«

»

Apr 23 2008

Schooled

Blamers may have noticed my awkward silence on the topic of Amandagate. Not that the entire bloggofemispheriat has been chewing its nails down to unsightly nubs awaiting my pronouncements on the subject, but I hope it’s not too fanciful to surmise that some of you may have wondered if and when I was gonna step up.

That day is today.

It turns out I am not an advanced patriarchy blamer. I may have to stop commenting on this blog.

If I am to be taken seriously as a spinster aunt — which may or may not be possible or even desirable, as I am a person who has taken to eating Funyuns for lunch — it is incumbent on me to stay informed on various current bloggofeminist ideologies. Which I ain’t sufficiently done.

I grasp the necessity of doing so, however, and not just in view of recent events; fluency in feminist ideology is precisely what I require of progressive dude bloggers who flit around the World Wide Web claiming to be down with women’s issues. Invariably, with these guys, a pie fight ad shows up in their sidebar, some feminist readers raise a stink, and the white dudes summarily shout’em down. Then one of their progressive buds writes a “Where are all the women bloggers?” post, and someone says, “Dude! Ana Marie Cox!” and they all go back to Hillary-bashing. If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it eight times.

It’s the same thing with the women of color feminist bloggers and the white feminist bloggers. A white feminist blogger, for example, cannot plug a book written by another white feminist blogger (who is currently under the gun for failing to cite precedent work by women of color), and simultaneously ignore the implications this has for women of color, without it appearing as an act of open hostility. Doing this more or less says, “This author has no fluency. You might as well be reading Perez Hilton.”

It seems so obvious now, so why didn’t I see it before?

That’s right! White privilege! It’s just like male privilege, except in this context it’s just for white chicks. Where dude bloggers may exercise control over women according to their status, white feminist bloggers may exercise control over women of color according to their status.

[Although if I may, in an aside, remark on how absurd it feels to claim "status" of any kind in the feminist blogosphere, which is a community in which I am generally reviled as a sex-hating lesbo nutjob outcast. But I digress.]

In the example cited above, the one where I allude to having posted a pro-Marcotte book dealio, the “control” aspect was expressed in my failure to address the current controversy. In so failing, I effectively endorsed white privilege in feminist bloggery, and closed down a potential avenue of discussion. That this was unintentional is of no consequence; it was perceived by many, and rightly so, as an example of what has been popularly referred to as “circling the wagons.”

The sad irony is that I never cut dudes the tiniest bit of slack in the male privilege department. They write in and say, “But Twisty, I never rape my girlfriend, aren’t you being just a little shrill?”

And I always reply (well, I always used to reply; I just ignore’em now, they make me so tired, especially when they go into minute, graphic detail about their sex lives. Why do they all do that?), “You might,” I used to tell them, “be the nicest male dude on 9 planets, but the fact remains that you’re a dude, so you automatically benefit from male privilege whether you actively choose to or not, and unfortunately this privilege, though it may be invisible to you, is experienced by women as misogyny, again, whether you like it or not.”

It’s the same exact thing with white privilege. So, if you’re a white feminist blogger: you may not choose it, you may hate it, you may ignore it, or you may not even see it, but you do exercise your white privilege daily, and it is absurd to expect that this exercise would be perceived by women of color as anything but racism. Because it is racism, dum-dum.

I know, I know! We don’t mean it! We’ve blogged against racism a hundred times. It is our fondest wish to support women of color. Why are these WOC harping on that one little thing we said in our last post that, OK, in retrospect, might seem a bit patronizing? Why are they being so mean? Can’t they see we’re on their side, overall? And anyway, can we help it if we blog about white feminist things? After all, that’s what we are.

Well, if you’ll permit an analogy: there’ve been pro-abortion posts aplenty at DKos, but after that pie-fight shit I wouldn’t read that blog again with a 10-foot pole. As I wrote back then, a spinster aunt comes to expect from one’s supposedly progressive bloggers a certain level of fluency in rudimentary feminist thought, so when they come out all “Yay pornography! Screw you if you can’t take a joke, you shrill harpy cunt!” you tend to view them with a jaundiced eye. Obviously they’ll throw you to the wolves the minute you start telling’em shit they don’t want to hear.

You feel that, white feminists? That’s your obstreperal lobe telling you that feminism and good intentions do not a get-out-of-racism-free card make.

For the second half of this discussion I am indebted to PhysioProf, who, like 10 days ago, wrote an excellent (and strangely light-on-the-expletives) post “Intellectual Appropriation, Attribution of Credit, and Privilege.” In his essay PP outlines the basic cornerstones of fair play in scholarship, what he considers a “really important self-regulating feature of traditional intellectual discourse in academia that [he thinks] bloggers could stand to learn a few things from.”

In praxis I am loath to adopt anything labeled “traditional in academia,” since academic tradition is one of patriarchy’s most reliable methods of self-replication. However, short of revolution and a new world order wherein intellectual property is nothing but a quaint historical footnote, I’m gonna have give this one to PhysioProf.

The crux on the gist of his nub is this: “Ignorance is not an excuse.”

Now. Some bloggers say Amanda appropriated material from Brownfemipower for a piece on women ‘n immigration that appeared at RH Reality Check and AlterNet; Amanda says no, she came up with the analysis on her own after attending an ACLU conference.

But PhysioProf intimates, and I agree, that if A and B expound similarly, and A’s work pre-dates B’s, the onus is on B to sniff A out and give the props. This no-excuse thing extends from “accidental” ignorance of pre-existing work, such as might describe the Amanda/BFP situation, to “intentional” ignorance, such as purposely avoiding exposure to certain bloggofeminist oeuvres despite, or even because of, their relevance to one’s own work.

In other words, even if Amanda had never heard of Brownfemipower in all her life, and had arrived in an intellectual vacuum at the conclusions she published at RH Reality Check/AlterNet, hard upon her subsequent discovery of Brownfemipower’s pre-existing work — the existence of which appears to be a fact — good scholarship suggests that an acknowledgment of those prior efforts should have hove into view toot sweet. Yet — and please correct me if I’m wrong — so far as I know, no such acknowledgment appears.

So where does sloppy research intersect with white privilege? In this case, right in the old book tour. Amanda’s purported appropriation, whether accidental, intentional, real or imagined, of BFP’s analysis, combined with her book’s debut and an altercation involving some women of color and the book’s publisher, is a stunning example of the exercise of white privilege resonating as racism throughout the blogular RWOC community. Because of Amanda’s A-list status — which status magnifies both her privilege and her responsibility whether she likes it or not — the event has transcended the usual fucque-up du blogue. Her continued disavowals now join with the uncomfortable silence of certain spinster aunts to grandiloquently underscore a problem endemic to feminism since its inception: the invisibility of women of color.

So not only would the aforementioned acknowledgment of Brownfemipower’s work satisfy PhysioProf’s academic protocols, it would be a great opportunity to expose to a wide audience the hideous inclination of white privilege to sabotage, bias, and encrapulate the pitiful, ineffectual, condescending efforts of white feminists to “support” women of color. As Huck Finn says, “a little thing like that don’t cost nothing, and it’s just the little things that makes a feminist blogger to be looked up to and liked.”

That’s right. Nothing new here. Just getting stuff off my hairy boobless chest.

NOTE: No endemic problem is the fault of a single person. Only a chumpass would blame Amanda personally for engendering some monumental schism in the very fabric of feminism. Therefore, anyone who cares to comment on this post should be advised that any ad feminam attacks will be deleted.

ANOTHER NOTE: I trust it will withstand denuciations of wagon-circling if I wish a fellow blogger, whose talent I admire, continued success with her book, which, I hear, is already in its 2nd printing. “Woot!”, as it were.

221 comments

6 pings

  1. Langsuyar

    *breaks into spontaneous applause*

    Wait. I can hear it now. “But what if we use our white privilege to uplift the WOC? Because they need uplifting! So we shouldn’t give up our privileges because then we couldn’t uplift them!”

  2. Lisa

    This is the first post on this whole mess that made absolute sense to me.

  3. Lara

    I just read BFP’s last post a few days ago regarding this whole mess, and I was so sad that she closed her blog and left the blogosphere. I hope that maybe she’ll come back. Because her blog was just amazing and she was one of the only people to blog and write about immigrant women’s rights (or lack thereof) in America. I am also sick and tired of white feminists denying their participation in racism and the exclusion of RWOC. And I hate when people imply that feminism is “originally” or “essentially” white, because if it wasn’t for women of color, specifically Black women, feminism would not have existed in the U.S.:

    http://www.genderracepower.com/?p=158

    I have just started a feminist group several months ago in the Virginia/DC area, one of the few of its kind. I am the main organizer, I am Egyptian-American. My two co-organizers are both women of color, one of who is a Radical Woman of Color. I am also a RWOC.
    It’s refreshing to hear you, Twisty, calling out white feminists for their racism because they ignored the efforts and feminist work of women of color. White feminists will not “save” RWOC, RWOC were already activists and feminists from the beginning. White feminists should be giving credit to RWOC for initiating and reviving one of the most awesome movements in human herstory: the feminist movement(s).
    Here’s another essay I found on the topic in Amy’s archives at feminist reprise. Y’all might find it interesting (I know I did):

    http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/leeblacksep.htm

    IBTP.

  4. Ivan Raikov

    Thank you for the simple and powerful analogies between male privilege and white privilege. The inequalities between economic and ethnic classes in the US are symbiotic with gender inequality, and are almost as pervasive and invidious. You did quite the masterful expose on gender and economics in your post about the Pink Ribbons, Inc. book, and I am glad to see you return to the subject.

  5. Theriomorph

    Thank you for writing this, Twisty. I’m relieved to see your laser-language blame turned on white privilege and appropriation.

  6. Anonymous Lawyer

    But PhysioProf intimates, and I agree, that if A and B expound similarly, and A’s work pre-dates B’s, the onus is on B to sniff A out and give the props.

    The problem is that BFP didn’t always do this either, at least with non-blog legal research. In most fields — law being the notable exception — once a concept has been cited 10,000 times, everyone knows it was initially articulated by Matsuda/Williams/Peller/whoever, and you stop formally footnoting it. (Despite PhysioProf’s claims, science and medicine function the same way.)

    I’m actually not surprised that Amanda could come to the same conclusion from the ACLU conference. Immigration lawyers have been making the arguments in roughly the same form for over a decade — and I’m told that some very, very prominent immigration attorneys were at the ACLU conference.

    Besides, people are more likely to really listen if you meet them in person than if you simply read their writings. It’s why attorneys go out of our way to conduct negotiations in person instead of via email or over the phone.

  7. Apostate

    Twisty, not all women of color are feeling alienated from the supposedly white feminist movement/blogosphere. I actually feel much more alienated from the brown feminists who make the most noise in the blogosphere AND the white feminists who pander to them to the point of not forcefully criticizing deeply patriarchal brown cultures — because it might be perceived as “imperialist.”

    PhysioProf’s post, though excellent in itself, displayed ignorance of the interpersonal history that ended up in the mess that this blogwar was. It would have been simple if all Amanda had to do was acknowledge a blogger’s work — but this blogger, as part of this community? There are other issues here that most people are not acknowledging.

    Anyway, this brown woman — apparently disavowed by all feminists of any hue.

  8. Anonymous Lawyer

    That said, I do agree with the bulk of your post. I just haven’t seen anyone explore the personal vs. online interaction angle. (Then again, I only read a handful of blogs, so I probably missed it.)

  9. Elaine Vigneault

    Good try. The only problem is that it doesn’t fit perfectly with bfp’s words. It fits with the myth about the dust-up, not the actual dust-up. You’re relying on someone’s else’s version of events and meaning, not the words of the people involved.

    In bfp’s words:

    I never said that it’s important to recognize that I had the idea first. I don’t give a shit who came up with the idea first [...] This was about women of color constantly being written out of feminism, being written out of our own communities BY feminism—then being beaten up by feminists

    from http://bfpfinal.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/3/

    And she wrote:

    I don’t give a shit about being published, I don’t give a shit about the interviews or the jobs or the fame–I DO give a shit that a Chicano is reading a white feminist talking about immigration and politely distancing himself from a gendered analysis of immigration because the author exhibits no historical or contextual awareness of women of color led feminist interventions into immigration.

    I give a shit about that because not only does this erase the work that women of color are doing within racist white dominant structures, but it erases the work we are doing [...]

    Poof! Just like that, feminists of color are made invisible even as we are the ones laying our bodies down for the foundation of the communication between men of color and white women.

    I had thought at one time that feminism was about justice for women. [...]

    I see now that feminism is nothing more than erasure. A conversation between white women and men. A commitment to the safety and well being of people who are never women of color.

    from: http://ajkenn-rgclub.com/SDChronBlog2dot5/2008/04/09/brownfemipower-amanda-and-thieving-wocs-efforts-publicity-or-plagarism/

    I can’t stress this enough: It’s really, really, really important to listen to the people you seek to protect and help. You cannot be an ally simply by making up your own version of events and applying your analysis. You cannot be an ally by speaking for women of color. You can only be an ally by listening to them and by providing them with space to be heard.

    Why, when talking about bfp did you not quote her words?

    (PS – This is the same criticism I make of your analysis of sex work and sex workers. I don’t feel like you actually listen to sex workers. Your ‘all porn is evil’ lens actually erases the voices of women in the porn industry who don’t see it that way.)

  10. Adairdevil

    “Encrapulation” was my one significant word brainstrom of the last few years.* And now Twisty has come up with it on her own, and will be the one to push it into the discourse. How fitting that it came up in a post on ideas and where they come from.

    If Twisty starts using my hyphenate adjective “thought-resistant”, I may quit.

    * Nope, I have not checked that no one else thought of it first. I can at least meet the non-bar of having never heard it before I said it, though.

  11. Twisty

    I’m not disavowing you, Apostate, for what it’s worth. I wish to pander to nobody. In giving what may have be an inaccurate synopsis of recent events, I merely wish to acknowledge that white privilege goes unexamined an awful lot, by women who ought to know better. No doubt there are faults on both sides. There usually are.

  12. Lara

    “I actually feel much more alienated from the brown feminists who make the most noise in the blogosphere AND the white feminists who pander to them to the point of not forcefully criticizing deeply patriarchal brown cultures — because it might be perceived as “imperialist.””

    Apostate, reading on your own blog how much you hate Muslims I am not surprised you would make a comment like that. Yes, I know you used to be a Muslim. And, furthermore, I find that a lot of Muslim and Middle Eastern people are too quick to identify with whites and spit down on other brown people in the process. I would know, I am Egyptian. I could be making some assumptions but by reading your blog and how you think Islam is the cause for all that’s wrong with the world I am taking what you say with a grain of salt, to put it lightly.
    Feminists of color are not “making the most noise” for nothing. Too many times women of color are accused of “complaining too much” or “being too loud” about certain issues. Their concerns matter. Period. When white feminists shut up and listen to them for once it doesn’t mean that they are “pandering” to women of color and not asking relevant questions. I actually find that white feminists who take RWOC’s perspectives seriously contribute more to the discussion and recognize their own white privilege, which is essential in feminism.
    “Deeply patriarchal brown cultures”?? As if “White cultures” weren’t deeply patriarchal? The sexism of Islam or Christianity, of the “West” or the “East” are peas in a pod, two sides of the same coin. And besides, what we know as “White culture” today (Christianity, renaissance architecture, mathematics) all come originally from Arabs and the Middle East. Singling out “brown cultures” (what the hell does that mean? are all “brown cultures” the same??) as exceptionally sexist is just plain racist and overlooks the ways the patriarchy operates in “the West.” I just had a tiff online with a white feminist the other day, who lectured me about how “exceptionally oppressive” “Middle Eastern” culture is, how it’s so much worse than American sexism. Blah blah. You hear that perspective all the time in the mainstream media and among many white feminists. I am sick of it.
    Feminists of color are sick of being marginalized and silenced by white feminists. Why you have a problem with this concern is beyond me. Stop trying to identify with White people.

  13. Twisty

    Elaine, I do not propose to “protect” women of color. You do come up with the most amazing ideas. I merely propose to fess up to certain of my own shortcomings, and to sound a general call for white chick awareness re: same. Clearly the minutiae of the Amanda/BFP melodrama are much too complex for even one of my longer posts to accommodate properly.

    One funny thing I’ve noticed lately is that amid the constant clamor of honky chick “allies” enjoining unenlightened honky chicks to “listen” to women of color, it is harder than ever before to hear much of anything except honky chicks clamoring at other honky chicks. Plus ça change, plus c’est la m^eme fucking chose.

    And guilty of my own charge!

  14. squab

    I swear, the reason I will ALWAYS read what you write is that you’re so damned good about holding yourself up to your own standards. That is way too fucking rare in the progressive/feminist blogosphere. Count me as one of the readers who was wondering when (though not if) you’d speak up about this. I admire a lot of what Amanda has done, but I wish to hell that she’d write a post just a little like this one. It’s *so* important to be as intellectually honest with ourselves as we possibly can be – else how can anyone else take what we say seriously?

  15. Twisty

    Anonymous lawyer, I’m not contending that Amanda appropriated anything. How the hell would I know that one way or another? I’m saying she’s a popular white feminist writer who’s had the apparently bad luck to have mainstreamed ideas more pertinent to a more marginalized group; therefore, contende I, it’s simply good form to give a shout-out to members of that group who have not been given the same opportunity. Not doing so seems kind of, I dunno, anti.

    Why I don’t just write this stuff in the original posts remains one of the great mysteries of the intersection of spinster auntdom with Argentinian chardonnay.

  16. Justin

    Thanks, I read you all the time and I don’t comment, mostly because I don’t have anything useful to add. On this I really appreciate what you’ve said. The thing I’ve found really dissapointing on so many other blogs is that nobody seems willing to just respond to what happened.

  17. kiki

    Muchas gracias.

  18. ilyka

    One funny thing I’ve noticed lately is that amid the constant clamor of honky chick “allies” enjoining unenlightened honky chicks to “listen” to women of color, it is harder than ever before to hear much anything except honky chicks clamoring at other honky chicks.

    Well, granted, but I’d put that down to that wacky white privilege phenomenon you mentioned, which gets in the way of the listening, which increases the “allies’” perceived need to shout, and away we go off to the races.

    As for the resultant difficulty in hearing much of anything else, that is also partly due to so many women-of-color bloggers having gone quiet, at least to the internet at large (I have no doubt they’re raising ruckuses elsewhere, in less honkified spaces). And that quiet is partly the result of honky chicks staying silent when they ought to have clamored, no matter what din it makes.

    I like this post for your honesty about staying silent and your unparalleled ability to blow past the crap and go straight to the heart of things. I don’t like the honky-chick-”allies” sneering. Bottom line, Twisty, they spoke up when you didn’t have shit-all to say, even if sometimes it was Elaine speaking. They didn’t wait through three or four iterations of what’s really one big long blogular fuckup before issuing a royal proclamation on the matter. I’m not saying that to commit ad feminam, but as a plea: Please, drop the from-on-high vantage point and let me like this post.

  19. Pinko Punko

    Ilyka,

    I just have to say that I don’t know if there’s a difference posting this today or two weeks ago. This is not to negate the good that possibly could have come, this is to recognize that there were dozens of voices arguing several distinct and many contradictory lines of arguments. If it takes two weeks for the forest to be apparent from the trees, you know? I recognize the forest had been there all along, but the reason it was getting talked about was particular trees.

