Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Hello darkness, my old f--" oh, fuck off.

Veronica, and also ilyka, inspired me to note the following:

Yup.

Sending death threats and rape threats is “silencing,” or can be. Attempts at blackmail, (wrt "outing" or otherwise), no matter how spavined (*koff*), are, yep, silencing, or can be. Flooding someone’s personal blog with endless spam and hateful trolling, much less hacking, can be “silencing.” Offline harassment can be “silencing.” They certainly have that intent; whether or not they actually have that effect, those are things that, imo, deserve the label "silencing." Pulling out the big guns. Instill fear. Shout 'til you drown out. Just make it go away. Yeah, that happens.

and lest we forget, silencing existed long before and still exists outside this thing what we call "online," with deadly consequences.

However.

Criticism? -Harsh- criticism? Flames, even? Particularly if you are a Big Important Blogger and the critique is coming from a much smaller blogger, even several of 'em? Particularly particularly if that critique, even the flamey kind, is really an exasperated attempt to -communicate?- Not “silencing.” Sorry.

Now, if you feel “silenced,” well, you feel the way you feel, certainly. Wouldn't try to argue with that.

and yet, ofttimes, in cases like this, o Silenced One(s), one can’t help but notice:

yer still talking.

On edit:

on a happier note, brownfemipower is back in business.

22 comments:

Chuckie K said...

Between forms of silencing, the distinction would be like that between 'murder' and 'attempted murder,' wouldn't it?

Amber said...

Hearing you on all of this. And pretty much in agreement, for the most part.

What I don't like is when it starts to get dismissive... like, "Oh, you might FEEL silenced, you might even be really fucking depressed - but, you're not REALLY being silenced and so-and-so has it SO much worse." That's shitty.

Alon Levy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alon Levy said...

Sorry - I deleted the comment for atrocious grammar.

You're right, Amber, it can be shitty. Only, in this case it's not. I have a good rule of thumb about that sort of criticism. A James Joyce can rightly complain that critics are just not understanding how great he is. Everyone else should just suck it up and write better books.

And on another note, it's great to hear BFP hasn't been crowded out after all. And shitty to hear about BA...

Amber said...

Well, Alon, I think it is shitty in this case, but I have a feeling my concerns are not the same ones that a lot of people are writing about. E.g., people who're saying "you're just jealous" can blow it out their asses. That kind of thing is not on my radar.

Nanette said...

Man, lost my comment. But anyway, belle, I'd like to ask a question related to Hugo Schwyzer's latest post. I don't feel comfortable typing there. Besides, every time I read there I get more and more irritated, so am not going to read it anymore.

But anyway, I've never really figured out why people who think that ending gender oppression think that will also end structural white racism or the individual racism of white men and women.

I mean, even if sexism, misogyny, unequal pay and all that were ended today I am not sure I see how that would fully benefit anyone other than white women (and the white men who already benefit). Because even with the sexist hurdle gone, both men and women of color would still have the racism hurdle to get over.

So is it a form of "sit down, shut up and we'll get to that afterwards"? Or do people actually think that ending sexism (or the Patriarchy, I guess) will end racism? And if so, why?

I did look on the "feminism 101 blog but didn't see anything even close. It sounds similar to some radfem philosophy, but some of them that I've seen/read are stone racists, so it's probably yet another feminist faction that this is from.

Anyway, if you get time and have interest...

belledame222 said...

I dunno, but just the first part of the first comment there made me gouge my eyeballs out, so I'm gonna be fumbling around for those for a bit.

i'm a little confused by yer last paragraph


I did look on the "feminism 101 blog but didn't see anything even close.


close to what? intersectionality?

I don't know. I kind of don't really think it's for anyone to categorically say which is the "greatest" oppression, much less someone who personally isn't laboring under either of the two he's comparing.

