Monday, May 21, 2007

What Silencing Is, and What it Isn't

Lots to be heartsick about today.

I bleed for Samhita, for knowing she's in a lot of pain right now. Samhita writes:

. . . I am not a token. I am not here to talk about all WOC voices. My being here doesn't inherently fix or solve the white-centered nature of the political blogosphere (please believe). And my brown-ness doesn't make me the spokesperson for all things brown, and similarly Jessica or the other white ladies, spokespeople for whites only. To discount the contributions of all the women that write for Feministing, while upholding Jessica as the embodiment of all that is wrong with Feministing and feminism, erases our contributions and ignores the fact that we are all working TOGETHER. What does it mean when Jessica is singled out for blame for posts or threads that we ALL take responsibility for?

All of the women that write for Feministing, from DAY ONE, have incorporated an intersectional analysis (please go back to archives and read). All of the writers at Feministing believe that a race, class and sexuality lens is necessary to inform our feminist action and writing. It's an integral part of our work, evidenced not only by what we write and how we write it, but also by who we bring in to work with us and the connections and collaborations we seek on the ground. To argue otherwise not only feels dismissive to us, it feels intensely hurtful and wrong.

I can't imagine anyone is really unclear on this point, but I want to emphasize it anyway just in case: I would never label any woman of color sharing blog-space with white women a token, not least because it simply isn't my place to. As a white woman I don't have the right to apply that label, or even to hint that it might be applicable to someone.

Further, I'm generally uncomfortable with labeling of that sort in ANY instance. It would require me to assume too much about motives and means. I simply don't know enough about why someone's in this space and not that one, doing this but not that.

And finally, I just don't think it's helpful. When Samhita says it feels dismissive, I can't argue with her. That is exactly what the word "token" is designed to do. It's designed to dismiss. It's designed to silence.

Now if only anyone had actually called Samhita a token, we'd be in business.

I know it sometimes comes off as patronizing when a blogger resorts to riffing off a dictionary definition to explain herself. In this case I'm going to risk being patronizing, however, because I think it's important to define terms. So, from Merriam-Webster online:

Main Entry: 2silence
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): si·lenced; si·lenc·ing
1 : to compel or reduce to silence : STILL <silenced the crowd>
2 : to restrain from expression : SUPPRESS
3 : to cause to cease hostile firing or criticism <silence the opposition>

We can dispense with the first definition, as there's really no way for any blogger or group of bloggers "to compel or reduce to silence," though if my inbox is anything to go by lately, that doesn't always stop people from making the attempt. I hope we can agree up front, however, that short of hacking someone else's blog to take it offline or deface it, none of us really has the power "to compel or reduce to silence." This is not to say we can't try so hard that our target eventually concludes the struggle is not worth it. We can do this, and too often, we do. And then we say, "But gosh, no one made her quit." In the sense that no one put a gun to the ex-blogger's head, that's true, but it doesn't excuse us from examining our roles, if any, in her decision.

And although the third definition may also apply in a few specific instances, it's the second definition I want to focus on: "To restrain from expression: SUPPRESS." It is here that my sympathy for Samhita bleeds into exasperation, because I will not be argued out of the following:

When you respond to your critics without linking to their words, you are withholding information from your audience, information necessary for your audience to generate informed opinions on the matter. That is suppression. That is silencing.

And I'm seeing way too much of it lately. It angers me. It pisses me off something fierce. And my saying "I don't like this; it makes me angry," is not silencing. It's me expressing an opinion, an opinion you are wholly free to disregard.

And just to stop the noise before it starts, my saying "This pisses me off" isn't a personal attack, either. One thing I'm surer than ever of after the last few days is that we have all got to do a better job of distinguishing between "I don't like your actions" and "I don't like you." These two sentiments are not the same. I didn't like Jill's first post on Full Frontal Feminism, but I did like her second one. Now: What changed between those two reactions of mine as regards how I feel about Jill as a person? NOTHING. I respected and admired her before, during, and after. Doesn't mean I'm going to boogie down with everything she writes, and the beautiful thing is, she isn't going to do that for me either. Disagreements happen. This is the internet. We are all grown-ups, we know this, but in the heat of disagreement it's often easy to forget.

I have often forgotten it myself. The next time I forget, I'd be grateful if one of you would kick me in the pants and remind me to re-read this excellent post by Brownfemipower at The Silence of Our Friends*:

I also want to address the idea put forth by Samhita (and many many maaaany of Jessica’s supporters) that women of color bloggers are “hating” on Jessica.

I met Jessica from feministing and Amanda from pandagon at the NAPW conference earlier this year. I liked both of them a lot. Especially Amanda—who, for the first time, made me see why people think southern accents are sexy.

At the conference, I joked with Jessica about the size of her boobs, talked at length with Amanda about Texas/Mexican border issues and living on farmland—I liked them both a lot, and was really happy to that I met up with them.

And then I got back home, and continued blogging and continued to be pissed off by Amanda’s analysis of X and Jessica’s understanding of Y.

Disagreement happens. Disagreement happens even when we really, really like each other. The problem isn't the disagreement, which is inevitable, and the disagreement isn't silencing! As a link piny included in one of her recent posts states:

15. If we attend to your work closely enough to engage in angry, detailed criticism, don't take this as a rejection, crankiness, disordered ranting and raving, or the effects of testosterone poisoning. It's a *gift*. (And it's praise: there must be something we value about you to bother to engage you, especially since such engagement is often painful, as well as time-consuming, for us.)

(Emphasis mine.) And I wasn't the only one who recognized its applicability to recent discussions; in the comments to piny's post, Nanette says:

I was thinking of writing almost this very thing earlier, just for people to keep in mind, but I came across someone who put it better, in piny’s link to the trans how-to piece[.]

Lest anyone remain unclear: "Angry, detailed criticism" is not silencing. PERIOD. I swear, if I see "criticism" equated with "the suppression of criticism" one more time, I'm going to flip the fuck out and quit myself, because I have reached my saturation point with this stupidity, so much so that I wonder whether terming it "stupidity" isn't actually being too kind; stupidity arises from ignorance, and I'm no longer confident that ignorance is the real problem here. "Deliberate obfuscation of the issue so as to promote one framing over another," which I hope I don't have to remind you is another suppressive and silencing method, might be the more accurate description of this bizarre phenomenon of equating "criticism" with "silencing."

When I see people I respect reacting to only one side of the story, as Scott Lemieux does here:

Fundamentally, there's no line of argument stupider than alleging that women of color are not "real" women of color, and that goes triple when people make this offensive argument in order to support a fact-free a priori narrative about a site's content.

--my first reaction is to get angry at Scott. But then I realize, I don't actually disagree with anything Scott said! And then after that, I groan at "fact-free a priori narrative about a site's content," because what Scott's responding to is at best a fact-deprived a priori narrative about what Samhita's critics have actually said. And the blame for that, I'm afraid, lies squarely with Samhita:

In light of the conversations surrounding Jessica's book, I just wanted to touch on some of the issues that have come up. I am going to admit first and foremost, I haven't read all of them and I am not going to cite any people, just some themes that are coming up and the feelings they are bringing up for me.

The problem with this approach is it allows the author free rein to interpret those themes for her audience in any way she sees fit, and someone as hurt and upset as Samhita is currently may naturally be expected to interpret them to paint herself in the best light possible and her critics in the worst. "They said this"--and how is anyone reading supposed to know who "they" is, or whether "they" really said "this?" One must either take Samhita's word for it or make fumbling search attempts using Google.

