On Those Pictures and On Privilege

It’s been said a lot of times over now, but I’ll add my voice to the chorus: This is fucked.

Those images are tremendously racist — it’s not that they might be interpreted as racist or that they’re ironic and contributing something to the text. They’re just flat-out racist. They are everything Holly said. So I’m really glad to see that Amanda has apologized, and that Seal Press will be pulling the images from future copies and attending a training on racism. It doesn’t un-do what’s been done, but it is a really good first step, and I’m really glad that Amanda and Seal stepped up on this one.

I read It’s a Jungle Out There. And it’s not that I didn’t notice the images were racist — it’s that I didn’t bother to look at the images. It’s not that I don’t understand why images of white women kicking dark-skinned natives are problematic. It’s that I was a sloppy reader who didn’t check out the pictures, even though they’re part of the book and I should have. My not looking at the pictures is part of the problem. Obviously I saw the pictures, because I had to turn the page. If I had taken two seconds to look at them, I would have been pretty pissed. But I didn’t — because, as a white girl, there’s nothing about “jungle theme” that puts me on notice. There’s nothing in my experience that makes me take notice and actually look when I glance past a retro jungle cartoon. That is privilege. I failed to check mine. I failed in a lot of ways.

I initially promoted the book because it’s a fun, funny, quick read. Given the ongoing appropriation controversy, that was a mistake. I thought I could put up a post about a feminist event, even if the feminist in question was controversial; I was wrong. The question of appropriation is still on-going, and I’ve said before that I don’t believe Amanda plagiarized, but I think we can all agree that it would have been avoided (or at least made better) if Amanda had linked. When that didn’t happen, she should have listened to the valid concerns of women of color instead of coming in with her dukes up. The initial article could have shared the wealth of such a wide audience by spreading the word about the WOC-run organizations and the WOC-penned articles and ideas that have laid the foundation for this work; after the article ran and concerns were raised, they could have been responded to with care, not anger and defensiveness.

I understand it’s hard to do that, especially when you feel like you’re being accused of something you didn’t do, and especially when the “bigger issue” is attached to something that you feel is totally unjustified. But I wish Amanda had — not because I think she stole material, but because I’m an eternal optimist who thinks that there could have been conversation and growth. And because I think the situation was symptomatic of ongoing problems within the feminist movement, and ended up as a textbook example of how we talk past each other and white feminists just miss the point. The question stopped being about plagiarism a long time ago, but that’s what I find myself still responding to; that’s what Amanda continued to respond to. I don’t know if I would have responded any differently than Amanda did; I don’t know how I would react if I felt unfairly accused and cornered. So this isn’t meant to be a denunciation of her, but nor is it meant to be an excuse. I think it’s fair to expect better of each other, and that’s why I’m writing this post — because you all expected better of me. And I hoped for better from Amanda.

But even if the immigration article blow-up hadn’t happened, and or if she had responded perfectly to that situation, I still couldn’t endorse a book with images like this. I’m really glad that Seal will issue a re-print, minus the images, and that they’ve issued an apology. I’m glad that Amanda issued an apology. I’m leaving up my original post about the book, not because I still stand by it 100%, but because I believe in keeping things like that on the record. I think it looks a lot shadier to change it and pretend that nothing happened, and that I was in the right all along. I wasn’t. Erasing the post won’t erase the disappointment and the hurt that the post, and my endorsement, caused. I’m leaving that post up, and augmenting it with this one, as a record of that.

I want to be clear that I’m not trying to railroad Amanda, even if that’s how I suspect she’ll feel. Amanda is a friend of mine, and she’s a friend for lots of reasons — she’s smart, she’s funny, and she does great feminist work every day. I continue to admire her, and the body of work that she has produced. I’ve read her since she was at Mousewords. I was thrilled when she got a bigger platform. I link to her stuff all the time. I was excited she got a book deal, and I looked forward to reading her book. I also don’t know what it’s like to be in her position — she has been through the right-wing machine, and she came out of it ok. The fact that she wasn’t crushed by it, and that she came out swinging, speaks volumes about her strength of character. I think it also shaped how she responds to conflict now. So I hope she knows that this post comes from a place of love and respect.

But sometimes, friends need to tell other friends to do better.

One thing I appreciate about this community is that we push each other to be better, even in the face of supreme fuck-ups. In the other book thread, people could have just said, “Fuck you, Jill,” and that would have been a legitimate response. People could have said, “You are going about this in an ass-backwards way, because you are blinded by your privilege and you are hopeless.” They would have been right, at least about the privilege part (I hope not about the hopeless part). But people didn’t do that. They spelled out their grievances. They explained things. They got angry, but it was justified. And I didn’t do the right thing right away. I’m sure there will be people for whom even this won’t be satisfactory; it’ll be not enough, or too little too late, or not exactly what they wanted or expected from me. That’s ok, and I think I need to realize that I cannot make everyone happy, as much as I want to. I am not going to be able to answer every call to action. I am not going to always be able to tell my friends what they want to hear. But I want to not lay awake at night, sick to my stomach, because I’m sitting on the fence. And I’ve sat on the fence here, and I effectively crossed a picket line when I promoted that book.

For the most part, as angry and hurt as people were, they trusted me enough to come here and talk. I can’t explain how grateful I am for that. And I don’t want to be a disappointment.

**********************************

This post is a hard one for me to write — and given how disjointed it is, that’s probably obvious. It is also incredibly long, so please bear with me. I don’t want to feel like I’m going after a friend, especially when she feels like she’s been under attack for a long time now. And when someone feels like they’re being attacked, they get defensive. The overwhelming consensus in the comments and blog posts here and elsewhere has been that Amanda has done a lot of really wrong things over the past few weeks. I get why someone in that position would get angry or give up or refuse to engage one more thing on a long list of things that have been presented to her over the past month.

But I also don’t want to be the kind of person who lets loyalty trump conscience. And the way this entire thing has gone down… well, it weighs on my conscience.

The feminist blogosphere has been poison lately. A lot of people have left. Tonight, for the first time in a long while, I’ve seriously considered dropping out, too. I promised myself that I would quit when I felt like blogging was doing me more harm than good; that is how I feel right now.

Which isn’t to say “Poor me.” I am still here. I haven’t been a victim of anything except my own poor decisions. But it is to say something that a lot of us feel: This is not good. And I don’t know what to do to fix it.

Because too often, the in-fighting is framed as being “started” by women of color. It’s framed as those mean WOC “attacking” the big white feminists. And, yeah, in a lot of instances it was women of color who raised their voices and said, “Wait a minute — which women are you including in your feminism?” Which isn’t so much starting it as naming it. But when you don’t realize it exists in the first place, naming it seems tantamount to inventing it.

The obvious answer is that the onus is on people in positions of privilege, and people with the most powerful microphones, to take greater responsibility. Which is great, except that people fail at that sometimes (or a lot of times), and the whole thing starts again. I want to be able to promise, right here and right now, that I won’t do something like that again. But coming from the position that I come from, and being utterly ignorant about some things, means that I will probably trip up again. We’ve been through this before, and while I do think people are learning, the curve isn’t steep enough.

So the other solution is to broaden the stage — why are there only four or five microphones up there in the first place?

But doing that isn’t easy either, and it can be difficult to criticize the system without criticizing the people in it. It can be hard to talk about the “big issues” without concrete examples; the problem, of course, is that the people who serve as the concrete examples start to feel like they’re being made an example of. That isn’t fun. But sometimes, even if you think you did nothing wrong, it’s worth stepping back and seeing if you can’t get beyond you and to the heart of the problem.

Many of the inter-feminist blog fights have gone down around the issue of privilege, to the point where I’m about as sick of the term “privilege” as I am of “patriarchy.” It’s heavy, it’s loaded, it feels so old-school… but when it’s right, it’s right. And recognizing how privilege and entitlement shape our work seems like it’s been one of the hardest things for feminists bloggers (myself included) to do. And so we talk past each other. Women of color talk about appropriation and I want to know what that means. Because I know that my work has been influenced by too many people to ever credit, and unless I’m directly inspired by another blog post or article, I don’t sit around thinking about who may have planted this seed in my mind way back when. What I’ve failed so far to hear is that it’s a problem when one group of people continually plant the seeds, and another more privileged group reaps the harvest.

That problem is compounded when everyone involved is doing really good work, and when my first instinct is to celebrate the successes of fellow feminists. I was thrilled when Jessica got a book deal, and I was thrilled when Amanda did. And some of the criticisms of those books did read, to me, like sour grapes — because how could you not be happy that fellow feminists were getting published? I realize now it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. It’s about wanting the successes to be better and more representative. It’s about wanting the books written in the name of feminism to make the best contributions possible. It’s about love. But it’s taken some time for me to understand that. And of course, when you’re a feminist blogger there are a lot of people who are attacking you and rooting for you to fail. Those people train you to react in a certain way: Do Not Engage. That’s typically my rule, too, in dealing with people who are out to attack me and bring me down. The hard part comes in when it’s time to tease out the legitimate, loving, constructive criticism from the many, many hateful and nasty emails, comments and links that we read every day. Feminist bloggers deal with a lot of shit. But that isn’t an excuse for interacting with other feminists in the same way that we interact with right-wing trolls. And, yeah, sometimes other feminists can be total assholes too; we are certainly not exempt from assholery. But the calls for inclusion, and for a version of feminism that recognizes and respects the lives and experiences of all women, are not assholery. They are not unwarranted attacks. They are loving. They are building. And sometimes, to build what you want, you have to tear down what’s already there. A feminism that embraces white middle- and upper-class women is already there. I am entrenched in it. Sometimes, that tearing-down can feel very personal. But that’s my problem, not the problem of the people doing the work.

I don’t have a book deal. But I’ve been approached by publishers, and my lack of a book deal has been my call to make, mostly because I don’t think I have anything super important to say right now, and the mic is best handed over to someone else. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m one of the many white feminists who has been encouraged to write a book. I don’t think it’s simply by merit that the top feminist blogs have white women as their figureheads.

But that doesn’t mean that the top blogs, or the writers getting book deals, aren’t deserving or meritorious. They are. It doesn’t mean that I write for a popular blog just because I’m white; privilege doesn’t work that way. The problem isn’t that there’s a finite pie of book deals or big blogs and untalented writers are getting them because they’re white; the problem is that there are a lot of talented writers, but those who embody certain characteristics are starting out with a leg up, and getting even more help along the way — and then we’re told that we did it ourselves. Via AmericaBlog‘s post on meritocracy, I came across this post that Matt Yglesias wrote about education, and this section seems to fit:

[T]he merit illusion stems from the well-documented fact that people don’t have a great intuitive grasp of statistics or large numbers. If your family connections boost your odds of getting into Harvard from one percent to five percent, you’ll perceive that as having triumphed against the odds on merit rather than using family connections to quintuple your chances. . . . It’s difficult, however, for people to keep in their heads the idea that, yes, you may have displayed considerable merit to get where you are but also you’ve taken advantage of a lot of undeserved privileges of birth. Similarly, if you wind up needing to compete on merit against a few hundred other people for a couple dozen highly desirable slots, the question of what happened to all those other people who got excluded from consideration for non-merit reasons sort of falls out of sight.

Except with blogs, the falling out of sight part doesn’t have to happen. And that makes the discussions about meritocracy that much more difficult, because people are forced to recognize that, as good and talented and deserving as they are, they did not get to where they are alone, on merit alone. I sure didn’t. But being told you got there because of hard work — and knowing that you did work hard, and feeling like you do deserve the good things that are coming to you — can, as AJ points out, breed entitlement and the sense that “If I could do it, so could anyone.” I don’t think entitlement is always a bad thing. But it sure can be.

