, in order to show how ultimately self-destructive they are, and hopefully allow others to escape or avoid the same mental trap XXX is in. >
Oh, right, okay, a -little- context, for those of you just tuning in: XXX is an actual person who's been posting in a small, personal, journal-like blog, about her sex life and her thoughts on feminism--the really relevant part here is her sex life, as it turns out--whom some swell person on one of the Big Feminist blogs decided to bring to the attention of one of the Big Feminist Bloggers. It then went to several others, and by this stage, after having been sliced 'n' diced eight thousand ways from Christmas, along with its actual author, who is alive and well and reading all this and doing her best to be a sport about it all. Particularly, how she handles her sex life. Apparently very very badly. Anyway, by this stage, it's reached the attention of the most popular feminist blogger, who has thousands of hits per day; this here is I think the second or third thread on this subject, that is, pretty much this one woman who had the audacity to "not get it"-- you can see an excerpt of her hopelessly self-deluded, self-harming, anti-feminist writing (after the fact) here (it's the second italicized excerpt, after the "fuck you all.")
So, but anyway, enough about XXX--and I do mean, ENOUGH about XXX. My thoughts after reading the above-quoted nugget, which was perhaps the most egregious example of this sort of thing, but far from the only such type of exhortation/rationalization/whatever this is:
first thought: HAHAHAHAHAHA! ...oh, my God. you're really serious, aren't you?
second thought: (silent boggling)
third thought: ewewewewewEW
fourth thought: ...and another thing: next time someone complains about "strawfeminists," I'm gonna have to say or at least think: dude, why on earth would anyone need to make up a "strawfeminist" when people like this are doing such a dazzling job of self-burlesque all on their very own?
fifth thought: fuck, this is really depressing.
sixth thought: okay, so: where is this coming from?
seventh thought: Seriously, is it just me? Has it ("it") always ("always") been like this? Or is this actually even weirder than the usual aggravating intrablog flamewar bullshit? And is this, like, getting to be a pattern? Or is it just me?
eighth thought: and if it -is- a new (for the femblogosphere, at least) and specific pattern, can we maybe track the fucker back to the root, as long as we're, you know, looking for root causes, examining, like that, so we can put a stop to this shit? Because I for one do -not- welcome my little neo-Red Guard Overlords, thank you very much.
**on edit** And I'll just add this: you know, I did do kind of a dramatic hit -n- run in that particular Pandagon thread, and, it's uh, possible I may have missed something in my rush to just express my exasperation at what had been a long long long buildup of, well, stuff at least somewhat like this. I -think.- And also, you know, I am a sensitive little flower at heart and seriously couldn't and can't bear to really look at all that any more closely than I did. Which perhaps may have resulted in some unfairness. So could someone with a stronger stomach and/or better sense of humor than I who was in there just tell me: did I miss the part right after where everyone went, "my God, that's completely over-the-top! how ludicrous this all suddenly appears! so sorry for all this group mania or whatever it is, XXX! c'mon, let's go get a beer" or even just plain, "okay, critique is one thing, but my God, that's completely over-the-top! Are you high?" or, "HAHAHAHA, APRIL FOOL!!"
...because, if so, allow me to Emily Litella "Never Mind" in advance.
If not, though, and y'all are still reading this, and -still- haven't said anything remotely along these lines and aren't even seeing what the problem here is even now...well, see my previous few posts for my feelings on the subject, because they stand as is.
******EDIT THE SECOND, ADDENDUM***
So, yeah, some of y'all are already having suspicions as to my own suspicions as to what the root cause -might- be, or one of them, and seeing as how I'm just the subtlest fucker on the planet, y'all are right, I cry uncle.
Well, let's just say both that y'all are right in your guessing, and also that I am willing to be persuaded that it is something else entirely.
Just that, primarily? whatever it is? I want it to -stop.-
Not because I want to shut down oh-so-valuable-, you know, -discussion.-
Not because I want to knock head Heather out of her place so that I can grab the red scrunchie for myself.
Although I freely cop to being as competitive and bossy and sure-of-my-own-certitude about the pettier shit as anyone else.
Because I genuinely think that kind of thing is nasty bullshit, and destructive, and oh my GOD I am so motherfucking tired of hearing about y'all's BLOWJOBS, and I don't just mean the literal ones either.