    If Twisty’s blog voice is off-putting, there we go, that sounds like a tree to me.

    I know TF can take the shots, and I’m not fighting, I hope you know that.

    PP

  20. Natalia

    It must be a cold day in hell, because I’m sitting here and agreeing with Lara.

    Obviously, apostate, you have been through a lot, and it is not my place to frame or re-frame your experiences.

    I am presently living in an Arab country. The issues you discuss on your blog are not exactly things that I take lightly.

    But here’s the thing – this situation? It most definitely hasn’t been an issue of pandering to anyone’s sexism. You say:

    //”I actually feel much more alienated from the brown feminists who make the most noise in the blogosphere AND the white feminists who pander to them to the point of not forcefully criticizing deeply patriarchal brown cultures — because it might be perceived as “imperialist.”//

    But where have the people commenting on the appropriation situation done *that*? Who is pandering? Where?

    Oh, and thank you for continuing this discussion on your blog, Twisty. It is true that white privilege is used in ways that are eerily similar to the way male privilege is used.

  21. RandomObserver

    Seems a little odd to complain about Twisty’s tone now. It’s not new.

    What amazes me about all these blowups is that they all involve the same names, many of which are only peripherally related to the topic at hand. No matter what the subject is it seems to come down to the same white people yelling at each other.

    White knights riding in to the rescue on both sides obscures the issues and turns legitimate grievances into these constant melodramas. Hugo arguing with Ilyka? Jack Goff calling everyone a racist? What the hell does that have to do with anything?

    Intentional or not the immediate stakeholders are being drowned out by the usual suspects, many of whom seem to simply enjoy internet fisticuffs.

    I’d love to see a thread that was ONLY for Amanda and WOC, with lurkers (of color) encouraged to post. White proxies arguing with each other is getting absurd, as is white people saying “this is what the WOC really mean!” How about we hear from people who work with immigrant communities, and from immigrants themselves? Seems like the less relevant experience someone has and the further removed from the situation they are the more they have to say. Backwards no?

    The solution to every problem is not white people talking more and louder. It’s noble to show your support for WOC but there has got be a way to do it without talking over them. To me that smacks of white privilege in the worst way, here comes the white people to fix everything!

  22. ate

    I’m a little concerned that in only 20 comments there is already nitpicking. “Well actually the history of referencing is… “, “Well bfp did this….”, “Why didn’t you quote this…”, “Well what actually happened was this, why don’t you understand the subtleties…”, “This is how much time that passed between A and B and when you…”, “What should have happened is…”

    So fucking what?

    I know that sounds aggressive and I don’t mean to discredit the views of anyone who has issues with some elements of Twisty’s original post. In fact in regards to what the content of the original post is I think it is excellent that people are making calls on elements they may find problematic. But is what is being mentioned really, really, really the point?

    To me the point is: racism exists. White privilege, whether desired or not, exists. If you are white you benefit from this privilege (hence the name, white privilege) and POC experience this privilege as racism. Whether white people agree with this or not doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (and, really, they should wake up and get a dose of reality, you know the one that exists outside of their privileged world.) This is similar to sexism. It exists. Male privilege, whether desired or not, exists. If you are male you benefit from this privilege (hence the name, male privilege) and women experience this as sexism. Whether men agree with this or not doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    Just because you recognise to an enormous degree and fight (for want of a better word) against the second set of privileges doesn’t mean that you’re excused from doing the same with the first set. If you’re benefitting from white privilege and doing fuck all to recognise it and act on it how can you say you believe in feminism and ‘blame the patriarchy’ and still hold your head up high? There are no excuses, excuses are racism.

    To expound upon the potentially misrepresented details of a particular set of circumstances that are really only being used as and example (although an incredibly important and recent one) is besides the point.

  23. PhysioProf

    strangely light-on-the-expletives

    That’s my academic voice!

    In most fields — law being the notable exception — once a concept has been cited 10,000 times, everyone knows it was initially articulated by Matsuda/Williams/Peller/whoever, and you stop formally footnoting it. (Despite PhysioProf’s claims, science and medicine function the same way.)

    Maybe by the time certain concepts reach the level of textbook fodder, this could be true. But it is certainly not true for concepts that are still being developed and subject to vigorous ongoing intellectual discourse and debate. The fact that your links to examples of this in practice were to books, and not the original literature, sort of exemplifies this point.

    And in relation to whoever noted my ignorance of the personal and blogular back-story, absolutely I was and remain totally ignorant of that stuff. While certainly relevant to understanding the Marcotte/BFP situation as a whole, it is not relevant to understanding how academics handle analogous situations, with the analogy limited solely to the intellectual content angle.

  24. Kate in the UK

    Crikey. I have some questions.

    Nota bene: I’m middle aged and knew all about Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth when I was a schoolgirl of 8, because I read their biographies in the ordinary old public school library, along with Nat Turner’s Rebellion. I am unacquainted with any white women who for one moment genuinely think WOC weren’t part of feminism from its inceptions, which I date from the writings of Christine de Pisan (1405), acknowledging that there are probably even earlier feminist writers whose names I have forgetten or never knew. I also know of various references from political and literary works of the 17th and 18th centuries by both women and men which are feminist and known to have influenced 19th and 20th century feminism.

    From my perspective no racial group necessarily can claim feminism as their own. Thinking it started in the 19th centruy is datist and – in my view – arrogant about people of the past.

    Listening to and giving a space for RWOC or other marginalised persons, = being an ally, yes. Not speaking for said persons, yes. How is the Proper Feminist Who Happens To Be White supposed to engage further with whatever is expressed, if even opening one’s mouth is in itself some kind of Privileged Honky Chick Chat?

    Thinking from an academic perspective: one of the great truths of life is that every generation has to rediscover for itself the truths previous generations held to be both valid and obvious. This Amanda person seems to me to be classifiable as having valid insights at times, but to be intellectually young and ignorant, and not up to speed in her subject. So for her to go away for a while and have a think is no bad thing.

    But what’s with the vitriol, and are there any terms in which it is valid to engage with discussions of feminism if the participants happen to have different skin colours and different experiences of life?

  25. Julia99

    Delurking to say I’m a WOC and a feminist, and I pretty much agree with what Apostate wrote.

    [I]t’s simply good form to give a shout-out to members of that group who have not been given the same opportunity. Not doing so seems kind of, I dunno, anti.

    Twisty, from what I’ve read, Amanda has linked to WOC bloggers on her blog in the past. And, I think I also read over at Feministe that she actually references BfP in her most recent book. Which is why, I’m not on the same side as the WOC bloggers. I think I get what they’re saying about appropriation and white privilege. I’m just not comfortable making Amanda the poster child for it based on what I’ve read.

    Oh, and I blame the patriarchy for the whole damn situation! Somehow, I feel like your quote about “women hating women is just men hating women by proxy” might be in play here somehow.

  26. Red Robin

    I think your analysis is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I especially appreciated your reminder not to blame Amanda for a systemic problem at the end.

    I was also intrigued by this bit in your post:

    However, short of revolution and a new world order wherein intellectual property is nothing but a quaint historical footnote, I’m gonna have give this one to PhysioProf.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, you’re proposing a complete end to trademarks, copyright, and patents. I agree that all three need reform, although trademark law is considerably less problematic than the latter two. But completely eliminated? I would be fascinated to read how, post-revolution, publishers would have sufficient incentive to publish books; after all, any other publisher could simply take the finished product, avoid all the costs in developing the book, retype it, reprint it, and sell it at a huge discount. Similarly, how would you know the funions you were buying for lunch were really funions, if trademark law didn’t prevent other companies from making inferior chips and putting them in identical bags?

    If you’re in a mood to write it, I’m sure the Twisty Intellectual Property Post would go down as a classic.

  27. narya

    It occurs to me in passing–and please correct me if I’m wrong–that in “artistic” fields like music or movies, for example, part of the defense against charges of plagiarism is that one has never been exposed to the work one is supposed to have plagiarized. Thus, unsolicited works go unread, protecting the artist from charges of plagiarism. In other words, in some fields of play, one MUST be able to argue that one could not have stolen an idea/musical phrase/whatever because one was not exposed to it. This, of course, is directly counter to the requirements of scholarship (and other arenas), where one is expected to be familiar with every single work ever written anywhere.

    I have no clue whether it has any bearing on this dustup (whatever “this dustup” is; this is the first I’ve heard of it, given the limited amount of time I have for blogularly enlightening myself these days), but thought I’d throw it out there.

    Great post, though, Twisty.

  28. Arania

    Twisty, at least you acknowledge where you may fall short and make the attempt to grow. That’s more important than anything else, in my humble opinion. Every one of us is a work in progress, even advanced patriarchy blamers.

    On a related subject (and the real reason I came here to comment): I want to thank you. I am an intermediate-level patriarchy blamer who sometimes has difficulty articulating my arguments at a more mature level than, “Because it’s sexist idiocy, asshole!” Your blog and your forums have given me a vocabulary. You and other advanced blamers have cracked the code for me. You take an amorphous, all-pervading patriarchy and break it down to discrete chunks that can be recognized, examined and rebutted intelligently. Things that used to make me uncomfortable, or make me froth at the mouth, without me understanding exactly why (except the gut reaction that it’s WRONG), now make sense to me, and I can articulate my displeasure and rebuttal. And I am doing so, and by doing so I am showing those around me that they can do so as well.

    Thanks to you and your fellow blamers, I am Passing It On. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  29. PhysioProf

    I was also intrigued by this bit in your post:

    However, short of revolution and a new world order wherein intellectual property is nothing but a quaint historical footnote, I’m gonna have give this one to PhysioProf.

    I am also intrigued by that comment. My point about academic practice really has nothing to with intellectual property, which is basically the right of an owner of such property to restrict what others can do with it. Rather, it is really about intellectual honesty and courtesy, which requires acknowledging the pre-existing intellectual context within which one’s new work resides. These things have nothing to do with property rights in intellectual work product.

    So even after the Revolution, and even if there no longer exist any legally enforceable intellectual property rights, I suspect that intellectual workers will still follow the attribution practices I have outlined.

  30. Anonymous Lawyer

    Apostate: Twisty, not all women of color are feeling alienated from the supposedly white feminist movement/blogosphere. I actually feel much more alienated from the brown feminists who make the most noise in the blogosphere AND the white feminists who pander to them to the point of not forcefully criticizing deeply patriarchal brown cultures — because it might be perceived as “imperialist.”

    Seconded. Just as you can’t be a pro-life feminist, you can’t be a feminist who supports sati.

    Elaine V: I’m not white. The only reason why I noticed that BFP didn’t appropriately cite immigration law is because I wrote one of the articles she didn’t cite. (Hell, the only reason why I noticed is because I read about her posts and went through Google cache after she took her site down. Curiosity and cats and whatnot.) After re-reading the post that sparked this blogwar, I’m not convinced by the statements in her final post.

    PhysioProf: The books I cited describe how scientists didn’t cite ideas while the ideas were still being developed. But that’s tangential.

    Twisty: Could you elaborate on how it’s not appropriation? I thought appropriation was the mechanism through which white privilege was functioning in the context of acknowledging the source of ideas, which was why you cited PhysioProf.

  31. Apostate

    Don’t wish this argument to become about me. Twisty, hadn’t meant that you personally were disavowing me or anyone. Just wanted to point out what I see in this situation. Owning white privilege might make white people feel better about being white but it does damn-all for brown people.

    If anyone has more substantive critiques of my criticisms of Islam or Muslims, you can leave a comment at my blog.

  32. CLD

    The best thing I can do as a white woman is to listen when WOC speak. Especially if I’m in their space. I learn so much more about my own privilege by doing so.

    As an aside, I too feel left out of feminist blogosphere due to my being a lesbian, and due to the big-leaguers out there being mostly hetero. Although thanks to that, I can see why WOC feel left out of the feminist blogosphere as well, since aside from being hetero, the big-leaguers are also mostly white.

    Thanks for posting this, Twisty.

  33. No Blood for Hubris

    Oh my.

  34. Natalia

    //Owning white privilege might make white people feel better about being white but it does damn-all for brown people.//

    That depends on the situation. If you’re going around saying “I’m so white and clueless! Tee hee!” Well, you’re not being helpful, you’re just wasting people’s time at best.

    However, as a white woman an immigrant (I have become a naturalized citizen), I *have* noticed that non-white immigrants usually have it worse than me. And I do believe this needs to be pointed out.

    People might act inappropriately when they hear a hint of an accent from me, or else when they realize I have an “unusual” name, and yes, I’ve been in some scary situations as the result of that, but these same people tend to *really* go to town on foreigners who are also “dark and scary.”

  35. phaedras

    I recently read Flying Close to the Sun by Cathy Wilkerson which speaks quite a bit about the difficulty of white activism being allies to people of color and how a specific aim of the weathermen was to pull heat off of the Black Panthers. At the same time, there was little to no coordination between the two groups. So while I also appreciate the importance of activists holding themselves up the standards they are trying to effect, I hope that this discussion leads to a concrete effort to understand and address the power structures that enable the oppressors rather than descend into an internal civil war that undermines the fact that the blogosphere is actually making a difference in changing and improving the conversation about oppression in society.

  36. Red Robin

    It occurs to me in passing–and please correct me if I’m wrong–that in “artistic” fields like music or movies, for example, part of the defense against charges of plagiarism is that one has never been exposed to the work one is supposed to have plagiarized. Thus, unsolicited works go unread, protecting the artist from charges of plagiarism.

    This is true (and is in direct contrast with patent law). Of course, at a certain point, the courts simply won’t believe you; if your independent work just happens to be word-for-word, then they’ll assume you read the underlying work at some point and are lying.

    That’s also why dictionaries and phonebooks include intentional mistakes. If a later copy has the same mistake, it’s pretty good evidence of copying…

  37. Feminist Avatar

    I wouldn’t like to speak for twisty, but I would imagine that intellectual property wuold disappear after revolution because we wouldn’t have PROPERTY after revolution. Intellectual property is just the commodification of ideas.

  38. narya

    That was one of the more interesting aspects of Ursula LeGuin’s “the Dispossessed”: her imagining of what people would do in an anarchist/non-propertied society, and how that would affect ideas, performances, etc. Still one of my favorite books, precisely because of that meditation.

  39. Twisty

    Owning white privilege might make white people feel better about being white

    It doesn’t. What an odd idea, that a person would “feel better” after grasping the scope of her own complicity in systemic oppression. I posted this for the same reason I post everything: to make everyone feel bad about patriarchy. In trying to make sense of the reality of white privilege, I allude to an experience even beginner feminists can understand: being on the receiving end of male privilege.

    As for the “intellectual property” issue, I’m no smarytpants, and I used the wrong term. I couldn’t think of a term to convey “somebody else’s ideas.” It was late, and my copy editor quit to marry a drunken musician. Sue me.

    Lawyer: Aha, I misspoke again! What I meant was that I have no way of knowing that Amanda deliberately ripped off a body of work with the specific intention of passing it off as her own original genius.

    I’d love to discuss this all day long, but duty calls.

  40. Daisy

    Excellent post, Twisty. Your analogies are great, and dead-on accurate.

    Men never “mean it that way”–but it just comes out that way, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, whiteness is the same, and if we don’t “mean it that way”–it’s high time to ante up and say so.

    And you did a great job.

  41. Kathleen

    Hey, Twisty, I’ve been waiting to hear what you had to say about all this. Cause I felt sure you’d do it with élan and sure enough:

    “”when they come out all “Yay pornography! Screw you if you can’t take a joke, you shrill harpy cunt!” you tend to view them with a jaundiced eye”

    May I call you my darlin? Probably not. Anyhoo, this is exactly the the right parallel drawn exactly the right way. To give previous discussions their due, it has been drawn — but not in a way that is so spot-on and so funny (if this means I’m giving a white blogger credit for someething non-white ones have said, too, I stand ready to credit everybody. But Twisty’s particular fusion of form and content is pretty darn unique).

    Anyway, I don’t understand why that connection is SO HARD TO MAKE or so difficult to concede. Patriarchy blamers know the drill, we can exercise those same brain and soul muscles in pretty much the exact same way vis a vis race.

  42. Kathleen

    Feminist Avatar — I agree with you about property, but I think even “after the revolution” people will want to have their contributions to collective doing and thinking acknowledged, and they’ll be rightly upset if they are not. *Especially* if they aren’t just ignored but some people get celebrated for having cool ideas other people also had, first even. I don’t see the revolution doing away with the need for, like, courtesy, reciprocity, and what-not. This is pretty tangential to your point I guess but what I mean is that even in a feminist socialist postpatriarchal aracist utopia shout-outs will keep being desirable.

  43. Lara

    Daisy said
    “Men never “mean it that way”–but it just comes out that way, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, whiteness is the same, and if we don’t “mean it that way”–it’s high time to ante up and say so.”

    Exactly! Usually when people are racist (and even sexist), or when they have white or male privilege, they often do not consciously intend to be so. That’s the exact function of privilege, it must be invisible (even to the one who holds the privilege) to work.

    Natalia said:
    “It must be a cold day in hell, because I’m sitting here and agreeing with Lara.”

    Hahahaha!

  44. Joan Kelly

    I don’t think this is the most insightful, thorough coverage-and-confrontation of the destructive stuff that has gone on in the last few weeks (let alone months/years), but I do appreciate that it is not being ignored here anymore.

    Lastly – I used to be a full time sex worker, and have of late been doing it part time again, and Twisty and many other women, online and off, who identify as feminist, and many who are radical women of color bloggers, never have shut me up or claimed to speak for me. Wow have I had an ass full of the claim that anyone who is critical of the sex industry “doesn’t listen to sex workers and claims to speak for them.” You know what? The people who have something to say about the sex industry besides that it’s fucking horrifying for most people in it are ALSO not representative of the sex industry, and are actually more presumptive about who they speak for than any feminist I’ve ever talked to or read. Okay maybe except Heart.

    Sorry, that is off topic. I just, fuck, my head’s going to explode.

  45. apostate

    It doesn’t. What an odd idea, that a person would “feel better” after grasping the scope of her own complicity in systemic oppression.

    The whole white privilege thing strikes me as masturbatory and dead-ended. What is the point of feeling white guilt (usually the end result of realizing you have some degree of white privilege in some situations)? It’s about as useful as any kind of guilt ever is. If your own behavior and choices have oppressed people, be ashamed and change your ways. If you personally are blameless, there is no call to feel guilty.

    I don’t think much of men who beat themselves up over their male privilege. It’s silly and pointless and self-absorbed. Just don’t be a sexist asshole. The rest is (no doubt) eminently satisfying self-flagellation.

    And all this would be to some purpose (perhaps) if the protagonists in this drama were unevenly matched. Both are women who look white (both, from what I’ve read, have immigrant/brown lineage to some degree), both are college educated, both have (or had) wide readerships.

    All this fuss is blogular politics at its finest.

    And of course, this is not to say there aren’t broader issues around whites oppressing the rest of the world. It’s just a tiny little bit unfair to Amanda to conduct that discussion on her doorstep.

  46. Anonymous Lawyer

    Twisty: What I meant was that I have no way of knowing that Amanda deliberately ripped off a body of work with the specific intention of passing it off as her own original genius.

    This is what I thought you meant — and I completely agree.