Which isn’t to say that we should all be self-flagellating about our own privilege. We need to recognize it for what it is, but sitting around pontificating about it or feeling bad about it doesn’t help anything. And we don’t need to be asking, “What can I do for those other women?” Nah. Those “other” women are doing for themselves just fine. I think what we need to ask is, “How can I expand the space at the top? How I can I invert this pyramid? And then how can I start to build a community where there aren’t concepts like ‘top’ or ‘bottom’?”

That’s what 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 dismissals of dissent, and watched as women of color were made invisible (even participating in that myself), I kept thinking, “This is not how we build the community we want.”

In the comments, blurrr points out that if I was blind enough to not see the pictures in Amanda’s book, perhaps I should consider that I’m not seeing the appropriation issue clearly, either. That’s a really important point, and my understanding of the issue is clouded by my privilege and my own experiences; it is shaped by a particular understanding of what “appropriation” means. So I’m not going to say that no appropriation happened, because I am not a good person to judge that. I do think that the history of appropriation within this movement is so ingrained and so powerful that it’s hard to draw lines as to what counts as appropriation and what counts as building on a collective set of ideas and works. We have different standards for where and when we give credit. But I do think it’s clear that in the original article, credit was due and it wasn’t given. I do think it’s clear that Amanda was not the first nor the last person to write an article that should have given credit to other people. I do think it’s clear that while we’re all building, one group is being given most of the credit, even as they built on the backs of others, intentionally or not. Whether we call that appropriation or stealing or opportunism or colonization or simply being human, it’s not ok. And so it’s up to those in the more powerful group to knock it off. It’s up to us to call it out when we see it. If we don’t see it — and as my previous posts unfortunately demonstrate, I didn’t see it here — we need to show some deference to the voices who know better. That includes the voice of the person who is said to have appropriated, and I do believe Amanda when she says that she didn’t intentionally take anyone else’s ideas when she wrote that article. I also believe the many people who are saying that appropriation isn’t as cut-and-dry as outright stealing ideas and purposely not crediting them. And I think that’s where the problem comes in: One side is looking at a set of facts and saying, “I know I didn’t do this because I know my own mind,” and the other side is looking at the same set of facts and saying, “It’s not about what was in your mind, it’s about what’s down on paper and what’s missing from that.” From the get-go, my thought process was, “I know Amanda was not at BFP’s speech because Amanda’s panel at WAM was at the same time as BFP’s. I know Amanda submitted her article to RH Reality Check (that’s where it was originally published, not AlterNet) right after WAM; as an editor, I know that means that she pitched it before then. Clearly, the suggestions that Amanda stole BFP’s work are therefore wrong.” Except… that’s never what it was really about, even if that’s how it started. And as the conversations progressed, the other issues were flushed out. BFP was the one trying to get to those other issues in the first place, and trying to make this about the big picture, not about Amanda. Other commenters pointed out that it wasn’t just BFP’s speech that was at issue, it was her whole body of work. And BFP and others further chimed in that BFP is not the only woman to write about these things, and that there is so much work being done on this issue that it’s a shame none of it was linked to or recognized. At the time, I saw that as the goalposts shifting. Now I’m seeing that there aren’t goalposts; this is ongoing, evolving work, and these discussions are not going to have easy ends. There is not going to be a silver bullet that magically fixes centuries of problems, and years of pain right here in our own little online corner of the feminist world.

It’s not just about intention; as one commenter Thomas pointed out to me, it’s about negligence. I’ve been negligent, too — my glossing over the images in Amanda’s book are Example #1 of that. I can understand the desire to say, “But I didn’t mean to!” I never mean to, and I’m sure most other progressive people who flub up didn’t mean to, either. That’s how this works — “not meaning to” is indicative of the very ability to not see the problems in the first place (that would be “privilege,” for those who are late to the party). But while there is a difference between intentionally causing harm and negligently causing harm, the difference is in the person doing the harm, not the person suffering it. Whether someone cut you on purpose or put themselves in a precarious situation and stabbed you by accident, you’re still bleeding. And the person who caused the harm has an obligation to do something about it; morally, so do bystanders. That obligation is now on my back, as both a person who has caused harm and as a person who has stood by and watched it happen.

I’m not sure how to go about building the community I want to see. I don’t know how to re-build what has been lost, and create what was never there in the first place. But I have this set of tools, even if I’ve misused them before. I’m ready to get my hands dirty. I know lots of other people have been building this whole time. And I would like to be a part of that again.

That may be impossible at this point. Too many people have thrown their hands up and said, “Fuck it.” Too many of us have caused negligent harm too many times to be trusted just this once more. But I think it would go a long way in healing if those of us who have made mistakes would own up to them and try to fix them. That means not creating or promoting books with racist imagery. Seal Press did the right thing in re-printing the books without the imagery. Amanda did the right thing by apologizing. I don’t know how much that will help, or if it can re-build any bridges. I don’t think anyone expects that to be a magic wand that makes all of the rest of this hurt go away. Obviously there needs to be more discussion, more taking of responsibility where it’s due, and more genuine listening. We have a long way to go. Wounds are not healed — and healing them will take a lot of active work on the part of the people who caused those wounds, myself included. But it is at least a start. That much, I find heartening.

Building a positive community also means getting my own shit together and apologizing, because we don’t do that enough. I am sorry. I am sorry that I promoted work that was racist and harmful. I am sorry that I did not recognize the implications of promoting that work, and the silencing and erasing effects it had on women of color and allies. I am sorry to the women I did harm to. I am sorry to my co-bloggers, who were unaware of the initial post and who have since the posting pushed me to do better for our community. I am sorry to the audience at Feministe that expected more from me.

There are lots of other people who have commented on this, and you should read their thoughts. A few:

Karnythia at The Angry Black Woman
Noli Irritare Leones
Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town
Burning Words
GallingGala
Feminocracy
Maia at Alas A Blog
Ottermatic
BastardLogic
The Rotund
Three Rivers Fog
Pam at Pandagon

And as a final thought: It’s always worth taking action to support the work of anti-racist feminists, but it seems like that should be mentioned again. The Allied Media Conference is one of many fantastic anti-racist, feminist events to sponsor. You can sign up to go on their website; or if you can’t make it, consider donating.

Author: has written 5284 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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299 Responses

  1. Feministe » TODAY: Amanda Marcotte at KGB Bar in Manhattan

    […] My endorsement of this book has been suspended. For further explanation, please see this post. […]

  2. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke April 26, 2008 at 1:43 am |

    You rock.

  3. Hugo
    Hugo April 26, 2008 at 1:45 am |

    And of course, when you’re a feminist blogger there are a lot of people who are attacking you and rooting for you to fail. Those people train you to react in a certain way: Do Not Engage. That’s typically my rule, too, in dealing with people who are out to attack me and bring me down. The hard part comes in when it’s time to tease out the legitimate, loving, constructive criticism from the many, many hateful and nasty emails, comments and links that we read every day. Feminist bloggers deal with a lot of shit. But that isn’t an excuse for interacting with other feminists in the same way that we interact with right-wing trolls. And, yeah, sometimes other feminists can be total assholes too; we are certainly not exempt from assholery. But the calls for inclusion, and for a version of feminism that recognizes and respects the lives and experiences of all women, are not assholery. They are not unwarranted attacks. They are loving. They are building. And sometimes, to build what you want, you have to tear down what’s already there. A feminism that embraces white middle- and upper-class women is already there. I am entrenched in it. Sometimes, that tearing-down can feel very personal. But that’s my problem, not the problem of the people doing the work.

    Sorry to blockquote that much, but at nearly twice your age, having been “at this” for a living for fifteen years, I wish I was a good enough and perceptive enough feminist to have written these words.

  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca April 26, 2008 at 1:54 am |

    This is one fantastic post, Jill.

    This is why I have always had a level of respect for you up and beyond most of the white feminist big bloggers; when you screw up, you don’t get offensive, you actually listen, and you have the ability to produce something like this out of it.

  5. Meowser
    Meowser April 26, 2008 at 1:54 am |

    Jill, I want to thank you and Holly for handling this issue in such a classy way. That is all for now.

  6. Burning Words » Blog Archive » I think I’m honestly speechless.

    […] Filipovic has responded, and it’s one of the single best responses I’ve seen from another white feminist in […]

  7. Justin
    Justin April 26, 2008 at 2:10 am |

    Amazing, I’m glad I stayed up to read this. You’ve definately taken it on the chin the last few days. You’ve also shown extraordinary grace in a really difficult situation. I respect what you’ve said here a great deal.

  8. Fr Chris
    Fr Chris April 26, 2008 at 2:10 am |

    It’s interesting, Jill, how much of your post is taking up with talk about lovingly calling one another to task for our imperfections (in ways that build us up, not tear us down) and about creating the kinds of communities that are capable of doing that, day in and day out.

    I’ve long said that secular feminism is one of the most powerful and important religious movements I’m a part of, and I think you’ve just confirmed why that’s the case by this post.

  9. Ghigau
    Ghigau April 26, 2008 at 2:10 am |

    I’ve been waiting for this post all day, Jill, and I wish I could say that it held some answers for me. I know you’re trying – honestly trying – but it doesn’t. Reading over at Pandagon right now is like sticking a finger in a wound, and the threads here aren’t far behind.

    Amanda’s apology leaves much lacking. She apologizes for using racist imagery and not noticing it, but says nothing to acknowledge the pain people are in because of this. And when she first came up to address Holly’s post, her comments were full of back-handed snark – snark in a style that’s eerily familiar. This is a pattern.

    How many times do we have to overlook this bullshit and accept promises to do better next time? Is the learning curve really that steep here? I physically recoiled when those images loaded on my screen, and I wasn’t even paying full attention to the laptop at the time. I am at a utter loss to understand how so many “progressive” white bloggers missed this until it was shoved under their noses with a detailed explanation, especially given the long, nasty history involved here.

    I’ve already cut most of the major feminist blogs off of my reading list. Holly is the only factor keeping me reading here, but I am thisclose to leaving the movement altogether. I am sickened and saddened about how things have gone down over the past few weeks, and those are wounds that all the me-centered “heartfelt” apologies in the world don’t even begin to address. You’re acknowledging the pain, Jill, and that’s a step in the right direction. But Amanda has done nothing to redeem herself, and until and unless she adequately addresses the pain she has caused, the privilege she continues to display, the utter contempt she showed WOC in her comments on this and every other instance she’s been called out on racism…

    “I’m sorry” doesn’t even begin to cut it.

  10. Meowser
    Meowser April 26, 2008 at 2:11 am |

    And also, don’t forget Jeff Fecke at Shakesville. Also, Portly Dyke over there just posted her piece called How to Fuck Up, which while not mentioning Amanda by name seems pretty germane here, too.

  11. Meowser
    Meowser April 26, 2008 at 2:13 am |

    Bleh, sorry about the tags, I should have closed it after the word “Shakesville” and picked up the second tag at “How.” Both linkies should work, though.

  12. Rebecca
    Rebecca April 26, 2008 at 2:18 am |

    Though, with another amazing woman of colour having shut down her blog, I dare say that it might all be a bit late. By god, I’m ashamed to have been calling myself a feminist today.

  13. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 3:23 am |

    yeah, and still another says she’s not far behind.

  14. irishgril1983
    irishgril1983 April 26, 2008 at 4:24 am |

    One side is looking at a set of facts and saying, “I know I didn’t do this because I know my own mind,” and the other side is looking at the same set of facts and saying, “It’s not about what was in your mind, it’s about what’s down on paper and what’s missing from that.” From the get-go, my thought process was, “I know Amanda was not at BFP’s speech because Amanda’s panel at WAM was at the same time as BFP’s. I know Amanda submitted her article to RH Reality Check (that’s where it was originally published, not AlterNet) right after WAM; as an editor, I know that means that she pitched it before then. Clearly, the suggestions that Amanda stole BFP’s work are therefore wrong.” Except… that’s never what it was really about, even if that’s how it started. And as the conversations progressed, the other issues were flushed out. BFP was the one trying to get to those other issues in the first place, and trying to make this about the big picture, not about Amanda. Other commenters pointed out that it wasn’t just BFP’s speech that was at issue, it was her whole body of work. And BFP and others further chimed in that BFP is not the only woman to write about these things, and that there is so much work being done on this issue that it’s a shame none of it was linked to or recognized. At the time, I saw that as the goalposts shifting. Now I’m seeing that there aren’t goalposts; this is ongoing, evolving work, and these discussions are not going to have easy ends. There is not going to be a silver bullet that magically fixes centuries of problems, and years of pain right here in our own little online corner of the feminist world.