I mean, look, in some senses you could call Scarlett O'Hara a proto-feminist; doesn't make her or her creator any less jaw-droppingly racist.

and frankly--no, the whole thing's crap, I think it's just simpler for (some) people to single out -one thing- they can concentrate on, preferably the one that's closest to home.

The other thing is--eh. Sexism might arguably be older or more global than any one particular form of racism; on the other hand, you can't be -completely- eliminationist with an entire gender, because there's a basic survival-of-the-species still; whereas, when it comes to racism--you can, and people have been.

Amber said...

Ooooh you be careful talking about Margaret Mitchell! You know I'm an Atlantan...

/lightening the mood

Nanette said...

lol, okay, and thanks! It sounds so to me (crap, that is) but I thought I was missing something.

and frankly--no, the whole thing's crap, I think it's just simpler for (some) people to single out -one thing- they can concentrate on, preferably the one that's closest to home.

Okay, well that I can understand. Just how some seem to think that getting rid of one thing will get rid of the other, as opposed to needing to get rid of both is what puzzled me.

And no, that wasn't on the feminism101 site (that I saw) but come to think of it, that site was set up for the questions men usually ask at feminist sites or something.

Thanks, though, you've given me a starting place to look up some stuff.

Alon Levy said...

Nanette, to my understanding there are about two different sexism-first arguments - the libfem one and the radfem one.

The radfem one is that because the patriarchy is the root of all evil in the world, eliminating it will simultaneously eliminate all other evils, in much the same way killing the villain in some fairy tale movies immediately makes the sun rise again, raises his victims from the dead, and prettifies the royal palace. Generally I find this argument a) too stupid for me to want to respond to it, and b) too fringe for me to have to respond to it.

Libfems don't totalize. Instead, they use ordinary trumping hierarchies - "Sexism is more urgent than racism" - or just assume racism is less socially acceptable than sexism.

I blogged about that a long while ago, back when Echidne started saying that. What I argued is that feminists tend to be most familiar with forms of oppression that affect women the most acutely, which generally aren't those that affect minorities the most acutely. If you look only at reproductive rights and sexual harassment, you'll probably conclude sexism is more urgent - and conversely, if you look only at police brutality and school segregation, you'll conclude racism is more urgent. I suspect the reason I call bullshit on trumping hierarchies is that the forms of inequality I'm most familiar with, workplace discrimination and political underrepresentation, affect women and minorities to about the same degree.

belledame222 said...

there's also socialist feminism (pretty moribund in the U.S. as far as I can tell from online and what I know of at least, somewhat more active in the U.K. & maybe Australia), which, as you can guess from the name, tends to take a more integrated approach, emphasis on class & economics & how it intersects particularly with womens' concerns.

belledame222 said...

--oh, right, sorry, you were asking why "sexist first." Well, and "liberal feminism," you know, you can look at it as either watered-down radfem, which sometimes it is and sometimes not so much; you can also look at it as the legacy of y'know, Cady Stanton, Anthony, much of the First Wave, in which the racial tensions and eventual splits were of course alive and well already; on down through Betty Friedan.

belledame222 said...

...but mostly I think it boils down to:

well, you saw at least a couple of the white feminists in this latest brouhaha, words to the effect of, "well but I grew up in an all-white town, everyone I know is white even now..."

and -that-, I think, is the answer more than anything else. de facto segregation is alive and well. It's a lot easier to ignore whole groups of people when you don't actually come in contact with them very much, certainly not in any depth.

which is one way in which men's relation to feminism differs; they may lead extraordinarily segregated lives, but even the most so, you're probably not going to hear "but but I don't know any women."

Nanette said...

Alon, thanks... I guess I wasn't as familiar with the libfem one - or, rather, that it was called that.

I think both are important, of course, but in the article I linked to (if I am reading it correctly) the writer pretty much says he spent the last 25 years denying the lived experiences of people (especially women) of color because of what one black woman said she felt about her own life and struggles. Well, her political life, at least.