    I always thought that appropriation occurs when it’s considered polite — but not necessary — to cite someone. In law, we use See generally, See also and the Cf. citation (which, rumor has it, is Scalia’s legal pet peeve). In this way, it gets built into a system of appropriation.

    I wonder whether my SAT analogy might help clarify how I view the issue:

    prejudice:racism :: plagiarism:appropriation. In this conceptual model, “stealing” is equivalent to “plagiarism,” while influence is more closely associated with appropriation.

    I suspect it’s the use of the word “stealing” which is the ultimate reason why everyone wound up talking past each other. Until I read BFP’s final post, I had never seen someone use the word “stealing” to refer to appropriation. But maybe that’s just a communication strategy limited to those of us in the legal sphere.

  47. Chris Clarke

    I don’t think much of men who beat themselves up over their male privilege. It’s silly and pointless and self-absorbed. Just don’t be a sexist asshole. The rest is (no doubt) eminently satisfying self-flagellation.

    It’s not as satisfying as denial, actually. But it’s the only appropriate response — ignoring for a moment the glossing over of the difference between “analyzing” and “beating one’s self up over” — if one posits that the sociopolitical whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts, and that there are thus systemic ills to which individual acts of resistance pose little solution.

    Besides, if I don’t confront my privilege, there’s no way to stop acting like a sexist asshole.

    I’ve enjoyed your contributions to this thread, apostate, and I hope that doesn’t come off as sniping. But just felt moved to respond.

  48. apostate

    It’s very interesting to see all but a couple of people who regularly bash Twisty coming here to cheer this post.

    And Lara gets to tell me how I feel and what my motivations might be, because get this! She’s Egyptian! She has special powers to speak for everyone who was, is or wants to be a Muslim!

    I’m disgusted.

    Sorry, Twisty – this is my last comment, won’t hijack further.

  49. Octogalore

    I like this post. At a certain point, I think issues about which was the most insightful post on this topic (pretty obvious – BFP’s is the primary source) and whether the timing was perfect are, to use Apostate’s word, masturbatory. The post acknowledged and didn’t try to justify the delay. Enough said.

    With regard to Lara’s comment about: “Stop trying to identify with White people.” I’m surprised nobody’s called this out. All women, whether white or WOC, have a right to their views. No other women, or of course men, have the right to characterize these views as inappropriate because of that woman’s color. Who is any of us to say Apostate’s views are not actually her own, cannot be her own, because she is a WOC?

  50. Lara

    apostate said:

    “The whole white privilege thing strikes me as masturbatory and dead-ended. What is the point of feeling white guilt (usually the end result of realizing you have some degree of white privilege in some situations)? It’s about as useful as any kind of guilt ever is. If your own behavior and choices have oppressed people, be ashamed and change your ways. If you personally are blameless, there is no call to feel guilty.”

    Who is “you”? This is not a post about how white people should feel guilt and twiddle their thumbs apostate. Twisty is arguing that white feminists simply need to recognize that their privilege will inevitably be interpreted as racism by WOC, and that they should do the duties necessary to shut up and listen to WOC sometimes. As was mentioned here by many members on this blog, if one is white s/he immediately has white privilege whether they like it or not, whether they want it or not. The personal is political, and if you are white and/or male that means you need to acknowledge your privilege and act upon it to actively be a race/sex traitor.
    I predicted that you would show how much you identify with white people. It’s like you’re scared of associating with other brown people. It’s so predictable, because I see this among North Africans, Arabs, South Asians, and people from the Middle East all the damned time. They always try to identify/sympathize with white people. It’s annoying and it capitulates to White Supremacist Patriarchy.
    In order for men to stop being sexist assholes, and in order for white women to stop being racist assholes, they first have to recognize and deconstruct their own privilege, no? How else would they?

    “And all this would be to some purpose (perhaps) if the protagonists in this drama were unevenly matched. Both are women who look white (both, from what I’ve read, have immigrant/brown lineage to some degree), both are college educated, both have (or had) wide readerships.”

    Ah, the classic “but whites and brown people are treated equally already? what’s the fuss?” argument. And I am sorry but I have NEVER come across a photo or picture of either Amanda M. or BFP, online or anywhere. How many people here have seen pictures of them? How would their skin tones be relevant to this? The fact of the matter is that BFP identifies strongly as a WOC and Amanda is identified as White and BFP and WOC are not given the credit they deserves.

    “And of course, this is not to say there aren’t broader issues around whites oppressing the rest of the world. It’s just a tiny little bit unfair to Amanda to conduct that discussion on her doorstep.”

    Oh, so whites are oppressing brown peoples in “other ways” and “other people” but racism and white privilege apparently don’t exist in the blogosphere?? And Twisty said herself that she doesn’t want any ad feminim attacks on Amanda, and didn’t make any of those attacks herself.
    Again, why the heck are you trying so hard to comfort white people and tell them they don’t have any privilege and that they shouldn’t thus do anything about it? You proudly (??) claim you are a “brown woman”, but the arguments you make here are eerily similar to white people’s who want to erase their own racial privilege and pretend it’s not there.

  51. Lara

    Octogalore I was not trying to say that because Apostate is a WOC she should therefore have these types of views. What I was arguing is that while Apostate was using her position as a “brown woman” to claim she is silenced by “everyone” (implying other brown women) she was trying to say that white people should not feel accountable for their white privilege. Which is false, Period. Whether you are white or of color and making that argument.
    Furthermore, I am not sure what your background is or your familiarity with the Middle East and North Africa, but I have seen too many other North Africans and Arabs hating on other brown people (including themselves) and trying to identify with white people and it has a lot to do with complicated issues like colonialism, globalism, etc. I could write a whole book on it.
    I was not saying that Apostate’s views are not her own. She can have any views she wants. But I also can. And I have the right to respond to her views. Isn’t that the point of a blog? Hasn’t that been what everyone else has been doing? Why are my posts being singled out for this?
    The fact of the matter is that White Supremacy and Patriarchy gets white women, and men and women of color, to identify with men/whites. I was simply pointing out that Apostate’s comments support the type of ideas we hear in the mainstream: “white people don’t have any privilege, it’s an equal playing field, you people of color are too loud and are silencing me!” And I have a problem with these views.

  52. delphyne

    I thought Amanda wrote the article about feminism and immigration because the liberal doodz at the ACLU gave the issue the thumbs up. Same with when she recently came out against prostitution, Nicolas Kristof had written an article about it and Melissa Farley’s work in the New York Times and suddenly Amanda knew who Farley actually was.

    I guess that’s a bit mean, but it does seem striking that the coverage at the big feminist blogs generally fits in with a white male liberal agenda. But hey the doodz are against abortion and wingnuts, so can we really ask for more?

    In other words I’m agreeing with you Lara:

    “The fact of the matter is that White Supremacy and Patriarchy gets white women, and men and women of color, to identify with men/whites”

  53. delphyne

    Ooops, for abortion. There’s an interesting slip.

    Whatever the motivation though, it still leaves radical women of colour bloggers out in the cold of course.

  54. narya

    Y’all might be interested in reading this. Ron linked to it today. It does not at all discuss color, but it discusses the male-privilege thing in ways that may be useful analogously. Or not, but I thought some of you blamers might enjoy it.

  55. sabrina

    Thanks for this post Twisty. This is the first time I actually really understood what this argument was about. I read lots of feminist blogs and the stuff in Amanda’s article was no different than what is on dozens of white and WOC blogs. So, I never really saw the issue. Now, I do. Its just like men appropriating feminist ideas and not ever giving a heads up to the women who expressed them tirelessly over and over; even if you didn’t “steal”, you can give a nod to the women of color who have devoted themselves to these causes. I can’t believe I’ve read almost every post about this, and Twisty is the first one to make the light click on in my head. Thanks :)

  56. Anonymous Lawyer

    Octogalore: “I’m surprised nobody’s called this out.”

    Honestly, I stopped reading her posts after the first paragraph. As a general rule of thumb, I stop reading the second I see flawed ad homs used in lieu of actual arguments.

    I will say, though, that despite Apostate and my different backgrounds, it sounds like we’ve had very similar experiences. My country has some very, very sexist practices. But the second I point out the sexism, I’m thanked with epithets. My field has its fair share of problems, but at least I don’t have to put up with the more asinine logical fallacies.

    Lara: “I was simply pointing out that Apostate’s comments support the type of ideas we hear in the mainstream.”

    How? I’ve re-read your comments, and as far as I can tell your argument is one giant non sequitur.

    /threadjack

  57. Anonymous Lawyer

    Apostate: “It’s about as useful as any kind of guilt ever is. If your own behavior and choices have oppressed people, be ashamed and change your ways. If you personally are blameless, there is no call to feel guilty.”

    Ah, I knew I didn’t have a long-lost twin sister.

    I actually think guilt is incredibly useful. I come from a very Leviniasian school of thought, which claims that morality and ethics ultimately hinges on empathy. How your culture leads you to define “Us” and “Them” ultimately determines how empathy spurs actions.

    Guilt may not create to a time travel machine that frees my ancestors from colonial servitude, but it does corrode the boundary between Us and Them. And that, ultimately, is what really matters.

  58. Natalia

    //It’s very interesting to see all but a couple of people who regularly bash Twisty coming here to cheer this post.//

    What’s interesting about it? Only a real jerk would go “well, since I disagree with other things she’s said, I can’t possibly come over and say, ‘hey Twisty, I agree on this one!’ Gosh, positively engaging someone like that is just so *beneath* me!” Well… At least I think I’m not a jerk… Ha ha.

    Also, feeling white guilt is not the same thing as recognizing white privilege. Obviously, it’s important to change one’s behaviour if you get to understanding that it’s awful. But that’s not all there is to it.

  59. Anonymous Lawyer

    I apologize for the triple posting, but I think, given the topic under discussion, I should clarify something. My inspiration for my ethical views comes from a series of not-terribly-common commentaries on Levinas, but what I articulated in my post is not Levinas views. I didn’t cite the authors directly because I don’t know if their work is available in English. Levinas’s writings are available, but the English translations I’ve skimmed appear to be gobbledy-gok.

    I’m just pointing out that, in Continental Philosophy, there has been a lot of discussion about “the ethics of The Other.” And frankly, it explains people’s behaviors in ways that the Analytic Queens and Kings simply can’t match.

  60. charlotte

    I like what you said about academic thoroughness, and I agree that it’s a responsibility-in-research issue–probably more than an intentionality issue.

    One of the problems in thorough research and citing is the explosion of information “out there” ever since the blogging world developed its intellectual communities. No thought, it seems, is fresh any more, or at least, we have to second-guess ourselves every time we want to write something down and research whether what’s going on in our heads is truly new. I’m drawing two conclusions from this: On the one hand, the “world of thoughts” is, indeed, like a palimpsets; no thought exists without having a conditioning precursor and a trace (oopsie. Derrida!). On the other hand, imposing academic demands on the blogging medium means to standardize the medium itself, or to erect the boundaries in the virtual world that have kept printed feminist discourse in the academic ivory tower for so long. Is that what we’re after?

  61. Theo

    Perhaps I should post this at PhysioProf’s comment page, but I saw the discussion here first:

    At least in Mathland, the academic field I know best, an author is expected to assure that her work is new and noteworthy. This is easy-ish in Math/Physics-land: an online searchable pre-print server can find everything written with a given key-word. Presumably, one could say the same about Blogland.

    However, an author never finds _everything_ that deserves citation. When one posts a pre-print, one expects numerous e-mails from other mathematicians demanding that they be cited, and one usually obliges courteously. Failure to cite an earlier author is problematic only (well, at least, primarily) after the earlier work has been pointed out.

    Of course, absolutely care must be taken in that sometimes (often?) the works that get many citations are the ones written by privileged members of the white patriarchy, and it’s known that papers written by scientists with feminine or non-European (for U.S. publications) names have a harder time getting published and cited.

  62. RandomObserver

    “But PhysioProf intimates, and I agree, that if A and B expound similarly, and A’s work pre-dates B’s, the onus is on B to sniff A out and give the props.”

    How many bloggers out there and in this thread can live up to this standard? As far as I can tell this has never been the standard for blogging and online articles and newsprint/magazine articles, and if it is the standard then virtually nobody is following it.

    Twisty how much research did you do to see if you were replicating anyone’s ideas before you posted this? Certainly what you wrote builds off of/ is similar to what other people have written in the past, but I don’t see any links. You certainly aren’t the first person to write about the privilege of white women.

    You appear to be guilty of exactly the behavior you are denouncing. The number of WOC bloggers who have written about white privilege that you linked to is exactly zero. I’m not trying to play gotcha and this is not a condemnation, but there are far too many stones being thrown from glass houses here.

    I don’t think it makes sense to selectively condemn people for violating a standard that is realistically violated as a rule by nearly everyone.

  63. Kathleen

    Random Observer: the point is not that every feminist blogger should have a magic sensor in her head about every thing that has ever been posted. The point is that when called out on something that is (1) demonstrably documentable as having existed and to which the blogger in question had access (AM was apparently a reader of BFM’s blog) and (2) relates to a huge society-wide pattern of “accidentally not hearing” women of color when they speak and “totally paying attention” to white women when they do, the decent, progressive, right on response would be to say, whoa, my bad, fair cop, shout out to my colleague! This is much EASIER in blogging than in academic publishing just because the format of writing is more flexible/update-able. And it is STILL POSSIBLE. The question then becomes, why does AM just not do it? And it makes other issues (the illustrations chosen for her book, for example) look less and less benign. To offer a hypothetical: I don’t doubt that if a WOC blogger wrote Twisty and said, hey, I said pretty much exactly “x” on my blog before you did on your blog and I know you read me regularly because you’ve said on your blog that you’re a reader, that Twisty would be like, wow, okay, I’ll make sure to provide that link to my readers and give them a heads up about your work! Sure, nobody is required to have a perfectly archived memory but when prompted to be generous and collegial why not be generous and collegial? Rather than scornful and dismissive, and impugning others’ motivations? In a way that fits recognizably in with a history of racism? The point is that “accidental” racism is everywhere, and it just helps to be like — oh was that *my* accident this time? I’ll help clean up! Instead of like, “I don’t see what the mess is everyone is talking about what mess what?”

  64. TP

    The whole white privilege thing strikes me as masturbatory and dead-ended. What is the point of feeling white guilt (usually the end result of realizing you have some degree of white privilege in some situations)? It’s about as useful as any kind of guilt ever is. If your own behavior and choices have oppressed people, be ashamed and change your ways. If you personally are blameless, there is no call to feel guilty.

    I don’t think much of men who beat themselves up over their male privilege. It’s silly and pointless and self-absorbed. Just don’t be a sexist asshole. The rest is (no doubt) eminently satisfying self-flagellation.

    I realized long ago that examining and coming to understand white privilege made it somewhat easier to grasp male privilege. Privilege is privilege, no matter who has it or whether they are privileged in one way or another, as in being a male of color.

    There is also economic privilege, which our hostess has struggled with, and understands. Coming to terms with the ineluctable facts of your own privilege can open your eyes and embolden you to call out the privileges that others hold over you, because you realize that guilt and defensiveness are the tools of the denier of privilege.

    You have to stay on your toes, and be ready to admit to your own privilege whenever someone calls you on it, and move on, corrected. We live in a racist, classist, misogynist world. When someone points out my misogyny, I own it and try to correct it, but I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt over it, since I never chose to be trained so incessantly in misogynistic behavior. Nobody I know is free of racism, either. Class anxieties are much the same, and probably more pernicious and less examined in most of us who grew up poor.

  65. saltyC

    Interesting point Delphyne made about the white male establishment giving the thumbs up thing.

  66. RandomObserver

    Kathleen this is a problem of too many people making too many different points. What you wrote is only vaguely related to what Twisty quoted from PP. I’m taking issue with what they said, not your spin on it.

    Why isn’t Amanda linking to BFP now (other than the fact that it’s not actually possible)? Obvious answer: human nature.

    It’s asking a lot of someone to step up and be the bigger person after they’ve been attacked. Again I see this as an example of holding people to higher standards than we hold ourselves.

    When I put myself in Amanda’s shoes I understand her behavior. A lot of people have piled on to her, dredged up old grievances, accused her of things that are absolutely false, called her names and went right for the blogstorm instead of just sending an email. Were I her instead of adding a link to BFP’s blog I’d add an addendum titled “fuck all y’all.” (Maybe that’s just me)

    When I put myself in BFP’s shoes I understand her behavior as well. This looks like part of a repeating pattern, Amanda is getting recognition while people who have done more in-depth work on the subject have not, etc. Were I BFP I probably wouldn’t say “ok yeah, I could have sent an email first” or tell some of my proxy warriors to dial it down a notch.

    Being the first person to admit error is always tough but there is plenty of error on both sides to cop to.

    A few people with the courage to step up and say “I was wrong, no ifs ands or buts about it” would do wonders. What has happened so far is textbook how not to resolve disputes.

    There have been literally thousands of comments and posts on this subject and you’re still in pure attack mode. How about switching to “trying to understand” mode?

  67. RandomObserver

    Sorry for the length of the above post but the way most people are acting it’s as if they are actively fighting any sort of reconciliation or resolution.

  68. Kathleen

    RO, the point is that in a context where race is at issue, it would just be really terrific if the relatively more privileged person could cop to having erred. If you think she did NOT err, that’s one thing. If you think “both sides have behaved badly, wow, life is a crazy carnival let’s all shut up about it and go home”, okey-dokey, but that take on it effectively recapitulates every faux even-handed, ignoring context of racism/sexism, willfully clueless argument made by folks of inch-deep good will about every single issue of this kind. The point is that there is a pattern at work, and if one is a person who notes such patterns as one’s modus operandi AND modus vivendi, walp, people are gonna wonder what gives when suddenly you refuse absolutely to see one in which you are personally implicated. The dots have been connected, the picture is of a rabbbit, and yet we musn’t speak of bunnies?

  69. km

    What is up with all the one-upMANship going on in these comments?

  70. PhysioProf

    “But PhysioProf intimates, and I agree, that if A and B expound similarly, and A’s work pre-dates B’s, the onus is on B to sniff A out and give the props.”

    Just to refine this a little further–which I think I did in my original post on this topic–what is required is a reasonable effort to “sniff A out”. What is reasonable would, of course, be situation specific.

    However, if one does become aware of relevant prior work–regardless of how that awareness arises, and even if that awareness is provided by someone acting like a total fucking asshole–then one is obligated to acknowledge that work going forward.

    With peer-reviewed articles, you wouldn’t publish a correction for something like this, but you would clearly be obligated to cite the work in future articles as relevant. For a blogger, it is trivial to amend a post to add a reference to relevant work one finds out about after originally publishing the post.

    Given that low activation energy for correction in the blog context, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider it discourteous to fail to do so.

  71. Elaine Vigneault

    Twisty,

    I disagree that the substance of the disagreement is “minutiae.” It’s not superfluous information that bfp doesn’t want credit, it’s the essential point of the matter.

    She didn’t call Amanda a ‘plagiarist’ and she didn’t ask to be given credit or recognition. She was angry because Amanda “exhibits no historical or contextual awareness of women of color led feminist interventions into immigration.”

    You’ve missed the essence of the issue by not paying attention to bfp’s words. In actuality, you’re using this drama and thus both Amanda and bfp to promote your own ideas.