    Isn’t this a bit of tortured logic?

    Why throw this in the middle of whats more or less a “my bad” post?

  15. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 4:33 am |

    Since you did quote me in the other thread can you not moderate out my comments here?

    Jill at this point can you just name names?

    Can we get away from white women saying “it was the white women”? It looks to me like white feminists were accused of something and then all the white feminists joined in with “yeah let’s get those white feminists!” If appropriation is a systemic problem surely there must be more than one person guilty of it. (As an example)

    The white feminist blogosphere collectively complaining about the white feminist blogosphere is a dilution of responsibility.

    Who are the people who, rather than wanting to quit feminism, are the ones driving others away? Who are the people talking past each other? Who are the people who blamed WOC for being mean?

    To have a dialogue you can’t write one soliloquy after another addressed to nobody in particular. A real dialogue requires two different sides sitting down and talking. Not this endless self-flagellation.

    I suspect what you’ll find, if you try to identify who the problem is, is that everyone will have a different list, and that the “two sides” are actually a hundred sides. And the only way to resolve it is hundreds of side conversations.

    The hard part comes in when it’s time to tease out the legitimate, loving, constructive criticism from the many, many hateful and nasty emails, comments and links that we read every day.

    You are assuming shared values where there are none. There are many people reading your post, of all colors and sexes, who aren’t all that interested in “loving, constructive criticism” in the slightest, at least when it comes to certain other people.

    And I know a lot of people read that and thought “damn right, I shouldn’t have to cater to someone and their feelings.”

    You know what would be awesome? A thread lurkers only, one post only each, why you are reluctant to join the feminist blogosphere or call yourself a feminist. No regulars, no arguing. I bet the results would be fascinating.

    Someone in another thread asked why anyone would want to join the feminist blogosphere given all the negativity. No answer.

    “The feminist blogosphere has been poison lately.” Can you expound on that? I see a ton of nasty comments in every thread I read. People bludgeoning each other with “privilege” (even when it’s two white women talking…), people condescendingly ending a post with “Get it?”, etc. Is that what you mean? (That sure as hell isn’t loving and constructive.)

    You are so close to getting down to brass tacks. What is the poison and who is the source? Name names and quote quotes. That’s painful but at some point it has to be done to make progress. No more generic pledges for everyone to do better.

  16. wemblee
    wemblee April 26, 2008 at 4:38 am |

    I generally lurk here, but: thank you for writing this.

  17. donna darko
    donna darko April 26, 2008 at 4:45 am |

    If it makes you feel any better, I flipped through the book for a half an hour at the store and didn’t notice the pictures. I looked at the cover and text but did not see the pictures. Aren’t they also light and therefore less noticeable?

  18. little light
    little light April 26, 2008 at 5:05 am |

    Thank you, Jill.
    I don’t know where we go from here, but this leaves me more hopeful than I was earlier today. And seeing as we just lost BlackAmazon’s voice, too, I hope you stick around–not because we somehow need another white feminist blogger, but because it’s you.
    I wish I had more and better to say than that. Thank you for meaning it when you say it, I guess.

  19. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 5:22 am |

    Jill, I’d like to alert you to some seriously fucked up comments in the long thread that Holly posted.

    check out: belledame222 @ 3:30 am and littlem @ 2:37 am.

    These individuals posted threats against another poster which, in my view, is outside the realm of acceptable discourse.

  20. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:24 am |

    I just want to say that–well, it’s not my place to accept this or not; but I will reiterate: i like and respect Jill, m’self, and posts like this are why.

    and i have to say, in light of it, the posts by Amanda and Seal (who were, after all, -responsible- for this in the first place) look even shoddier by comparison.

    not, i hasten to add, that i think that this is Jill’s intent–

    oh sod it, i need to go to bed. i’m gutted that BA left, although I can’t say I’m remotely surprised. at this point I’m just -really wanting- for the people who aren’t -quite- as utterly, utterly fried and sick of the whole thing (and rightfully so) as bfp and BA aren’t driven to that place and off the web.

    and a kick in the virtual nads for the next asshole who whines about Amanda’s career or how unfair it all is, I Just. Don’t. Care.

  21. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:27 am |

    oh hey, no need for that, I just posted another one, a kick in the virtual nads. you’re welcome to it.

  22. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 5:32 am |

    oh hey, no need for that, I just posted another one, a kick in the virtual nads. you’re welcome to it.

    No, the previous thread in the comment to Christine. There was nothing “virtual” about it. You know what you said and it crossed a line.

    But, I suppose if you have to move onto another bullying target, it might as well be me because I don’t have a blog that you and littlem can glean personal information from for stalking purposes.

  23. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:41 am |

    Dear BeaTricks, whoever the *fuck* you are: I am not “stalking” wossname, I have no interest in wossname, I have not even gone to wossname’s blog, if such wossname has. and that you come onto this thread defending these assclowns in the name of “acceptable fucking discourse”–

    you know what, fuck RIGHT off. “bullying” my ass. Who’s still here, hm? Who isn’t? Who just came in -gloating- over it?

    and who the hell are you, and why the hell am I sitting up on the Internets letting professional button-pushers ring my bells?

    Sorry, Jill. “Good post,” again.

  24. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 5:46 am |

    You’re an obnoxious bully. The previous thread showed that. And this:

    and that you come onto this thread defending these assclowns in the name of “acceptable fucking discourse”–

    Oooh. What are you going to do to me? Beat me up over the internet? Please, continue your bullying. It only makes you look like an ass.

  25. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:50 am |

    Yeah, but I’m good company. Now: did you have anything to say to Jill about her post? Or is this your idea of raising the discourse?

    /bait-taking

  26. Christine
    Christine April 26, 2008 at 5:55 am |

    And it’s not that I didn’t notice the images were racist — it’s that I didn’t bother to look at the images. It’s not that I don’t understand why images of white women kicking dark-skinned natives are problematic. It’s that I was a sloppy reader who didn’t check out the pictures, even though they’re part of the book and I should have.

    Ballocks. We’ve been talking about the art since AUGUST OF 2007. Had you just admitted that you’d seen the art and didn’t think twice about it, you’d be more credible. But it doesn’t matter much. You’re a white woman apologizing for racist imagery. That’s all that’s needed for virtual fellatio.

  27. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 5:58 am |

    I like to call bullshit when I see it. That includes your nasty threats of violence which are NOT OKAY. Do you understand that? Telling people to fuck off and such which you did to me, Hugo, Christine and others in these threads is just nasty. Does your idea of discourse involve hurling abusive remarks to people who have disagreements with you?

    You deserve to be banned. I hope Jill agrees.

  28. RyanRutley
    RyanRutley April 26, 2008 at 6:00 am |

    Thanks, Jill. It’s been a while since I’ve read regularly, but I remember that when I did, I didn’t always agree with you at all times, but you always do the right thing in the end.

    Over at Sudy’s, she said she wanted something more than “trying” from people with privilege (in this instance, white Feminists). I asked if she knew what it was she did want. I also said that I expect demonstrated learning, and that’s exactly what your post shows. “This is how I used to think about this, here’s why, here’s what I’ve learned since, and here’s why I now think in this new way.”

    I just hope other people can follow your example. (Which is, really, the example of actually listening to critics and taking them seriously. Some of the comments at Amanda’s blog sound like she spontaneously saw the light and apologized outside the context of persistent constructive criticism, and I find that unsettling. I know you aren’t claiming to have figured this out all by your lonesome, but it bears mention.)

  29. ilyka
    ilyka April 26, 2008 at 6:06 am |

    Christine, when I read a book I don’t look at any pictures either, unless they make me, e.g. “See Fig. 4.” If I have to look at a table or a chart in order to understand the next five paragraphs, then I’ll look. Otherwise it’s like, “What am I, six? I don’t need pictures.”

    Other things I don’t look at: The preface, prologue, foreword, acknowledgements, table of contents–really sometimes I wonder that I read at all. The older I get, the more pages I flip with impatience. Who has time?

    But I think what Jill said here–

    There’s nothing in my experience that makes me take notice and actually look when I glance past a retro jungle cartoon. That is privilege. I failed to check mine. I failed in a lot of ways.

    –is honest. And, honestly, I don’t see her apologizing for racist imagery. I see her saying “I didn’t see it.” I see her saying “My not seeing it is a problem.” I see her saying “I failed.” I have to respect that, and I do.

  30. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 26, 2008 at 6:14 am |

    I’m trying to figure out where the threats of violence in belledame’s and littlem’s posts are.

    I read both of the cited posts and I can’t find anything.

  31. Christine
    Christine April 26, 2008 at 6:16 am |

    Christine, when I read a book I don’t look at any pictures either, unless they make me, e.g. “See Fig. 4.”

    How about “that cover is mad racist” and they’re discussing it ON YOUR BLOG? Do you ignore the art then, too? Or do you wait until months down the line and give some feeble “I didn’t see it” apology AFTER nearly every WOC feminist on the ‘net is turning in their badge?

    Don’t answer that.

  32. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 6:30 am |

    Read littlem’s post again from the previous thread (I shortened it a bit):

    christine,

    I’ve seen your blog. I’ve read your bio. I’ve watched you work (but you’ve never seen me)….
    christine, I look enough like you that I could blend into a crowd at one of your precious presentations and you could look right at me and never know that I wrote this. I hope that makes you think just a little.

    I call that intimidation. It’s not even that subtle. “I hope that makes you think a little” — what the hell does that mean?

    And, of course, what would these theads be without belladame222’s bullying as displayed when another poster called littlem’s intimidation attempt “creepy” and belladame responded, saying to Christine:

    or, well, I could refer you to the post of one particular “they” making that point, the one who was so roundly taken to task for daring to post “Fuck Seal Press” (which was NOT an invitation to dance) on her blog in the first place, but, ooops, now she’s gone too.

    here’s her sayonara. Read it and weep.

    http://problemchylde.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/from-blackamazon/

    just don’t do it over there, because you know, I -think- just maybe people are on their very last nerve, and if your assery makes anyone -else- leave…o right i wouldn’t want lurkinggrue here to think I’m “creepy,” so I won’t finish that thought.

    Finish what thought, exactly? That, too, was intimidating given that it was revealed that littlem sort of knows Christine in real life. Hence, the context makes these statements creepy and threatening.

  33. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 6:34 am |

    I apologize for derailing the thread, but I seriously found these posts threatening and inappropriate. If I hadn’t, I would not rudely hijack a thread like this.

    But people who pull this shit really need to get called on it.

  34. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 26, 2008 at 6:42 am |

    Littlem’s made reference to passing as white in past comments, and I read that statement as a reference to that, not as a threat to stalk Christine.

    Belle wasn’t leading into a threat, Belle was saying that people were waiting in the wings to take whatever she said as a threat. Go figure – delurking hasn’t exactly been engaging people in good faith.

    I’m also a bit fascinated by the narrative that’s developed over the past few weeks over how Belledame’s a bully, which is interesting given what the people who called her that were defending or doing at the time they called her that.

  35. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 6:42 am |

    Many of the inter-feminist blog fights have gone down around the issue of privilege, to the point where I’m about as sick of the term “privilege” as I am of “patriarchy.” It’s heavy, it’s loaded, it feels so old-school… but when it’s right, it’s right.

    Mhm. And, mhm.

