Friday, April 27, 2007

I've learned a lot this week.

over the past week I was privileged to see some strong voices come out in support of me - as I may have mentioned, I am deeply humbled.

at the same time, I was also privileged to see some strong voices coming out extremely critical of me. and I am equally humbled.

among other things, I've learned that I can come off a little(or a lot) sarcastic, without even trying. I should work on that.

I've learned that not everyone reads my attempts at civility as attempts at civility. some folks think I'm twofaced, disingenuous, insincere...well, I guess I can't really help that. I don't think outbursts like the one below should be the only way to convince people of one's sincerity.

And even as I write this, there will be folks out there going "Oh, choke on your false humility, you twofaced, disingenuous, insincere..." etc.

To them I say - this is my truth. and I daresay nobody knows my truth better than I do. but if anyone would like to argue the point, please feel free.

As to the Great Wall of Feminism proposed by Stormy and others - frankly, I think this is a bad idea.

Please note, I do not think the people proposing the idea are bad. The people proposing the idea clearly have the common good in mind, and care about Class Woman, and even some individual women, and really really want to stop the insanity so that everyone can go back to feeling safe and healthy and OK again. I am absolutely convinced of their sincerity and desire to Do Good.

but as Robin Morgan once said - "Sisters, this is not the way."

I agree that it's best not to engage with every other blogger who has expressed a distaste for you. I agree that sometimes a retreat back into sanity or so-called "safe space" is the wise and healthy thing to do when you're just not getting anywhere. And I totally agree there's no place for insults, personal attacks, threats, or outing.

But I don't agree that the sort of permanent separation that Stormcloud has proposed will be good for feminism in the long run.

I mean, we could just learn not to insult, attack personally, threaten or out, even while rigorously questioning and examining each other's points of view.

That way, nobody would be limited as to blog content, or comment content. Nobody would have to live with the unpleasant creeping fear that her latest post might possibly be construed as "bashing", and should she take it down? should she rephrase somehow? should she not even consider questioning whatever it was that got her thinking in the first place? did she break the truce?

If I adhere strictly to the "separate rooms" idea, it means I don't even read radfem blogs. so, how am I gonna know whether they're keeping their end of the bargain?

Less dialogue means less learning. less learning is no kind of progress.

does this make me pro-blogwar? I don't think so. it just makes me anti-wall.

The sort-of-sadly-amusing thing is that the folks who are most in need of reading this post are the folks who are supposed to be avoiding me, in the name of "separate rooms". and even if they did, they couldn't comment.

I don't know if I'll be blogging here anymore. I might, I might not. I'm still deeply ambivalent about the whole thing.

was this post "bashing"?

comments are, as always, open and unmodded.

Honestly? I think (as usual) that your worst mistake in this whole sorry mess is assuming that the problem is you.
well, fallout from stuff I've said, yeah, that is my problem.

establishing the Great Wall of Feminism? no. that is definitely not my problem.
I think "anti-wall" is a great slogan on so many levels, and it can be applied as a philosophy on so many different political, social, and philosophical planes.

I think you just came up with the best reason to keep blogging, by the way:

"Less dialogue means less learning. less learning is no kind of progress."

I hope you do keep it up!
eh, thank Robert Frost: "something there is that doesn't love a wall."
well, fallout from stuff I've said, yeah, that is my problem.

Well, yes and no, IMNSHO.

Because on the one hand, yes - it's good to acknowledge that words and actions can have consequences beyond what was intended. This is part of being an adult.

OTOH, this goes both ways. And I see you here, from my perspective, bending over backwards in the attempt to figure out what you could've done differently to not make some asshole or other go stark raving bugfuck, and I think there are a lot of cases where the appropriate response to bugfuck assholery is to shrug and say, "one of us has a problem, and it's not me." Especially when the offense in question is failing to properly be ashamed when you speak your own truth.

And I'm a big believer in civil discourse, but I don't think this extends to not ever being angry, or confrontational, or sarcastic, in regards to people who are putting a lot of effort into being hurtful shitheads. One of the appropriate responses to people being hurtful shitheads is, occasionally, "fuck you" - not the most productive or useful, maybe, but not inappropriate. Asking what you could have done to not make someone be a hurtful shithead is almost never the right course of action.

To put it another way: The way you have been abused is NOT YOUR FAULT.
well, sure, but there are a few folks out there who, nonetheless, feel like I've been abusive.

AND - this is important - I have to recognize that.

if I don't, I'm no better than my abusive ex, who sat there smiling stupidly when the judge asked him if he'd ever hit me, saying "no, not that I recall."

and I thought that my anger would leap out of my body.