Or you can be an unfeeling bitch like me and go to the source. Despite Samhita's claim in the comments that she was wounded by "conversation all over the interwebz about Jessica's book, our comments policies and how we lack intersectional analysis at Feministing," found in "some of the threads at Feministe," I'm dubious that Feministe is the real culprit here, not least because I find, at last check at least, no mention of "how we lack intersectional analysis at Feministing" in any of the Feministe threads on Full Frontal Feminism.

So regarding intersectionality, at least, I suspect this thread is more likely the source of Samhita's pain. Some excerpts:

Samhita! Don’t go away! Talk. I love your contributions but other people seem to have a problem with it. They made me think deeply about it and they we feel you can be more hardcore about it. You don’t stand alone. Im kind of hardcore about it but I’m just a commenter.

It meaning intersectionality. And Feministing has been talking about intersectionality since the first page in 2004. You always talk about it but talk about it more as in don’t back down from being hardcore.

Samhita, TONS OF PEOPLE and WOC read you. It’s shocking to hear you feel alone. Just don’t back down.

Very hurtful. Very silencing! But that isn't to say there wasn't some anger expressed to Samhita:

I want to tahnk you for finally showing up to Sylvias place to throw yourself a YOUVE WOUNDED MY FEELINGS PARTY. while sitting pretty motherfucking silent while it happened to us.

BUt shit your voice erasure is more important than ours, your inability to read the fucking posts is less important than how wounded you fucking are cause we really are doing this while we cry and comisserate and weep and desperately try to get some attention to our life and death situations .

We’re doing it to piss you off.

THATS THE ENTIRE FUCKING REASON

(Blackamazon's last two sentences are meant sarcastically, just in case that isn't readily apparent.)

Radical? You? Where were you when that bullshit was pulled on Nubian? You and the other “WOC” there let it ride too. The least you could have done is smacked down the racist and white privilege comments there, if you even recognize them, and I seriously doubt that.

It's Samhita who interprets the above as an accusation of not being a "real" woman of color:

Donna, you are trippin. Am I not women of color enough for you?

And this is met with several responses, among them, Brownfemipower's:

samhita, if you recall I DID come to your defense, do you recall that?

or am I not women of color enough for *you*?

how many times have you come to *my* damn defense? how many times have you commented on *any* of our blogs?

And also, Blackamazon:

And somehow your writing about it si teh same fucking thing as actually engaging about wit which never seems to happen until you want to come up into OUR spaces to tell us how wrong we done ya.

YOU must be out your mind.

You can’t even bring u p any damn facts or specifci posts jsut your hurt feelings like me Sylvia PP DOnna BFP etc etc haven’t been basically jumped for teh past four fucking days lumped in with everyfucking body and called covertly or overtly fucking stupid.

I tried real hard to be polite but I’m fucking done with this shit.

But while there's a lot of (to me, perfectly understandable) anger expressed in that thread, there's also a lot of reaching out to Samhita:

Samhita, don’t get defensive, just let the sense of the comments penetrate.

The reason for the anger is patiently explained:

samhita, I have never and will never comment on your site because of all the reasons that have been laid out endlessly. it is a site that is patently unsafe for any type of thought that does not fall right into line with what all the rest of the mainstream feminists are saying. bint, amazon, nubian–they all represent a perspective that I am in tune with an identify with and they have all been attacked mercilessly on your site.

Again, and again:

christ, samhita, YOU have been attacked on your site, and where the hell are your own co-bloggers????

if you can’t feel safe on your own blog why in the holy hell do you think any of the rest of us are going to go over there?

You’re awfully slow if you don’t already know that you tell the white women what they want to hear there or get trashed. How very supportive of Jessica! We figured it out long ago and that’s why we aren’t there. If they treated us like we have a brain in our heads we would be there, we would see these threads you are talking about and defending you along with the rest of the readers, even the white ones, because that is the kind of atmosphere they would have cultivated. Instead they cultivate one where WOC are hung out to dry if they get uppity.

Reassurances are given that this isn't personal:

Even though we don’t like your shenanigans, we can still like you as a person and stuff.

samhita gets severely trashed on her every other post by racists because she is a woc.

samhita, remember it’s structural, not individual. take these criticisms constructively. and remember, nubian stopped blogging.

And this just plain makes no sense coming from a would-be silencer of Samhita:

samhita, i’m so glad you’re here and read this blog regularly.

I had an email request today for a show of solidarity for Samhita. I regret only a little that I cannot grant that. I don't stand with dishonesty. I don't stand with "shenanigans" of this sort. I don't stand with suppression of dissent. I don't stand with silencing.

To the extent I am permitted to, I stand with her. And her. And her. And her. And her.

That's who has my solidarity. That's who has my respect. That's who has my support.

For what it's worth.

UPDATE: And, especially, her.

I don't know how you do it. I hate that you have to do it. I hate that your allies have let you down. I hate that the people who keep this going do so by covering up what's really going on in favor of an increasingly ludicrous persecution narrative that simply doesn't hold up once you have all the facts.

I hate that posts are linked to which endeavor to be fair to both sides, but go unread. I don't have time to respond to everyone.

I hate that arguments are made and promptly turned to straw. But of course no book could be everything to everyone.

I hate that feelings are being hurt right and left, but only some feelings matter. These attacks on Feministing are unfair.

Most of all, I hate that the so-called attackers are seldom named, never linked, never responded to directly. They're just jealous. They're not worth responding to.

Here's an idea: If they're not worth responding to, then shut the fuck up. This "I'm not going to link to it, but SOME PEOPLE have said--" gambit is foul. It's dishonest. And if that doesn't get through to you, let me remind you that it's also a favorite conservative tactic.

Some feminists--

When I wrote this, I worried afterwards that the comparison I made was unfair. Now I'm convinced that it is unfair--to antifeminists.

This has to stop.


*Another good reason to bookmark this one: If, like me, you aren't always sure what people are talking about when they reference "intersectionality," I think you will find Brownfemipower's explanation, especially as it relates to the concept of inclusion, very helpful.

68 comments:

Nanette said...

Well done, and thanks for dissecting that nonsense so clearly.

Unfortunately, Samhita's post is already serving what I'm pretty much convinced was its purpose, though.

Donna Darko said...

uh it was really surprising samhita showed up at sylvia's because she's never commented on a woc blog in the last year and a half. hence the surprise. ok she probably commented a few times at bpf's or somewhere and i forgot about it.

um. they're not being silenced.

i wonder if amanda, jill, etc. are just really stupid people and is there a secret society email group that says NEVER LISTEN TO WOC NO MATTER WHAT. NEVER ADMIT TO THE RACISM IN THE FEMINIST BLOGOSPHERE.

NO MATTER WHAT! NO MATTER WHAT!

Deutschland Uber Alles!!!!!!!

intersectionality is another word for RACISM. it's just nicer to say intersectional analysis. theory is one thing but acting on it by NOT BEING RACIST is another.

i'm kinda shocked at how this whole thing was turned 180 to make whites look like the victims.

when woc have put up with pretty horrific racism in the feminist blogosphere in the last year and a half. and last 150 years.

this is sooo strange because i was the biggest supporter of feministing until last week when BA read the book and got very upset. i knew something was wrong. it started when samhita said on a post about inclusiveness that she relates best to white feminist friends. ok. so she's not going to be down with the cause. then jessica's book was as white as the cover which i didn't expect because feministing is approaching integration. i have the book and have browsed it.

tmi....but i think ppl ought to know the truth...

