A Rant

What exactly is wrong with progressive bloggers? Scratch that. I don’t care what’s wrong. All I care about is getting people to stop being stubborn and to try doing something constructive once in awhile. What do you blog about? Do you focus on sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, or all of the above? (I’m deliberately leaving out bloggers who focus on disablism, since they have haven’t indulged in all the horseshit expressed over the last several weeks.) If you blog about those subjects, have you been engaging in neverending “discussions” about how crappy other progressives are? Have you been posting divisive statements showing your superiority to everyone else?

Events unfold like this: a blogger attacks a group of people who also fall under the progressive umbrella. A blogger in “group A” deems members of “group B” as stupid, hateful, aggressive, and worthless. Since the two groups have many common interests, it’s inevitable that someone from group B will find the post attacking group B. Word of the post spreads among members of group B, and the members go to the post and leave comments protesting the lousy characterization of them.

The next part of the interaction is where we all behave as if we’re in junior high school. Let me be clear: there are important issues and points of contention that need to be discussed between groups. I’ll repeat this because it’s so important: important issues that progressive groups disagree on need to be discussed. Discussion almost never happens. Instead, members of both groups dig in, and they argue their side of the issue. They do not listen to what members of the other group are saying. No progress is made, no understanding results from the argument. People continue to say things about the other group that are simply untrue. Meanwhile, more time has been pissed away fighting each other instead of fighting oppression.

Raising your voice to protest awful treatment of a group of people is a core value of progressives. But in this climate, responding to offensive things said by others is a futile gesture. You will not be heard. You will become even more furious, your blood pressure will take a beating, but you won’t be able to educate others as to why what they’re saying or doing is wrong. What’s the point in trying?

It’s my hope that people who are natural allies will start working on understanding viewpoints that are not their own. We don’t have to agree on every issue to work together. I hope that we learn to treat each other with respect, because that’s the only chance we have for fighting the monstrous conditions in which all of us live and die. What do we really care about? Do we care about fighting for people who are suffering, or is it more important to tear down another group that shares at least some of our goals?

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16 responses to “A Rant

  1. Renegade Evolution

    SE:

    You are, of course, right, but I think this recent round really, really cut deeper with a lot of people than previous altercations had. I am not saying things won’t ‘get better’, but people are still really angry and hurting and it might take some serious time, and I am afraid, actually, that there have been bridges burned this time that no one on any side really has a desire to repair. I once said similar issues aside, I could not work with feminists who do not see me (let alone treat me) like a person, and I am thinking that there are some out there who just never will, and saddly I do not think I am the only one who olds this opinion. Sigh. I guess we will see if time really does heal all wounds and stuff.

  2. These are really wise words, SE, but I think part of the problem is that while we use blogs for political purposes, we also use them to rant, to let off steam, as therapy, and I know that I personally find it extremely difficult not to say anything when I am hurt or angry, and I guess it’s the same for a number of people.

    I admire your ability to stay so calm and focused. Thank you for your kind words at my blog too ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve written a new unrelated post and jazzed the blog up a bit in an effort to reclaim and move on and I’m feeling better.

  3. ugh. it really is exhausting, isn’t it? i’ve stopped reading the comments on most blogs anyway because it all seems so junior high and clique-ish. the fighting makes me sad too.

    that said – i don’t link to or read pro-porn blogs because i’ve heard their arguments already and i disagree with them. i don’t think there’s any point in either of us trying to change the other’s mind. AND i just ASSUME that if they identify as feminists that we’re ALREADY collaborating and doing feminist work together in the other areas where we do agree (healthcare, pay equity, repro-rights, etc) so yays all around.

    i don’t know. i read lots of stuff on radfem and non radfem blogs that i agree with and lots that i disagree with. i just chalk it up as “to each her own” and move on. we don’t have to take it ALL SO PERSONALLY.

    i think what happens is people get really upset when their feminism is questioned and i don’t blame them. i don’t think it’s helpful for anyone to say who is and who isn’t feminist. i think each individual woman decides for herself whether or not she’s feminist. that said, i think a lot of women play the martyr and say “poor me, i guess i’m just not a feminist then because all these big meanies said so!”

    i do lots of unfeminist things (make-up, dying, etc.) but i still consider myself a feminist and a RADICAL feminist at that. as much as people complain about the so-called “feminist police” i’ve yet to have one person tell me i’m not a feminist. (or maybe they have and i just blow it off and think “that’s just your OPINION, sister!”)

    i claim my feminism proudly and i’m not giving it up for anyone! i AM a feminist who occasionally makes unfeminist choices. sometimes we have to in order to survive literally and emotionally. i forgive my sisters and my friends for being only human, you know?

    lots of love to you and bumble, SE. YOU are certainly one of my favorite femiinists! ๐Ÿ™‚
    xoxo, jared

  4. spotted elephant

    Ren-I know this round cut really deep, and I just want the haters to crawl back under their rocks and leave everyone else alone.