  36. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 6:52 am |

    Littlem’s made reference to passing as white in past comments, and I read that statement as a reference to that, not as a threat to stalk Christine.

    Yep.

    Belle wasn’t leading into a threat, Belle was saying that people were waiting in the wings to take whatever she said as a threat. Go figure – delurking hasn’t exactly been engaging people in good faith.

    Yep. Further, I wasn’t actually primarily addressing Christine there, but rather MitchSmugGloatingBastardWhoJustCameInAtExactlyTheWrongTime as well as delurkinginwaitforanopportunitytogo “Help, Help, The Object Of My Own Personal White Knight Affections Is Being Oppressed Now TOO!”

    and no, I don’t know or care where either of them live -either;- even if I were a “stalker” (gee, should I start whinging about the terrible terrible slander to my good name now and how I can’t POSSIBLY focus on anything else until that injustice is righted?), you know, it’s cold and damp under those bridges: you’re welcome to them.

    but and yeah, trolling people on behalf of the -actually more powerful person, hello-, till they snap, and squashing whatever actual tiny slivers of light or hope might actually be starting to appear in the “discourse,” is in no ways -bullying-, heavens no.

    and those images aren’t racist, and bfp and BA are silencing Amanda and ruining her career at the same time her book sales have jumped, and yes INdeed we’re all “progressives” here, and all on the same -side-, oh god yes.

  37. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 6:56 am |

    Littlem’s made reference to passing as white in past comments, and I read that statement as a reference to that, not as a threat to stalk Christine.

    That’s not how I read it. It came across as creepy and inappropriate.

    And Belledame doesn’t bully? Please. Her trademark is tell people to “fuck off” no matter how gently they disagree with her. I’m sorry, but that is bullying.

  38. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 7:04 am |

    but and yeah, trolling people on behalf of the -actually more powerful person, hello-, till they snap, and squashing whatever actual tiny slivers of light or hope might actually be starting to appear in the “discourse,” is in no ways -bullying-, heavens no.

    Telling people to fuck off is “discourse”? And who, exactly, am I speaking on behalf of? I haven’t made any comments related to Amandagate on this thread, so why do you think I wouldn’t be on your side? No, I just called out your bs bullying tactics and you jumped all over me and assumed I’m your enemy.

  39. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 26, 2008 at 7:13 am |

    Oh, you know what? I’m sorry I participated in this derailment.

    Jill, I’m really glad you posted this.

    But sometimes, friends need to tell other friends to do better.

    Exactly.

  40. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 7:13 am |

    You know, that call for me to be banned? Right back atcha, toots. -plonk-

    The problem isn’t that there’s a finite pie of book deals or big blogs and untalented writers are getting them because they’re white; the problem is that there are a lot of talented writers, but those who embody certain characteristics are starting out with a leg up, and getting even more help along the way — and then we’re told that we did it ourselves.

    Yes, exactly.

    And, I know i said this elsewhere, but I think that part of the narrative, “I Did It My Way,” is such an intrinsic part of this culture and is really key to the heart of what’s wrong here. bfp was talking about -community-, which isn’t…really…a very popular concept in the U.S., you know?

    And for (white, it’s what I know anyway) feminists in particular, it’s a bit of a bind, I do get that to a point, because of the whole, “women are supposed to be nice and not competitive.” And yeah, you know, I don’t think anyone is -actually- saying, as a few people did in the 70’s I suppose, oh, taking -any- credit for your own work is anti-feminist, individualism is the enemy…well, no, that’s just taking the dominant narrative and standing it on its head, and that never really works.

    The problem isn’t that people don’t want Amanda or whomever to have a -career.- The problem is that most people just, for -some- reason, don’t put her career over their well-being and communities and work.

    Apparently, this is very selfish of them.

    And so then, we have to have yet another argument about it, and more people leave.

    And…yeah, I dunno. It’s not All About Amanda in that she’s hardly the only person who succumbs to this sort of thing–is motivated by, attracted by, hemmed in by, I don’t know.

    but yeah, the problem is deeper than “okay okay, let’s shove over a little more and maybe -next- time it can be a WoC swinging through the wilds and defeating the Enemy in her climb to the top. All by herself. Because, what else is there? It’s a Jungle Out There, which means -every woman for herself.-”

    that may not be explicit in the book, but it’s the message people keep receiving over and over and over again, loud and clear. And what bfp was trying to say was, among many other things, -that’s not working.-

  41. ilyka
    ilyka April 26, 2008 at 7:15 am |

    Do you ignore the art then, too? Or do you wait until months down the line and give some feeble “I didn’t see it” apology AFTER nearly every WOC feminist on the ‘net is turning in their badge?

    No, Christine, you don’t ignore it. Which is why I didn’t.

  42. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 7:17 am |

    or, well, and: at the same time, the “individualism,” as you note, really isn’t. We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends. Except it’s also, well…We Take Care Of Our Own.

    …ah, last post’s still in mod, this won’t make sense till it’s out, anyway.

  43. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 7:19 am |

    Littlem’s made reference to passing as white in past comments

    Fair enough. But she didn’t do it on that thread, so how are we to deduce context based on previous comments which others may or may not be aware of? I can see that you and belledame didn’t see those remarks as threats because you are familiar with littlem’s previous remarks. It came across as threatening, without the previous context.

  44. littlem
    littlem April 26, 2008 at 7:28 am |

    I call that intimidation. It’s not even that subtle. “I hope that makes you think a little” — what the hell does that mean?

    Well, you could have asked me instead of talking past me.

    But the fact that you made the choice you did kind of makes me think I don’t really need to say anything else.

  45. littlem
    littlem April 26, 2008 at 7:40 am |

    Oh, and thank you, bd and Lisa for defending me — allies really do exist — and not falling for the booga booga.

    I do think it’s important to know, though, that some people can get Missy Anne’s White Lady Vapors from speech patterns! You don’t even need to show your face!

    So much for “safe space”. Apparently that is only available for people that look and speak and write exactly like Amanda and Christine.

    The rest of us? Well, we’re threatening. Even when we’re being threatened ourselves.

    I went to school to get a bunch of degrees, I think, in part because I never hoped to have even an inkling of how Sean Bell’s people might have felt. So much for that.

    Well, Bea — and all those who agree with you — thanks for the wakeup call.

  46. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 7:59 am |

    I do think it’s important to know, though, that some people can get Missy Anne’s White Lady Vapors from speech patterns! You don’t even need to show your face!

    So much for “safe space”. Apparently that is only available for people that look and speak and write exactly like Amanda and Christine.

    It’s very difficult for me to be racist towards you if I don’t know what you look like. In all honesty, given that you said you can “blend in” with Christine’s people (in the comment in the last thread) led me to assume you are white and the fact that I was unaware of your earlier comments about passing as white. I was working with a different context.

  47. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays April 26, 2008 at 8:09 am |

    BeaTricks – No one is threatening you. Enough with the dramatics already. What, do you need a hanky to wave in a distressed manner? Maybe some smelling salts?

    Jill – Thanks for this. I agree with the point that many people made above though – the apologies offered by both Seal Press and Amanda were weasely and insincere. I’m not seeing any actual remorse there, just ass-covering. And ass covering isn’t good enough.

  48. littlem
    littlem April 26, 2008 at 8:10 am |

    Ladies of Feministe, I have sent you email on this post that seems to be causing problems.

  49. Monkey
    Monkey April 26, 2008 at 8:49 am |

    Hey Jill, I’m just a lurker, but the one thing I really appreciate you addressing here–in a larger context of appreciating all of it–is the “moving the goalposts” meme. I’ve seen a lot of that coming from Amanda’s defenders, and it irritates me every time, because a) what we’re doing here, as feminists, is not a competitive sport and b) as you say, this isn’t a linear issue; it’s about a large, and growing, body of issues that are all interrelated. Issue A (racist pictures) can’t be looked at as occurring on a separate playing field from Issue B (appropriation), because, again, not a game, and because to say that there is an Issue A and an Issue B is kind of a false dichotomy. Thanks for articulating that.

    I see the “too little too late” arguments you’re going to get–especially as this really and truly has been a conversation that’s been needing to happen not just since covergate in August but for a long time before that–but I have a lot of respect for you for saying what you’ve said here. It’s a good reminder to me to try to suck less at a lot of things.

  50. Sylvia/M
    Sylvia/M April 26, 2008 at 9:13 am |

    What next?

  51. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 9:32 am |

    Jill:

    I think this is a very positive, productive post. I haven’t posted yet, and you don’t know me from Eve, but I delurked for much longer than usual yesterday to participate in the discourse.

    I’m very relieved that your post is so thoughtful and that you are saying the same things I’ve been thinking, and said in a comment in the other post. The apology is a necessary first step. Getting the illustrations pulled was even more important. But even the apology fails to address any of the blind privilege and dismissal that has come before. And then we ALL have work to do.

    I know this is hard for you because you’re friends. It’s hard for me, and I don’t know her except as a feminist blogger I linked to and read. And, before it comes up, no, it isn’t hard for me because of white solidarity. It’s hard for me because my training in feminism has led me to be a consensus builder. It’s hard for me because my gender training has led me to conflict avoidance. And that is hard to overcome. Having to look at someone who is apologizing and say, okay, but not enough for me, thanks–and I’m not the person injured here–is hard.

    Anyway, as a member of the community, thanks. It’s very thorough and articulate, even if you thought you were rambling.

  52. Ailei
    Ailei April 26, 2008 at 9:41 am |

    Here is my take on the whole thing, and this is the first time I’ve written publicly about it: I am so sick of hearing about ‘feelings’. I am strapping the asbestos undies as I type (no, that’s not easy to do). I hate jargon words like ‘privilege’ and ‘appropriations’. I write for a living, in a professional space, and nothing gets my dander up like jargon words:

    When ‘onboarding’ a new hire, you must do the following things…
    Can you ‘re-swizzle’ this from a header into a shorter header?
    How do we ‘grow synergy’ between these business units with an integrated content plan?

    And AD INFINITUM. Mean what you say, say what you mean. Call Amanda a racist fuck, if that’s what you really think she is. Call Seal Press a bunch of racist fucks. I am just so, so heartily sick of hearing my fellow feminists talk about how ‘angry and hurt’ they are over this – talk about playing into the tired old patriarchal stereotypes. Maybe I’m just not all into talking about my fee-fees. Maybe I want to see everything laid out logically, A–>B–>C. This is why I couldn’t be arsed to give a crap about the BFP/Amanda dust up in the first place. Not because I don’t care about race. Not because I am somehow magically immune as a white woman from this ‘privilege’ (BOOGA BOOGA). Not because I think it’s A-OK to plagiarize. But anytime someone’s (ANYONE’S) response to a situation is to pack her toys and go home, flouncing off in a fit of WOE, that someone automatically loses cred to me. We are not six year olds, for gods’ sakes. BFP did some wonderful, amazing work that I was delighted to read. Taking her toys and going home did not elicit one ounce of sympathy from me, in fact it immediately made me do a 180. If Amanda had chosen to do the same thing, I’d immediately lose faith in her, too, and throw up my hands.

    So how would I prefer to see this addressed? Amanda, take some of Seal Press’s money, fly to wherever BFP lives, find a space in a feminist bookstore or college campus, and talk it out. Make it all public, all aboveboard. Leave the fee-fees at home. The solution to our problem is not yet MORE hippy-dippy crap, even if we don’t like the ‘real’ words for what we’re talking about. It’s using the brains the good gods gave us to reason out a proper solution, a proper response, to go on record for current and future feminists. I am very sure that WOC bloggers and writers believe they are being actively discriminated against (and isn’t that it? not ‘disenfranchised’ or ‘appropriated from’, but flat out discriminated against). I am also very sure that was not anyone’s intention, and therefore there is room to teach here and room to learn. So how about everyone sit down like grownups and hash it out on the public record?

  53. octogalore
    octogalore April 26, 2008 at 9:52 am |

    Jill — great post.