I may not fully understand why, despite my best efforts, some people think I'm yet being abusive. but I do understand how it feels to hear "I'm not abusive - you're crazy." and I don't want to do that to anyone.
I just don't think that the "separate rooms" thing really sees the long ball, is all.
Okay, I get that.

But here's the thing. You're not acting like your abusive ex. Disagreeing with people, being frustrated with them, having beliefs that don't line up with theirs =/= abuse. I realize that having lived through what you've lived through makes it difficult to trust your own reality (I've been through that same trauma, though on a different scale); nonetheless, because someone is telling you "You are abusing me" does not give them automatic authority to define the rules and call the shots. Acknowledging it is one thing, and you're right - it's probably a necessary first step in a lot of ways. But I think a lot of the cases in question call for the acknowledgement of "I realize you feel that way, but you are mistaken. There are many problems in the world, and this is not one of mine."

Case by case basis, sure. And I realize that I'm defending you here because I like you and we're on the same side of this mess. I just hate to think of you wondering if your disagreeing and being angry at people on the Internets was the same thing as actual, yanno, abuse. Because, ftr: It's not.
further thoughts on the separate-rooms deal:

what this really says to me is - I have such little regard for you that I can't trust myself NOT to abuse you when I'm around you. So I better make sure you stay far away from me, lest you discover the depth of my contempt for you.

I can't trust myself to treat you like a human being, so I'm just going to ignore you.

which, jeez.
I don't say this often, but honestly... I think a few of "he people proposing the idea" are bad. How they got that way, who knows. Maybe something happened to them. But I do know that I don't fucking care. They've shown their true colors, and there's no going back as far as I'm concerned. In the words of the late Kurt Vonnegut, they can all go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

I'm a charitable person. I give folks the benefit of the doubt - maybe too often, maybe too much. But there is a point, a line, and once it's crossed? Well, sorry, you're done. If I've given you a fair shake and you've proved yourself to be an asshole, then there's no reason for me to continue to waste my energy.

And that's how I feel about THAT. Fuck the lot of 'em right in the ear.
One: it's not false humility. But, you don't need any -more- humility. SRSLY.

Look--I probably shouldn't do this, but: okay, you want someone to tell you how to change? what to do to self-improve? All right. I'll bite. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down every piece of self-punishing, self-blaming thought that comes into your head. Don't stop to think about it.

Then, go through the list, one by one, cross each out, and write something (yes, it's "affirmations" time) self-affirming in its place.

Alternately: take that piece of paper and burn it. Then take a separate piece of paper and write a list of all your gifts, your positive attributes. Whether you "really" believe them or not.

Now, I have a feeling that now that I've said that, you're going to want to balk at it, not do it, or "yes but" me.

And you know what? That's totally fine if you do. I'll still love ya anyway. Really.
...two: oh, yeah, the feminism/wall stuff. uh, tbh, i don't even really know what-all they said about "walls" and so on because i couldn't be arsed to read anymore.

What I will say is this: I have one more thing to say about this latest crap of -theatening-, and then, barring more active interference in any of our lives, I am through talking to or about Certain People, especially making whole posts about them. Not because it's a "truce" or any such sorry crap.


and (justifiably) marginalized. and unpleasant. and i have better things to do with my energy. i honestly don't give a damn what they think of me, and i don't give a damn about their "feminism;" i am much more interested in connecting with the zillions of politically-minded women (and others) who AREN'T THEM and AREN'T FUCKING BATSHIT INSANE. and, unlike them, are capable of actual discussion and working together like adults.

it's not "feminism." it's a handful of petty childish people who already command far more attention than they're worth.

and that's all she wrote.
>they can all go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.>

oh, was that Vonnegut? i always wondered who coined that one.

i like "don't care if she farts or blows a tin whistle," myself.
Belle, you are full of good ideas.

and cheese.

and I love you too.

which in itself will cause certain few folks to roll their eyes and think mean things that they will now never be able to say except in the private Genderberg forums, except that to do that they'd have to admit that they were dirtying their eyes by reading here.

nobody but me used the "wall" phrase to describe the whole "separate rooms" thing. I said, and still believe, that such an idea builds a wall through the country of feminism.

which is funny, because way back when, last august I think, I wrote a post about that lake with the longest name? Chargogagogmanchogagogchargungagungawog?

which name purported to mean "I fish on your side, you fish on my side, nobody fishes in the middle."

went over like a rather lead balloon, as I recall.

but, well, that's me. ahead of the curve. I gotta find that post.
well, what i am saying is: the middle's -already- out there, it's actually far bigger than this same handful of silly gits; you find 'em posting at the bigger feminist and political blogs and in a myriad of smaller places and even (gasp) offline.