But mostly: how did the phrase go again? Oh, yeah.
"You're hurting women."
Fuck that, actually.
"You're hurting people."
Maybe not this one so much; she seemed pretty resilient and so forth. But other people aren't, and no, it isn't okay. It isn't just an amusing game. Or if it is, howazbout make up your frigging minds whether it's a harmlessly amusing game or serious talk about Very Important Shit in preparation for the Revolution, because I honestly don't think it can be both at once, even assuming I believe it's either one alone, which I don't know as I do, really.
As in, actual people, right now.
You may now commence the shrieks and howling about the beam in my own eye and how clearly it's just my own endless grudge about the Eternal Motherfucking Subject and who do I think I'm kidding and my every fucking flaw.
but I'm sick of this shit, and no, I'm not gonna just shut up about what's bothering me any more than you are.
So either let's figure out a way to really talk about this, or you know, just deal with it.
***ADDENDUM THE HOPEFULLY LAST****
Okay. I'll throw out a hint as to the direction I think this could go in without turning it into yet more "bad [Someone!] Bad [Someone!] I Blame [Someone]!"
...which I have been doing myself here, I recognize the irony, YES already.
It's like this.
There -is- such a thing as "safe space."
But it is not determined by who, demographically, is in it, or even what the subject matter is.
There are rules for how to create such spaces. Virtually and otherwise.
I don't count myself as an expert on how to manifest such spaces; that's a fuckload of responsibility, frankly, and I'm not sure I'm up for it. I've been in them. I can give a rough outline as to how I think they work. I could -talk- about that. I think it takes more than just a list of guidelines to really pull it off as I've seen/experienced in the best of them: I think it (probably) takes lots and lots of experience. Which I do not have.
But I do see the need for it, yeah, even online.
IF we're going to take on such sensitive, volatile, emotionally loaded shit as sexuality, and desire, and abuse. Personal histories thereof, feelings thereof, even yeah ideas about how the world works sociopolitically as derived from thereof, -as long as we're talking about thereof at all-.
-Personal- shit, that is, of the people actually speaking here. Personal SENSITIVE shit, like abuse, really maybe not even s-e-x-x per se, although inevitably in feminist discussions at least it always seems to come back to abuse, and (I think) ther are good reasons for this. But so, yeah: "This is what happened to me." "This is my experience." There are ways of doing this that are relatively "safe," and ways that are potentially incredibly damaging. So far, here in Blog O'Sphere, I've only been seeing the latter. Well, particularly in the Big Taffick-y Conferences.
I'm not even gonna get into going out and finding some not particularly consensual person and dragging all her personal baggage out in front of the entire world to poke and maul and drool over. Yet. I'll get there in a minute, but that is getting into a whole other territory, and is a very big part of what has got my frilly girlie panties in a wad right now.
Now: there is also a way in which to talk about S-E-X-X (and/or even abuse), and the sociopolitical Meanings and causes and so on thereof, which does not get all up in everyone's personal tender bits, just like anything else. So, yeah, there -is- such a thing as political debate, even passionate, heated political debate. There are also rules for this. Generally they tend to fall more under what's been termed, fairly or not, "pale and male" thinking. Formal logic, academic theory, peer-reviewed scientific studies, statistics, governmental policy, yadda. You all know that drill.
And within such debates there are also rules for what's been called "civil" behavior. You know: avoid ad hominem; for many people, avoid strong nasty "flaming" language, (i.e. "my God, you're dumber than a truck full of chickens going to town, that's the stupidest fucking argument I've ever heard"). Personally--strictly personally--that's actually not my concern here. I don't really give a crap about "nice," myself, or "polite." Sure, call your opponent an ignorant pissant whose mother was a hamster and whose father smelt of elderberries, as far as I'm concerned. One can argue about how terribly useful this is to actually shedding light on the purported subject--honestly, probably not very--but, again, strictly personally, mileage varies on this, I realize, some people are really bothered by any sort of direct insult or cursing, and that's certainly their prerogative if they're hosting the discussion--this doesn't bother me. Hell, it can even be kind of fun, in a sparring-sort of way. Yeah, people might get hurt, but it's more or less understood what makes it a fair fight, no hitting below the belt. All part of the game; and in -that- instance, it really is pretty much a game. As long as we're just keeping it pretty much to the intellectual, public-sphere level.
