A little background -- this week Renee, Numa and I ranted a bit on tumblr, a P.S. to #mencallmethings if you can call it as #otherpeoplecallusthingstoo and by the time we finished, we realised we had so much more to say. The following post is a collaborative post by Renee and I. Post contains mentions of rape, rape threats, trans*misogyny and many other --isms. Tread carefully.
Renee: I was talking to a friend tonight about #otherpeoplecallmethingstoo. Now this friend…well, I’m unsure how much or how little to say about other peoples’ intersections, but I think it’s safe to say he has a real depth of experience with race, gender identity, sexuality, and so on. He’s also a bit my senior, which means he was old enough to actively identify as a feminist when second wave feminism was a happening thing, and still has many friends and acquaintances for whom THAT feminism is still THE feminism. And he’s a creative person who has sometimes channeled his energy into critiquing the sins of the feminist past…and felt the sting for doing so. Point being, he’s savvy to this sort of stuff, and it’s something we commiserate around often.
And he was with me while I bemoaned my frustration with the mainstream feminist community. He gets my anger about how abortion and reproductive health are framed as “women’s issues”. He recognizes my pain when the Amanda Marcotte’s of the world reduce misogyny and sexism to the existence of “gonads hang[ing] on the outside” of certain people. But, of course, it’s easy to empathize with my position on that stuff…it’s not shocking, because it happened and we know who these people are and it wasn’t personal, even if I take it personally.
But when I told him about some of the other stuff - the personal attacks ,especially the ones Jaded wrote about, which I quoted some of verbatim - he drew back a bit. I’m not really sure why, because he’s certainly seen a lot of vitriol and hate, much of it from within the feminist community. But for whatever reason, he offered an explanation.
“Well keep in mind, it’s the internet. Those are the worst of the worst,” he said.
When Sady Doyle creates #mencallmethings, feminists (which I often consider myself) don’t question it. It means something! It’s representative of what women have to deal with. It reveals the depths to which misogyny is ingrained in our culture. But when we do #otherpeoplecallmethings, at best we’ve revealed an anomaly…a few outlying pieces of data. “Oh, they’re not real feminists” or “that’s just the radical fringe” or “ignore the trolls” or whatever. You know, handwaving.
And I’m not bashing my friend - not at all - because I’ve done the same thing. For me, it was the radfems…”angry out-of-touch asshats who no one pays any attention to anymore,” I’d say. Except then there’s Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford, bending the ears of the United Nations. And the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival attendees who thought it was a good idea to post pictures of and out trans women on the internet (and received the tacit support of Wordpress in doing so). And those are just two from this year alone.
Look at the posts we’ve done about this already. These are people who self-identify as feminists, with enough pride in their convictions to attach their names to their comments (which they wrote knowing full well they could be made public). These are people who know enough to drop the Hudood Ordinance into conversation (even if they somehow don’t know the difference between India and Pakistan). Perhaps not these individuals in particular (although maybe!), but these are the people enrolled in Women’s Studies courses in big universities, organizing Slutwalks, and traveling abroad for “humanitarian efforts”. Who is going to be the next academician presenting their findings to the UN? Or the founder of the next big women’s solidarity event? Meeghan? Janice? Jenny? Point being, #otherpeoplecallmethings is not an anomaly or an outlier at all. And from the merely flawed to the truly foul, from the personal to the impersonal, the only real question is when do #otherpeople start giving a shit?
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