I may not fully understand why, despite my best efforts, some people think I'm yet being abusive.

but, antiprincess--that is exactly what abusive people do. PROJECTION.

they don't "think you're abusive," they're putting their own shit onto you, which conveniently lets them off the hook as you internalize it. can you see that?
I'm with Dan on the abuse thing. Tossing out a word doesn't provide any legitimacy to an accusation. It's manipulative to hide behind a word, and take advantage of someone's reaction to that word, if there isn't substance behind it, and that's IMO what's going on here.

Belle -- I absolutely agree. Wall, schmall. So we cannot interact with several rad fems. They are not by any stretch the whole movement. There are plenty of radfems who don't need to erect walls. Kitty, with whom I don't exactly see eye to eye, is fully capable of being on a panel with people who wouldn't even refer to themselves as feminists, without resorting to threats or shaming. I don't see yesterday's contretemps as any kind of death knell for feminist dialogue.

Although, frankly, I remain a bit hurt that Pony thought I'd be foolish enough to work the day shift! I mean, come on, hun, the OctoParents did teach their little girl the basic rudiments of Sexbottery 101...
and, "I'm not abusive, you're abusive" is as bad as "I'm not abusive, you're crazy"--and that is EXACTLY what those assholes just tried to pull on you. did. YOu called them out. Instead of acting remotely like human beings, they attacked and attacked and attacked.

You're not responsible for their behavior -or- their feelings, and -there is nothing you can do to get them to act differently.-

Repeat 50X.

And yeah--if someone punches you in the face and then, when you complain, says, "You bruised my fist with your face, you abuser!" does that make them right? Do you need to see things from their perspective? Or is your first priority to get the hell away from this person who's punching you in the face, and find people who don't do that instead?
and i mean, like, say, okay--OG, i think that dialogue you were having with ravenm over at your spot, a real dialectic, was way more interesting and useful than a thousand interactions with those assclowns.

and raven, unlike a number of people, actually does activism in the real world. she may or may not be a "fun feminist," (i've no idea really), but she's quite quite serious. one doesn't need to be "grim," much less "horrible and unhinged," to be "serious." in fact those things are the opposite of serious.
It's manipulative to hide behind a word, and take advantage of someone's reaction to that word, if there isn't substance behind it, and that's IMO what's going on here.


That actually did occur to me while thinking about this today; I have to wonder, since you've been so very frank and open about the very real abuse you endured, whether that word was chosen deliberately, as a known weak spot that you'd be hesitant to fight back over for exactly the reasons you articulated.

In which case, the opposition party moves from "ridiculous and idiotic" to "ridiculous and monstrous," assuming they weren't there already.
well, at some point, you just gotta consider the source and try to move on.
Belle -- I very much agree, I enjoyed and learned from that conversation with Raven.
In which case, the opposition party moves from "ridiculous and idiotic" to "ridiculous and monstrous," assuming they weren't there already.

I don't know which person made that particular remark, but there are at least one or two people in that bunch that i know to be more than capable of doing exactly that sort of below-the-belt button pushing. it is despicable.
Honestly, I think the Great Wall is a terrible idea. Walls usually are.
Might it be a good idea for everyone to be a bit more polite? To avoid making personal insults and generally try to be a bit more civil? And to give others the benefit of the doubt and not assume that they're being insincere right off the bat?
Sure. All of those things would be good. But a complete separation? That way lies the slow death of the movement. And that's not what any of us want.
About the abuse thing...I've seen you around on the Net a lot, AP, and I've never seen you do anything that could be decribed as abusive. I've seen what looks like "I'm pissed off but I'm still trying to be reasonable here" and I've seen "OK, now I'm telling you that I'm pissed off", but abusive? Nope.
The fact that some people interpret your attempts at civility as sneaky, underhanded etc says a lot more about them than it does about you, honestly.
that's kind of you, cassandra.

I'm sure there was, probably more than once at least, some comment or post in which I completely lost my shit. In most cases (save, notably, two which I remember), I apologized promptly and did what I could to make amends.

I think, though, for some people, my mere presence feels abusive. and though I don't really understand it, I have to at least respect it.

that doesn't mean I can't read, form opinions, evaluate, consider and question, and express those opinions, evaluations, considerations and questions.
I think, though, for some people, my mere presence feels abusive. and though I don't really understand it, I have to at least respect it

No, you really don't. Or, well: if by that you mean, puffball doesn't want you to post at her blog, that's her prerogative, sure, same as anyone else; but it doesn't mean a damn thing about -you.- It just means puffball doesn't want you on her blog. So, you respect puffball's -boundaries-, but you don't have to apologize for your damn -existence.- And, you don't have to take it on face level when some people try to lay claim to more turf than their own personal spot, either.
But here's the thing - why would ANYONE'S mere presence feel abusive? Unless that person had hurt you (hypothetical you) personally, why the extreme reaction? What have you, AP, done that would make that a reasonable response?
That's the part I just don't get.
Having one's own views and feelings without always considering how they serve others is what the patriarchy chastises women for.
Yes. or, well, it is certainly classic sexist training. (i'm going to try to excise the "p" word from my vocabulary, because it is making me itch).

