Banter in the Garden
|Presenting the 51st… on Guest Post: Women’s Refu…|
|Fuck off, Bob Jones,… on Risky Business|
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|Emma on Risky Business|
|Deborah on A plea for your voice.|
Tea and Strumpets
What it is, though, is an attempt to recognize that we all have shit going on in our real lives, away from the internet, that we shouldn’t have to throw out there in order to be accorded a little bit of patience and kindness. Effective activism has to recognize that we’re all dealing with real-life stuff, and we are not all 100% engaged in these online communities at all times, and that we have different priorities and perspectives and real-time demands.
I am well aware I am putting my head on a block here. I am gonna piss some people off, and am probably inviting some people in to the garden that are going to metaphorically take a dump in the pond. But I feel like this needs to be said.
Because, you can say what you like about Julie, but I don’t think any of us can doubt her good faith and her honesty. Her willingness to learn, and her commitment to what we do, with this feminist blogging thing. She’s for many of us, the fairy godmother of the New Zealand blogosphere, the reason we started writing. Which is not to say I agree with everything she does and says. It’s not to say she can’t fuck up, or that I don’t look at things at The Hand Mirror on occasion, and think “what the fucking fuck?”.*
But seriously. Did she deserve last week’s massive pile on? (A disclaimer: I haven’t read that entire comment thread, and I have no intention to. Nor do I want to re-litigate the argument.) Did she really deserve the internet version of being screamed at by a crapload of people? Could she not have deserved a little of the patience and kindness mentioned above? She admitted she’d fucked up, she tried to explain how it happened, and tried to learn from it. And you know what? Moderating is hard. Especially when you’re on a group blog. Over at my own place, I keep a very, very, probably unnecessarily strict, hand. Because I can. Here, I am writing with other women. And we all have very different ideas of what is OK. Frankly, I wish I could go back and un-approve half the comments on this post.
In the post that quote above is from, Jill talks about the “call out” culture. About the way we (and I am certainly not absolving myself from this) look at the big blogs and expect them to be perfect. It’s different here, because we all know each other, we’re friends, we drink and email and chat on Facebook. And it is interesting, because some people seem to think they can say whatever they want about you online, and that when you’re next together in public, it’ll all be fine and dandy. Because they are just trying to make you a better feminist. Well, to quote a friend, Fuck. That. Shit.
Because screaming at people is never, ever, going to do that. Nor will devaluing “tone argument” when someone quite rightly calls you on being rude and abusive. There is a difference between being forthright and justifiably angry, and being downright insulting. (And in turn, doing harm to the very people you claim to be fighting for.) Or yelling “Own Your Privilege”, when most of us spend a lot of time doing exactly that. Admitting your privilege doesn’t absolve you from making mistakes, nor does it prove your feminist credentials. I’ve had chances to be educated about mine here, and I have taken them, and thanked the people involved. And God knows, I look back at things I wrote five, ten, years ago and want to punch myself in my smug little face. But as Jill points out, owning your privilege isn’t the end goal. Doing something about it is. And if you spend the majority of your time calling out other people, you’re missing the point.
And the point isn’t us all agreeing all the time. It isn’t us being perfect, or winning the prize for “Best Feminist Evah!” It’s about creating a conversation, about getting stuff done, and sharing our experiences. Surely? Though maybe some people just want to yell and rant and make sure everyone agrees with them. Whether because they actually do agree, or simply because they can’t handle the fight anymore.
I’ve had two conversations this week with people who have said “I am done with online conversations. Because what is the point?” And if the “tone” of our arguments is turning people off, if we are losing out on their insight and knowledge, aren’t we all losing? For fuck’s sake, i didn’t really want to write this post, I waited a week, and there’s a lot I’m not saying, because I am wary of the comments that will ensue. If those of us left are the strident ones, the ones with the spoons, the ones who yell the loudest, often about not much, are those friends of mine right? Is there actually any point?
* Like, for example, Maia’s frankly bizarre decision not to allow Coley to post her email address after a concerning comment was made about the WYFC. So, if you have come over here from there, and do have safety concerns, feel free to email Coley.