Melinda Casino said...

I thought you could've stopped the post right here:

"When you respond to your critics without linking to their words, you are withholding information from your audience, information necessary for your audience to generate informed opinions on the matter. That is suppression. That is silencing."

Great point. There are tons of blog conversations flying about on this one, and it really helps track someone's argument if they link to what they're writing about.

And it's not just good blogger etiquette - it gives your readers a chance to read what you're talking about and judge for themselves. Respect for your readers.

I recently wrote at my blog that the problem isn't disagreeing, it's when disagreement isn't tolerated. That's the core problem I see -- that, and this personalization lens.

Melinda Casino said...

"I thought you could've stopped the post right here:"

Sorry, I didn't mean that to sound like the rest of what you'd written wasn't worthwhile.

Donna Darko said...

i'm not picking on anyone in particular.

it's the same thing that's happened the last 150 years.

what exactly is racist about fff? like i said on feministe, it's white-centered. more than feministing because it has 6 voices. she said it was for young women who said "i'm not a feminist but" and women who aren't convinced about feminism. she probably wasn't allowed to say it's for mostly white young women. i just took me aback. i have to read the whole thing if i can handle reading the basics again and the language.

and the comments. well. it came off as racist that they let woc including samhita be eaten alive on a handful of threads there. samhita's posts always get racist commenters. the site got better and better in this regard because of a stable of feminist, anti-racist regular commenters and because the writers have put out a ton of woc related posts in the last few months. but woc are still afraid to comment there because there's no reassurance the racist commenters will be very nasty.

sorry if i was mean in this post as i am usually very calm and detached.

this is a very long time in coming. a year and a half. and for the historians out there, 150 years.

Donna Darko said...

ilyka,

back to detached thinking...

the most important part of bfp's post is the following.

it's the difference between inclusiveness -- what feminists call "add and stir" -- and intersectionality:

In other words—intersectionality as used to name problems is fine—but the important part of intersectionality comes when it’s used to FIND ANSWERS. Is inclusivity really the answer to the intersectional problem of poor queer black women being thrown in jail because she can’t afford her medication and she attacked her children? To link it to Jessica’s book—is inclusivity really the answer when imprisoned teenage female youths (a devastating problem that is permeating through vast populations of native, black and latina communities) are forcibly put onto Depo-Provera and raped by prison guards? Is “getting on birth control” and “masturbating” really the answer to these youths—who, in general, also reject the term “feminism”?

Or are they not “the target audience”?

In short, women of color are brought up lots and lots of times as a part of the “problem”—but we are patently ignored as “not part of the target audience” when it comes to solutions. If we were “included” in the solution of women not identifying with “feminism”—FFF would be a completely different book and feministing would be a completely different site.


ok enough meanness on my part. back to scheduled programming...

Nanette said...

Donna D, you deserve to let a little steam off. The pressures of participating in the comments of a site like that, and trying to be one of the few anti-racist commenters, at least for a time, would be tremendous under any circumstances.

Getting hit with something like the shinanigans of the past few days only exacerbates it, I'm sure.

i'm kinda shocked at how this whole thing was turned 180 to make whites look like the victims.

I'm not. And I find that pretty sad.

ilyka said...

Melinda, it's cool--I get what you were saying. I mean, there's a reason I put it all in bold.

Nanette, thank you. I have to ask about your icon--is that your kitty cat? I am a sucker for the kitty cats.

Donna Darko--

sorry if i was mean in this post as i am usually very calm and detached.

Don't even. You ARE very calm and detached, even here, but how much of this nonsense are you supposed to put up with, you know?

And I am especially admiring of how kind you were to Samhita, because I lack that much restraint myself and I see it as a real failing of mine. Of course, that's what has me angry again now: You were very kind to her, and now that's being ignored in order to shore up a version of events that is, shall we say, highly subjective.

(See? I'm trying. I'm really trying to stay calm and detached. But it is not easy.)

Donna Darko said...

i had no problems with her until a half hour ago.

when i looked on feministing and saw what happened there.

her post on how she's the victim got a ton of comments.

so this is the the narrative? whites as victims? woc morphing into the oppressor? they're as

STUPID AND CLUELESS AS CHASINGMOKSHA.

and woc (sylvia, bfp and ba) had amanda and melissa's back when the edwards thing went down.

the white feminist bloggers NEVER have woc bloggers' back. it's like la di da for them. they don't care to read the blogs or what they have to say. they don't care about woc.

what's up with that. is it in the secret society email group that says NEVER ADMIT TO RACISM IN THE FEMINIST BLOGOSPHERE?

--out--

ilyka said...

and woc (sylvia, bfp and ba) had amanda and melissa's back when the edwards thing went down.

This is particularly galling to me. Women of color are THERE when the chips are down. Not only are we now to the point that white women can't say the same (and we've been at that point for a long time, centuries in fact, as you pointed out), but it's gone beyond ignoring women of color to dismissing them with undisguised contempt.

I'm not only not the least bit at peace with my whiteness today, I am actively ashamed of and disgusted by it.

Nanette said...

no, not my cat! I wish (I do have an old tabby tho).

I just love the tin foil hat on this one.

Donna D.

what's up with that. is it in the secret society email group that says NEVER ADMIT TO RACISM IN THE FEMINIST BLOGOSPHERE?

Well, I've thought this ever since the white feminist and political blog wide silence (except for feministe and alas of the larger blogs and some excellent allies among the smaller blogs) on all the racist firedoglake stuff. Some stepped in to take them to task for the sexist garbage, but not a peep about the racist stuff. Even Melissa, which I was very disappointed about.

So, dunno if it's an email list thing or just the general white line so many seem to be taught from birth not to cross.

Heraclitus said...

Wait, who's attacking little light?

And you're cold. I mean, I agree with pretty much everything you said here (though probably not the "unfair to antifeminists" addendum), but the way you set it up as a post full of sympathy for Samhita, then pulled the rug out from under the reader's feet. I mean, I will always applaud a good mind-fuck (clap, clap, clap), but that was still cold.

ilyka said...

Wait, who's attacking little light?

People on a private list.

And you're cold.

I think you misunderstand me: I was not trying to whip a mind-fuck on my readers. I DO FEEL BAD FOR SAMHITA. I know I have a reputation for mean and I know I come by it honestly, but in fact I don't like seeing so many people, including Samhita, feeling so wounded over this.

That doesn't mean I like the way she handled it. We're back to both/and versus either/or again--I can be both sad for Samhita and angered by how she chose to deal with the situation.

Donna Darko said...

Way before the Hamsher incident, BA and I were floored how racist the feminist blogosphere was. We had never seen anything like it before. I'm not actually talking about feministing. I forget exactly what it was, it could have been feminist carnivals and some of the big feminist blogs. Things HAVE gotten better. The LJ group feminist which reformed after tons of criticism. I criticized and emailed them. What a bunch of privileged, white, little girls. Jawdroppingly racist. This is when I was on LJ. We figured it was the newness of the blogosphere and women trying to assert themselves.