You've taken a lot of shit because of your association with me. Yet, you still associate with me. Which means a lot. From everything I've ever seen out of you in bloglandia, you've never been what I would consider abusive. Curious? Yep. Annoyed? Yep. Fired up? Yep. But generally civil and never abusive. I think in a WHOLE lotta ways, you are being judged by the company you keep, and that's not fair.
*would like to buy a clue*

What is the Great Wall of Feminism?
"but as Robin Morgan once said - "Sisters, this is not the way.""

If I had a dollar for everytime I expressed that sentiment over there I could at least buy a couple packs of cigarettes.

That said, retreating to safer spaces for a while is good idea also.

This post is not "bashing," AP and I believe in your sincerity 100%.
"they don't "think you're abusive," they're putting their own shit onto you, which conveniently lets them off the hook as you internalize it. can you see that? "

Thanks for the Belle.
I needed to read that today!
After the Civil war, the presbyterian church split into North and South, then came back together. In the 1960's it split again, into liberal and conservative. In the 80's there was a move to rejoin, and many didn't want to , so a third 'unified' church developed. Maybe that's a direction the feminist bloglandia is headed. Them, Y'all, and Us.
and darlin', you're a straight-up sweet heart. Don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I'd share my fried okra with you anytime.
Here's my two cents, for what they are worth:

To me, it may be all nice to build a wall of separation between the APRFs and their critics and scapegoats....but that would distract from the motivation behind the idea of a wall in the first place. Is it really to allow for a "safe place" for venting their spleen?? Or is it really a cloaking device to hide your most dangerous weapons to be used against your "enemies"??

From what I have noticed from Stormy and the gang, their conception of "the Wall of Feminism" is merely a cloak to continue their assaults on their critics. Even while Ren has agreed to drop her criticisms of them personally, they continue to the bitter end to find new and different ways to assault and crucify her. (Stormy's last post before Witchy closed down the thread was yet another threat to "out" Ren's personal life.)

The point I'm making is that these Swift Boater wannabes simply have no intentions of backing off; in fact, they see Ren's backing off as a sign to attack even further, as a symbol of weakness rather than civility. If they are incapable of even admitting Ren's HUMANITY and existence, then do you really think that they will actually be willing to meet her halfway??

I really don't think, AP, that you owe them a damn thing, especially not an apology. They are the ones with the issues and myopias; and they are the ones who are abusing you, not the other way around.

You have to do what you have to do, of course..but just remember that you do have friends and supporters out here, whatever you decide to do.

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"I think a few of "he people proposing the idea" are bad."

I do too.

And AP: just because they say "you're abusive" doesn't mean you are. What have you actually *done* to them? How have you created a whole atmosphere of fear for them, such that they struggle to appease you because you make them feel bad about their very selves, souls, and spirits?

Because THAT's what abuse does. It destroys people, because those people are invested in behaving as the abuser deems "right", and there is no such thing.

I've never seen you do this. I've never seen you wield such power over them that they are incapable of being/asserting themselves around you or fearing to seek out spaces where they CAN be/assert themselves because of a dynamic with you that makes doing so costly to them.

If you really have that much power over them -- well, I for one have not seen it.
in fact, they see Ren's backing off as a sign to attack even further, as a symbol of weakness rather than civility.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I noticed in those comments, as well.

AP, if there are people you trust who feel you've abused them, then fine - take that seriously and examine it. But don't assume that because someone tells you that you've abused them that you've necessarily done so - especially if the someone has a history of trashing people and being abusive herself.

I hope you don't stop blogging.
"The feminists hate me."

"No, the feminists only hate you because of your association with ME."

"No, the feminists hate me the most and and said mean things to me!"

(sound of little foot stomping)

Could we all just grow up here?
well, anon - I imagine that everyone has their soft, sensitive, immature squidgy spots.

This is my soft, sensitive, immature squidgy spot. there are many like it, but this one is mine... ;)
post your little handle, anonymous, why don't you, if you plan to stick around and explain to us how best to be mature about the Internets.

(nothing says "I'm above it all" like stopping in for a quick drive-by)
I'm not saying you don't have a point, anon - but it's just easier to talk to you if you attach your opinion to some sort of name.

so you want to talk about how immature we all are, go for it. I'm not going to stop you.

what did you think I was going to do, delete your comment? protest violently "OMG I am so NOT immature! you're immature!"

what is it you want?
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