  72. RandomObserver

    PhysioProf why didn’t you link to anyone in your post “Mike Mukasey Makes Chuck Schumer Look Like A Fucking Idiot”? Do you think you are the first person to write about that topic?

    You couldn’t have thrown in a link to Glenn Greenwald or emptywheel or ThinkProgress? You link to FDL in your blogroll, so surely you must be aware that emptywheel has written on similar issues.

  73. RandomObserver

    I don’t want to be overly antagonistic and play gotcha, my point is just that you are espousing a standard that neither you nor anyone else appears to follow.

    I’e said all I want to say. Sorry for the one-upMANship.

  74. Chris

    I’m saying she’s a popular white feminist writer who’s had the apparently bad luck to have mainstreamed ideas more pertinent to a more marginalized group; therefore, contende I, it’s simply good form to give a shout-out to members of that group who have not been given the same opportunity. Not doing so seems kind of, I dunno, anti.

    Twisty, thank you for that paragraph. I’ve been trying to find a way to wrap my head around this, amid the obsession with citation and attribution, and the hyperbolic charges of theft and plagiarism, and the mind-reading behind the charge of “appropriation.” I couldn’t get behind the attacks that were being made against Amanda, not simply because I’m a “fan,” but because they seemed false, but I also couldn’t escape the feeling that she had, in fact, done something wrong, and that paragraph right there put into words what I was feeling but couldn’t express. So thank you again.

  75. Octogalore

    Lara — I think there is a difference between accountability and guilt, and that there may be a big semantic component to this.

    I don’t read a criticism of guilt to equal a criticism of accountability. In fact, the context was more that guilt is all very well but not useful IN ITSELF rather than that it isn’t useful as a starting point to activity. And that guilt that is quickly felt and quickly channeled into action is better termed accountability. Guilt may, to some, suggest languishing and subsequent inactivity. Suggesting it’s unproductive may not in fact be a quick-and-dirty way to be lazy about privilege, but in fact the opposite.

    I think we could all benefit from the reminder that none of us are really in a position, here in this four cornered blogosphere, to judge each other’s real life commitments to activism.

    Ultimately, my point is: as the context was affirming the need for the action portion of guilt — accountability — it seems to me that the passage you cite is not a denial of white privilege nor the need to work to alter it.

  76. saltyC

    I seriously doubt that Amanda hadn’t read BFP’s work, and she must have known this was a major issue for BFP. Citing is a common practice in the blogosphere.

    It doesn’t matter who gets it that white privilege exists, and it’s just like male privilege. Amanda should give up and face the consequences. Where I teach, the way we handle academic dishonesty is there is a flag in the transcript until a tutorial on academic integrity is completed. There will be a flag on this situation until it is corrected. I don’t know how, and it shouldn’t be disproportionate, but something obviously needs to be done to heal the rift.

  77. thebewilderness

    “There have been literally thousands of comments and posts on this subject and you’re still in pure attack mode. How about switching to “trying to understand” mode?”

    Shorter “person who explains things to women” aka RO: STFU

    My response: No. But thanks for explaining how to do our work to us.

    As I have told y’all forty zillion times, I recently read “Women of Ideas And What Men Have Done To Them”. It contains a play by play of how this sort of thing has worked over the past three hundred years.
    Criminy, read it and weep.

  78. thebewilderness

    Also, I think that guilt is a tool we use to alert ourselves to a possible injustice. I think it gets a bad rap from being used as a bludgeon by other people to extract obedience. YMMV.

  79. kate

    Sure, White Guilt may not be constructive, IF that White Guilt doesn’t force self reflection. Often White Guilt gets stuck in a sort of twist of privilege, wherein the white individual now usurps more energy from the effort for change by continuously looking for the Magic People of Color to come over and comfort them and tell them they’re really ok just the way they are.

    Thus, *poof* with a wave of the magic wand, they are suddenly absolved and born again and from that point forward they (the white person unaware) can suddenly proclaim their newfound understanding via approval, “I was told by so and so…” and so on they go into ignorance and usually blithely appropriating the coat and shoes of people of color in order to show their great awareness.

    Then suddenly, out of nowhere comes the shoeless and coatless demanding their goods back and so the Emperor is without her clothes.

    I’m not a person of color, so I can look through my lens and try to empathize or associate my own experiences with classism in an effort to get close to what this may feel like. I remember quite often in activism on poverty and women’s issues that uber middle class liberal white women and men had the continual habit of appropriating our work, taking advantage of our work and also attempting to shoo us in a corner where we couldn’t be seen, so that they could enjoy the light of the stage as it were.

    I’m disappointed in Amanda and I wish she’d exercise some humility and get off the high horse of privilege that she seems to be riding right over the very people who have helped her and colleagues understand and thus expound as they do.

    Unfortunately, its symptomatic of someone who hasn’t reached an understanding yet.

    Fact is white folks anywhere wouldn’t have a goddamned clue about the experience of people of color on any level if not for the hell raising and hard work of those people of color to tell their story and demand attention.

    These arguments sometimes remind me of the abolitionist movement that so many white people get all nostalgic about. Fact is, most abolitionists had no interest in having people of color enjoy all the same rights and privileges as they and a large portion of them wanted slavery to end so as to load up the ships and send the former bondspeople to Liberia pronto.

    In other words, are we as “white” folks ready to share power? Are we ready to give up privilege? Privilege that depends on the subrogation of power of others? People of color can’t answer those questions for us, we have to search ourselves and be aware everyday of the small acts that we take and ask ourselves, can I make a choice here? Can I behave/think/choose differently?

    It takes some reflection and a lot of humility, but it we must do it, its our responsibility if we wish to call ourselves fighters for human justice on any level.

    C’mon Amanda, just say it, just admit that without the help of BFP and others, who REALLY do KNOW like you NEVER WILL, you wouldn’t have a damn book to publish at all.

  80. kate

    “I’m not a person of color, so I can [ONLY]look through my lens

    Unintentional omission that must be corrected lest my communication not come through as I meant.

  81. Lara

    “RO, the point is that in a context where race is at issue, it would just be really terrific if the relatively more privileged person could cop to having erred. If you think she did NOT err, that’s one thing. If you think “both sides have behaved badly, wow, life is a crazy carnival let’s all shut up about it and go home”, okey-dokey, but that take on it effectively recapitulates every faux even-handed, ignoring context of racism/sexism, willfully clueless argument made by folks of inch-deep good will about every single issue of this kind.”

    Kathleen I love you :) That was well put. WHY do people keep ignoring the context of racism? We don’t live in a freaking vacuum. We live in a White Supremacist culture that operates in every aspect of our lives.

    “My field has its fair share of problems, but at least I don’t have to put up with the more asinine logical fallacies.
    Lara: “I was simply pointing out that Apostate’s comments support the type of ideas we hear in the mainstream.”
    How? I’ve re-read your comments, and as far as I can tell your argument is one giant non sequitur.”

    What’s with the personal attacks Anonymous Lawyer? What “asinine logical fallacies” have I made? You tell me to prove points I already have and yet you don’t even go slightly out of your way to prove your esoteric language (I don’t even know what a “non sequiter” is Ms/Mr. Lawyer). That spells pure arrogance to me. And I sense you sympathize with Apostate because you have the same feelings about “brown cultures.” Pfsh :/

  82. Pinko Punko

    tbw-

    I agree with “Also, I think that guilt is a tool we use to alert ourselves to a possible injustice. I think it gets a bad rap from being used as a bludgeon by other people to extract obedience. YMMV.”

    The bad part is that something that may be inappropriately leveraged for rhetorical advantage in a fracking blog flame war may simultaneously be true or at least somewhat applicable. Hence the fact that arguments concerning “it’s personal” and “it’s not personal” can be overlaid on the same discussion.

  83. thebewilderness

    fyi,
    non sequiter = ain’t got shit to do with subject at hand. Frequently refered to as pulling out from ass, or out of left field, also threadjack. My family is the current record holder in the regional competition for most non sequiters, or would that be non sequitii, per run on sentence in a non adversarial discussion without resorting to expletives.

  84. Lisa

    Sorry to be off topic, but Twisty? Could you please, please do your wonderful Twisty thing with this Open Source Boob Project bullshit?

    I’m so sick of the damned comments that because some 20 year old SF convention goers wanted to get felt up that means it was a bonifide feminist moment.

    I don’t know the best link to give you for it. Amanda’s got something about it (we can still read her, right? Even if we disagree with some of her actions?) Okay? Good.), as does Scalzi’s Whatever.com. And a million other folks have chimed in and it goes downhill from there. Okay, here. How about this one:

    http://theferrett.livejournal.com/1087686.html

    This thing is so dumb that I’m sure it is beneath your blaming efforts, but I would just love for you to drive a few last nails into the coffin as only you can.

  85. Pinko Punko

    tbw-

    Latin factoid- non sequitur means as you know “it does not follow”, but sequitur is actually the verb. Plural is non sequiuntur

    Our beloved language log logs the cottage industry of pseudo Latin plurals here. I do note that TF has the appropriate declension for ad feminam.

    The best response to this comment is either to laugh or to go for the golden “why don’t you adjust the declension on your pedantic butthole, PP!”

  86. Anonymous Lawyer

    Elaine: “You’ve missed the essence of the issue by not paying attention to bfp’s words.”

    How can you pay attention to her words when she took it down?

    Look, sometimes we all need to sit and think about something before commenting. Twisty did that when many bloggers didn’t, and I think she should be commended for it.

    Second, I’m paid to pay attention to word choice. I’m pretty damn sure bfp used one of those two terms — but I’m the first to admit that my memory’s just as mutable as everyone else’s. (Hell, when I was a 1L we had “thief” run into our lecture hall, grab our Crim professor’s purse, and then run out. Very, very few of us could accurately identify the right student in the lineup ten minutes later — in fact, the section’s accuracy wasn’t significantly higher than random chance. Ironically, my friends and I have a relatively solid belief in the foibles of memory.)

    However, when so many other bloggers start using the same two synonymous words it’s usually because either: 1) the original document used those terms, 2) the original document strongly implied the use of those terms through the use of its specific word choice in the context of a specific communications system (e.g., “dog whistle” ads), or 3) the original document didn’t clearly delineate its scope.
    Of course, there could be something else going on here. But Occam’s Razor does apply to linguistics as well as physics.

  87. Lauredhel

    Some of the artwork from the book is now available. It’s vile. There is no defence.

  88. thebewilderness

    The public display of dominance and submission, aka open source boob project, is under discussion at the forum.

    I had heard from someone who bought the book that the artwork was racist. Criminy! Vile is putting it mildly.

  89. thebewilderness

    “How can you pay attention to her words when she took it down?”

    Dear Anon Law,
    I do not accept your implication that it is possible to be a lawyer, anonymous or not, in this day and age and not know how to use the interwebs. Google is your friend.

  90. Anonymous Lawyer

    Lara: “you don’t even go slightly out of your way to prove your esoteric language (I don’t even know what a “non sequiter” is Ms/Mr. Lawyer).”

    Non sequitur is esoteric? Levinas is, but non sequitur? I guess American free education really is as abysmal as all the news reports claim.

    You’re probably not going to believe this given our prior exchanges, but this statement actually helps me understand what the hell is going on. Thank you.

    But for the record, a non sequitur is just the technical term for “the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.” An example would be arguing that “Dr. Roberts has gorgeous eyes, therefore she should get the NIH grant.” Most logical fallacies have clean English translations, but non sequitur just doesn’t.

    Usually they’re pretty subtle, as yours were. For example, maintaining that Apostate’s views perpetuate white supremacy does not lead to the conclusion that she identifies as white. It’s the same fallacy that I hear light-skinned biracial Americans complain about: just because they look white doesn’t mean they identify as white.

    Lara: “You tell me to prove points I already have”

    Stating is not equivalent to proving.

    Lara: “And I sense you sympathize with Apostate because you have the same feelings about ‘brown cultures.’”

    For the record, I think all the cultures I’m familiar with fail women. We’re all just failing in radically different ways.

  91. Anonymous Lawyer

    bewilderness:
    I do not accept your implication that it is possible to be a lawyer, anonymous or not, in this day and age and not know how to use the interwebs. Google is your friend.

    Sadly, Google doesn’t cache things forever. BFP’s final words are easily available, but I can’t access the cached copies of the original post and comments. I could get the directory cache with the post’s name, but not the whole thing. I thought she contacted Google and asked for the relevant caches to be deleted.

  92. Anonymous Lawyer

    That should read: “I wonder if she contacted Google and asked for the relevant caches to be deleted.”

  93. magriff

    Waiehlll doggiesss, Twisty! Is it time for my favorite theorist to finally get her ass off the interwebz and into some peer-reviewed journals so’z I can finally quote her in lectures? That would be awesome.

  94. liberality

    Guilty as charged. Not only that but I have been called on it. Needless to say, I am looking at my positions and trying to change my ways. IBTP and racism.

  95. Anonymous Lawyer

    thebewilderness: “non sequiter = ain’t got shit to do with subject at hand.”

    Only if no one has taught you what it actually means.

    I suspect a lot of the misunderstandings is due to the craptacularness that is the American primary/secondary education system. Logic is like the patriarchy — if you don’t have names for things, how can you develop the conceptual models required to effectively challenge it?

    And if everyone is using the same names for different things…well, here we are. It’s one of those paradoxical situations where everyone is right, which is why everyone is justifiably hurt, upset, and angry.

    I think we should all just take the weekend off and read every book we can find by Deborah Tannen.

  96. Twisty

    “I do note that TF has the appropriate declension for ad feminam.”

    Thank you. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Ad takes the accusative!

  97. delphyne

    “Only if no one has taught you what it actually means.”

    Why do I find this funny? Academented smackdown!

    “It’s one of those paradoxical situations where everyone is right, which is why everyone is justifiably hurt, upset, and angry.”

    No it isn’t. Amanda is wrong and needs to apologise to BFP and the other women of colour whose work informed hers but to whom she didn’t give credit. She also needs to apologise to them for thinking that the subject was only worth paying attention to when the white liberal doodz at the ACLU gave it the green light.

    Of course it sucks that Amanda is getting singled out, but she is the one with the big blog, the book deal and the Alternet gigs and with that kind of power and exposure comes a bit of responsibility. Maybe asking questions like “Why am I getting the offer to write about feminism and immigration on Alternet, when BFP has direct experience of this and had done a huge amount of work on the subject?”. Funny little questions like that.

    People (including you) keep talking about this as if it is an academic or educational issue – it isn’t, it’s politics. Feminism is a political movement and in politics you look at whose voice gets heard, whose doesn’t, what issues are deemed acceptable to those with power and which aren’t. When you start looking at it from that perspective it becomes much easier to see where the fault lies and what needs to be done to make changes.

  98. Feminist Avatar

    Kathleen: (on the topic of intellectual property way up post) you’re right re: the need for courtesy and acknowledgement. I do wonder (and really this is just a thought experiment) whether our need to acknowledge who ‘thought’ up or ‘wrote’ an idea and then credit them with it, is because we still wish to retain concepts of ownership and property. Ultimately no idea or invention is ever created in a vaccum. Even if we have a novel concept, it still builds on what came before. We could understand ideas as communal property and no person would ever be ‘credited’ for them- so we wouldn’t have a case of certain voices being privileged- because no voice would hold privilege. In a similar fashion, many famous men were credited with inventions, but no one ever acknowledged the wives who fed and clothed them and freed them up to do their work. They never *directly* contributed to the science so they were never acknowledged. I think we can say this about all ideas- people who are priviledged to work in academia or have the freedom and resources to write blogs do so on the labour of others who allow them to buy convenience foods or pick up their rubbish etc. We could envision a world where such credit is not necessary, because everybody would be valued.

    But, I also appreciate that this builds onto conceptions of the self and the individual and how we wish to understand the place of the individual in the world which are huge questions in their own right. And that this is just one vision of what the future could look like- not necessarily the best or right one.

  99. viejachingona

    Funyons, Twisty?

    so when de we get a fancy picture of your funyons lunch?

  100. Lara

    Well Jesus Mary and Joseph I am DEFINITELY not EVER reading Marcotte’s book. Goddess, those images….
    And I love how Anonymous Lawyer keeps proving her or his own snobbery (constantly alluding to how “uneducated” I am because *gasp* I didn’t know what “non sequiter” meant).

    “Non sequiters…Usually they’re pretty subtle, as yours were. For example, maintaining that Apostate’s views perpetuate white supremacy does not lead to the conclusion that she identifies as white.”

    Did you choose to completely ignore my points about the history of white colonialism in North Africa and Arab countries? And how that probably influences her views? Especially because I am myself North African and I’ve seen North Africans do this all the damned time? Perhaps you ignored this because of your incredible arrogance? Oh, and you mentioned you were supposedly “done reading (my writing) by the second paragraph.” Then why do you bother arguing with me?
    I am done arguing with you. You’re completely pretentious.

    Feminist Avatar, this goes beyond basic courtesy and respect, why do we keep ignoring the racial dynamics in this whole issue? White feminists have a history of appropriating WOC’s work. Period. Let’s stop ignoring white privilege, please.
    And those racist drawings used in Marcotte’s book tell me enough about perhaps why she refused to acknowlege BFP’s hard work on immigration and women. Connection, much?

  101. Daisy

    Trackback:

    MetaFilter and Amandagate

  102. Kathleen

    Lara — thanks for the love! Don’t worry about Anonymous Lawyer being a weenie, that move: “if you don’t know about X you must not have any education at all”! says a lot more about the limitations of the speaker than the addressee. We’re all super ignorant about lots of things cause there is a lot of stuff to know out there; getting all huffy about one corner of knowledge as THE corner just shows you don’t know how big a building you are in.

    I agree with you about the images — now that they have been posted at Feministe, it’s a lot harder to see how anybody could have missed the racist badness of their content. As somebody who does in fact think Amanda is smart and who admires her writing, it’s weird. But a familiar kind of weird — I often look at that site Sadly, No cause I think they are funny & smart, too but some of their bloggers DON’T GET IT on sexism at all, and it does continue to feel pretty lousy when it comes up. I just didn’t expect AM to just NOT GET IT so totally on racism, and it’s that same exact feeling: like not just the *not* getting it, but the aggressive refusal to try and learn anything, either.

  103. Mickle

    That’s also why dictionaries and phonebooks include intentional mistakes. If a later copy has the same mistake, it’s pretty good evidence of copying…

    Actually, phonebooks in particular include mistakes because you can’t copyright anything but the format otherwise. Facts are not something one can copyright.

  104. Anonymous Lawyer

    delphyne: “No it isn’t. Amanda is wrong and needs to apologise to BFP and the other women of colour whose work informed hers but to whom she didn’t give credit.”

    The corollary to “everybody’s right” is “everybody’s also wrong.” I agree Amanda needs to apologize for the role her aversive racism played in fostering appropriation. But she’s not alone.

    delphyne: “She also needs to apologise to them for thinking that the subject was only worth paying attention to when the white liberal doodz at the ACLU gave it the green light.”

    For professional responsibility reasons, I think it’s time for me to exit this conversation.