Heraclitus said...

Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to interpret you as saying the meanest thing possible, just eager to enthuse over a good mind-fucking.

ilyka said...

Tangent ahead: I had to give up on the Feministe threads today or go mad, but you made some damn fine contributions there. I apologize for not noting them there at the time. You were definitely in top form today, though.

Donna Darko said...

and linking is important. they rarely link to the woc blogs. because they don't care about woc. they don't read. they don't listen. once you read, the world is a different place. they only link to other white feminist blogs. nanette called it on feministe. they need to engage with woc. if not, all this talk about equality is 100% bullshit.

lovelesscynic said...

y'know when I read that exchange at The AntiEssentialist, I had this sort of slithery feeling in the back of my throat, and you laid exactly what I was feeling so clearly (and righteously!)

Samhita said...

That post was not just in reference to the exchange at Sylvia's blog. It was a culmination of many things I have been reading--all across the blogosphere--about Feministing, its constituency and race. And things I have been reading for a long time, even before Jessica's book came out. When I talk about hate-spewed, I am talking about it everywhere.

Agree with my tactic or not, but I didn't link people because I didn't want the same circular conversation. I wanted to make a statement about how me and ladies of Feministing felt.

I haven't silenced shit and I didn't write that anyone silenced me or called me a token. I have, however in the past, been called a token or positioned as one. I was responding to that.

And yes we are all writing stories. They are our blogs, we are writing from our perspectives and what we believe.

Also, Donna Darko, I never said I stand in better solidarity with white feminists. That post was much more complicated than that.

This has been given enough airtime, I will probably get nailed again here, but I thought I would at least explain that the exchange at Sylvia's was not my only motivation for that post, by a long shot.

I very rarely enter flame-wars and I am regretting getting involved in this at all. I spoke up because I was tired of seeing Feministing being referenced as a white woman's website. That is the start of all of this for me. That is where my hurt was.

Sylvia said...

I'm really upset that a few people posting comments about a book turned into a flame war.

When I wrote my post, I wrote it because people were personally attacking me and making all sorts of decisions about what I did or what I didn't do in relation to my initial comments about FFF. Namely, the tone's pretty condescending to young women. And then they decided to change everything relevant about the book so it looked like people were just being mean to poor widdle Jessica.

I don't think people intended to minimize the contributions of women of color on Feministing, Samhita. However, I think there's a difference between saying that the site is a white woman's site because of who writes there and the site is mostly for white women because of its audience and commentors. I'm aware that there are a small number of people of color who comment there; I used to be one of them a long time ago. But that leads into a whole different angle and problem that was never substantially relevant to what happened initially. And if it was, it was largely because of the group dynamics surrounding your posts and posts about marginalized groups. And I don't think you can deny that those dynamics were often negative and generally unwelcoming. I appreciate you standing by your team, but I feel like people are deliberately misinterpreting people's words, and the more they keep going off the mark the more this is turning into a flamewar. And I hate it.

Scott Lemieux said...

ilyka--fair enough. I was responding to the post and taking its arguments at face value, but obviously if people aren't saying that it doesn't apply to them.

ilyka said...

This has been given enough airtime, I will probably get nailed again here, but I thought I would at least explain that the exchange at Sylvia's was not my only motivation for that post, by a long shot.

Samhita, just for the record, I have no intentions of letting you get flamed here. I'll delete anyone who does it. There's been enough of that, and while I understand at least somewhat where it comes from, it's not something I personally want to contribute to.

I appreciate you standing by your team, but I feel like people are deliberately misinterpreting people's words, and the more they keep going off the mark the more this is turning into a flamewar. And I hate it.

Pretty much everything Sylvia said here. From my perspective, a lot of it looks lopsided, too; there's no comparing the reach of Feministing, audience-wise, to the reach of Feline Formal Shorts or The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum or Having Read the Fine Print. For better or worse, Feministing is the two-ton gorilla in this go-round.

Blackamazon said...

KNow what at this point fuck it.

Because I can't even get people who are claiming I'm this evil bitch to say my fucking name but talk shit all wround . Who are complaining about the sanctity of safe spaces but charachterizing me an d mine as unfeeling she beasts. BUt sure i should bend the fuck over backwards to make them feel goos about it?

You ghot called white POC

I ve benn called stupid and un comprehending race baiting but its okay cause nnobody sacked up wnough to sya my naemme so they could have an easy way out.

Tell me right now what consideration or extra special solidarity weve been given that I should at this point TAKE ANYBODY who claims to want to r each out seriously

Im serious.

Samhita said...

I don't think people intended to minimize the contributions of women of color on Feministing, Samhita.

No see some people did and have in the past. People don't intend to do a lot of things, but they happen and they have, in this case, emotional repercussions.

Nubian is upset about the way things went down with her interview. Nobody intended on hurting her feelings, but it happened and telling her they don't matter is not the solution.

However, I think there's a difference between saying that the site is a white woman's site because of who writes there and the site is mostly for white women because of its audience and commentors. I'm aware that there are a small number of people of color who comment there; I used to be one of them a long time ago. But that leads into a whole different angle and problem that was never substantially relevant to what happened initially.

Seen and heard. Again, the post was motivated by a culmination of events, not just my interaction on your blog. I think that audience is a valid and important point of inquiry. And I have to be more specific about that, before I fly off the handle, all angry brown girl style. Clearly, issues I am very very sensitive about.

And I don't think you can deny that those dynamics were often negative and generally unwelcoming.

True indeed. This is not about getting readers to feministing, or back to feministing. The blogosphere is big enough for all of us to be where we feel best and safest.

I apologize that the two-ton gorilla got involved. When I write it is all or nothing, all my feelings coming together and I just bang it out. The impact is a whole nother game.

I am really sorry if people felt that I deliberately misinterpreted people's words. That was not my intention at all.

It is this internet dialog, when you have a line of thinking and you are very upset, it is very easy to put the argument together, because someone somewhere said it, god knows when, and you are mad about it.

This is as much of a flame-war as we make it.

ilyka said...

I can't even get people who are claiming I'm this evil bitch to say my fucking name but talk shit all wround.

Exactly. How are you, how is anyone, supposed to respond to criticism when the critic won't even name you?

SOME PEOPLE are just trying to keep everything in an uproar to drive up their hit counters. SOME PEOPLE are just jealous that they're only second-tier. SOME PEOPLE, etc. I am very sick of that construction.

Oh, and I see at Majikthise that we're still trotting out that SOME PEOPLE haven't even read the book!!! Can you believe it?

And that's where my patience runs thin: "They haven't even read the book" has been shot down enough times that anyone whipping that little number (on SOME PEOPLE, who we will not name because then they might disagree with us!) cannot pretend to be using it because they didn't know any better.

ilyka said...

It is this internet dialog, when you have a line of thinking and you are very upset, it is very easy to put the argument together, because someone somewhere said it, god knows when, and you are mad about it.

[raises hand guiltily] Yes, I've done that. I've rationalized when I've done it that it's okay because I'm just writing in the general sense, but it's usually bitten me in the ass too, because even trying to speak generally, people aren't stupid and they usually figure out EXACTLY what I'm really talking about!

I could be over-generalizing here, but I think all bloggers have done that at some point.

And speaking of trying to reference specific things in a cagey way, I have an update to edit, it appears.

Melinda Casino said...