    Per Sylvia’s question, I think the “what next” will be most critical.

    I think all of us who didn’t notice the pics until we were asked to look more closely need to work harder and be more aware of wake up calls when they come. I’m in that group. Like Ilyka, I typically flip by pictures in any book unless I’m reading it to my toddler. I processed these quickly as some kind of cartoon and didn’t look at the content. As you suggest, the “jungle” theme should have sparked more recognition and a curiosity to look more critically.

  54. Terra
    Terra April 26, 2008 at 10:01 am |

    How many times do we have to overlook this bullshit and accept promises to do better next time? Is the learning curve really that steep here?

    Actually yes the learning curve is that steep. We are not rational beings steeped in the mounds of adaptable logic. It is easier to understand if you ever try to get rid of your own biases.

    That being said I’ve just recently been viewing feminist blogs lately (I noticed the one blogger closing up shop and had no clue why. This is the first post where I actually understood what was going on.

    Its interesting because it plays into the standard stereotype of feminism not caring about anyone other than white women. And I think that is really what makes it offensive. There is a history there that it plays into. If you put the same book on it would just be another bit of offensive humor.

    So really it isn’t the explicit material that is that bad. It is the way the material plays perfectly into the stereotype of the white feminist who cares only about white feminists. IE the reaction of such feminists is to get rude and obnoxious whenever anyone asks them to work on their own issues.

    So I think its important to keep that in mind when looking at the apologies. The book was much like a confederate flag. Given the proper context (IE a museum) it isn’t offensive. The offensive part is the why the confederate flag is displayed and the “Heritage not hate” defense.

    So an apology on the book is not much of an apology at all. The real apology should be about not listening enough to the consistent history of complaints about racial subjects.

    The complaints about Amanda getting a book deal is sour grapes. Is probably the most offensive part of the whole thing I have seen.

    It is essentially saying I know feel you are on the outside looking in, but you should promote us as we tear you down. You should let us benefit from your writings and not complain if you think we are stealing your stuff.

    The right thing to do is not to reprint the book without the images. That only aggravates the underlying issues. The right thing to do is to get a WOC a book deal to talk about these issues.

    For comparison I am a software engineer and what really matters to me is promoting my site functional forums What really matters in this case is likewise promoting the people you want to include. There is a large difference between being willing to apologize for offense and being willing to make it right.

  55. Adrian
    Adrian April 26, 2008 at 10:03 am |

    But anytime someone’s (ANYONE’S) response to a situation is to pack her toys and go home, flouncing off in a fit of WOE, that someone automatically loses cred to me.

    Perhaps you should consider that if someone is in a situation where they feel they have no power, and are not being listened to, the only way they can avoid further injury(if you prefer that to a fluffy word like ‘hurt’) is to withdraw from the negative situation. Think of it like a worker going on strike, if that helps. Why stay in a community where those in power don’t respond adequately to your concerns? I understand that you may find it difficult to empathise with someone’s frustration when they feel ignored and taken for granted, even if, as you say, you’re not

    somehow magically immune as a white woman from this ‘privilege’ (BOOGA BOOGA)

    but I think you should at least accept refusing to associate with people whose behaviour you find unacceptable is a reasonable political tactic with a long history.

  56. Astraea
    Astraea April 26, 2008 at 10:13 am |

    Ailei, your dismissal of “fee-fees” is incredibly offensive, especially in the context of the harm discrimination, appropriation (oooo, yes, I’m going to use the word you’ve decided is “jargon”) does to women of color. In insisting everyone act like “Grownups,” as you’ve deemed grown up behavior, is incredibly, well, the opposite of grown up, i.e. immature and selfish.

    And this? But anytime someone’s (ANYONE’S) response to a situation is to pack her toys and go home, flouncing off in a fit of WOE, that someone automatically loses cred to me. makes me wonder how eager you are to write people off.

    Brownfemipower was not there for your education, entertainment and amusement. She is a real person who put a lot of work, energy and, yes emotion (OMG the fee-fees!) into her blog. But that was not the extent of her work or her life. To equate the emotional stress of those events and her desire to focus her energy elsewhere with “i’m taking my ball and going home” is rude and offensive.

    It is the height of privilege to think you get to decide that feelings are irrelevant, that you get to decide how people of color should deal with things like racism, discrimination and appropriation.

    And, btw, any time anyone says that the actions of women are reinforcing sexist stereotypes, that’s a good sign to me that they aren’t much of a feminist.

  57. Kristin
    Kristin April 26, 2008 at 10:28 am |

    Jill–I think this is a helpful and useful response. You did something important that Amanda did not do in her apology; you made this about privilege. You also owned your part in this in a way that I can really respect, and you dispensed with the language that bothered me so much in the previous post: “Please be patient with me, I am listening, and this is making me better.” This time, you really owned it. I’m not going to thank you for it because I really don’t believe that we white feminists are entitled to thanks and adulation just for doing the right thing. But I do respect what you have done here. This does not mean that I agree with you about everything.

    I do think that you have been a bit too diplomatic with Amanda and Seal Press. I think that a more thoughtful discussion of the dismissive attitude that she and Seal Press have shown in response to critiques made my WOC is important. I had hoped that you would go further than suggesting that such behavior is easy to understand but not defensible. I hoped to see something about Seal’s performance over at BA’s site, as well as something explicit about Amanda’s “you’re just jealous” dismissals of those who criticized her in preceding weeks.

    Overall, though, I do think this was an admirable start. It’s not the end of the discussion, by any means, but a good opening.

  58. Kristin
    Kristin April 26, 2008 at 10:30 am |

    ah, sorry, that was supposed to say “critiques made by WOC.” sorry about the typo.

  59. Astraea
    Astraea April 26, 2008 at 10:36 am |

    Crap, my response to Ailei is in moderation.

    In the meantime, Jill, I wish others would take a lesson from you. I don’t agree with everything you’ve said, but I think you have a lot of good points, especially about how important it is that we aren’t condescending and patronizing by “reaching out,” as if women of color are those other people who need our help as gracious white people.

  60. amandaw
    amandaw April 26, 2008 at 10:37 am |

    thank you for the link,

    at this point, I don’t see that there’s any big action anyone can take. the wrongs can’t be righted — that’s why they’re wrongs. all you can do is make sure you have your eyes open as you continue forth. make a conscious effort, be aware, seek out. write about what you’ve always written about, but add another filter to your lens (but watch out if you have too many, you’ll get vignetting!!) as you write. and seek out things that you *wouldn’t* normally write about. expand yourself. step out of your comfort zone — and don’t step back in it, because that’s exactly what gets us into this trouble.

    as a dear friend always says, “and by you, i mean me.”

    like i said, i don’t think there’s any grand move that can be made at this point — besides to stumble forth, with your hand reaching out for a friend’s.

  61. tenacitus
    tenacitus April 26, 2008 at 10:55 am |

    Thanks very much for your post. I ca not read Pandagon anymore, for me personally she has discredited herself. There are lots of other feminist blogs I can read.

    I really credit Jill & Holly for trying their best to resolve these problems that are going on in the feministe blogsphere. As a man I still think its’ a good idea to try and enagage with women like BlackAmazon & Brownfemnipower.

    I’ll go back to lurking now

  62. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 11:15 am |

    I like to call bullshit when I see it. That includes your nasty threats of violence which are NOT OKAY. Do you understand that? Telling people to fuck off and such which you did to me, Hugo, Christine and others in these threads is just nasty. Does your idea of discourse involve hurling abusive remarks to people who have disagreements with you?

    You deserve to be banned. I hope Jill agrees.

    WTF. WTF??!! WTF is happening on this thread???

    BeaTricks, you obviously have NO knowledge of the history of how WOC have been treated in discussions like this. I’d love to join BD in just telling you to fuck off, but you’d probably just whine and moan and say, “moderators! Why are you letting this person say the F-word!!!111″ Well I got news for you. People swear sometimes when they are pissed. When there is very little to express the amount of rage, and sadness, and frustration that one feels at seeing a repeat of THE SAME DAMN THING over and over again. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK. Now go ahead and whine about that but before you do, please get a FUCKING clue.

    And by that I mean why don’t you go and look up some of the old threads on this stuff? Why don’t you go look up Sudy’s post that lists it out so nicely? Why don’t you read the threads that are less than a week old on the whole book promotion, and the threads on the cover, and the threads on appropriation and BFP? If you read those you might start to notice a pattern.

    You know part of the reason why Littlem is frustrated? Well if you’d been following the discussion of the past week before wading in and making your ridiculous attacks, you’d realize that it’s because she has been arguing about the book promo since it began. She was one of the first ones to point out how support of it was incredibly wrong. She listed out very clearly all the reasons why it was disrespectful to BFP, to BA, to many WOC bloggers who are already gone or on hiatus. She did so, IMO, very politely and firmly.

    SHE WAS IGNORED.

    She spent whole threads arguing this stuff and was consistently ignored. She’s been all over the blogosphere writing about it. If you didn’t know she was a WOC you obviously haven’t been following any of this very well.

    There’s also a very clear pattern of WOC being shut down on mainstream feminist blogs. When expressing frustration at the racism of white feminists, they have been attacked for being “too negative.” Well, here’s a bit of news: racism is fucking negative. And major feminist blogs are not safe spaces for WOC. There’s a reason that Marcotte has a book out, Seal Press is still around, and BFP, BA, and others are gone or on hiatus.

    So when Christine wanders in and says, and I quote:

    The fact that this was not malicious but being treated as though it was is disturbing. If this is the reaction to an oversight and unintentional error, I’d hate to see what happens if someone is actually trying to piss you all off.

    Wanders in not knowing what the hell she’s talking about and in a single sweeping post, dismissing all the concerns about racism that Littlem and others have tried so hard to raise awareness about, only to be met with deafening silence — is it any wonder Littlem was just a wee bit pissed off?

    Then you come in with your accusations of stalking and threatening and so forth, when throughout the history of the feminist blogosphere it is WOC who have been consistently threatened and silenced and driven off —

    FUCK YOU.

    You’ll forgive me for engaging in negative discourse, but your comments are a part of a much larger pattern that has been happening forever and ever. As sad as I am about BFP and BA’s departures (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you REALLY have no business commenting on this topic), I’m beginning to think they made the right choice. You should apologize to Littlem NOW. If you do I will apologize for throwing so many F-bombs at you, because I suspect you’re just ignorant of all that’s happened. But that’s not an excuse for driving Littlem, who was instrumental in getting those pics publicly posted in the first place, off the thread.

  63. renska
    renska April 26, 2008 at 11:23 am |

    I basically played catch-up on this issue yesterday and so I think I’m able to hear and accept your apology in the spirit you intend. And, moreover, I think I may be more likely to appreciate the tour through your thought processes as an attempt to explain — NOT justify — your behavior throughout. To those who have been fighting this particular battle since the original controversy over the article, or all their lives, it may not come across the same way.

    For me, I think the big take-away for those who have defended Amanda, or you, Jill, or anyone else who initially didn’t (or still doesn’t) is the trust issue. Dear god, I went to Pandagon and read Amanda’s apology and, well… it goes so far and no further. IOW, it’s a start, but it’s no where near enough. And, the comments? I’ve never felt so ill. I’d like to see Amanda shove a big heap of STFU down (many of) her supporters’ throats because what they’re saying undermines what there is of her apology. Amanda is good at feeding other groups big heaping servings of the same under appropriate circumstances and she shouldn’t limit that ability to her enemies.

    Why? Because context matters, and her apology seems to be seen (by her supporters) as unnecessary, or coerced. Right now, most of all, we need the privileged class to call people of privilege out on their bullshit and NOT TREAT IT AS IF IT IS A HEROIC THING TO DO. It’s not. It’s the bare MINIMUM. If Amanda doesn’t respond to her supporters with a “no, really, I deserve the criticism I’m getting” she seems to be tacitly agreeing that she doesn’t/that the situation is overblown. And she’s also not doing what Jill rightly points out is necessary — ie, the calling people on their bullshit thing.