(Sort of reminds me of how some people are only familiar with one quote of MLK's (the content of their character one) and use that to justify the most awful stuff. But, anyway...)

I found that appalling and was trying to get some sort of handle on how someone could think like that for so long. I mean... I don't see the sense of denying to someone's face that one lived experience is as important as another lived experience, especially when it's one person that has to deal with both.

If you look only at reproductive rights and sexual harassment, you'll probably conclude sexism is more urgent - and conversely, if you look only at police brutality and school segregation, you'll conclude racism is more urgent.

I don't think so. It's just that, for the most part, many women of color are directly affected or touched in some way by all of the above, instead of just part of it.

I don't believe one is more important than the other (sexism/racism), I just don't see how getting rid of one (either one) will necessarily get rid of the other.

Nanette said...

grrr, blogger ate my comment again.

well, you saw at least a couple of the white feminists in this latest brouhaha, words to the effect of, "well but I grew up in an all-white town, everyone I know is white even now..."

belle, yes, that makes sense. I wonder if urban dwellers are less likely to follow either of those (lib/radfem) philosophies.

Nanette said...

Also, to add another layer to the above, the "just sexism" thing doesn't work for many women of color because, to some (white men and women, feminist or no) we are not considered women in the first place.

Alon Levy said...

Wasn't New York pretty much the center of American radical feminism back in the 1970s? I mean, its white feminists could never say "I don't know any black people," but they could and did complain that civil rightists were too weak on crime and rape. A substantial part of Against Our Will is basically a rant at liberals for defending black people accused of rape. And, if I'm not mistaken, all the big marches against porn were in New York.

It's not very surprising, given the level of segregation in American cities (and milieus). I don't know any black or Hispanic people. I know some Asians here, and I knew many in Singapore, but my interactions with blacks and Hispanics have so far been limited to talking to them in forums and on blogs, answering their questions at the math help room, and buying groceries and sandwiches from them. None of those three modes of interaction is particularly conducive to learning about other people's experiences.

Alon Levy said...

What do you mean, "We are not considered women"? Do you mean nonwhite women aren't considered human, or are considered somehow different from "real" (i.e. white) women, e.g. in appearance, or desires, or sexual appetite?

Nanette said...

Do you mean nonwhite women aren't considered human, or are considered somehow different from "real" (i.e. white) women, e.g. in appearance, or desires, or sexual appetite?

Well, both, actually. I mean, probably only hardcore racists would consider poc of either gender non-human.

But there are also other levels of being considered non-women. I'm sure you've heard of the Sojourner Truth "ain't I a woman" speech. That's one way. Not seen as a man or anything, but less than a woman. That is nothing that doesn't occur today as well.

Then there are white feminists who seem to think we are sort of 'add on' women or something.

The most dangerous way, though, is that (some, not all) men who would never even think of sexually harassing or raping a white woman will do so to a woman of color - and not even really consider it rape, because being... well, whatever they consider woc in their minds, they are not capable of being raped.

Same with those men you hear about who are the pillars of their communities, and who would never dream of having sex with children in the US (not just because of laws, but because US children are real... and are children) but who will travel to another country and have sex with a 10 year old. Who is not real.

And so on. It's late and I am not explaining properly, but in the minds of some, woc are not women.

Nanette said...

Oh, so my point was, just ending sexism would not necessarily make women (and children) of color safe from being victims of all sorts of gender oppression, if the racism wasn't gone too.

Or something like that.

Donna said...

You also see it in these flame wars on the internet Nanette. The white women are sweet and gentle snowflakes who must be protected from the tough dangerous brown beasts. There is always at least one white guy who has to jump into the discussion like a knight in shining armor, no matter how privileged the white woman vs the WOC in the discussion. Angelina Jolie was the ultimate on that JG comments thread. They see no irony that in fact they are protecting the powerful against those with much less power relatively.

Alon Levy said...

JG?