Samhita - at least you're trying to engage. If that had been done long ago by Jessica all this could have been avoided.

And I don't see this as a flame-war. I see it as a long-overdue sorting-things-out.

Jessica can still save this whole thing by visiting the WOC blogs that have been posting critiques and weighing in. I don't see her doing that and I don't understand why.

Just my two cents, as always.

Nanette said...

Me, I just think it's all a form of "pay it forward".

Kos backhanded the Sanctimonious Women's Studies Set in order to advance his agenda, so now the SWSS figures the best thing to do to advance theirs is to turn around and backhand the Righteously Indignant Colored Folk Set.

Makes a weird kind of sense, when you think about it...

Samhita:

People don't intend to do a lot of things, but they happen and they have, in this case, emotional repercussions.

Exactly. No matter the intent of your post - and I am sorry that you've been hurt by whatever actions or words have been said in the past by whoever - the effect was to position a nameless (but hinted at) blob of woc as baseless, jealous haters, oppressors of Jessica and the woc at feministing (because, while criticizing a book written not by a feministing collective, but by Jessica, they um... referenced only Jessica), oppressors of feministing, and all the rest of that nonsense. I'm not even going to get to the commenters - although I did think that, if you didn't bother to correct anyone else (instead, thanking them for their words), you would maybe give a hint to the one who referred to feministing's woc oppressors as "The Man".

By the way, since I am in such a sunny mood, I have also officially rejected Jill's apology (even if it wasn't to me, lol); here's why. (down the comment thread)

Mostly, I think I resent that all these people are interrupting my mid-life crises with their shenanigans.

I can't for the life of me figure out why, when people wrote critical reviews of the book from their perspectives as the target audience of the book (well, at least until the target started moving), the first instinct was not, "Oh cool, well we can discuss that and see where we agree and where we differ", but instead, "Incoming less than love! ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!"

belledame222 said...

SOME PEOPLE are just trying to keep everything in an uproar to drive up their hit counters. SOME PEOPLE are just jealous that they're only second-tier. SOME PEOPLE, etc. I am very sick of that construction.

It is very Fox News, that, yes.

belledame222 said...

Me, I just think it's all a form of "pay it forward".

Kos backhanded the Sanctimonious Women's Studies Set in order to advance his agenda, so now the SWSS figures the best thing to do to advance theirs is to turn around and backhand the Righteously Indignant Colored Folk Set.


I bin sayin' (more or less).

more colloquially known as "kick the dog."

You know what I'd really, really like us all to "examine?" Assumptions about power, yeah, digging all the way down to really unconscious shit. Starting with:

"Oh, wow, it's -you-! On -my blog!- I'm so honored."

The hierarchy, particularly in blogland, exists exactly to the degree that we -collectively- believe in it.

Nanette said...

The hierarchy, particularly in blogland, exists exactly to the degree that we -collectively- believe in it.

No kidding. Celebrity culture, all the way.

I think an examination of power would be a really good thing too!

Oh dear, ilyka, just saw this:

Samhita, just for the record, I have no intentions of letting you get flamed here. I'll delete anyone who does it.

If you feel my post is too flame-y, go ahead and delete or edit or whatever (not sure what blogger let's one do). I don't want to violate your comment policy, so I'll defer to your judgment with no hard feelings or anything.

ilyka said...

You're all right with me, Nanette. I don't tend to mind people being pissed off at behavior; I just don't want things to turn into "and fuck you too, Samhita, you lousy so-and-so," or anything like that.

But if we can't talk about actions and behavior we can't talk about 95% of this, so I can hardly rule that out.

"Oh, wow, it's -you-! On -my blog!- I'm so honored."

Belledame! Holy crap! I am not worthy!!! OMG I must sound like a total fangirl but that's because I AM!!!

[insert three smileys and more exclamation points]

belledame222 said...


I can't for the life of me figure out why, when people wrote critical reviews of the book from their perspectives as the target audience of the book (well, at least until the target started moving), the first instinct was not, "Oh cool, well we can discuss that and see where we agree and where we differ", but instead, "Incoming less than love! ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!"


I mean, to a certain degree I can understand defensiveness: the book is your baby, you've just given birth; and then, yes, the Althouse Thing. Truth is, probably very few people are terrifically open to critique of their work, whether they "ought" to be or not. I think more irritating is the automatic rallying of the troops, the division into "teams" and so on and so forth.

Loyalty is great, but friends call each other out, too, sometimes.

belledame222 said...

-issues small, benevolent half-smile in ilyka's general direction.-

"Yes, I knoooooow it, I can't heelllllllp it...."

belledame222 said...

Way before the Hamsher incident, BA and I were floored how racist the feminist blogosphere was. We had never seen anything like it before. I'm not actually talking about feministing. I forget exactly what it was, it could have been feminist carnivals and some of the big feminist blogs. Things HAVE gotten better. The LJ group feminist which reformed after tons of criticism. I criticized and emailed them. What a bunch of privileged, white, little girls. Jawdroppingly racist. This is when I was on LJ. We figured it was the newness of the blogosphere and women trying to assert themselves.

I was kind of gobsmacked when I first entered the feminist blogosphere too, albeit for different reasons.

I've often had this idea that Internets feminism is sort of doing this Reduced Shakespeare version of the history of modern feminism. We've had all the various second-wave thrashes (some still smoldering), and now we're heading on with the third-wave ones. (and yes, as we see here, some themes remain constant throughout, but) I just wish we'd catch up with ourselves already...

belledame222 said...

is there a secret society email group that says NEVER LISTEN TO WOC NO MATTER WHAT. NEVER ADMIT TO THE RACISM IN THE FEMINIST BLOGOSPHERE.

the first rule of Feminist Club is -you don't talk about Feminist Club!-

and now I am thinking of Eddie Murphy's "White Like Me" sketch on SNL.

Kai said...

Ilyka, I really appreciate your breakdown of the "silencing" issue. Thank you for that. Perhaps some of us should compile a glossary of dishonest tactics in blog debates. Because a good dozen of them have been deployed during this fracas.

In thinking about all this, I guess I'm trying to stick to fundamentals: Jill's post at Feministe, Amanda Marcotte's comments in the other thread here, Samhita's post, all strike me as fundamentally dishonest, not written in good faith. I don't like saying that, but I feel like I have to at this point; because all of those pieces of writing seem full of sly misdirection and slippery insult and victim-blaming-from-above; they cast themselves as victims even as they hold the relevant levers of power and shift the ground beneath our feet in order to blur the true points of contention and prevent any real dialogue. Dialogue would have to be based on a stable set of words and concepts. In this sense I'm not quite sure what's being argued anymore now that Samhita has explained that her post is not directed at any particular thread or post but is about general feelings that we all have no means of understanding. So the foundations of the claims being made are amorphous and unknowable to us, yet the mob being whipped up against specific women of color is quite real.

Ultimately it's not even really about Blackamazon and Sylvia and BFP and PP; it's about what these women write about: millions upon millions of women of color around the world, suffering under the boot heel of white male supremacist imperialism, even as we speak. That's what the WOC currently under attack were trying to talk about before this all blew up. If we could return the discussion to the issues that these WOC care about (as BFP tried to do at Donna's), perhaps some good can still come of all this.

Samhita said...