  105. K.A.

    The BFP criticism is legitimate, and I’m on board, but oh my god, the racist/sexist image argument again? I’m not even coming from the bias of being a Marcotte fan, because I’m not, but does context count for nothing in the interpretation of images? Do you never pay attention to context when someone is reclaiming kitchy retro bigotry to further cement it as a ridiculous artifact of men’s oppression, or pay attention to context for any form of speech, for that matter? This is why liberals have to defend aspects of freedom of speech that can be used for reprehensible purposes–because identical images don’t necessarily mean the same thing; how it’s being used is where the purpose of communicating with the medium lies. She’s obviously intentionally making a statement and taking the piss out of that genre.

    Whether or not the marketers see it that way could be very telling about the place we’re at in this society, but it’s even more telling that so many feminists take it at face value without thinking about its intent.

  106. Anonymous Lawyer

    Comment removed by Twisty.

  107. Anonymous Lawyer

    Comment removed by Twisty.

  108. Lauredhel

    Do you never pay attention to context when someone is reclaiming kitchy retro bigotry

    Do you know what “reclaim” means? A privileged USAn white women can’t “reclaim” racist, colonialist imagery.

  109. Cara

    One funny thing I’ve noticed lately is that amid the constant clamor of honky chick “allies” enjoining unenlightened honky chicks to “listen” to women of color, it is harder than ever before to hear much of anything except honky chicks clamoring at other honky chicks. Plus ça change, plus c’est la m^eme fucking chose.

    Yes, but frankly I’m glad you said it, anyway.

  110. delphyne

    Do you patronize those powerful white men in black robes the way you’ve patronized women here, Anonymous Lawyer?

    I bet you don’t call them uneducated buffoons when they don’t agree with you. Dearie me.

  111. Hilde Lindemann

    Ahem. In the spirit of Twisty’s note on Latin grammar, may I point out that the term is not “non sequiter” but “non sequitur”? (Too many comments for me to scroll through them all, so apologies if someone already noted this.)

  112. K.A.

    Lauredhel–

    The Aryan standard of beauty is one that not all white women meet, but they are closer in gradation than WoC, obviously, which grants them relatively more privilege than those that deviate the most from it. Does being closer to meeting the standard she still fails to live up to invalidate her right to mock it? Or can only the ones who are the very farthest from it mock it? It’s still something she’s MOCKING, not PROMOTING.

  113. public emily

    So, Anonymous Lawyer, used a term someone didn’t know… and instead of looking it up, we’ll just call her pretentious.

    Okay.

  114. Lauredhel

    K.A. When did we start talking about the Aryan beauty standard? If you’re using an analogy, I don’t have a clear idea of what you’re getting at.

    I’m talking about the racism. About the colonialist imagery. About the depiction of cartoonish, stereotypical indigenous black or brown men with weapons menacing the innocent white man and woman, and the woman beating them violently. I’m talking about the Indigenous warriors being beaten while defending their land being used as an analogy for “politically inhospitable environments”. I can only conclude that the pictured Indigenous men are being cast in the role of the sexist pigs of the USA.

    Where’s the mock? Who’s doing the mocking, what are they mocking, and why?

  115. K.A.

    About the depiction of cartoonish, stereotypical indigenous black or brown men with weapons menacing the innocent white man and woman, and the woman beating them violently. I’m talking about the Indigenous warriors being beaten while defending their land being used as an analogy for “politically inhospitable environments”.

    I’m sorry; I thought race issues were referring to the blonde pornified cartoon character–a carry-over topic from Twisty’s post that plugged the book. I didn’t realize there were issues beyond the cover. That’s pretty bad. I tried checking out BFP when I heard there were more problems beyond the cover, but when I saw she erased everything, I got all my news second-hand. I should probably stop skimming my feminist news since it gets me in trouble regularly.

    You’re right, there really is no good reason for a white feminist woman to have pictures other than a pornbot fighting alligators and such, and I’m surprised those other horrible ones would be included by the publishers after they reviewed the thread about the gorilla cover’s racism.

    Sigh. I was excited to be able to unwind by laughing for once about the very issues that stress me out so, but I guess I won’t be reading the book after all. The pictures sound appalling.

  116. Lauredhel

    I’m spending much of tonight confused! I really should sleep, soon. Is this commenter you, KA? Commenting on the three images in the post, the images from teh interior of the book, and telling me “It’s not her fault you don’t get it”? Or am I currently in discussions with two KAs?

  117. madaha

    Narya,

    I’m not done reading all the comments, so maybe someone’s already addressed your post, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting plagiarism.

    It’s more about intellectual credit and honesty – which require something like posting an addendum after the fact stating something like:

    “after having written this, I later discovered that it also had been covered by so-and-so in such-and-such publication.”

    That way you can still claim originality for your ideas, but are also giving intellectual credit. This is the standard in academia, and it seems bloggers are still figuring this out.

    Amanda should have issued an addendum like that when it came to her attention, rather than getting defensive. That seems unprofessional.

  118. madaha

    exactly what Kathleen said above. AM can STILL issue an addendum as an insert to her publication.

    She needs to get on that, if she hasn’t already.

  119. K.A.

    Like I said, skimming and switching between multiple sites at once gets me in trouble a lot lately. I didn’t see the indigenous character in the drawing, so I just assumed the issue was an extension of the old topic about the white pornulated image of women as ideal. I should probably stop skimming, assuming, and maybe being vegetarian, as I think I was doing better with more iron in my blood….

    I totally agree that the images are racist and inexcusable.

  120. thebewilderness

    I apologize for stirring up the correct/common usage distraction over non sequitur, as well as the misspelling. Since PP is the only one who got the rather sad joke, I can only conclude that I am not funny.

    Neither are the racist colonialist stereotypes in Amanda’s book.
    I don’t care if people are tired of hearing about the fact that racist images are damaging. Listen again. There is nothing kitchy or retro about a white person distributing racist pictures.
    Colonialism isn’t funny to the people it is being done to. Demonization isn’t funny to the people it is being done to.
    Because we whites are still doing it we are continuing to claim a right to do it. Dense.

  121. K.A.

    There is nothing kitchy or retro about a white person distributing racist pictures.

    I agree 100%; I didn’t read carefully and wrongfully jumped to the conclusion that we were talking about the cover art all over again. Now that I realize there are more comics INSIDE, I want to reiterate that there is no other interpretation of those images other than that they promote and trivialize racism for entertainment, which is inexcusable, and frankly baffling.

    Interestingly, it also undermines the benefit of the doubt I had for the light in which the cover was being promoted.

  122. Twisty

    Well here’s something. I hadn’t even noticed the illustrations until Pinko Punko gave me a heads-up that this discussion was taking a turn thither. Picked up my copy of Jungle, thumbed through, and, oh hell. I am a big ole Amanda fangirl, but I never did like the cover, and now it just looks like going from bad to worse. I feel just awful about the whole thing. Awful for BFP and awful for Amanda and awful for this crapulent moment in bloggofeminism. But if one more fucking tool says “no wonder you feminists can’t overthrow patriarchy, you can’t even play nice amongst yourselves” I’m gonna blow a lobe. I say something good will come out of this. I know my consciousness has been raised another notch, and that’s saying something, since the kind of consciousness I’m generally known for has an “un” prepended.

  123. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    I feel bad for Amanda, but what I honestly don’t understand is that the cover and other illustrations are profoundly sexist, but no one felt strongly enough to call her out on those. Barbie in the jungle – give me a break! Even you, Twisty, gave her a pass on them. (And you are a kind of idol to me – esp. now that you are vegan :-) – so I do say this with all respect.)

    My own theory is that some combination of internalized oppression and the corrupting notion that they could have a best seller on their hands – along with the pervasive “chick feminism” crap that’s floating around these days – allowed Seal to disable its moral compass enough to permit the sexist imagery – and at that point, racism wasn’t even on the radar. I won’t speculate about Amanda’s role in the debacle, except it’s hard for me to believe she is as totally blameless as she and Seal claim. As a book author myself, I know that small presses – especially progressive ones – tend to be good about letting the author have input into the cover. If Seal didn’t, that’s another black mark against them, as that is a dominance behavior inconsistent with feminism.

  124. Twisty

    “Even you, Twisty, gave her a pass on them [the illustrations]”

    That’s right, I did, to the extent that I didn’t write a big diatribe condemning the cover (I noted, almost as an afterthought, that the cover art was offensive, but I left it at that). I’ve always been fond of Amanda’s writing, and I wanted to be supportive, and I figured I’d leave it to someone else to rip the cover art. Had it been anyone but Amanda, I would have been somewhat more relentless.

    Furthermore, I don’t doubt that, were I member of a group directly oppressed by the aftershocks of Colonialism, I’d have given the interior illustrations a pretty cold sneer, but as it was, I didn’t even notice them. That says something rather unpleasant about me, I suppose. Mang, this whole thing is hella nasty.

  125. delphyne

    The illustrations come as even more of an awful shock given that the original incredibly offensive racist cover art of an upright gorilla carrying a semi-naked white woman was ditched after an excruciating thread at Pandagon where its racism had to be spelled out in great detail to an uncomprehending Amanda, and in the end she didn’t seem to really get it claiming that the cover critics were jealous although she did agree to go back to the publisher and ask for it to be changed.

    What on earth Seal Press were thinking of is yet another question. I always thought they had some clue about racism even though their sex poz stance was very offensive, but apparently not. They’ve apologised but it’s hard not to think that it had something to do with scary thoughts of loss of book sales rather than any real understanding of what they’d done.

  126. Narya

    Apparently, both Seal Press and AM have apologied for the images and removed them from all subsequent printings (I think; maybe editions?). AM’s got an apology up on her blog. I have no idea whether she’s done/said anything in response to the allegations of appropriation. (And I’m not implying they’re true or untrue by calling them “allegations”–I am ignorant on much of the backstory, have only read some things, and do not want to take a position on them from my position of ignorance.)

  127. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    And perhaps I should have commented on your blog post, or others’, about my feelings about the sexist cover. But the chick fem thing is so pervasive, I sometimes wonder if I’m out of touch, or am missing the point – and sometimes I just don’t want to spoil the party. (Earlier this year, I got booed at a *feminist* book reading for suggesting that wearing high heels was not necessarily a liberated thing to do.)

    One thing we perhaps have all learned is that enabling sexism and racism in people of good intentions can backfire – big time. (Have the right wing bloggers gotten hold of this yet – they will have a field day – and being mainly cretinous, will choose not to see the process of reconciliation and healing going on.) Amanda seems to have been resistant to input, but who knows? Maybe she would have listened. Even if she didn’t, though, we would have all done our part. In any case, she is I think an even bigger loser from this debacle than the POC community itself, who, despite the hurt will probably ultimately gain from the airing the issues are receiving. But Amanda lost a unique sales opportunity as a new author (not to be crass), and even aside from lost sales, it’s hard to imagine a more dreadful situation for a new author to find herself in.

  128. delphyne

    I think you’re wrong Hettie, women of colour are packing up and leaving feminism right, left and centre. They’ve been very hurt by this whole thing and of course the structural racism in feminism that it has demonstrated, if any more demonstrations were needed.

    On the other hand there are commenters over at Pandagon on Amanda’s APOLOGY thread joking that the original book is now a collectors’ item and their comments are allowed to stand rather than being banned into oblivion. Sadly I think there are plenty of people who will still buy the book and not see any problem.

  129. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    btw, just read the thread in which many people of good will begged her to reconsider the cover – the second, less offensive (!), current cover – many of them taking the time to explain the problem at length and respectfully, and she totally blew them off. I don’t even know what else to say…it’s tragic, really.

  130. delphyne

    Sorry I didn’t mean to call you Hettie, Hillary. Must be time for me to go to bed if I can’t read properly.

  131. K.A.

    Hillary,

    I agree with you on heels, and I agree that the racist images are inexcusable, but I think Marcotte has a consistent history of using retro sexist ads and that sort of thing to poke fun at them when she posts at her blog. Because I’d imagine most of her book sales are coming from a base that’s familiar with her attitude toward those ridiculous caricatures of sexism, that’s how I interpreted the cover. However, in light of these other disgustingly racist images carelessly strewn about the rest of the book, I don’t know that the editors should get a pass for the cover either. That the ironic cover interpretation was plausible and in accordance with Amanda’s style was my only point in defending it.

    Sorry again for the confusion about the inside images; there’s no way in hell I would ever defend that disgusting shit.

  132. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    Delphyne – point taken.

    KA – I see Amanda, Shakes, etc., using clever retro images, but often with ironic text captioning and surrounding them so it’s clear they’re ironic. The cover of the book (forget the inside illustrations) doesn’t seem ironic, it seems exploitative.

    I really think they (Amanda and Seal) thought they had a potential best seller on their hands, and lost their heads.

  133. K.A.

    I agree that the publishers probably were marketing the cover art with the same eye they had for those inside images, which would most definitely be an exploitative perspective contributing to sexism.

    I suppose my defense had relied upon the premise that we live in a culture where Amanda’s book would be relegated to a specialty section at best, thus her audience would largely be comprised of fans who are already familiar with her writing style. But I don’t know anything about the publishing industry.

  134. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    I suspect they glimpsed the opportunity to sell beyond the niche. But that’s conjecture. What isn’t conjecture is that cover design is hugely important to a book’s sales, and so publishers devote a lot of time and attention to it.

  135. Lara

    I think we need to stop using arguments of “oh, it’s irony” when it comes to racist/sexist retro imagery being used today by whites/males. I know, I know, K.A. you realized what is going on now, and you see what the arguing was about. I am just posting this comment in response to the general issue, not to anyone in particular really.
    So, we have to look at the fact that a lot of POC are offended by these images. Instead of jumping ahead and saying “oh, you don’t get irony, stop taking things at face value!”, let’s have white people here ask themselves WHY POC would be offended? What history are these images related to? And even more so, why are said images not getting their “ironic” feel across to most people (especially POC)? And what is required of an image/writing to make it irony? Someone up above mentioned that some writing or captions below the image making clear that the author/creator is mocking the racism/sexism in the imagery is necessary for the images to act as irony/camp, in this case. Sorry, I tried skimming over the comments again and couldn’t find who specifically pointed that out.

    “But the chick fem thing is so pervasive, I sometimes wonder if I’m out of touch, or am missing the point – and sometimes I just don’t want to spoil the party. (Earlier this year, I got booed at a *feminist* book reading for suggesting that wearing high heels was not necessarily a liberated thing to do.)”

    I feel ya Hillary. I head a feminist group in the DC/Virginia area and by looking at some of the members and their reactions to things, as well as what things are said in the blogosphere, I really get the sense that (mainstream) feminism is being so watered down and reappropriated by the patriarchy. I just now had a new member in my group who was worried that my group was a “lesbian group.” What does that mean? And why would that be bad? Hell, I am hetero and I wouldn’t mind at all if all the members were lesbians. Anyway, didn’t mean to hijack the thread here, just responding, heh :P

  136. Anonymous Lawyer

    public emily: “So, Anonymous Lawyer, used a term someone didn’t know… and instead of looking it up, we’ll just call her pretentious.”

    Exactly. I tried giving Lara & Kathleen a dose of their own medicine, but apparently Twisty doesn’t believe that what’s good for the WoC goose is good for the white gander.

    I can understand why Twisty took my initial responses down — but if she took mine down, then she should take down Lara & Kathleen’s as well.

    I thought you said you had learned from this, Twisty. Like all other feminists in the blogosphere, you clearly haven’t.

    I’ve lost so much respect for you, you’re off my blogroll. Along with every other “feminist” blogger.

  137. thebewilderness

    “I’ve lost so much respect for you, you’re off my blogroll. Along with every other “feminist” blogger.”

    Well criminy, that’s a relief.

  138. Lara

    Ohh, lookey Feminist Lawyer is chiding all of us bad bad feminists for not doing feminism right, for not being real feminists.
    And I stated you were pretentious because you assumed I was a completely ignorant moron based off of the fact that I didn’t know what “non sequitur” meant. That’s quite a stretch isn’t it?
    And no, I shouldn’t get my comments removed because yours were.

    “I’ve lost so much respect for you, you’re off my blogroll. Along with every other “feminist” blogger.”

    I find it interesting that a lot of people who make comments like these have a tendency to think they are moral arbiters. I have seen it on a photography site before with a character who stomped around thinking he could tell everyone how to feel and what to do. He argued that “oh, I’ve lost so much respect for you and I am not giving you my approval points, wah!” just because someone disagreed with him.

    “but if she took mine down, then she should take down Lara & Kathleen’s as well.”

    I know you have a strangely fixated problem with me but what did Kathleen say that warrants her comments to be removed?

    “but apparently Twisty doesn’t believe that what’s good for the WoC goose is good for the white gander.”

    Because white feminists and WOC are not treated equally to start with. That’s why Twisty did what she did (I am assuming). Now you are claiming that white people are treated unfairly here? I honestly got bad vibes from you from the first time you posted here.

    “I thought you said you had learned from this, Twisty. Like all other feminists in the blogosphere, you clearly haven’t.”

    You thought you’d come in here on your white horse and teach us, Anonymous Lawyer, about feminism? All other feminists, eh? We’re all the same? Get out of your damned ivory tower and learn a thing or two yourself. What have you learned from “all this”? You’ve learned nothing: about your racial privilege; about your constant personal attacks on people who haven’t even argued with you at the time; about your refusal to look at the greater context of White Supremacy when talking about these circumstances; and your not-so-novel idea that you can tell feminists what’s right and wrong when you hate feminists to start out with.
    I shouldn’t even waste my time or energy responding to your inane and self-centered comments anymore but for some reason I feel compelled to. Maybe it’s my stubborn North African disposition, I dunno :/

  139. Twisty

    Anonymous Lawyer grasps little in the “I agree not to be yet another fucking pedantic asshole” department.

    While you’re at it, Anonymous Lawyer, tell all the other doods, whose chief contribution to feminist blogs is imparting some non-literal translation of “non-sequitur”, to take me off their blogrolls, too. Your “respect” I need like another cancerboob.

  140. donna darko

    Apostate, reading on your own blog how much you hate Muslims

    It’s more accurate to say Muslims hated Apostate.

  141. donna darko

    Patriarchy hates women, men hate women, etc.

  142. K.A.

    So, we have to look at the fact that a lot of POC are offended by these images. Instead of jumping ahead and saying “oh, you don’t get irony, stop taking things at face value!”, let’s have white people here ask themselves WHY POC would be offended? What history are these images related to? And even more so, why are said images not getting their “ironic” feel across to most people (especially POC)? And what is required of an image/writing to make it irony? Someone up above mentioned that some writing or captions below the image making clear that the author/creator is mocking the racism/sexism in the imagery is necessary for the images to act as irony/camp, in this case.

    I know you prefaced this by saying it wasn’t directed at me, but I actually haven’t seen any examples of people defending the racist illustrations inside the book. The only people using the logic above (that I’ve seen anyway) were referencing the cover alone.

    The whole wagon-circling phenomenon that was minimizing WoC’s concerns were I think in regard to BFP, which is unrelated to the indefensible racist pictures. Or maybe I’m still not caught up and missing a huge offensive blog thread since I don’t read the biggest ones.

  143. K.A.

    Sorry, I must have forgotten to close a tag.

    So, we have to look at the fact that a lot of POC are offended by these images. Instead of jumping ahead and saying “oh, you don’t get irony, stop taking things at face value!”, let’s have white people here ask themselves WHY POC would be offended? What history are these images related to? And even more so, why are said images not getting their “ironic” feel across to most people (especially POC)? And what is required of an image/writing to make it irony? Someone up above mentioned that some writing or captions below the image making clear that the author/creator is mocking the racism/sexism in the imagery is necessary for the images to act as irony/camp, in this case.