    I don’t think you should work with anyone who doesn’t treat like a person. I burned some bridges too-there are people I don’t want to interact with on any level anymore. Hell, I’ve basically written off a few people who seem to be irredeemable haters. This post was aimed at the rest of us. I think your outlook is more optimistic than mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just having a hard time knowing when to respond to awful stuff, and when to let it go and move on with better things.

    Laura-Sure, it’s possible that a lot of this is coming from people being angry and hurt. But I’m seeing what I can only describe as deliberate attempts to provoke others, and free spewage of hateful remarks.

    Um, I can’t describe myself as one who can stay calm and focused. This shit *enrages* me, and I just want it to go away. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Really like your idea about changing things up visually and moving on-that’s a great idea.

    Ms. Jared-we don’t have to take it ALL SO PERSONALLY.

    Lardy, is that a good point. People offering their opinions, or analyzing a given practice (I’m a shaver too) does not mean anyone is trying to control what any individual does! But in the latest rounds of fighting, it really did seem like some people were trying to tell others that they were subhuman scum (shudder).

    Some time ago, I was feeling really low about the chances of anything getting better and so many were fighting, and you did a whole post that focused on this sentiment:

    i claim my feminism proudly and i’m not giving it up for anyone!

    Oh, it was just what I needed to hear/read! I wish we could all keep this idea in the front of our minds. Thanks for your kind words.

  5. I agree, SE, and I’ve always admired how you stay out of these spats.

    I’m having great difficulty doing the same. Someday, perhaps.

    My old scars still hurt is all I can say in my defense.

  6. I thought better of it. i have my own place to rant and be cranky. sorry, SE.

  7. more calmly and less personally, then:

    Terminally hateful people aside, the problem, as i see it, is that we don’t all share the same experiences. and, oftentimes, there does seem to be this assumption of what -is- and -isn’t- “feminist” or “unfeminist” that y’know some of us maybe just don’t share, because it’s got little or nothing to do with where we’re coming from. Not because we feel so -very- strongly about (makeup, blowjobs, what you will), one way or another, necessarily. often not.

    but because, it is exasperating to have -assumptions- made about one, okay; and, much more so when one says, “but, look, this is not my experience; this is -not what I am saying-” and, instead of being listened to, she is “countered,” (remember, when talking about her OWN experience), dismissed (literally, sometimes, “you’re really a man…”), shunned subtly or (as here) grossly, and/or argued with as though she had said something other than what she actually said. Even when what she actually said is, like, -right there.-

    THAT, as i see it, is the problem. It’s not unique to feminism, no. Or even “progressive” politics, or…

    but, well, that’s enough for now.

    I’m tired.

  8. spotted elephant

    Kim-I’m not sure that I do stay out of these fights, but I definitely read them past the point where it’s good for me.

    BD-Well, yeah-the not listening and making assumptions of others go hand-in-hand I think. And it applies whether people are speaking on a personal or political level (or both).

    The problem is that people on both sides seem determined to do that sort of thing, when confronted with “No, that’s not what I said, and not what I meant”, and the person on the other side ignores it, and just goes on fighting.

    You’re right that it isn’t limited to feminism-I didn’t mean to imply that-it’s a problem across the board. If leftys and rightwingers are doing it, well…but when people who should be allies do it, I just want to scream.

  9. Some things are simply not up for discussion, women’s human rights being one example.

  10. Well, you know, I would probably agree with that; but, given past context, I have a feeling that the subtext of that is that “ideologically deviating in any way from a hardline on certain Eternal Subjects” = “against womens’ human rights.” Which, well, if that’s the case, then: no, we probably won’t be able to talk in any useful way, that’s right.

    More than my feelings about said Eternal Subjects (much more so), I really dislike dogmatism. I appreciate that some peoples’ need for safety (I take it) comes before open discussion about subjects they feel strongly about. Which is fine. What isn’t fine is when those same people do not give other people the same respect for boundaries that they demand themselves. (I am speaking of online dynamics only, here).