Kai, I appreciate your comment and I appreciate your writing at Zuky. But I don't appreciate you saying that what I wrote was in bad faith or that it is dishonest. I am a woman of color writing what I feel and from my perspective.

We all have our own personal stakes involved, but to say that I am writing in bad faith assumes that you know something about my internal motives. Which you don't.

And I am not sleeping and I am so upset and so frustrated and I just keep thinking, how could I have done this differently?

And I completely and totally agree with the last part of your comment. The backlash against women of color that engage on the interwebz is REAL. And the issues that we talk about are real as well and I just realized last night, how did it get to this point?

And how have I lost focus on the things I usually write about--WOC world-wide--and have been for the last 2 years.

Heraclitus said...

Samhita, I know it must have felt awful to have your authenticity as a woman of color questioned. But there were other people making other points as well. I understand that you're wondering what you could have done differently, but instead of laying awake asking yourself, why not ask Sylvia or BA or bfp? Why not just say something like, "Look, I'm really sorry that you felt insulted or disrespected because of the way you were treated at Feministing. Please believe that that was never our intention. We were handling some of these situations the best we knew how at the time, and I'm sorry it wasn't good enough. What can we do now to make this better?"

ilyka said...

If we could return the discussion to the issues that these WOC care about (as BFP tried to do at Donna's), perhaps some good can still come of all this.

Sounds like a call for recentering. Excellent!

And I am not sleeping and I am so upset and so frustrated and I just keep thinking, how could I have done this differently?

That wily Jeffaclitus beat me to it, but what he said. Plus I really do hate to hear anyone beating herself up, least of all someone who's worked as hard as you have, Samhita. Especially when, as Kai says, there's still so much more work to be done.

We can all put our hair shirts on later. Remind me to pick 'em up from the cleaners. :)

Kai said...

Samhita, thanks for your response to my comment. I must say I felt bad about saying that I thought your post was dishonest, but I felt I had to come clean on how I'm seeing this situation, it has spiraled so far at this point. Like you, I'm really not into this "flame war" business; I'm just into trying to clearly see what's what and clearly expressing what I see.

I understand that being called a dishonest writer is, well, pretty bad. That would definitely hurt me. So I think it's pretty reasonable for you to be a bit upset, given what I said. But do you at least kinda see what I was trying to get at in that second paragraph? About the shifting ground and the power dynamic and all? I never talk about motive or intent when I talk about writing, which as you point out are unknowable; I talk about the words I see on the page. And the words I saw didn't seem to engage the actual arguments that are being made about de-centering middle-class whiteness in the feminist dialogue, which is from what I understand the crux of the FFF critique. You appeared to me to grab hold of a hurtful tangent of that fundamental issue ("white POC") and run with it in a completely different direction, yet turning that issue back into a referendum on Feministing, FFF, and your position as a WOC there. You also drew on the language of anti-oppression to characterize your treatment at the hands of unnamed WOC; which is a form of the Fallacious Flip, since you're the megaphone-wielder in this situation. And though you didn't name names, your readers will come away with clear impressions of who you're talking about. Those are my reasons for calling you dishonest; and if I've misunderstood, I'm sorry. In fact, even if I got it right, I'm sorry, because my point is completely impersonal, I don't want to hurt you by saying these things.

In any case, even if we disagree on what has just happened, at least we can agree on a path forward, back to talking about the big stuff.

Samhita said...

You know I tried hard not to do all this that you describe, but as I see since I write for such a big blog there is pretty much no way for me to have written what I wrote and not have it come out that way.

We write with the tools we are given. For me it seemed totally logical for me to write a piece that summed up how myself and the people at Feministing felt. In the usual style that I write, which is to draw from ideas and thoughts, as opposed to people. I am a very naughty blogger that way.

I think the greatest disservice this mess has created is made illegible critiques of the white-ness of mainstream feminism and legitimate constructive critiques of "FFF." Everyone has had a hand in that at this point.

I still think I make legitimate points in my post. And I didn't pull a Fallacious Flip, I pointed out how I felt. Many blogs from the beginning of our time (conservative as well) have accused Feministing for a lack of diversity. It is something that has hurt me for a long long time. I am sure some people know the psychological damage of feeling invisible because you are interacting in a white space.

Everyone brings a full briefcase to the blogosphere. We all have our past grievances, they inform our writing in many ways.

As a women of color I should be able to voice an unpopular opinion and not be perceived as a "white" POC. This is a very common thing that happens to people of color when they enter the mainstream. They get attacked on all sides for being a person of color.

And we have made Feministing a safer place to comment. Any dissenting opinion could have come and linked what they wrote in comments, if they felt that was necessary, I would have protected them.

But ultimately, we are still learning about our moderation style. And if folks don't feel comfortable, I totally and completely understand.

I understand past problems in Feministing comments, I have bore the brunt of those, more than anyone else has. But we don't allow that rubbish anymore.

Nanette said...

Melinda:

And I don't see this as a flame-war. I see it as a long-overdue sorting-things-out.

Jessica can still save this whole thing by visiting the WOC blogs that have been posting critiques and weighing in. I don't see her doing that and I don't understand why.


Exactly. That has been one of my main points throughout all of this... I don't understand the refusal to directly speak to woc on their sites (and not just by Jessica).

I think it's counterproductive, leads to a lack of trust, and also serves to narrow their world (and whoever of their readers who lack the knowledge or curiosity to seek things out on their own) to just a pinprick.

Magniloquence said...

Oh Ilkya, have my blog babies! Or I could have your blog babies... I'm not sure how the logistics of girl-on-girl-on-blog reproduction would work.

But seriously... this was an awesome post. Cutting through the idiocy without getting too personal... it's beautiful. I wish more people in this conversation (and, okay, most of the other ones I find myself in) were this good at separating "hey, I don't like what you did" from "hey, I don't like you."

Lauren said...

I don't even really want to wade into this because it's so big now that I can't wrap my head around it. Plus, no time - life sucks!

I wonder how many of our disagreements are due to the fact that many of us are theory nerds with our pet theories and theorists and how many of us are activist nerds with our "do" and not our "write and read." I hate to wade in because I don't want to add my "I used to know what I was talking about a couple of years ago, kind of, before life got in the way of thinking" layer on the top of the pile.

But I do want to throw out there that I'm frustrated to see so many of my blog crushes fighting -- righteously.

I just don't understand how so many of us can't say, "Whoops, my bad," and move along without trying to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Personally, I like being called out. I hope it prevents me from permanently wading in my douchebaggery.

Nanette said...

Samhita:

And I am not sleeping and I am so upset and so frustrated and I just keep thinking, how could I have done this differently?

First, what Jeff and Ilkya said.

Also, I do sympathize with you. I don't like to see anyone hurting and would prefer that they didn't.

Still, we do have to look at something here. Or, at least I will look at something and anyone else can if they wish.

You say you wrote your piece at feministing because you needed to say what was in your heart and say it the way you did, because that is how you write.

All well and good, but what you did with that (and I believe it was your perfect right to do it, let's be clear on that, even if it was not your intent of doing so) is insert yourself, as a sort of deflecting shield, into an ongoing - even though very brief - (and long time coming) conversation between Jessica and people who had substantive critiques of her book and critiques of her handling of the criticism, as well as discussion of huge problems woc have had with feministing for months, which she has apparently been blithely unaware of.