    I know you prefaced this by saying it wasn’t directed at me, but I actually haven’t seen any examples of people defending the racist illustrations inside the book. The only people using the logic above (that I’ve seen anyway) were referencing the cover alone.

    The whole wagon-circling phenomenon that was minimizing WoC’s concerns were I think in regard to BFP, which is unrelated to the indefensible racist pictures. Or maybe I’m still not caught up and missing a huge offensive blog thread since I don’t read the biggest ones.

  144. xochitl

    KA: “I agree with you on heels, and I agree that the racist images are inexcusable, but I think Marcotte has a consistent history of using retro sexist ads and that sort of thing to poke fun at them when she posts at her blog.”

    Right. Retro sexist images of women are ironic, retro racist images of people of color are inexcusable.

    When some women complained about the sexist images we were told we just didn’t get the joke. It wasn’t until women complained about racist images that Amanda and her publisher issued an apology.

  145. delphyne

    Agree Xochitl. It’s not like Amanda objects to sexist sexualised imagery of women, so she can hardly claim that she is “reclaiming” them. She doesn’t see the problem in the first place. There were porn ads at Pandagon for a while (thankfully no longer) and Amanda will defend porn-using men against feminists who charge them with misogyny.

  146. Cara

    But if one more fucking tool says “no wonder you feminists can’t overthrow patriarchy, you can’t even play nice amongst yourselves” I’m gonna blow a lobe. I say something good will come out of this. I know my consciousness has been raised another notch, and that’s saying something, since the kind of consciousness I’m generally known for has an “un” prepended.

    Aw, they’re always spouting that crap, Twisty. In their heads it’s a ‘catfight’ so they’re watching as they type with one hand. Being emotionally stunted blockheads who move in lockstep for fear of being ostracized by the Boys’ Club, they don’t know what emotional work looks like.

    If someone’s teachable, then something good usually does come out of conflict.

  147. OM

    I hope this isn’t too OT, but in the knitting community it is recognized that it is unlikely that there are stitch combinations or techniques that have not been used or known previously, even if they were never documented. A common way to introduce them when you rediscover them on your own is to say you “unvented” them, a term coined by a venerated 20th century knit designer, Elizabeth Zimmerman. I think we could learn a lot by contemplating that.

  148. madaha

    Can we examine what it means that “women of color” are supposedly “leaving feminism in droves”?

    What does it mean to “leave feminism”? Is that even possible? What, are they going to get knocked up and start doing some man’s laundry now?

    I imagine that they’ll continue to be feminists, because one can’t “unlearn” something once learned.

    Taking down a blog doesn’t mean you’re no longer a feminist. Being mad at your sisters doesn’t mean you’re no longer in the family. (believe me, I know – you can hate your family, but you can’t escape it).

    So what is that supposed to mean? It’s a symbolic gesture, verdad?

  149. Octogalore

    Hillary: someone did agree with you about Barbie, here.

  150. thebewilderness

    It means withdrawing attention and support, madaha.
    Women did not stop being vegetarians or working at animal rescue clinics when PETA was taken over by racist sexist self promoters. They withdrew their support. They shifted their networking efforts to groups who were not made up of racist sexist self promoters.

    When you have said ouch a kazillion times and the response is that it shouldn’t hurt, and if it does it’s your own fault, you either STFU and take it, or withdraw.

  151. K.A.

    The reason the criticisms leveled at the cover artwork riled me up so is because radical feminism is already marginalized and lied about within feminism itself–forget the mainstream! But one of the biggest sticking points that leads to the invocation of the inevitable strawradfem is that we don’t understand context, and lack some fundamental ability to have sophisticated interpretations of certain forms of speech beyond face value. It’s a lie, but from where I stand, it’s an obstacle for radicals nonetheless, so it’s on us to deal with it whether it’s fair or not. I know you all know that no element of speech, whether it’s a cartoon or the word “cunt,” has any inherent value outside of a historical conditioned response and the immediate context that informs what’s being communicated at present.

    Xochitl, the difference between the cover image and the inside images are enormous. Amanda is not a person of color and would have no right to those images even if this book was solely about racism (unless she was using it as an example of racism). The cover image has everything to do with the topic at hand.

    Like I said, I don’t think it should get a pass anymore because we shouldn’t validate the marketers’ intent, though there originally was a very good case for believing it had a legit Marcotte-style intent (though Delphyne makes a very good point about whether we can assume that was really ever her intent in the past, given other stances. I am not an expert on her past arguments, so I can’t speak on evidence for that possibility any further). The fact that everyone jumped on the cover before we had any other info that could implicate true sexist exploitation concerns me, because it’s that kind of presumption that already dogs radical feminism and makes us lose credibility with more mainstream feminists.

  152. Cass

    I’ve learned over time to be much less defensive over charges of racism, classism and even sexism lobbed my way, in large part because the criticism in the past has so often turned out to be well-founded. Bitter experience has forced me to give up my delusions of virtue, but I think I’m a much better (perhaps even more virtuous) person for it.

    Besides, witnessing the kind of politics (neurotic backbiting, unexamined privelage, etc.) that go on in the most heartbreakingly well-intentioned organizations, you get a sense of why human attempts to build an actual civilization have been and always will be so tragically fucked.

  153. Kathleen

    OM — “unventing” is a brilliant concept and so great to learn about! Let’s hope it makes it out of knitting and into the world!

    Though I don’t guess Anonymous Lawyer is reading anymore, I am sorry for calling him or her a weenie. I have been working on my name-calling impulses with mixed success. No apologies for my other comments, and I should clarify I am a white goose, not an of-color one. So I’m speaking as somebody who tries to get it, not somebody who lives it.

    About the sexist imagery — it’s not my cup of tea, I do think those images are double-edged, but I think it’s pretty different to choose to use sexist images as a woman than to choose to use racist images as a white person. Some things really are inside jokes, always.

  154. Lara

    “The fact that everyone jumped on the cover before we had any other info that could implicate true sexist exploitation concerns me, because it’s that kind of presumption that already dogs radical feminism and makes us lose credibility with more mainstream feminists.”

    Before we had any other info? Oh, we had lots of info: a patriarchal context, perhaps? Well, golly, I dunno I thought context was something important to keep in mind when looking at loaded images, especially when you’re a freaking feminist. And radical feminists shouldn’t give a rat’s ass what mainstream feminists think of them because the fact of the matter is that radical feminism will always be that: radical. You get to the roots of things because there is a status quo, and the only way to challenge the status quo is to get at the roots.
    I used to be a liberal feminist not that long ago at all (I am pretty young) and even though it was hard to stomach radical feminism at first, I learned to listen and rethink things. And that’s how I became a radical feminist.

  155. thebewilderness

    The problem I have with feminists using sexist images, while swimming in patriarchy, is that it forms the basis for the argument that some women like being seen as objects, and see other women as objects, for male pleasure. The “but my girlfriend likes porn” and “I know women who think degrading women is funny” response so popular among the liberal menz.
    The trouble with inside jokes made in public is that the joke is covert, but the sexism is overt.

  156. K.A.

    I want to reiterate my above point:

    I know you all know that no element of speech, whether it’s a cartoon or the word “cunt,” has any inherent value outside of 1. the conditioned response arising from its historical context, and 2. the immediate context that informs what’s being communicated at present.

    A change in the latter is often used to directly speak about the former.

    There is a long-term, historical context which leads to a conditioned response to anything, and there is a short-term context which changes the entire meaning. Whether Amanda engages with the images that way at all is debatable and a valid point, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can be used that way, which is what at least some of the objections seem to be denying. At this point I am playing devil’s advocate, because we agree that the publisher didn’t have those intentions.

    thebewilderness, I hear you, but I don’t think the use of images to make a point about the exact issue they feature–that is MOCKING the image while using it–is the same thing as promoting degradation with the image. The key here, as in all art, is intent. It can have a purpose. Lara and I agree that white men have no business doing it, but a woman’s book about feminism?

    Let me ask you something: would you feel the same way had the title of her feministy book was Slut? Men love calling women little sluts in porn, but wouldn’t the context make perfect sense why she used the title? Should “Bitch” stop promoting her music because some men might not get it and use it as an excuse that some women like to be called bitches? They’ve missed the point and are saying two completely different things.

  157. K.A.

    Ugh, an emboldened typo! Would you feel the same way had the title of her feministy book been Slut?

  158. K.A.

    Oh my fuck, is emboldened the wrong verb for that? “Bolded?” AHHHH! Twisty, don’t ban me for my sins against English, please!

  159. delphyne

    I know the question wasn’t directed at me but I think any woman who calls herself a slut even in a type of nineties ironic reclaiming kind of way is probably still struggling with a whole lot of self-hate.

    How about calling the men who call women sluts rapists or would-be rapists because that is probably close to the truth? If they want to use words to dehumanize women by using our sexuality against us the next step is doing the same thing physically.

    Sorry for the O/T Twisty.

  160. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    Octogalore – thanks for posting that! I remain mystified at the lack of response to the sexism in the cover. Hillary

  161. K.A.

    It’s possible that it’s a sorry grasp at reclamation motivated by staggering amounts of self-loathing, but a feminist book that eviscerates the mother-whore dichotomy called Slut? I don’t think it necessarily has to be a cutesy appeal to men, especially if part of the reason a book deal was obtained at all was because the author already had a devoted following of feminists who are on the same page.

  162. K.A.

    Continuing to advocate that there is a fixed meaning and response toward anything, inherently, gives more ammunition about fundamentalist thinking in radical feminism. It’s not a fair claim to level at radicals in the first place, but I don’t want to give them a reason to be right if the bias is already there.

    Lara, it goes beyond winning the approval of people with whom you disagree. It’s about maintaining the efficacy of the movement itself by not offering fodder for non-radfems that would legitimize historically unfair criticism. And it would be a legitimate criticism, one that would make any right-thinking liberal discredit radical feminist analysis to some degree.

    Not all criticism of the image is unfounded, but the ones concluding that n = -1, that n must always = -1, is what is getting under my skin, and they need to realize what the implications are. It is a short-sighted view of free speech, especially since it’s not even free speech just for the hell of it. There is, indeed, a point, and it’s not to damage women — it’s to rectify it.

    All y’all seem to be making the same argument that Bill Cosby makes against the reclamation of the n-word; he contends black people should stop using it because rap-loving white kids feel freed up to say nigga’ now. I think it’s a valid concern, but in the end, his view is of the whole thing is short-sighted.

  163. thebewilderness

    Of course it’s short sighted. I’m looking at the effect the behavior has on people right here, right now.
    Criminy. We tried to reclaim ‘bitch’ in the seventies and it turned into a joke on us, because now the menz say, “yeah but women call themselves that so it’s ok for me to. It doesn’t mean anything.”

    I’m saying it doesn’t work. I’m saying it does more harm to more people, even though it may do good for a few.
    The cover art may be mocking the mockers, but my guess is that it looks like mocking with the mockers to most people.

    I don’t get how you think the intent of the artist trumps the result of the work. When people don’t understand what an artist is trying to say, most artists consider that a failure of execution on their part, rather than a failure of understanding on the part of the viewer. We are inundated with sexist imagery, all day every day. I’m having a little trouble figuring out how anyone who doesn’t already know who AM is would get past the cover to find the irony.

  164. Twisty

    “The key here, as in all art, is intent.”

    I could not disagree more strongly. That’s right. I’m in the art-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder camp. Intent, schmintent.

    If the artist’s intent is to be a critical aspect of a work (which, I maintain, is impossible, on accounta the whole “unreliable narrator” dealio), I say print it out on a sheet of card stock and staple it to the thing so we can all move on. All this second-guessing and extrapolating and cultural context and attempted clairvoyance aimed at decoding an artist’s intent makes my eyeballs spin.

    Real art enbiggens T & B. That’s it! That’s its purpose. End of story. If you have to psychoanalyze the artist to “get it,” what you have there is a Rorschach blot. Which, OK, if you’re into psychoanalyzing artists, have at it by all means. But speculative interpretations of artist intent, even when backed up with biographical, historical, or cultural-context arguments, cannot be used to justify as “art” a given work. Especially one that is otherwise crapulent.

    Or maybe — I rolled my sore ankle again today — it’s just the Vicodin talking, I don’t know.

  165. Octogalore

    thebewilderness said: “The trouble with inside jokes made in public is that the joke is covert, but the sexism is overt.”

    Absolutely. My initial statements about the sexism at Feministe were laughed off as “oh, it’s kitsch.” Um, yeah, got that, didn’t read them as straight Barbie fandom, but still feel that doesn’t make it OK. As you and Twisty say, intent in the context of a feminist book is not relevant.

    This isn’t an exhibit at MOCA. It’s got chapters aimed at fifteen year olds. I don’t know about fifteen year olds today, being considerably in advance of that stage personally, but I don’t think I at that time would have been familiar with or cared about the author’s retro sensibilities.

    I would notice yet another Barbie (but buffer). And if I weren’t cut in that mold or even if I were, I’d read that as the ticket to wearing the F label with inpunity. You can wield that knife/compete with the guys if you’re blond, fully made up, and with Victoria Secret proportions. Otherwise, take the shoes off and get back in the kitchen.

    Only, of course, in all the illustrations, the woman’s the only one who’s actually barefoot.

    But: silly me, that’s just part of the kitsch.

  166. Twisty

    Octogalore, it’s nice to see ya again.

  167. smmo

    “All this second-guessing and extrapolating and cultural context and attempted clairvoyance aimed at decoding an artist’s intent makes my eyeballs spin.”

    But without it what would graduate students do?

  168. Lara

    “I know you all know that no element of speech, whether it’s a cartoon or the word “cunt,” has any inherent value outside of 1. the conditioned response arising from its historical context, and 2. the immediate context that informs what’s being communicated at present.

    A change in the latter is often used to directly speak about the former.

    There is a long-term, historical context which leads to a conditioned response to anything, and there is a short-term context which changes the entire meaning.”

    I would argue, K.A., that there is barely any difference between the “historical” and “immediate” contexts. It’s not like we now live in a post-patriarchy where things are equal now and sexist retro images of women are now all “ironic.” We are STILL living in a patriarchy, so it is up to the artist to make sure that the intent of the image is extremely clear. AM could have put some text or small caption below the image to make fun of the image in an even subtle way. There are so many things she or the illustrator could have done to bring forth the ironic message the image carries.

    “When people don’t understand what an artist is trying to say, most artists consider that a failure of execution on their part, rather than a failure of understanding on the part of the viewer.”

    Bewilderness, that’s a good point. I have been feeling this way about art and artists for quite some time now. If the artist has not gotten across to most people, even feminists, that their images or words are meant to deliver a sarcastic tone or message, then the artist has failed in their creation. Take, for example, Sasha Cohen’s “Borat” movie. Everyone excused the wretched sexism and racism in it as “irony” right? But honestly, most Americans thought it was funny BECAUSE they think racist and sexist jokes/ideas are funny. Ask any white frat dude whether he likes that movie, and I guarantee you he will. That tells you something. Either Cohen utterly failed at making clear that he is MOCKING sexism and racism in America, OR he and his fan base are just using the “irony” label as an excuse. Most people thought Borat’s interview with the feminist group, which included him deriding them as “humorless” and ugly, was funny BECAUSE they think feminists are “humorless” ugly bitches who are bitter about not getting men. There you have it. Irony schmirony at its best :/

  169. Hillary Rettig / The Lifelong Activist

    I think the Barbie image was used, consciously or subconsciously, in part to defang the dangerous “F” word in the book’s subtitle.

    I don’t mind Borat, who offends everyone, and who comes off worse in his own movie than pretty much anyone else. What I do mind is reading Jessica’s attributing her missing the racism in the illustrations to the fact that she’s a “white girl.” I remember when women fought not to be labeled girls, and it wasn’t so long ago.

  170. Octogalore

    Twisty — thanks, and likewise.

  171. Twisty

    The audience has to bring the context. It can’t be the other way around, or it’s just artwanking. You can’t say, “here’s my bit of art, but you must take into consideration my perspective as an upper middle class Jewish bi-curious grad student at a second-tier state school whose grandmother once slept with Rothko and whose step-father just died of AIDS.”

    Just like you can’t say, “I’ve got this history of mocking mid-century sexist imagery, so interpreting same as racist is not my intent, thus you are wrong.”

  172. OM

    As far as Borat goes, my son and I decided to boycott when we found out that the real people involved had, for the most part, no idea that he was acting at the time it was filmed. Dishonest cruelty is not funny to me.

  173. Octogalore

    Hillary — I think you’re right. Ka-ching, baby. T&A sells, and if you can dress it up as “ironic,” you can cash in on it while claiming not to be part of the problem. Which is primarily one of context, I think.

    Personally, I have no problem with T&A, or even cashing in on same, as some here may know. But this goes out to girls (Hillary — I agree re nomenclature, but I think arguably 14-15 year olds can be termed that way) and young women as “feminism.” So there’s a higher standard for being on message.

    Is there an argument — well, isn’t it important to do what it takes to get the book to sell? Well, yeah, but let’s face it. “Backlash” sold. “Ain’t I a Woman” sold. There are more creative hooks out there. And ultimately, in this context, the means and the end can’t be easily separated.

    So unlike a Danielle Steele or a Scott Turow, the goal here can’t be pure sales. But even assuming it were, that somehow we decided that getting the material in girls’/women’s hands was the key object? Even then, I’m not sure Barbie is best. Personally, I thought the contents were witty and had some great material for young feminist-curious girls and women, and that a better hook than the “jungle” thing (with its associated racist potential) might have angled the material more effectively from both a sales and a substantive standpoint.

  174. Octogalore

    Hillary — apologies for not stating your point correctly above, which is that the perceived importance of the T&A in this case was to offset the use of the F word in the subtitle. Same basic concusion. [Backlash had "war against women" in the subtitle and Ain't I a Woman had "feminism" in the subtitle.]

  175. Lauredhel

    There were porn ads at Pandagon for a while (thankfully no longer)

    There are still mail-order bride ads, or were within the past week or two. The regulars seem to think it’s amusing.

  176. delphyne

    Wow Lauredhel. Mail order brides? More racism-sexism for the hipsters to get a few cheap laughs at.

    It’s a shame that the women at the Daily Kos had more of a clue about when women were being abused and insulted that the commenters on feminist blogs.

  177. rhiain

    Twisty, this comment of yours above:

    “Even you, Twisty, gave her a pass on them [the illustrations]”

    That’s right, I did, to the extent that I didn’t write a big diatribe condemning the cover (I noted, almost as an afterthought, that the cover art was offensive, but I left it at that). I’ve always been fond of Amanda’s writing, and I wanted to be supportive, and I figured I’d leave it to someone else to rip the cover art. Had it been anyone but Amanda, I would have been somewhat more relentless.

    Furthermore, I don’t doubt that, were I member of a group directly oppressed by the aftershocks of Colonialism, I’d have given the interior illustrations a pretty cold sneer, but as it was, I didn’t even notice them. That says something rather unpleasant about me, I suppose. Mang, this whole thing is hella nasty.

    might be on of the most un-prepossessingly self-aware statements ever made. Holy pretzels, it’s a thing of beauty, and it’s just tossed off like nothing. In this you said, basically, that your admiration of Amanda made you unwilling to comment against her with excessive harshness, AND admitted your own biases wrt to the images that involved neither self-flagellation nor pearl-clutching. Thank you SO MUCH for this–even more than the post itself (which was its own little oasis of sanity in this whole messy bog), this comment sums every way in which you rock collective blogular socks. Thank you.

