Everyone who stopped by and dropped me a comment yesterday pretty much knocked me out. Even the comments I was arguing against were instructive--I got something out of everything contributed, even when I wasn't always keen on what I was getting.
I know it's not all about me and my personal growth or whatever, but at the same time I think it would be a bit selfish of me not to acknowledge what I got out of the dialogue; not to acknowledge that I benefited. When Blackamazon, Little Light, Donna, Sylvia, and other writers I admire stop by to say what they think, and they're willing to take the time, use up some of their energy stores, make the investment--I know they are not doing it for me. And yet I benefit. To pretend otherwise would be horribly rude.
It goes to the heart of my anger yesterday, really, that such powerful voices are not always getting heard. That is a whole other post, or series of posts, but that brings me to the apology: I have a lot of work-work, you know, the boring kind that pays the bills, ahead of me the next two days, and it's gonna be a little bit before I can get back to the blog.
But this I can say right now:
This is one of my most popular posts, even still. I still see posts by others linking it with--and I'm not trying to be all bigheaded here--huge cheers and enthusiasm, like, "Yay, someone gets it!"
And not to spit on praise, which heaven knows I LOVE, because I am a fatheaded slave to vanity, but, all due respect, I think there was a portion too many fans of it overlooked.
[Oh no help me I'm about to quote myself.]
That portion is:
"I mean, if someone who'd never really read Feministe just went over and all they read was that post of piny's--well, no, not so much that post, or even Feministe necessarily, but like, I can see how some of these guys get the idea that you all hate men. Because you're talking to the regulars, and the regulars know you don't hate men, but some new guy reading some of this stuff, he's going to be all, wait, what did I do? I didn't rape anybody, I never beat up a transsexual--"
"No, I get that," I interrupted him. "That's a lot like--like, I used to have the same reaction reading blogs by people of color. I'd see something like 'white people sure suck sometimes,' and I'd be all, 'Hey! Wait! Not all of us! Not me!' Even though I probably do suck as a white person sometimes--but I mean, I'd take it too personally."
"It's hard not to take it personally."
"It's not as hard if you move yourself out of the center of everything, though. That's what I finally got through my thick skull. It's not ABOUT me, always. And even if it is about me, so what? I'm not perfect. Why shouldn't I have to take some shit once in awhile? Heaven knows I dish enough out in a day. Would it kill me to get an attitude adjustment? Would it kill me to listen to someone unlike me for five minutes?"
Now the fans of this post love that I halfway got a het guy to understand that in feminist spaces, he needs to stifle himself; he needs to respect space designated for other people not like him; other people who, even if they are not oppressed by him personally, remain nonetheless oppressed by those who ARE like him.
But I don't know how many fans keep in mind that this goes double for women of color spaces, that I was only able to explain this to my boyfriend BECAUSE women of color had explained it to me first--not by telling me, but by showing me. By just doing what they do.
But to just take this concept of safe space, and the reasons that space is necessary, and to use these ideas to explain my super-special white girl problems to the guy who has his foot on my neck (even though he doesn't mean to!)--to do that, and to then fail to give it back by pointing out those lousy times when the newbie intruders are not white men, not even just white women, but white feminists--that would be thievery.
I aspire to be a lot of things. A thief isn't one of them.
I am angry about this post because what I see is a lot of good criticism mixed in with even more two-bit cheap-shot criticism--Google search results from WAY down the list--all thrown into one bag labeled, "TO BE THROWN AWAY."
And I think, to ignore the parallel between that act, and acts like--
* equating "Deb Frisch" with "the left"
* equating "Buffalo Bill" with "all transpeople"
* equating "some loon who sent me a death threat" with "the entire anti-war movement"
--is to be willfully blind.
I understand the impulse to defend a friend. We all do it.
But I've also had to tell friends to grow up. That once you put it out there, it's up for grabs. That if you are unwilling or unable to defend yourself, you're not ready to put it out there.
And if one of your friends has to shit on smart young women from whom, take it from me, she could really benefit, well beyond what she could ever repay, in order to defend you, then you know what?
Your friend just became that What-About-the-Menz guy.
She's THAT GUY. Her concerns about "being silenced" sound exactly like concerns about what the firing of Don Imus does to free speech, or concerns about what the Duke lacrosse case does to the rights of innocent young wealthy white men, or concerns about what all that mean man-hatin' shrillness is going to do to harm the "effectiveness" (read: palatability to heterosexual men) of the women's movement.
For crying out loud! You live in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, you have your own book deal, you attend one of the best law schools out there, and you run a hugely popular blog, and nearly all of that also applies to your friend. YOUR FRIEND IS NOT BEING SILENCED, and neither are you. You're just being that guy.
And I really wish you would stop, because if you can't tell the difference between Petitpoussin and Alon Levy, then something is very, very wrong.