    So, yeah, trust. Trust that Amanda recognizes that she needed to apologize, for the illustrations (and IMO, much more), and trust that she’s willing to explain to those people who are prioritizing defending her over shutting the fuck up for a minute or two and attempting to listen/think that her being embarrassed about being in the wrong/being uncomfortable with taking her supporters to task is not more important than confronting racism.

    Also, as for the person who is getting their panties in a wad over people using “fuck” in their “discourse” (fuck off, fuck you, etc.)… Are you new to these here intarwebs, or at least, contentioius discussions on same? Because, ah, if so? Well, welcome and… start getting used to being told to fuck off.

  64. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward April 26, 2008 at 11:35 am |

    Ailei:
    While we’re eliminating “fee-fees” from the discourse, should we get rid of the distinction between murder and manslaughter? After all, we’re not six, so “feelings” have no place in a courtroom, right? What possible relevance could a person’s state of mind have? While we’re at it, we’ll just make everything strict liability, and remove the question of what someone’s mental state was from any crime or tort… that’d be better, right?

    You want things laid out logically, so here you go:
    1) Assume that racism exists both in intentional and unintentional forms.
    2) Assume racism is bad.
    3) Assume that having a word or phrase for a phenomenon is necessary for discussion of said phenomenon.
    4) By 1, there exist people, P, who will express racism in unintentional forms.
    5) By 1 and 2, we should point this out to P.
    6) By 3 and 5, we need a word to describe unintentional racism.
    7) By 6, we need a word to describe someone’s state of mind when acting in a racist manner.

    Unlike your examples, the word “privilege” adds something to the discourse that wouldn’t be present without it or a word with similar meaning.

  65. An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community: « Dear white feminists,

    […] W.  T.  F.  WTF?????????  Littlem, the woman who urged me to write this open letter, who has been consistently speaking about the wrongness of promoting the book and so much more — so much more.  Who has been all over the blogosphere trying to build bridges and make white feminists see their own racism so we can start acting like allies, has been viciously attacked in a thread at Feministe.  She responds angrily to a woman who wanders in and says (and I’m seriously paraphrasing but this is the gist of it), “So it’s kinda racist.  Y’all are overreacting.  Crazy angry WOC.”  And do commenters over there tell this racist woman to get a clue?  NO.  Instead, they attack Littlem, spin her remarks into something completely different to make her sound crazy and threatening, and call for her to be banned. […]

  66. from “fuck seal press” to the the royal (and racist) fuck-up of « show me your wits!

    […] imperialist, racist “vintage” photos in a book that, like many have said (most recently Jill, but also the many comments here and Prof Black Woman here) may be “ironic” for their […]

  67. Lauredhel
    Lauredhel April 26, 2008 at 11:56 am |

    So how would I prefer to see this addressed? Amanda, take some of Seal Press’s money, fly to wherever BFP lives, find a space in a feminist bookstore or college campus, and talk it out.

    What the fuck makes you think Bfp is just there for the taking in this way? She’s not a puppet.

  68. L-K
    L-K April 26, 2008 at 12:01 pm |

    I’d like to wave my cigar in y’all’s general direction and say “Well played, ladies.”

    Umm, I wouldn’t grade “Dutch Masters” as a quality cigar.

    I’m going to go out and play golf on this beautiful spring day, and I’m going to drink, get high, enjoy the pretty flowers and talk about the NFL draft with my golfing buddies, one of whom is female.

    OMGZ, You have a friend with a vagina??? And you like teh pretty flowerz??? Wow, you’re just totally open to new things that otherwise would put into jeopardy your commitment to the patriarchy. Wowzers, such a rebel! So dreamy!

  69. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 12:05 pm |

    Just want to echo those who are echoing Sylvia. I think her question, in light of recent developments, is a very pertinent one.

    Quoting Sylvia:

    What next?

    (Also Sylvia, I know you’re kinda on hiatus right now but if you do decide to unpack that “what next” a little bit, I’d love to hear it)

  70. Astraea
    Astraea April 26, 2008 at 12:15 pm |

    Yeah, felagund is as repulsive as ever. We’re so uninteresting he has to come over here to rant about how uninteresting we are.

  71. Kristin
    Kristin April 26, 2008 at 12:15 pm |

    That’s what 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 dismissals of dissent, and watched as women of color were made invisible (even participating in that myself), I kept thinking, “This is not how we build the community we want.”

    Okay, I missed this part on my first reading of the post. I just want to clarify what I said a little… It isn’t that you didn’t mention the defensiveness at all. It’s that you go out of your way to explain how “understandable” it is and that, of course, Amanda is defensive. You never quite say that it is justifiable, but to me, this seems like straddling a very close line.

    I think you are much more self-reflexive and insightful when you speak about your own behavior, and that is what I respect most about what you have offered here.

  72. Paraponera
    Paraponera April 26, 2008 at 12:15 pm |

    “But I didn’t — because, as a white girl, there’s nothing about “jungle theme” that puts me on notice. There’s nothing in my experience that makes me take notice and actually look when I glance past a retro jungle cartoon. That is privilege. I failed to check mine. I failed in a lot of ways.”

    And so on. And on. And on some more. Followed by the inevitable community back-slapping fest & circle jerk.

    Jesus fucking christ, why can’t you fucking people just shut the fuck up and enjoy your fucking privileges? Don’t you realize how decadent, sanctimonious, and just plain retarded it is to whine about advantages? OMG, I’m too rich, too beautiful, too smart, too free, too… PRIVILEGED!! Gimme a fucking break.

    Oh and ‘the racism issue’ definitely needs to be disconnected from ‘the feminism issue’, as these things aren’t really related beyond a superficial (and ultimately flawed) ‘the enemy of my enemy is my natural ally’ sort of concept. Indeed, multiculturalism may in fact disempower (Western) women in the long run, and in any case there are much more important feminist matters, like anti-religious activism, replacing wage slavery with automation-enabled BIG, the development of artificial wombs, and fundamental, sustainable empowerment through genetic engineering. But I guess that’s a bit beyond your scan range, eh? Better stick with the really IMPORTANT stuff like going ZOMG over silly pictures in some obscure little book. Or, you know, ‘deconstructing’ the only culture that ever gave a flying fuck about feminism. Yeah, whatever. Enjoy your irrelevance.

  73. Holly
    Holly April 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm |

    Oh and ‘the racism issue’ definitely needs to be disconnected from ‘the feminism issue’, as these things aren’t really related beyond a superficial (and ultimately flawed) ‘the enemy of my enemy is my natural ally’ sort of concept.

    On the contrary, I’d say this attitude is the single biggest problem with mainstream feminism today, and I hope people and organizations who hold to it will ultimately be rendered just as irrelevant to feminism as their feminism is to most of the women on this planet. Did you seriously just ask to wring our hands over the sole fate of Western women and advocate for genetic engineering advances instead of worrying about racism? I dub thee troll of the week — wow, you even included a handy link to an anti-immigrant website connected to VDARE, awesome bonus points.

  74. Astraea
    Astraea April 26, 2008 at 12:24 pm |

    There are so many things wrong with your comment, Parponera, I’m not sure it deserves any more than a STFU, racist. Stop fucking congratulating yourself for supporting a oh-so-enlightened culture that so cares for feminism that it can’t seem to give a flying fuck for women who aren’t white or American.

  75. Ooga Booga, where all the antiracism at? « Feminocracy

    […] apology offered by Jill at Feministe for promoting the book is not only more thorough (and like 4x as long) and more […]

  76. L-K
    L-K April 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm |

    Jesus fucking christ, why can’t you fucking people just shut the fuck up and enjoy your fucking privileges? Don’t you realize how decadent, sanctimonious, and just plain retarded it is to whine about advantages?

    What? Oh please! Did you miss the discussions for the past 2-3 weeks? You obviously have a poor understanding of what privilege means. And again, such an attitude marginalizes many women from the discussion. With such an attitude and your list of what should be feminist priorities, it’s no wonder why many women are dissatisfied with the feminism movement.

    Oh and ‘the racism issue’ definitely needs to be disconnected from ‘the feminism issue’, as these things aren’t really related beyond a superficial (and ultimately flawed) ‘the enemy of my enemy is my natural ally’ sort of concept.

    Yeah, tell that to women of color, including myself. There’s no separation, nor superficial concept. People live both every damn day, a lot which is interconnected.

  77. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 12:59 pm |

    Why don’t you read the threads that are less than a week old on the whole book promotion, and the threads on the cover, and the threads on appropriation and BFP?.

    Well, I actually have followed this controversy and I have read the threads. Though, it is hard to keep track of everything everyone ever says because Outraged White Feminists have taken all the oxygen out of the threads.

    Yeah, I said it.

    So, Ico, Belledame, and all the other Outraged White Feminists: Who, exactly, appointed you official spokeswomen of people of color? ‘Cuz I’d like to see some credentials. Isn’t it kind of silly to co-opt the outrage of a community you don’t even belong to? Seriously. Your anger just seems a little forced given that you are not women of color and your voices (obviously!) are not being censored. Damn near everyone on this blog has allowed you bully and bludgeon your opponents in order to steer the discourse on this issue despite your total lack of credibility in doing so. Though, I’m sure you think your awesome white selves have never harbored a racist thought or committed a racist deed despite the presence of omnipresent white privilege which, of course, you do not exercise or see in yourself.

    So, really, Outraged White Feminists, what’s the problem? Maybe you think the number of angry, expletive-filled blog posts directed at fellow privileged whiteys is proportional to the amount of Good Will Deposits you are allowed in the Awesome Non-Racist White People Bank such that any racist doings on your part can be mitigated by withdrawals and that said racist doings are somehow laundered into less racist doings.

    Having said that, Ico, I will not allow you to coerce an apology out of me. No way, no how. You, Belledame and other Outraged White Feminists need to seriously get over yourselves.

    I royally fucked up when I accused littlem of making threatening posts. But, spare me, Ico, don’t make this thing seem like the entire thread was picking on littlem when it was really just me and some other dude at, like, 4 am. Plus, I might add, my more critical posts were directed at Belledame who is and always will remain an obnoxious, two-bit bully who adds nothing to these conversations. I know you’ve been posting inaccurate descriptions of this incident on other blogs. But, are you really going to gear up the White Feminist Outrage Machine over this? That shit is so tired.

  78. bastard.logic
    bastard.logic April 26, 2008 at 1:06 pm |

    Amanda Marcotte and Seal Press Respond…

    by matttbastard
    From Amanda Marcotte:
    I’m sorry. Plain and simple. I didn’t pick the offensive imagery in my book, but I should have caught it sooner than now. I didn’t and there’s no excuse. It was my first book, I was excited and happy, but I…

  79. BeaTricks
    BeaTricks April 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm |

    A message to Littlem:

    I’m very sorry I accused you of threatening another poster. I am also sorry about the defensive response I gave you.

    And if I drove you away from this discussion, I’m sorry for that as well.

  80. matttbastard
    matttbastard April 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm |

    BeaTricks: speaking solely for my own black ass, I’d much rather white feminists be “outraged” than oblivious/apathetic.

    YMMV.

  81. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm |

    BeaTricks,

    When did I ever say I speak for women of color? When did I ever say I don’t exercise or see white privilege in myself? I don’t speak for anyone but me. Let’s be clear on that right now.

    And let’s be clear on something else, too.

    The reason I speak is because as many people far wiser than I have stated, silence is complicity. Part of the problem throughout so much of this is that white allies have not spoken out when things have happened. Karynthia at ABW’s blog phrased it rather nicely: “we’re going to need you to commence cleaning up your house before you can help us clean up the world.”

    So, NOT speaking when someone I respect and admire gets viciously attacked and accused in a thread?