  178. rhiain

    More racism-sexism for the hipsters to get a few cheap laughs at.

    Actually, as I recall, this has been addressed several times over there–was that where the John Q TV ads (or whatever those horrid things were for) were posted? In any case, it had something to do with Google Ads and the blog administrators being unable to do anything about the ads themselves. I think the amusement is more of a “good grief, Google Ads is wasting their resources here, they so deeply do not get their audience” kind of amusement than real irony. That might be too charitable, though. Some of the fatosphere blogs have similar instances of amusement with ads for weight loss drugs that pop up, as one example of particularly tragic market misidentification.

    I should add this caveat: I don’t entirely understand how Google Ads (or any other ad service) works, since my blog is brand-new, plus I have the Firefox adblocker add-on thinger, so I’m really several degrees removed from any ad content.

    It is really not my intent to add to a threadjack here, though, so for me it’s back to the topic of the post.

  179. delphyne

    “In any case, it had something to do with Google Ads and the blog administrators being unable to do anything about the ads themselves.”

    You mean they’re forced to accept Google Ads on their blog and can’t remove them if it turns out they’re advertising porn and mail-order brides? I’m not buying that. Plenty of feminist blogs manage to run without ads.

  180. K.A.

    I have to run, but my point was that I don’t see why we’re NOT bringing the context, considering it is a feminist book directed at a feminist market. And as I’ve also pointed out already, my implicit premise was that her target audience is comprised of followers of her writing. It really didn’t seem to be a “14-year old girls who know nothing about feminism might stumble across this book and, due to their youthful incapacity to have more sophisticated interpretations, will be confused” type of situation.

    If you object to the concept of depriving old symbols of their meaning in general like thebewilderness does, then that’s a whole other ball of McGillicutty. Should Angry Black Woman not promote that stereotype for clueless white asshats to latch onto? Because my guess is it takes the sting out of the characterization for her and her readers who are black. It’s why I love using the word “cunt.” It has really taken the sting out of it for me.

    Remember when Mel Brooks defended The Producers? He said something about how his greatest victory over Hitler is to laugh at his absurdity. I wouldn’t expect someone who survived a concentration camp to have the same response to the musical as her descendant who has faced other antisemitic obstacles without traumatic triggering, so maybe this generational divide on the reclamation question has to do with the degree of sensitization to misogyny. Taking the sting out of put-downs reduces their power over us–but only if the images don’t invoke exceptional prior trauma.

    I want to comment further, because I have had a history of experiencing the same reactions as you to other subject matter, so I really do know what you’re saying, but I don’t have time to explain the parallels and differences between them at the moment.

  181. K.A.

    I also want to reiterate that I did agree Seal Press doesn’t interpret the image that way (which has now been verified), so we shouldn’t validate them by giving it a pass.

  182. rhiain

    You mean they’re forced to accept Google Ads on their blog and can’t remove them if it turns out they’re advertising porn and mail-order brides? I’m not buying that. Plenty of feminist blogs manage to run without ads.You mean they’re forced to accept Google Ads on their blog and can’t remove them if it turns out they’re advertising porn and mail-order brides? I’m not buying that. Plenty of feminist blogs manage to run without ads.

    You’re right, they could have just refused ads altogether.

    I got the impression from the above comment that the perception was that they’d deliberately chosen these ads for some kind of ironic value, and I just wanted to address that. Personally, I wish they’d take them down and just use a “donate” button.

  183. thebewilderness

    If you object to the concept of depriving old symbols of their meaning in general like thebewilderness does, then that’s a whole other ball of McGillicutty.

    K.A.
    You have misstated, or possibly misunderstood my position.

    Your description of the difference between how a survivor of the holocaust, and their descendent, might see “Springtime For Hitler” is exactly my point.
    You might want to look into why Dave Chapelle stopped doing his show.
    You might consider how well “The Producers” would have been received in 1943. Because that is the relative position of women, right here, right now.
    Calling yourself a cunt may take the sting out of the word for you, and if that is all you care about, then fine. It does not take the sting out of it for all the women who hear you casually toss off a term that is screamed at them by their abusers. I’m fairly sure it makes the abusers smirk.

  184. TP

    I have to agree with rhiain upthread about Twisty’s effortlessly human way of simply acknowledging her own shortcomings in viewing the world, and this issue.

    In many ways, Twisty is my ideal, someone I aspire to be like. I could never be as funny as she is, and that’s partially because she’s so damn relaxed about exactly who she is and what she thinks.

    When I discover my own biases and misogyny, I have come to the point – thanks to our TF – that I don’t freak out, get defensive, wallow in the luxury of useless guilt, or even feel too much surprise. I just feel the old familiar pain of knowing that I am a tool of the patriarchy and that I should know better.

    It’s all a process of becoming aware of your conditioning, not a matter of defending your perfect ass. Whenever I see someone defending any kind of privilege I know I see someone who values the patriarchal culture over truth and beauty.

    Racist and sexist imagery is all equally offensive, and will never be ironic until racism and sexism have been destroyed. And mistaking cheap sniggers of sophomoric sarcasm for irony is one of the constant complaints I have; one that sorely chaps my middle-aged hide!

    That said, I understand the blind privilege and lazy acceptance that led to the easy way out of throwing a bunch of cheap illustrations into a book in time to get it published. Thinking of truly cool and appropriate illustrations that could be done for as cheap as reprinting old comics is impossible. But I do wish she had decided against it.

  185. rootlesscosmo

    I agree with thebewilderness about “The Producers.” By the time it was released (1968, I think) there were no Nazis terrorizing Jews in the US, and Mel Brooks could use ridicule (his one “real” Nazi, the author of “Springtime for Hitler,” is a clownish relic) to deal with his own memories and fears as an American Jew; the first night Broadway audience first reacts to “Springtime” with open-mouthed horror but then, watching Dick Shawn camp about as Hitler, re-frames the show as satire: “It’s funny!” explains one audience member to her date. But to put it mildly, we’re a long way from a parallel situation in the struggle against patriarchy.

  186. kiki

    It really didn’t seem to be a “14-year old girls who know nothing about feminism might stumble across this book and, due to their youthful incapacity to have more sophisticated interpretations, will be confused” type of situation.

    If the problem is that she knows “nothing about feminism” please explain what can she learn about/from feminism that will help her interpret those images and not be confused?

    How will knowing more about feminism help her be capable of a more sophisticated interpretation of a half dressed, pornified white woman posing in the foreground of a jungle scene while her white male companion holds the indigenous people back at a safe distance with a gun?

    How does this relate to feminism? To equality? Liberation?

    I ain’t 14 (far, far from it) and it confuses the hell outta me.

  187. K.A.

    It does not take the sting out of it for all the women who hear you casually toss off a term that is screamed at them by their abusers. I’m fairly sure it makes the abusers smirk.

    Casually toss of a term on my feminist blog? How could it be taken in any other tone in that context?

    Your argument does appear to be down on the general idea of depriving symbols of oppression of their meaning, so I’m not sure how I’m misstating your position.

  188. K.A.

    I am not supposed to be on here right now so I can’t go into anymore detail, but kiki, I addressed that above multiple times.

    I wanted to add thebewilderness that I was actually going to use Chapelle as an example of one of the times I was thinking the way you do about this issue; everyone seemed to think his answer was insane, but I remember thinking, “I know exactly what you mean, Dave,” after dealing with a closet misogynist boyfriend who laughed just a wee bit differently at the sexist jokes on The Office (American version). The WAY he laughed haunts me even now sometimes when I watch the Office. I agree that a lot of these shows appeal to sexists/racists, and they get away with it by riding on the coattails of All in the Family as an excuse.

    Now I see what you’re saying about how far we are from an event making the difference of whether or not you agree with reappropriation, but I have to go now unfortunately before I can address it. Soon….

  189. thebewilderness

    It is really quite simple, K.A.
    They are not “old” symbols, they are traditional symbols. They are the words and symbols of oppression we see and hear every day. The difference between the sexist images of the book cover and the sexist images we are faced with today in comercial advertising is nonexistant. You seem to say that the narrow context of presenting sexist images by a feminist trumps the broader context of sexist images in society. I think you are mistaken.
    This is not to say that words and images cannot, and have not, been reinterpreted and retasked. But to claim that the words mean whatever one says they mean to oneself, rather than what the general population thinks they mean is too “Humpty Dumpty” for me to find reasonable.

  190. Lara

    “This is not to say that words and images cannot, and have not, been reinterpreted and retasked. But to claim that the words mean whatever one says they mean to oneself, rather than what the general population thinks they mean is too “Humpty Dumpty” for me to find reasonable.”

    I agree with thebewilderness here. I am an Art History major, and I have taken a whole course on Museum Studies. (bare with me while I create a hopefully coherent and useful analogy here) In that class we learned all about how museums will take objects or artifacts (whether that be a statue, painting, piece of clothing, bowl, etc.) and completely change their function and meaning by taking those objects OUT of their original context and creating a new context for them. For example, the National Museum of African Art recently had an exhibit of Ghanaian gold objects. Some of these objects were special staffs used by sacred and royal orators and entourage of the king, the staffs were used to symbolize important religious stories and mythology, and to help the orator not only speak for the king but to give him moral and legal advice. Now, the museum displayed some of these gold objects NOT in their original context (being held by an orator, or shown in an entourage for the king), but instead displayed as a gold necklace at Kay Jewelers would be displayed: in a case, with black velvet panels for the background, spotlights, etc. This change of surroundings, exhibition, and thus context, really changes the function and meaning of the piece, doesn’t it? Well, only in the context of the museum. Just because the museum treats the orator staffs as fine gold jewelry for display within its walls it doesn’t mean they essentially ARE.
    My point is that those pornified and racist images of a blonde woman being protected from black “savage” males in a “jungle” were made specifically BY and FOR a racist and misogynist society. They were a product of a racist and sexist culture. That is the purpose of that image: to perpetuate the racial and sexual status quo. And you know what? We are still living in a White Supremacist Patriarchy just like we were in mid-20th century America. SO, the function of the images remains the same. Only way you could label the images as “irony” is by directly mocking it right at the moment that the viewer first sees the image. By using words or text, or a juxtaposed image showing a very different image of women and men of color, etc. The image alone, even if on the cover of a feminist book, and read by feminists, does not make it “irony” because we are still living in a White Supremacist Patriarchy. Because the dominant cultural narrative is male and white-centered images such as the ones on the cover and inside of AM’s book are most certainly offensive and are not effective as “irony.”
    Sorry if that was longer than it needed to be. I am not always as eloquent as I would like to be :P

  191. Lara The Second

    I’m a committed lurker (not advanced enough at the patriarchy blaming), but R.E. Google Ads – you can filter out ads you don’t want to be shown on your website. This has been a feature for quite some time. You just have to add the specific urls the ads you don’t want point to onto your filter list. They call it “Competitive Ad Filter” because it’s meant for blocking ads from sites in competition with your own, but it works with any url.

  192. Octogalore

    “my implicit premise was that her target audience is comprised of followers of her writing. It really didn’t seem to be a “14-year old girls who know nothing about feminism might stumble across this book and, due to their youthful incapacity to have more sophisticated interpretations, will be confused” type of situation.”

    To add to what thebewilderness and others have said hear, this is factually inaccurate. The target audience isn’t her followers, because the book’s material (have you actually read it, KA?) is something her followers would already be familiar with. There’s actually a chapter in the book that is labeled “Fifteen Year Olds [something or other].” Her blog audience isn’t 15.

    And although some of these fifteen year olds may pick up on the irony, they will also be smart enough to pick up on the other factor. Which is that even a feminist book was judged by someone, somewhere, whether it’s the author or the back room, to need T&A — even the ironic kind — to sell. Extrapolate that one out a bit and see where you get.

  193. Fiona

    Just want to chime in to say I too didn’t even notice the racist images of the “savage natives” until it was pointed out here, and I went back to the book to find them. I immediately felt stupid for not seeing them. Additionally, I was not at all offended by the illustrations of the pornified blonde until I read this from xochitl: “When some women complained about the sexist images we were told we just didn’t get the joke. It wasn’t until women complained about racist images that Amanda and her publisher issued an apology.”

    This makes so much sense. We’re socialized to see pornified images of women as normal. I don’t think it’s connected to the fact that we’re horrified by the racist images, meaning I don’t think we should accept the sexism because the author is a woman, but we shouldn’t accept the racism because the author is white, but it is brought to the fore when some of us (or maybe just I) so easily overlook the sexism while denouncing the racism. Neither is acceptable, and I appreciate the comments here that brought me to this realization.

    The creepiest illustration of all, to me, is on page 143. It’s the only one in the book where the woman doesn’t have the fierce “I’m about to kill you” expression on her face as two white men approach her from opposite directions.

    All of that said, the book is undeniably well written, entertaining and worth reading, though I don’t think anybody’s disputing that. I just don’t know how to reconcile the illustrations and what they connote.

  194. K.A.

    No one is countering what I was actually arguing anymore, which had already pointed out that my premises hinged upon my assumption that the book was filling a niche market that was familiar with Marcotte, and the hypothetical that the publishers had not removed all doubt about the cover. People did have problems with the cover before the book was read and the publisher’s outed definitively.

    I pointed out that I was arguing with a hypothetical. And no one answered my other hypothetical questions about “Slut” except for thebewilderness.

    I don’t see much point in presenting a case that people aren’t even bothering to read, because no one else is taking issue with the case I made, though maybe that’s because my posts were kind of long and people skim through them.

    My purpose for taking issue with it at all was to point out how unilaterally vilifying an image when there is a valid interpretation otherwise (back before all doubt was removed about the publisher’s intent) contributes to radical feminism’s loss of credibility. Why is the automatic reaction to banish speech in question forever rather than emphasize the role of responsibility in using said speech carefully — only with like-minded people who understand its intent, people who get something out of using it by dulling the ache?

    Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to get anywhere with this and it’s about time we moved on anyway. Thanks for enlightening me on your viewpoint though, especially after thinking I was defending the racist images, because it really did baffle me. I think Delphyne’s skepticism that Marcotte has ever used those images in good faith is the only one that holds any water. I’ve always assumed she found them ridiculous and stupid as much as any radfem.

  195. Lara

    Um, actually KA I was quoting whole chunks of your argument and responding to your argument directly, so I have no clue of where you get the idea that people aren’t listening to you.

  196. delphyne

    “I pointed out that I was arguing with a hypothetical.”

    I think this may be the problem. Radical feminism is based on women’s real experiences and analysis of the same. As soon as you start getting into hypotheticals e.g. in a lovely world we could all call ourselves sluts and it would defeat misogyny, you get away from grounded politics and start imagining that political change can be enacted simply by the power of one’s own beliefs rather than real-world actions.

    If every woman called herself a slut tomorrow, nothing would change from the misogynists using it against us, they would just laugh and continue raping and abusing us, although maybe the women themselves could pretend that they’d done something. On the other hand if tomorrow every woman refuses to use the word slut against herself or other women and also stood up to men whereever she heard them using it, that would be political action that could make some change in the world.

    I’m actually finding it hard to see why you are making such a defense of irony KA, first of all there isn’t anything inherently feminist about it (in fact it’s often used against us as we’ve seen) and secondly the real-life example, Amanda and Seal Press, who decided that irony was more important than not being racist or sexist, seems to show it can take you to some very bad political places indeed.

    Finally as I’m making the claim for real life experience, in all the discussions I’ve had with other feminists about reclamation of words like “slut” or “cunt”, the most ardent supporters of it have also been similarly ardent about porn and BDSM. I think it’s important never to underestimate how drilled into us women masochism is, and how easy it is to swing back to that position. The refusal of masochism is the radical position in my view.

  197. kiki

    I’ve always assumed she found them ridiculous and stupid as much as any radfem.

    Excuse me but you mistakingly omitted the word “white” before “radfem”. For most WoC they are not “ridiculous” instead they are stomach churning and dehumanizing. Interesting that you use the word “assumed”. I think there’s a word for that, what was it? Hmmmm

  198. thebewilderness

    Here’s the thing K.A.
    You’re not in a classroom, you are not leading a discussion. Once your premis was demonstrated to be false there didn’t seem to be any point in continuing down that line.
    You have a load of galloping assumptions going on there, but the one that stands out is the idea that if people don’t engage with you it is because they didn’t read your comments. There are other possibilities.

  199. K.A.

    Lara, I actually addressed your post.

    Additionally, I agree with you on Borat, which I haven’t seen and don’t want to. Baron-Cohen is a sexist but positioned himself to look like an anti-bigotry hero here. It doesn’t surprise me whatsoever that he’s related to world class misogynist Simon Baron-Cohen. Though being Jewish hobbles him in some ways in society, he is basically an incredibly privileged upper-middle class white man, and that he pretends he isn’t, and that he thinks his Jewish ancestry erases his status as a privileged white man and gives him the right to do his schtick where he exposes other people’s bias, makes me pretty much hate him.

    Anyway, I’ll try to clarify what my point is with another example. Take the alleged Yale abortion artist. Some of us expressed regret that it was a hoax, and excoriated the fetus-loving Yalies who condemned the uppity artist who was making a point that there should be no greater emotional load for vaginal excrement than if she had taken a dump. Anti-choicers commonly tout their delusional claim that women think nothing of abortion, that they don’t think about it before they do it, there is no real decision-making process that goes into it, that they use it regularly as birth control. This is bullshit, so why don’t we denounce the abortisan too as giving anti-choicers fodder to feed this particular anti-woman delusion? They’ll only use it against us, after all. The answer is that it doesn’t matter that they’ll use it too reinforce their misogynist delusion. Their interpretation was incorrect, and her art would have had merit for other reasons. The immediate context would matter because if the artist was coming from a feminist sensibility, and she wasn’t an anti-choice wingnut there to add fuel to the anti-choice line, we would interpret the art from that framework.

    Delphyne, I guess you’re also arguing the same line as thebewilderness. I’m not sure it is wise to denounce the concept of reclamation, or any element of speech inherently as though it could never have value other than further oppression. We already agree that it can be misused, but why is the automatic reaction then to ban it all together rather than to quibble about the logistics of how and when it’s used–to put responsibility on the one who invokes it in the proper settings?

    Just out of curiosity, is being anti-reclamation a formal radical feminist stance, or just is a commonly shared one?

  200. delphyne

    I have no idea KA. I certainly haven’t seen any rad-fems who are pro-reclaimation however. You are probably the first. The idea comes out of the third wave/fourth wave with regards to feminism I think. It’s also got overtones of postmodernism in it – the words can mean anything I say they mean stance.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting this idea about “banning” anything either. Who has the power to ban anything? I certainly don’t. I will take issue with anybody who uses the terms “slut” “cunt” or whatever sexist insult de jour it’s trendy to use against oneself however and are claiming it’s liberating for women.

    And seriously, do you have enough time to spend on this sort of thing?:

    “rather than to quibble about the logistics of how and when it’s used–to put responsibility on the one who invokes it in the proper settings?”

    What on earth are “proper settings” and who could be bothered with this anyway?