But when you -combine- all that with the sensitive, volatile, personal, group-therapy-esque discussion which already is not really being handled very well, well, that's kind of a recipe for fucking disaster.
And, I realize that there are in fact other really volatile subjects that make up quite a bit of what's being talked about in this our leftie blogosphere: racism. Classism. All kinds of isms. Religion. And yeah: I'm not, to be perfectly honest, sure how useful it would ultimately be to try to police every such discussion to make sure nothing personal gets talked about, even assuming such a thing were feasible; then you get into the awkward territory of "speaking for," of intellectualization and over-abstraction of perfectly real and important shit, and so forth. And yes, yes, yes: the Personal Is Political. Sure.
All I'm struggling to articulate here is: there are, I think, somewhere in here, rules. Boundaries. Distinctions for what -type- of discussion this is going to be, and then respective rules/guidelines for those. Or, at least, I think there should be.
And personally I tend to think this goes double or triple for anything that involves personal abuse, and particularly sexual abuse.
Not sex per se, either; sure, there are yet other rules for the kind of discussion that goes, "Say, I really like reverse cowgirl style." "Oh, I don't like that at all; here's why." That shit's just fine, too, provided everyone knows that that's the level of discussion going on here. That's not what I'm talking about. Actually, to be perfectly honest, and here is where my own personal bias starts creeping in: if anything, I think the loosely-defined leftie blogosphere could use a healthy dose -more- of that. Bitch PhD. set a really good example of how to do this, I think, sometime back. Yeah, believe it or not: I think -part- of all this obsessiveness over blowjobs is that for way too many people? yeah, even worldly-type with-it enlightened leftie-type people, even in this our Porn-O-Riffic Decadent S-E-X-X-Y modern woild ? Talking about OMG S-E-X-X without embarassment is still a really big fucking deal. Not for everyone, clearly; but, way more than one would tend to think. So yeah, that's a whole -'nother- issue.
But not really my biggest concern right now, believe it or not.
Now. I'm still not even sure if this all sort of muddling alone accounts for the atmosphere which leads to shit being said like the example quoted at the beginning of this post; to the practice of hauling an off-guard non-combatant into the limelight and mercilessly grilled and dissected for the delectation of the vasty crowd. Honestly? I don't know -what- that shit is. Like I asked: where the hell is this coming from??
And you know, we could talk and have talked, not very successfully I think, about how and whether any particular given theory/ideology is more prone than others to lead to the creation of this sort of atmosphere. I have my own thoughts on this; but I am more than willing to leave that for a separate, hopefully careful, discussion.
All I know is this: the results. REALLY frigging skeevy.
When you start getting into "we know better than you what's 'hurtful' or not. We know what's good for you. We can tell you how to improve yourself, purge yourself of all the impurities" territory?
There are names for that sort of transaction. Atmosphere. Behavior. Whatever.
"Cultlike" is the first one that leaps to my mind.
Maybe it's just me thinking this; honestly, I hope not.
"Abuse of power," at best.
Oh yes: did I mention that -everyone- has power? And that we're -all- capable of abusing it? Well, we do, and we are. It may not be huge mountain-moving fate-of-nation-changing power; it may "only" be the power to make Mary Sue feel ashamed and chastised, and you, satisfied at having Shown Her The True Way.
-But that is enough all by itself.-
Why: see above re: "you're hurting women/people."
Even one is too damn many.
And -that,- in a nutshell, is what's really bothering me right now.
And the subject matter literally could have been anything: hairstyles, yoga practice...religious belief. Maybe even, as KH suggested somewhere back in the comments, arithmetic.
But sex works especially well for this sort of thing; because, frankly, it is an area where people feel very, very vulnerable.
But, but: it's not about the sex, really. It's not about the sex. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE SEX.
It's about power.
Which, by the way? Abuse? Is not limited to the sphere of sexuality or even physicality. Not. At. All.
And it's not just the "patriarchy" who's doing it.
Okay, I really am done here. Fire at will.