One minute we are discussing these issues, finally, and the next we find out that, by critiquing the book and talking about the abhorrent feministing comment threads to Jessica - in a "Defending Jessica" post at a separate site - somehow woc are hating on all the woc at feministing and attacking them (and the other white ones too, I guess) by not mentioning them at all.

This may make some sense in some universe, but not in mine at the moment.

I understand the All for One and One for All bit, but All did not write the book... Jessica did. All did not (honestly!) look at a thread full of poc with substantive (and some not so) critiques of the book cover and decide that the only words (patriarchal whore) worth paying attention to, worth using as a deciding factor of joining a conversation with poc, worth quoting in interviews and on blogs and bringing up all over the place, as an examples of the 'haters' on that thread - were the words of one white woman on that thread... Jessica did.

Granted, if All knew the contents of the book, then All were responsible for not only not moderating their comment threads but for leaving nubian to be attacked and hung out to dry when she said that the cover gave the impression of a white centered book with a narrow appeal... when that is exactly what it is.

Anyway, you made the choice to write your post when you did, the way you did, and present the situation as you did (which re-centers everything on your and Jessica's and feministing's victimization by woc) and that's fine, one has to go with one's heart... but it doesn't solve any of the other issues. And they won't go away.

(But don't worry, I'll make sure to include you and everyone else that types there in any of my further criticisms of feministing and what I suppose we should now call the "total Jessicaness", since she is apparently not individually responsible for anything at all.)

Samhita said...

You know I have given this my go. If your issue is with Jessica than you should take it up with her.

I have said what I needed to and thank you for letting me comment on your blog.

(lights cigarette)

Nanette said...

Heh.

Samhita: You know I have given this my go. If your issue is with Jessica than you should take it up with her.

Well, if that is for me, that's what I've been saying, in my convoluted and obviously too obscure way... my issue (and I do speak only for myself) was with Jessica... specific ones related to a specific person.

Now that you have swung mud far and wide on to young (or old) unnamed woc (wink/nod) in the effort to be true to your art (and recenter yourself and feministings as victims of this nebulous and unnamed (wink/nod) but hurtful horde of woc) my issues with Jessica still exist, as they have not been resolved.

I just now have issues with you, too.

Sylvia said...

You know I have given this my go. If your issue is with Jessica than you should take it up with her.

Oh my damn. We DID. We DID do that! We did it and now I want my fucking pony and Nanette gets one too because I think we just ran in a full circle!

PONY PLEASE.

brownfemipower said...

samhita, I really really really wanted to work this out with you. Really. With everything I had I wanted to work this out with you. But you've just told us all how hurt you are that you weren't included as a voice on feminsting, how you felt erased, and now when it's said that fine, this is about all of feministing, not just jessica, you reply if you have a problem go to her?

What the hell are we fighting for then? What the hell are we all putting ourselves out there for?

At this point, I can't even begin to articulate my level of upset.

brownfemipower said...

oh, and ilyka
i'm sorry that my first post here was what it was.
really, I *do* read your blog outside of these blog wars, I just haven't commented on it yet!
so sorry.

Samhita said...

BFP! I just responded to that one comment for Nanette. That wasn't addressed to all of you!

We were fighting about my post and my voice at Feministing, when we were talking about my post and my place at Feministing.

In that comment, she was talking about Jessica, not me.

I am going to continue writing for Feministing, I stand by the post I wrote, I am going to work hard to keep comments space as safe as I want them to be and I am sorry that I have offended people so greatly throughout this process.

Samhita said...

Er, Nanette, are you going to be at AMC?

belledame222 said...

PONY PLEASE

oh christ, that's all we need...

Nanette said...

In that comment, she was talking about Jessica, not me.

...?

Sigh.

Er, Nanette, are you going to be at AMC?

No. Though I'll be reading lots of liveblogging, hopefully, and a pony... but the conference is safe from me!

Sylvia said...

*puts a PONY OR BUST bumper sticker on her ass*

WV: hmrzhorc

That's the sound of my discontent until I get my pony.

Donna said...

And we have made Feministing a safer place to comment. Any dissenting opinion could have come and linked what they wrote in comments, if they felt that was necessary, I would have protected them.

I call bullshit right here and now. You already aren't protecting us from unwarranted criticism. The whole comments thread is about how we are all jealous of the lovely white Jessica. And who are we, the stupid ugly brown beasts. YOU LET THAT LITTLE BIT OF RACISM SLIDE. That's why I asked you at least twice, do you even recognize white privilege, because you certainly don't call it out. But it's ok, when they attack us because...like most white POC, they don't mean you. You're one of the good ones, you're a credit to your race, Samhita. Funny, even though the post is about you and the other WOC posting there feeling silenced and dismissed, much of the comments read like lipservice to that, and then recenter on the white girl. Why am I not surprised?

I did fuck up one thing though. I was wondering what the hell Jessica was talking about, until I reread my white POC post, and realized you think the whole damned thing is about you! I said at Sylvia's that you are some of the people I was thinking about. Do you understand the word "some"? I also explained a little bit about that while talking to you in private yesterday, and after rereading my post, you must have had a WTF? moment. At the end of that post, I said I intended to revisit the discussion, I have notes on a second post and had discussed this in private with some other WOC, because I know I am treading on shaky ground here. My intended post was more along the lines of Nezua's goodboy post. It's about how when we are in situations with all or mostly white people, we tend to go along to get along, not make waves. And this is the way I think of you. I think you play goodgirl at Feministing, and you find out real quick that you're just a stupid ugly brown beast--just like us--if you don't.

ilyka said...

That's the sound of my discontent until I get my pony.

OK FINE

Nanette said...

And we have made Feministing a safer place to comment. Any dissenting opinion could have come and linked what they wrote in comments, if they felt that was necessary, I would have protected them.

I actually don't need protection. I'm well able to take on right wingers, rude people and racists with no problem at all. And if I wanted that, I'd go to some site where they would usually hang out. No clue why I would want to visit a feminist blog to enter into those sort of conversations. I'd rather work towards things positively instead of scrabble and gnaw at people.

I avoid feministing because the fact that it fosters an atmosphere where all that racist crap can just be thrown willy-nilly at woc there (including yourself) makes it a place that I just don't feel necessary to have on my blog rotation.

I did not go into your thread there, for a couple of reasons...

1. while I've been pressing the point here of what your post did, I don't actually hold any animosity towards you. Have your little pat-pat party in peace.

I did want to see, though, if you were even capable of understanding the harm done by you to the young women of color (and pallor) who apparently didn't realize what an absolute sin it was to read a book and offer an actual criticism of it - Only LOVE Allowed! - that you offered up as red meat to your commenters in a matter in which you were not involved at all.

2. I wanted to see if you would step up to the plate on your own and answer some of the comments that *were* there... even tho, of course, the post itself was geared to bring those sort of comments out.

3. If you were not capable of understanding, and you did not, on your own, see anything wrong with the comments at all, what would be the point?

Have a nice day, and all that.

Nanette said...

Oh, and also what Donna said.

And ponies for all.

Donna said...

3. If you were not capable of understanding, and you did not, on your own, see anything wrong with the comments at all, what would be the point?