    What do you think of what I said about all women refusing to call themselves names as a stance against female masochism, and taking issue with the men who use them against us? Don’t you think that’s a more effective political strategy?

  201. kiki

    Their interpretation was incorrect.

    No their interpretation would be one of many possible interpretations. It is neither correct nor incorrect.

  202. Octogalore

    KA, I agree with thebewilderness. What’s the use of arguing against a disproven hypothetical? You state: “my premises hinged upon my assumption that the book was filling a niche market that was familiar with Marcotte.” I stated above that I own the book and many chapters are specifically (eg in the title of the chapter) aimed at teens being introduced to feminism.

    Most feminist-curious teens are not already familiar with feminist blogs and/or Marcotte. Of course, there are teens who are already hardcore feminists and therefore already schooled in the environment Marcotte’s book sets out to describe; that’s not the book’s audience.

    Further, you did not respond to my argument (derived from Hillary’s point) that actually did entertain your hypothesis, as follows:

    “And although some of these fifteen year olds may pick up on the irony, they will also be smart enough to pick up on the other factor. Which is that even a feminist book was judged by someone, somewhere, whether it’s the author or the back room, to need T&A — even the ironic kind — to sell. Extrapolate that one out a bit and see where you get.”

  203. K.A.

    I meant to put “regularly as a primary means of birth control.”

    I don’t think taking issue with the men who use the words against us, and using it among like-minded people to take the sting out of the word so I don’t hurt when it’s actually being wielded to hurt, have to be mutually exclusive.

    When I say “banning,” obviously I don’t mean legal censorship or something. I mean that the argument appears to be that the image is inherently something negative, and any invocation thereof is contributing to negativity and thus should never be invoked, even when the reason it’s invoked is to speak directly about the negativity (not just for the funfeminism of it).

    invoked invoked invoked

    I don’t identify with pomos that much except where radicalism and liberalism overlap, but I don’t think of my perspective as “words mean whatever I want them to mean, because we exist in a vacuum, doncha know?” When I found Twisty, I went through a lot of the archives to catch up, and I remember a post about Sienna Miller wanting to masochistically know who Jude Law cheated with. Twisty’s observation was that she wanted to know because she needed to know how much blonder her hair had to be, how much more lip collagen she needed, because she needed to know “who she had to outcunt.” That is the most perfect phrase for it, but I don’t think uttering the word justifies men using it against us. She used it with a point in mind, and immediate context matters.

  204. K.A.

    Sorry again about the tags. Here it is again if you want to delete the above:

    I meant to put “regularly as a primary means of birth control.”

    I don’t think taking issue with the men who use the words against us, and using it among like-minded people to take the sting out of the word so I don’t hurt when it’s actually being wielded to hurt, have to be mutually exclusive.

    When I say “banning,” obviously I don’t mean legal censorship or something. I mean that the argument appears to be that the image is inherently something negative, and any invocation thereof is contributing to negativity and thus should never be invoked, even when the reason it’s invoked is to speak directly about the negativity (not just for the funfeminism of it).

    invoked invoked invoked

    I don’t identify with pomos that much except where radicalism and liberalism overlap, but I don’t think of my perspective as “words mean whatever I want them to mean, because we exist in a vacuum, doncha know?” When I found Twisty, I went through a lot of the archives to catch up, and I remember a post about Sienna Miller wanting to masochistically know who Jude Law cheated with. Twisty’s observation was that she wanted to know because she needed to know how much blonder her hair had to be, how much more lip collagen she needed, because she needed to know “who she had to outcunt.” That is the most perfect phrase for it, but I don’t think uttering the word justifies men using it against us. She used it with a point in mind, and immediate context matters.

  205. K.A.

    The best argument I’ve seen here was actually one of yours, which is your skepticism that Amanda has ever recycled the stupid sexist ads to put them in their place, given her history of minimizing other forms of sexism and misogyny. I personally had interpreted the usage differently, but that’s a great point that’s sticking for me.

  206. K.A.

    Octagalore, I’m not responding because you are still missing the premises I laid out. I have stated multiple times that I agree with you for the reasons you just laid out. We’re basically arguing about different things.

  207. delphyne

    “how much blonder her hair had to be, how much more lip collagen she needed, because she needed to know “who she had to outcunt.””

    That’s not reclamation. As far as I can see (I haven’t seen the original post) it’s being used against Miller or at the very least it’s not being used in support of her. How do you think Miller would have felt having her pain described in that way?

  208. K.A.

    OK, it’s not exactly “reclamation,” but you know what I mean: it’s being used to make a point about misogyny, so it’s fitting my argument (reclamation isn’t my only focus, but it is a subset of justified usage).

    I think “outcunt” was a brilliant neologism right there, because Twisty was highlighting her internalization of sexist dynamics in relationships. I don’t think she was being cruel about her additional pain of experiencing infidelity, since I’m sure we all sympathize with her there.

  209. K.A.

    I hope my contention isn’t pissing everyone off too badly, because I think there is enough stress in feminism as it is. It’s weird to be on the other side for once, instead of the one who is feeling her heart beat in her eye.

    Whenever you think we should wrap this side of the discussion up and call it a day, I’ll be happy to conclude by weighing in on the actual subject of Twisty’s post! Thanks for allowing the semi-derail, Spinster Faster. I found it enlightening.

    Oh, there’s another example! What about promoting the word “spinster”?! Just kidding; don’t answer that question.

  210. K.A.

    Switching gears to Amandagate:

    I don’t think Amanda is off the hook with BrownFemiPower, but not necessarily for the same reasons a lot of other people are expressing.

    Amanda is a prominent feminist largely because she is relatively young, white, and has the approval of white men, who make up a substantial portion of her base. Though I’m sure her fans are diverse, she couldn’t have made it to where she is without the presence of all those white men legitimizing her. I realized once that she has their approval because they can get on board with her feminism, as long as it’s mainly about abortion issues (since female entrapment sucks), and because it elevates their porn to freedom-fighting status. Basically, the white dudes’ maturity level is “Fuck women! But I’m still better than conservatives because I’m a morally superior egalitarian, right?” Marcotte has plenty of feminist integrity, but goes out of her way to placate them so they won’t dislike her; she’ll say things that will be unpopular with them to a degree, but only to that degree–never anything that would make her too unpopular with her white male readership. Her career hinges upon it.

    As other people pointed out, women of color are rightfully angry about why she is the one getting the book deals at all, and this incident can act as a foundation for a discussion, though I’m distressed that so many women of color already bowed out altogether (I can’t imagine a feminist world without JusticeWalks in it, trying to fix it). I doubt Marcotte cribbed BrownFemiPower directly. But I don’t think she’s off the hook anyway.

    In the dark ages before we had the technology for mass communication, great thinkers independently arrived at the same conclusions all the time, in obvious isolation. With the advent of the intraweb, we have greater access to the latest information and any citation we need, but when that door opens, we have an exponential increase in the number of voices with their own musings. It’s easy to cite popularized ideas that have been formally published, but among the blog world, the possibility that someone has come to the same conclusion that you did first are seemingly endless. Even so, Amanda is still not off the hook with BrownFemiPower.

    Amanda was acutely aware of the long history of feminist work being co-opted by white women, and white women’s concerns marginalizing those of women of color within the movement. We would deem her racist if she didn’t include the issues of women of color. Assuming she wove new ideas out of the material she gleaned from the work of people of color at the ACLU conference, which I believe is the most likely scenario, she should have at least cited those sources as the springboard for her original ideas. But she’s still not off the hook with BrownFemiPower.

    The question is: why is it, when white feminists are pressed to be more inclusive of women of color’s issues, does it seem to be a last minute cram session to pay lip service in the book like the good white feminist she knows she is supposed to be? Why wasn’t she a consistent, consummate reader of WoC blogs? She should have already been familiar with the conclusions women of color have drawn from the work they do, rather than familiarizing herself with the race/sex intersection as an afterthought to cover her hide. I think BrownFemiPower is (was) one of the biggest WoC blogs. If Marcotte’s angle wasn’t the one I describe, she would have already known to give credit to BFP, or at least mention her for echoing her same conclusion.

  211. Lara

    “…why is it, when white feminists are pressed to be more inclusive of women of color’s issues, does it seem to be a last minute cram session to pay lip service in the book like the good white feminist she knows she is supposed to be?”

    Ayi. Let’s talk about the word “inclusive” in this sentence here, shall we? I don’t mean at all to pick on you K.A., or to be pretentious, but this is very important to look at. What do you mean, K.A., by white women having to be “inclusive” of women’s of color issues? Are you saying that the feminist movement is invented/perpetuated by white women and now they’re supposed to just ADD women’s of color concerns and “issues”? American feminism was born out of the political and social movements and actions of women of color.
    I think the way you are talking about this whole issue with the racist and misogynist illustrations in Marcotte’s book is so….abstract. I am tired, as a radical woman of color, of hearing white feminists talking about all of these issues as abstract concepts. As things that you can theorize and mold any way you like, separate from every day life. The racist attitudes present in those images in AM’s book have a TANGIBLE EFFECT on WOC’s lives:

    kiki said, in reference to K.A.’s assumption that AM always found the racist/sexist images “ridiculous”:
    “For most WoC they are not “ridiculous” instead they are stomach churning and dehumanizing.”

    Speech, such as images, is also an act. The images actively reinforce status quos. As I had mentioned before, these images function specifically to perpetuate the racial and gender hierarchy. The images are meant to justify, in the long run, the racist and misogynist “justice” system, capitalism, etc. And those images, by extenstion, have an effect on white women’s lives. Just in a different way. That is why radical feminism is awesome (and so hard to stomach for the uninitiated): it gets down to the nitty gritty; it looks at women’s every day experiences, their realities, and tries to find the root of the oppression that actualizes itself in women’s lives. Radical feminism started as grassroots, in women’s homes. From women’s experiences and stories. Liberal feminism started in academia. It tends to look at things in the abstract, the theoretical. And while I appreciate liberal feminism and the things liberal feminists are trying to achieve, I find that radical feminism really gets to the source of the oppression. Can really address concrete issues and struggles women are dealing with every day.
    Hope that wasn’t a ramble. :P

  212. K.A.

    I also am tired, which is why I switched to a new topic. Lara, you (and your quote from kiki) seem to be confused about the subject of my argument, probably because new info popped up for me towards the beginning of my posts here. Believe me (since I doubt you want to go sifting through this monster thread), once I found out about the racist images inside, I added my disdain for them to the blogdin. You are arguing against my support of images I don’t support.

    My concern was peaked when people automatically hated the cover in the past without yet having any evidence that it was definitely being used in an exploitative way (before the book was read, before the inside images were revealed), which I already agree that it has, which is why I no longer give it a pass. I also pointed out that my argument hinged on the premise that the book was being hawked to a niche market that knows Marcotte, which is a fair assumption before we knew anything else about it. But the reason I continued was because most people didn’t seem to have a problem primarily with the niche market assumption (which would be a valid explanation for all the poo-poos) so much as the idea that any communicative symbol can have value within a context of examining topics surrounding said symbol among people who approach it in good faith — which is the line of reasoning I feared. Delphyne pointed out that she doesn’t think Amanda has ever approached them in good faith, which was an alternate possibility I hadn’t considered.

    This probably comes off like an intellectually dishonest moving of goalposts or something, but I’m trying to get across what my original concern was before new info obscured that point.

  213. K.A.

    As for your comment on my post about “Amandagate,” I don’t even know how to answer your questions, because they imply that I said the exact opposite of the entire point of my post.

  214. K.A.

    Oh, I think I see now why you thought I was saying something else. You went right to my main point in bold, yes? “When white women are pressed” sounds like I’m implying what you think I am. Worry not; my long intro assures I am saying quite the opposite!

  215. ate

    I’m going to weigh in to the K.A. conversation here.

    The reason I/we/some had a problem with the cover was because the image presented was sexist. The cover image is yet another version of the ‘perfect woman’ ideal that is constantly pushed down our throat: white, blonde, large breasted and scantily clad. I thought feminists were meant to be fighting again being objectified in this way, not putting reprsentative images on the covers of our books. Further, it is a book that dubs itself as ‘the feminist survival guide’, juxtaposing itself with this image seems to imply that the woman featured is ‘the feminist’. My own personal uproar was: Why is a feminist book implying on the first page that to be a feminist I should look a certain way? Clearly this is a wholly simplistic way of approaching it and clearly Marcotte meant it to be far more ironic, a ‘let’s laugh at the world that thinks we should be this’. But unfortunately, i’m not laughing. Perpetuating sexist imagery, perpetuates sexism. Perhaps if she’d used an image of a woman chained to the stove I might laugh more, indulge in the irony to a greater extent because I personally believe that we’ve managed to move past that female ideal. Yet I recognise that others would disagree. The depiction of women in the media/everywhere is inherently sexualised. It is still far too big a battleground for irony. Gah: Octogalore probably says it all better than me. (http://octogalore.blogspot.com/2008/04/no-sexism-in-jungle.html)

    To me it doesn’t matter who the book was being marketed to or for or what the rest of the book contained image wise. That single image itself was unsettling and frustrating – particularly when Marcotte didn’t seem to be willing to understand why i or others like me who attempted to address it with her had such issue with it. What I anticipated as her niche market seems irrelevant. I don’t really care how many people were going to read the book or if they were in on the joke – I found the image sexist. Even if only one other person ever saw the image it would still be sexist. Unless the image was going to be presented with THIS IS SEXIST, FUCK THE PATRIARCHY it was going to be exploitative, regardless of how many clever things Marcotte had to say afterwards.

    Sorry, I’m tired and I hope I’ve responded vaguely to what I’ve tried to figure out as your original point, eek. I think Lara has done an excellent job on the Amandagate/WOC and feminism explanations and agree with her wholey.

  216. Lara

    K.A. I was not at all saying, or trying to imply that you supported the images in any way. What I was saying is that you are complaining that people automatically “assumed” that the images were offensive and destructive, and saying that the author was using the images in an “ironic” way. What I was countering in response is that the author needed to make clear that she was making fun of the images by using text or juxtaposed images, etc. BECAUSE the images in and of themselves are offensive BECAUSE those images were created specifically to perpetuate racial/sexual hierarchy and misogyny. I mean, I’ve repeated this a few times throughout my posts. I tried my hardest to be clear on this. You keep ignoring the points that I and others have made about the irony not working, or about how the images alone cannot be devoid of meaning because those images were created in and for a culture that is patriarchal and racist, and we are still living in a patriarchal racist culture.
    Anyway, this is the last time I am commenting here about this subject, as I thought I had gotten my points across.

  217. madaha

    Ok, I’ve been reading more and more about this, as more people comment on different sites, and I have to say, I think it’s wrong that people are finding the problem systemic to feminism itself. I don’t think that’s the case.

    I forget who above, who responded to me saying that it’s about WOC withdrawing *support* from feminism, as vegetarians might do from PETA. This is the problem! That is, conceiving of it this way.

    Feminism is NOT a monolithic organization like PETA. In fact, it’s much more like vegetarianism itself, an ideology, a lifestyle, a belief system. There are elitist and racist elements in vegetarianism too, but no one blames vegetarianism itself (as far as I know).

    Just like we shouldn’t blame feminism. Those white elitist feminists who are messing up DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME, NOR DO THEY SPEAK FOR FEMINISM.

    These issues need to be examined, so they stop being perpetuated, but let’s not blame feminism per se. These individuals need to be called to task. But let’s not seek to vilify the title, as the Right does. Feminism is not an “F” word.

    And I, nor should anyone, be ashamed to be a feminist.

  218. madaha

    I say this because I keep reading feminists saying they are thinking about abondoneing feminism because of this. This morning at Skepchick, even!

    I think this is self-defeating and wrong. Let’s stay strong, and address the problem directly, (which many of you are doing, so that’s good) but not throw everything under the bus. This is extremist thinking, and it’s beginning to freak me out.

    If people are taking breaks from their blogs, that’s fine. But blaming feminism is wrong. We’re supposed to be blaming the patriarchy, y’all! Let’s not lose focus, and destroy ourselves from the inside out.

    whew, i’m spent.

  219. thebewilderness

    I forget who above, who responded to me saying that it’s about WOC withdrawing *support* from feminism, as vegetarians might do from PETA. This is the problem! That is, conceiving of it this way.

    That was me. They won’t stop being feminists, but they will stop supporting groups or individuals that it has become clear to them do not walk their talk. I’m not sure what else they or we can be expected to do.
    I didn’t get the part where anyone was blaming the feminist movement or blaming all white feminists. I thought it was a more interwebs specific issue. What with the kewel kids klub and power to the korrect people shenanigans. Perhaps I am wrong.

    Certainly this divisiveness serves the P, I suspect that is the purpose of some, like Hugego, who fan the flames.

  220. other orange

    Twisty, I’m very glad you weighed in on the subject. This is the most well-reasoned and self-aware response I’ve seen.

    There’s something that’s been bothering me about the comment threads, mostly on Feministe, but on other response posts as well… it keeps devolving from “Marcotte made a mistake and she should re-examine her professional habits and outlook” to “Well, Marcotte’s a meanie-weenie and she deserves it ! She’s a divider and her posts make people mad ! She thinks she’s so funny but she’s not so there and the boys like her too much !”

    ..It’s kind of messing with me. That’s one of the reasons I appreciated this post so much; and the comments here that have been very articulate and sensible; because I’m not comfortable with throwing Marcotte under the wagon.

    I think white feminist bloggers are writing from a position of privilege, and if this has opened some eyes, that can only be a good thing. But Marcotte’s a writer I admire in many ways, with a strong commitment to her issues; and I would hope that this is a situation in which she could get perspective and advice from her peers, rather than getting burned in effigy.

    To wit: thanks.

  221. delphyne

    “Hugego”

    LOL. I agree though, the sight of him and Ampersand over at the Seal Press blog magnanimously accepting an apology that wasn’t even directed at them was pretty sickening. As was Hugo’s initial support of the book and dismissal of women of colour who criticised it.

    BTW, I feel uncomfortable that Twisty keeps getting the props as writing the best commentary on this situation. It wouldn’t fly if a man was being congratulated for his masterful overview of a situation involving sexism where a number of women had already said their piece. (Not implying that Twisty wants these props of course, it’s pretty clear from her original post that that isn’t the case).

  1. In light of Appropriation and Race « Questioning Transphobia

    [...] Twisty posted about how white feminists often wield white privilege against women of color in ways similar to how men wield male privilege against women. [...]

  2. On the recent internet happenings «

    [...] By the way, I like what Twisty has to say here: Schooled. [...]

  3. The Hackenblog » Amanda appropriates

    [...] Twisty. [...]

  4. Feministe » On Those Pictures and On Privilege

    [...] I’ve been thinking about as I read the dozens of posts and hundreds of comments about “Amandagate” this month. As I watched defensive walls go up, and saw accusations of jealousy, and heard [...]

  5. derivative work » Blog Archive » cultural appropriation, property rhetoric, acknowledgment

    [...] single out two posts that influenced me and this post: * Twisty’s recent post on the issue (Schooled, 4/23) helped me think through the need to speak sooner rather than later when I have the perfect [...]

  6. eeePC WorldWide News » cultural appropriation, property rhetoric, acknowledgment

    [...] single out two posts that influenced me and this post: * Twisty’s recent post on the issue (Schooled, 4/23) helped me think through the need to speak sooner rather than later when I have the perfect [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>