    Sorry. Of course I’m going to speak. I’d damn well better, too. Because standing by and watching you make vicious accusations is not cool.

    So while yes, the points you bring up are valid — it’s possible to be too loud. It’s a fine line to walk between not speaking up (i.e. letting racist shit slip by and doing nothing) and drowning out people. But YOU, the person who attacked Littlem, aren’t the one who gets to tell me that. If Littlem tells me you know what Ico, enough is enough, pipe down, I’ll shut my trap immediately.

    BTW, if you want to continue the conversation, please email me, because you’re right about one thing: it’s become about white people too much already. We can continue this privately.

  82. Radfem
    Radfem April 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm |

    So really it isn’t the explicit material that is that bad. It is the way the material plays perfectly into the stereotype of the white feminist who cares only about white feminists. IE the reaction of such feminists is to get rude and obnoxious whenever anyone asks them to work on their own issues.

    So I think its important to keep that in mind when looking at the apologies. The book was much like a confederate flag. Given the proper context (IE a museum) it isn’t offensive. The offensive part is the why the confederate flag is displayed and the “Heritage not hate” defense.

    So an apology on the book is not much of an apology at all. The real apology should be about not listening enough to the consistent history of complaints about racial subjects.

    I would argue that it makes the White feminists caring about only White feminists less of a stereotype rather than fitting into one, but I agree with portions of this quote.

    I saw the pictures because I look at pictures before text by habit, I saw them b/c racist and sexist imagery is part of many allegations of racism and sexism. And I saw them because of the tremendous work done by women of color bloggers such as bfp and BA who’ve spent a lot of time addressing these very same issues. And I’d be pissed off that this is the one issue that got the most focus and the quickest response by Marcotte and Seal Press. That’s putting salt in wounds too.

    I was one person who said she was offended by the images and I meant it, but you know what? What offends me as much is how much response these pictures have received from those who could actually do something to change them compared to other issues that had been raised, raised and reraised, including the appropriation issue. It’s all part of a pattern of practice and you can’t apologize or make atonement for just part of that in my opinion. This pattern is part and parcel of other issues being discussed here and elsewhere as well including the discussions about the NYPD trial verdicts.

    I don’t like how Seal Press treated BA and then essentially justified it by saying that books by women of color aren’t commercially viable. Which is ironic because the one book by them that I have read was Colonize This!. I don’t know much about its history since then but what I’m hearing is that it’s not been a progressive one.

    It reminds me of the patriarchy as the focus of feminism and if it’s gone, then everything goes with it including racism. But Seal Press was I assume set up to give women as a gender more opportunities and more of a voice in the sexist world of nonfiction publication. However, it’s done that for White women and has not only shut out women of color but it’s producing works which are racist and demeaning or include racist and demeaning imagery. This adds to my serious doubts that White feminists are truly interested in dismantling the patriarchy. Something definitely needs dismantling but I have serious doubts too about the definition of patriarchy because it’s seen as a focal point but it leaves a lot of people out including a lot of women.

    Seal Press perhaps thought it would subvert sexism in publishing by setting up shop as a company welcoming to women. The pictures were intended in Marcotte’s book to subvert sexist stereotypes. Yet, both Seal Press and Marcotte’s book threw women of color under the bridge by the decisions made involving the company and the book’s pictures.

    So what’s going to be done about the underlying issues of which the pictures were merely the latest symptom? What about that?

  83. Holly
    Holly April 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm |

    BeaTricks — if you subtract everything that your category of “outraged white feminists” have said in the last couple weeks on these issues, you will still be left with everything that all of us non-white people have also been saying. You may be right that other white people’s voices also take up a lot of space, regardless of what side of a particular question they’re coming down on. But look at this thread and how much of it has gotten taken up with your argument and people arguing with it — and to a lesser extent the other thread. You made your point, fine, but now you’re also becoming guilty of the same thing. Please stop.

  84. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp April 26, 2008 at 2:52 pm |

    What offends me as much is how much response these pictures have received from those who could actually do something to change them compared to other issues that had been raised, raised and reraised, including the appropriation issue.

    I suspect this has a lot to do with how easy it is to see the pictures and go, “Wow, those are fucked up.” Appropriation is a more complex issue. Making sure that we’re hearing the voices of feminists of color is a more complex problem. It requires action, not just condemnation. Ignorance and laziness aren’t an excuse, of course.

  85. skywardprodigal
    skywardprodigal April 26, 2008 at 3:29 pm |

    Jill,

    You do have a lot of work to do. And I guess it’s nice to see that you’re catching a clue even if this is so late. But really, DuBois wrote about the ways of white folks clinging to their racism extensively which is what you were doing until you opened your eyes and made like a well-mannered person and apologized. Sadly, neither you when you were supporting Marcotte’s privilege and racism, nor many others (be it internalized racism or otherwise) didn’t do anything that ambivalently racist “progressives” before you haven’t done before which is why, too little too late doesn’t really cover it.

    Really.

  86. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 3:38 pm |

    BT: I don’t speak for. I speak selfishly, because these are my friends and people I admire and I’m gutted to see them driven off the interwebs by people like Amanda. If they want me to be quiet, or think I am also responsible for driving them away, or shutting down -discourse-, and/or indeed are in favor of you now acting as self-appointed go-between, I hope they know they can tell me and I will. And, nope, never claimed I never harbored any racism, never will.

    “I’m no more racist than the next white person pretending not to be racist”–Hothead Paisan.

    I hope, at least.

    You, I still don’t know who you are, but I am beginning to get the distinct impression you think you know me. This isn’t, as you yourself note, the place to get into it, and I’m not sufficiently interested in you to pursue it in email. You’ve apologized to littlem; we’ve established we think I’m a two-bit obnoxious bully who co-opts WoC outrage, contributes nothing, and you wish for me to be banned. Duly noted. Next?

  87. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm |

    Is this the “poison” we were talking about?

    Still nobody naming names, it’s the system at work. Who is driving people away from feminism? Mystery woman. Who is poisoning the discourse? Can’t say. Who abuses the word “privilege” as a club? It’s a secret. Who is calling WOC mean? I’ll never tell.

    I can see why the more “radical” (whatever you want to call it) WOC are pissed off. More generic promises to do better. Everyone try real hard – pinky swear!

    Name names. (And don’t be afraid to name a few WOC as well.) Too many generic complaints. White feminists are the problem? Which ones?

    You’re still using Amanda as a prop in your stage play. I find it very hard to believe that Amanda by herself has ruined feminism.

  88. Kiru Banzai
    Kiru Banzai April 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm |

    So, you’re going to start seeking out WOC feminist bloggers and inviting them to have microphones at Feministe, then? Systematically?

  89. Delux
    Delux April 26, 2008 at 4:31 pm |

    “So how about everyone sit down like grownups and hash it out on the public record?”

    Wow, what a wonderful idea! Except, well… for the part where women of color have been ‘hashing it out on the public record’ about what’s wrong w/ mainstream feminism for forty years now, and white feminists *still* insist on acting like it is the invention of wheel whenever someone points any of this out.

    Time for women of color to do our own stuff. Oh wait, we’ve already been doing that too…

  90. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm |

    Still nobody naming names, it’s the system at work. Who is driving people away from feminism? Mystery woman. Who is poisoning the discourse? Can’t say. Who abuses the word “privilege” as a club? It’s a secret. Who is calling WOC mean? I’ll never tell.

    I can see why the more “radical” (whatever you want to call it) WOC are pissed off. More generic promises to do better. Everyone try real hard – pinky swear!

    Name names. (And don’t be afraid to name a few WOC as well.) Too many generic complaints. White feminists are the problem? Which ones?

    I guess I don’t see the point in naming names. If the point is bigger than blogging (which it is), why bother to reduce the finger-pointing to bloggers alone?

    And as an aside, in my humble opinion, and someone please tell me if I’m wrong, the dialogue here should be larger than what Amanda did when and to whom. If we frame it that way, and we are, the dialogue still centers around white people. We need to move beyond OMG SO FUCKED UP gossip to the next tier of understanding and action.

  91. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm |

    and white feminists *still* insist on acting like it is the invention of wheel whenever someone points any of this out.

    Names please?

    I’m sure you *can* name names, I don’t doubt what you say is true.

    Amanda and who else? Jill? Jessica Valenti? Gloria Steinam? When you blame a large group there is no responsibility for group members to do anything. Everyone can assume you’re talking to everyone else.

  92. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 4:43 pm |

    I just want to address something. BeaTricks said it here and over at Pandagon over and over and over. I couldn’t really stomach that thread so I didn’t say anything.

    Nice tool, that trick, of calling out white feminists who are appalled by this whole situation and claiming that we’re acting as racists by speaking up, and that our failure to remain silent is in and of itself an exercise of white privilege and appropriation, and that we’re just looking for some sort of “best white feminist” badge from WOC. Or that we’re capitalizing on WOC outrage to call out Amanda because…why? Are we jealous, is that your thought? Do you seriously think we’re all just JEALOUS of her? Fuck that. I think she’s a talented feminist blogger, and I like to see talented feminist women succeed. I just think that as a community it is incumbent upon us to call out bullshit exercise of privilege–including the privilege to ignore complaints and act as if any critical analysis of your work is based in jealousy–when it’s damaging our community.

    I’m not congratulating myself. I’m not patting myself on the back. I’m not trying to speak for anyone and I’m not looking for a fucking cookie. I’m looking to be a better person and try harder. I’m naming my own fucking name in addition to Amanda’s, and saying, hey, you know what? SILENCE would have been complicity. I’m not calling Amanda out alone. I’m calling ALL OF US out. And I am trying to listen.

    Racists use that kind of crap against white anti-racist activists all of the time, you know. It’s not more racist to call out racism than it is to sit silently and let it go on and on. It’s not a greater exercise of privilege to call out and denounce privilege.

    And I don’t want my voice to be drowning anyone’s out. I’m not trying to appropriate more space for myself and make it about me. It’s not about me, except to the extent I can look at myself and see how I’ve been exercising my own privilege.

    And sure, I get that in taking up space and speaking, if people listen to me more because I’m white, I’m exercising my unwanted white privilege too. But a big part of our problem, as I read along to catch up with the entire controversy, seemed to me to be the silence of white feminists who appeared to be letting it all slide. That is NOT okay. It is not okay to stand by and watch something you think is wrong tear a community you value apart, drive people off, and not say anything.

    Like I said, nice tool. Nice try to use our own concern about exercising privilege to attempt to shame us into further silence. Hopefully it doesn’t work. Because watching WOC be driven away from the discourse and not saying anything? Fucked up. Had Jill not said anything here? Would have been fucked up. I’m not going to be driven into silence by criticism from people who don’t see a problem with white privilege in this community.

    Do you feel the same way when feminist men complain about misogyny? Are they all just looking for a cookie? When they are, can’t we usually tell? Do we never want them to speak up? Obviously there is–as there is here–a legitimate concern in trying to ensure that it doesn’t become all about the men. But I prefer feminist men to take a stand in the face of misogyny rather than say nothing. Not because they’ll be heard when we won’t (although that’s frequently true, and not okay). Not because it’s not legitimate unless some man agrees with us. Rather, because silence in the face of a wrong is complicit, and wrong in and of itself.

    I’m not speaking for anyone but myself.

  93. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    Yet, both Seal Press and Marcotte’s book threw women of color under the bridge by the decisions made involving the company and the book’s pictures.

    So what’s going to be done about the underlying issues of which the pictures were merely the latest symptom? What about that?

    to add to the underlying issues already on the table, I am still wondering something:

    are the people who were responsible for “Colonize This!” and any number of earlier Seal Press books by and about WoC the same as the ones who are currently running the show? (Brooke, Kristin, whoever’s at the head).

    If not, does this have anything to do with Seal’s being acquired by Perseus?

    Probably a separate topic, but is this something worth talking about?

  94. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 4:49 pm |

    If not, does this have anything to do with Seal’s being acquired by Perseus?