  11. spotted elephant

    More than my feelings about said Eternal Subjects (much more so), I really dislike dogmatism. I appreciate that some peoples’ need for safety (I take it) comes before open discussion about subjects they feel strongly about.

    (Trying to say this gently-I’m not angry, but I can’t figure out how to put it.) Well, then, you take it wrong, sister. ๐Ÿ™‚ Speaking for myself, I hate blind dogma too (ex catholic here). But if a movement is based on certain ideas and principles, what’s wrong with that? It might not be for you-sure. But the important principles in radical feminism are based upon belief in how things work. It isn’t something handed down from on high.

    It seems like dogmatism is an easy way to slam radical feminism. But what I believe is based on what I’ve lived, what I’ve read, and a whole lot of thinking. I don’t feel a need for safety-if I did, I sure wouldn’t be a radical feminist-we’re very easy targets to ridicule.

    So if my ideas about women’s human right don’t match up with yours, well, so what? There are areas of overlap, and that’s where we can work together.

  12. SE, also not angry with you, and was not actually using “dogmatism” as a synonym for “radical feminism.”

    So if my ideas about women’s human right don’t match up with yours, well, so what? There are areas of overlap, and that’s where we can work together.

    Well, -I- think so, and I totally agree. And I know that a number of radical feminists do as well.

    My impression, though, is that (for instance) the author of that post does not share this perspective, based on past encounters. I am trying to say this without picking a fight. I am saying: that much, at least, is her prerogative. But, and perhaps I misunderstand, but based on past readings of her various sites and personas, what I understand -her- to be saying is that my position on pr0n/’stitution means that I am not only not her ally but working against her (this was SC’s exact wording, pretty much, as well), and therefore there is not, cannot, will not be any sort of common ground, because that is central to her own…worldview.

  13. “that post” meaning the one directly above my own, I meant to say.

  14. On a somewhat different and perhaps cynical note: when I first started blogging, a very well-known radical feminist blogger advised me to ‘pick a fight with someone bigger’ to get people to read my blog. I found this utterly distasteful, totally fucked up, and quite revealing. From her perspective, “fighting” was a way to get noticed. Needless to say, I don’t read her blog.

    And I have no interest in creating an argument to get more people to find my blog.

    I am hoping that the over-heated words are related to people’s actual feelings, and not to a cynical self-interest. But I will also throw in my opinion that every woman has the inherent right to express herself, to be her self, and to call herself a feminist, or not. No one’s got a grip on the proverbial umbrella.

    Spotted, you are a righteous gal. I am feeling better about living with my own cute little diagnoses, and every time I visit here, I end up feeling good.

    Thanks for speaking up and out-

  15. Oh this was a great rant. You have high ideals about what blogging is all about. I follow the fights myself, but don’t participate, I am exasperated by certain threads, but overall I think the chaos is honest and reflects the way life is, and I believe people are working things out that need to be established.

    I think all of us are carrying around an assortment of thoughts and looking for people who have similar thoughts. And accessing other people’s honest thought can be a noisy process.

    I see some people taking risks and putting themselves on the line, warts and all and I generally feel admiration about the bravery, but I have had many many moments when I’ve felt the opposite, that they were being disruptive for the sake of attention, screwing with people out of some twisted motivations, etc, and I don’t know, maybe a little of that is true, or not. Things get nasty when people are connecting. And I do look for growth, where it’s going over time, and the people who are stuck in trances are, in my opinion not controversial, and not really interesting to me, since they are stuck in their game. Feel free to delete this comment, I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I love your bunny.

  16. Oh this was a great rant. You have high ideals about what blogging is all about. I follow the fights myself, but don’t participate, I am exasperated by certain threads, but overall I think the chaos is honest and reflects the way life is, and I believe people are working things out that need to be established.

    I think all of us are carrying around an assortment of thoughts and looking for people who have similar thoughts. And accessing other people’s honest thought can be a noisy process.

    I see some people taking risks and putting themselves on the line, warts and all and I generally feel admiration about the bravery, but I have had many many moments when I’ve felt the opposite, that they were being disruptive for the sake of attention, screwing with people out of some twisted motivations, etc, and I don’t know, maybe a little of that is true, or not. Things get nasty when people are connecting. And I do look for growth, where it’s going over time, and the people who are stuck in trances are, in my opinion not controversial, and not really interesting to me, since they are stuck in their game. Feel free to delete this comment, I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I love your bunny.

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