This is what I keep coming back to. How many times does it have to be said to you or Jessica or anyone at Feministing before you get it, Samhita? You really are blind to it, and then ask me if I think you are whitewashed? How can you protect WOC if none of the WOC there have a problem with it? As far as I can see it's ok to bash people of color there, as long as it isn't you then you go into teary no one will support me mode. Well, we are trying to explain where that is coming from. You let white privilege run rampant there, you can't expect much support from the racists with their privilege, or the POc you turn your back on.

belledame222 said...

I don't want any damn pony. "No estoy pony" (as Kim is wont to say).

I actually don't need protection. I'm well able to take on right wingers, rude people and racists with no problem at all. And if I wanted that, I'd go to some site where they would usually hang out. No clue why I would want to visit a feminist blog to enter into those sort of conversations. I'd rather work towards things positively instead of scrabble and gnaw at people.

Yeah, that. It's not that I fear mangy trolls, it's just that they're so -boring-, and they're energy sucks, and they drive good people away.

It's like, someone's holding a party, and some of the guests keep stumbling into me and my friends when we're trying to dance or hold a conversation or otherwise enjoy ourselves and BLEEARRRRRGGGHHH vomit all over our shoes.

And then--no one seems to notice! Except us! The host is still chatting away with -her- friends, a few feet away--oh, damn, now the asshole's stumbling around and breaking the furniture; oh, look, he just made a drunken pass at another friend, who's heading for the door; here's another ass belching rancid beer breath and cigar smoke in my face; here's a barfight with beer bottles breaking out;

...and then, oh then, the host happens to catch an earful of the fed-up guest who's standing outside waiting for her ride, talking to a friend about how awful it was in there;

and NOW, suddenly, ATTENTION, ATTENTION MUST BE PAID.

...so, a couple of the ruder assholes may have gotten the boot, but meanwhile, here are some of the guests still sitting around with vomit soaking into their clothes and not so much as an offer of seltzer water and commiseration;

because the host has stomped outside to grill the complainer about -why- she's talking smack about her perfectly -lovely- party, doesn't she know people can hear her and she's ruining it for everyone? And that she's hurting the host's feelings?

Miss Manners does not approve.

belledame222 said...

and all that said...

I really don't have any place saying this, I expect.

but hey, it's probably about my turn to be the asshole, so here goes:

I did kind of wince when I read "white POC." Yes, I'm an outsider to this one. Yes, I understand the complaints. But, putting it that way, it sort of reminds me of y'know the eternal Male-Identified Patriarchy Fucker charges that get lobbed around not infrequently in the white femisphere. realness, in other words. It's...well, just speaking from my own experience in Those Other Battles, which may or may not be comparable really, I've been on the other end of them, and it does feel kind of like a low blow; there's really no way to answer it.

I mean...look, I realize everyone's good faith has been pretty well shot to shit right now; but...it seems to me that sins of omission are bad enough without it starting to lap into "yer a brainwashed tool of the [System]" territory.

Sorry, Donna. Feel free to take my head off for stepping in here. And I'm not saying I don't agree with your frustration and anger. I'm really mostly going off my own shit here. Just...yeah.

Donna said...

It's because there is no actual kinder and gentler word for it, Belle. So alot of people don't know what I mean. But you have read Nezua, you have read goodboy, you have read about his journey, the blue contacts, the blonde hair dye, the name change. I have a very similar history to tell. I was a white POC. So this isn't something I am making up to yell, "oreo" at another WOC. Would you say the same thing to me if we were discussing Alberto Gonzales or Condi Rice regarding white POC? Just as there are degrees of racism, from the Klan member down to the patronizing of our liberal peers, there are degrees of being white POC and within our spaces and communities we can recognize that there are those who go along to get along. We can recognize when we do it ourselves. We can recognize when we step on the backs of our sisters and brothers to fit in to this racist society.

I think it depends on what you think my purpose is. If I am just shaming Samhita to get one up on her, or keep her out of the WOC clubhouse, the same way that feminists use that shit, I have no problem with you calling that out. I'm pretty sure I am telling her to wake the hell up though. She is crying that no one supports her when the racist shit against her goes down and I'm telling her to figure it out. She encourages white supremacist attitudes at her site, they aren't going to have her back against other white supremacists, and POC that she lets them run out sure as hell ain't either.

belledame222 said...

Well--you would know your purpose better than anyone else.

Yes, I've read Nez's Goodboy posts.

It's just, y'know, I think there's a difference between calling that out in -yourself,- which is pretty much what Nezua's doing, and calling it out in someone else.

I mean, if you're asking if I think Condi Rice (Michelle Malkin, La Shawn Barber, Maggie Thatcher) has internalized all kinds of Oppressor shit, and is no friend to POC or women in general--well, sure.

Thing is--well, for one thing, besides the relative evilness of their position and deeds, these are public figures, and the chances of them actually -responding- to anything you'd say about them is pretty much nil.

Whereas Samhita's here and reading this;

and believe me, I get the deep irony here, that so many people have been posting as though Sylvia or BA or you aren't there, and boo hoo no fair -now-, you know;

just...

I believe you that you believe you're how you say, doing this for her own good;

and I barely know Samhita at all, so I've really no idea how she might or might not respond.

Just in general, in my observation...given a choice between the people saying you're their pal and their friend,

and the people saying, more or less, you're a sellout for defending the people who you see as your pals and your friends, as opposed to people you barely know (yeah, maybe -should- know them, but--doesn't) who are not only really really angry (which is definitely not something I am suggesting you shouldn't be, for one second) but -maybe- saying something that -sounds- like "Oreo" ("coconut," whatever)

...well, I think the chances of her going "gee, maybe you're right" aren't very...

but then, what the hell do I know.

and maybe they weren't very anyway, the chances, so may as well yell.

ilyka said...

I can't be certain as it was worded very generally, but I think someone wiser than I am was trying to tell me tonight that white people shouldn't get involved in PoC-to PoC disputes.

This is getting close enough to telling Donna what to do, BD, that while I see what you're trying to say, I'm not personally comfortable having it here.

(Not least because it's gonna get me called out as a divisive troublemaker. Because that hasn't happened a dozen times today already, and I just wouldn't know what to do about it. Oh dear, oh dear.)

No, but you know? Some territory just sez "Keep Out." Which, come to think of it, is a message I probably ought to have heeded in the first damn place.

I'm so like smart and stuff! [kicks self]

Anyway. Pony?

Donna said...

Belle, what Ilyka is gently trying to say is, that some of these things have to be worked out amongst ourselves, POC to POC. It's like if there are one group of feminists hashing something out with another and a man steps in to cheer on one side or egg them on, not helpful.

But I understand what you are saying. What I am telling you is that Samhita will not listen to me anyway, but in putting it in an offensive manner it will stick with her. She will have that aha moment when she sees that again and again and again, no one comes to her support when she gets bashed on racial issues. She better learn to make them always palatable to white people or stop talking about them...or as we suggested, start calling it out so that more WOC feel safe on the site and that more WOC friendly whites are on the site. It's the atmosphere she and Feministing are cultivating that leaves her hanging to dry.

Oh and I think people say the same things about Condi and Malkin etc in the hopes that it will filter back to them, not because we feel free to because they aren't here.

ilyka said...

Thanks, Donna, that's what I was trying to say, except yours is the coherent, sense-making version.

I'm gonna close these down now for the selfish reason that I need a breather. It isn't anything anyone did, just to be clear. Though, I do remain a little miffed at Samhita for not producing Sylvia's and Nanette's ponies.