    Probably a separate topic, but is this something worth talking about?

    I don’t know how worth it’s talking about, but it’s certainly an illustration of what happens when an independent press gets eaten up by a large corporation.

  95. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 4:56 pm |

    Well, that’s kind of what I meant, more than “let’s talk more about how much the newnimproved Seal sucks,” per se. Because it seems to me that corporatization is yet another piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked. “Commodify Your Dissent” and all; but even if one isn’t a flaming anti-capitalist, there’s no question that the Borgification of Big Business this past, what, couple of decades or so? has a LOT to do with reactionary backlash of all kinds. It’s not even so much that Seal Sucks Now; it’s the same as, like, what happened with the music industry, what’s happening with news: the more power any one organization has, the more able they are to employ the threat of “you have to buy what we’re selling or else opt out altogether, because there’s nowhere else to turn to.”

    Which is not, again to reiterate the point that others keep making, that it’s TRUE: bfp more than anyone else could talk about not only the work WoC have been doing on their own these past __ years just fine, thanks, but the independent media movement.

    Still, though, I wonder if even among the more moderate/liberal of us, if it’s worth considering that a bit more focus on ummm checks and balances of economic power, let’s say, is an important feminist issue, maybe a lot more so than oh say the semiotics of lipstick or blowjobs.

    Whatever happened to “trust-busting,” anyway?

  96. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm |

    It’s not even so much that Seal Sucks Now; it’s the same as, like, what happened with the music industry, what’s happening with news: the more power any one organization has, the more able they are to employ the threat of “you have to buy what we’re selling or else opt out altogether, because there’s nowhere else to turn to.”

    Which is not, again to reiterate the point that others keep making, that it’s TRUE: bfp more than anyone else could talk about not only the work WoC have been doing on their own these past __ years just fine, thanks, but the independent media movement.

    Word. The independent media movement is HUGE.

    See, the thing is I’m still skeptical after all this time that blogging has a real impact outside of our insular cul de sacs. Sure, some have gotten sucked in to book deals and TV news appearances, but for the most part we’re talking individual folks who are so suckered by the limelight that they forget they’re speaking for (or should be speaking for) a larger goal, a larger movement, and one that runs completely contrary to the intentions of corporate news agencies. So what the fuck? What good comes from us doing this thing outside of educating one another? Shit, it’s not bad to do it for teh peeple, but we’ve got to eat, no? I guess in the larger scheme, once one breaks through the glass ceiling, there are limitations to how closely you can cling to your ideals while keeping a roof over your head.

    Of course, I speak from my own experience. Once I began working full time there was no way in hell I could keep up with Feministe anymore, and I used to be all starry eyed about the power of this blog thing.

  97. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 5:07 pm |

    The independent media movement is HUGE.

    As in, a huge consideration.

  98. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:13 pm |

    PRHM: I wouldn’t swear to it, and not to *koff* make it all about me, but I get the impression now that BT is a WoC (radical, perhaps?) feminist who has been closely following not just this dwama but, I think, some other ones which aren’t relevant to the matter at hand in which I’ve been a key player. at any rate, I think that the fact that she managed to derail the topic was more of a side effect than her intent.

    as for MitchPerson and delurking, who were the original targets of my ire, well, that is another story.

    and in general, per the actual point. You know what: the whole UR Doin It Rong: granted, I may well be. I trust people to tell me if/when I’m fucking up. There are certain spaces and conversations white people/the privileged in question ought to stay out of, yes, but generally they’re -designated- as such. This right here is the commons, I do believe; this is the whole point, what bfp was talking about and what Jill is trying to get at. -Community.- Dysfunctional or otherwise, you don’t have -anything- if you don’t -talk.-

    meanwhile, can’t speak for anyone else, but I say these things not because I want ally brownie points (whoever awards such things) but because gosh well I actually mean them. because, again, I like and admire bfp and BA and Sudy and little light and so many of the other women in this ‘sphere, this -community-, such as it is or was or could be, and I feel that it’s much much poorer without them, and this angers me, -yes.- Because I’m a part of this community -too-, at least for now, and I am putting in my vote, loudly, yes, that it be one in which, well, and it may be too late no matter what for BA or bfp or a number of other people? but at minimum, I don’t want to lose anyone -else.- And while I -don’t actually care about Amanda-, because believe it or not she’s actually -not- the center of my or everyone’s universe, hard as that seems to be for some people to accept, would be totally fine with her having her little book tour and whatever else if it hadn’t dragged all these other people into it and -hurt- them, mazel tov, my blessings really…

    …but honestly, and I don’t think it should have to, even now, little as I like her? I mean, in theory, at least. I don’t -think- it -should- have to come down to, it’s either Amanda (and her supporters) OR bfp, BA, Sudy, Little Light, Sylvia, Donna, apparently now maybe even Holly, I could go on and on…

    if that’s a choice that Amanda and her supporters are insisting, tacitly at -least-, that we all make?

    Well, I know what my vote is.

    As a member of the community. Such as it is. No more, no less.

  99. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

    First of all, word to everything punkrockhockeymom said. (And BeaTricks came over from Pandagon? That explains a lot).

    What I have heard from the WOC bloggers who were involved in a lot of the arguments over the appropriation issue is that we should and must speak up. The reason they are not participating here is because it is not a safe space for them. Vanessa and another blogger both told me this. Of course, they can’t and don’t and shouldn’t be taken to speak for all WOC, but they did explain their own personal reasons for not being here, which was that the space was hostile and/or it was just too exhausting and fruitless and not worth the time, and both urged that we (white allies) need to keep speaking out.

    Is it a function of white privilege that we are heard more easily than WOC, or that a lot of the spaces we move in are openly (or covertly) hostile to WOC? Of course it is, and we do need to be aware of that and we need to do what we can to change it. But… yeah. Just everything that punkrockhockeymom said. And thanks for your comment way upthread, matttbastard. :)

  100. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm |

    Back to Sylvia’s original question of what next, waaay back, and re: Seal Press,

    ProfBW has outlined in great detail some expectations of Seal Press if their apology is sincere. Actually, she pretty much laid out step-by-step instructions in what they should be doing, which was incredibly nice of her, IMO. Her post is here:

    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/why-seal-press-is-off-the-syllabus-pt-2/

  101. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm |

    I guess I don’t see the point in naming names. If the point is bigger than blogging (which it is), why bother to reduce the finger-pointing to bloggers alone?

    Your approach isn’t working. This isn’t a new problem and the “solution” here is a proven failure.

    The way this is always dealt with is everyone blames the system while being melodramatic about trying to do better themselves, neither of which works. The system is made of up individuals and nobody is responsible for fixing the system, so it stays broken. And people are not accountable to themselves either.

    At work if a few people are constantly late I don’t say “we all need to work on being on time” I say “hey Bob and Jim, show up at 9 tomorrow.”

    Or at least, if you aren’t willing to name names, you need accountability of some sort. Pledging to do better is meaningless. Promise specifics. This was a great comment:

    “So, you’re going to start seeking out WOC feminist bloggers and inviting them to have microphones at Feministe, then? Systematically?”

    It’s actionable, it’s measurable. You either do it or you fail to do it, there is no promising and no trying.

    If you want to move on to actions propose concrete actions that can be objectively measured. Invite some guest bloggers or permanent bloggers of color, have a “Further Reading” section at the bottom of every post from now on.

    Do something concrete and measurable.

  102. belledame222
    belledame222 April 26, 2008 at 5:41 pm |

    See, the thing is I’m still skeptical after all this time that blogging has a real impact outside of our insular cul de sacs. Sure, some have gotten sucked in to book deals and TV news appearances, but for the most part we’re talking individual folks who are so suckered by the limelight that they forget they’re speaking for (or should be speaking for) a larger goal, a larger movement, and one that runs completely contrary to the intentions of corporate news agencies. So what the fuck? What good comes from us doing this thing outside of educating one another? Shit, it’s not bad to do it for teh peeple, but we’ve got to eat, no? I guess in the larger scheme, once one breaks through the glass ceiling, there are limitations to how closely you can cling to your ideals while keeping a roof over your head.

    Well, this, to me is the point:

    -Direct- impact, as in the entire world will tune into the wisdom of our blogs and immediately go forth to make awesome, responsible changes: no, not so much.

    But, well, you key into something that’s really at the heart of this whole thing, the difference between what Amanda is fighting for and what bfp is fighting for. The suckering in. The not becoming what we are supposedly fighting against. And much more important: -be the change you seek.-

    The hothouse of the blogosphere in some ways is like a microcosm of the wider “movement” and indeed broader erm dynamics in what we laughing call “the real world.” There are, at any moment, choices we can make. What do we value. Who do we want making the decisions. Whose voice should be heard, what are we -creating.-

    And the thing of it is, is–for me, if the sphere is a microcosm -not- entirely unrelated to How The Real World Works (if not totally synonymous with it either, thank fuck), and in many ways I think it is or we wouldn’t all be so invested in it–then, well, my vote for in here is the same as the one out there:

    bfp, BA, Sylvia, Little Light, so many other people I’ve come across in the ‘sphere: these are the women (and some men) the world requires. IMNSHO. Which is yet another reason why all the YR JUST JELLUS shit is–you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. They’re got NOTHING to be jealous of. They’re -brilliant.- They’re passionate. They’re eloquent. They have -depth,- goddamit.

    They shouldn’t -be- at the margins, fighting for (or not, because they -really- aren’t) a “place at the table.” They should be -central.-

    Whereas Amanda, and people like her, even the ones I don’t particularly harbor any personal feeling for one way or the other: it’s not that they don’t have anything to say? but, um. Bluntly: they’re not -required.- They’re just not. It’s not a question of whether I care if they get glittering prizes or money or attention or whatnot: one would hope, in an -ideal- world (ah, but there’s the rub) there’d be enough to go around. But, she isn’t the -center-; and that’s the problem.

    That not only is the insistence that she be the center–and I fully accept that mileage varies as to how important or brilliant her individual voice is, really, I know it’s subjective–but that -she’s embodying the cultural dictate that there’s only so much room at the top, and getting to the top is all that matters.- That she not only be the girl with the most cake but that there Can Be Only One Cake, and only so many girls.

    The top, mind you, not the center. It’s definitely a pyramid, there, not a web. And that, the pyramid, is, well, call it the Patriarchy or White Supremacy or capitalism or whatever you want, but -in theory,- that’s what we’re fighting against.

    THAT’S the problem.

    We aren’t being the change we supposedly seek.

    We’re doing “meet the new boss, same as the old boss, but with better shoes.”

    That, and worse: we’re breaking the hearts and crushing the morale of far too many people who are required.

    You know, the profession I’m going into is predicated on the belief that -talk- is a tool of change all by itself, even one on one: that dramatic transformation happens in the subtle things, the interactions, the small choices.

    -We can do that online.-

    And that, to me at least, is why it matters. And why I’ve stuck around for as long as I have.

  103. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm |

    Do something concrete and measurable.

    No, I totally agree. But it can’t stop with blogging, ffs.

  104. kiki
    kiki April 26, 2008 at 5:52 pm |

    Heavens, Bea(one)trick(pony), you have tried just about every trick in the book to kill this thread and discredit this discussion. Why?

  105. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 26, 2008 at 5:55 pm |

    The way this is always dealt with is everyone blames the system while being melodramatic about trying to do better themselves, neither of which works. The system is made of up individuals and nobody is responsible for fixing the system, so it stays broken. And people are not accountable to themselves either.

    “Always…everyone…nobody…broken.”

    If the way things are done is totally fucked — if everybody always does things wrong and nobody ever does things right — then the whole thing’s a write-off. Saying “do this different thing” has no chance in hell of achieving anything, because there’s nothing to build on.

    So let’s turn it around. What is working? What’s good? What’s succeeding? What’s helpful? What’s making change? What’s strengthening us as individuals, or as communities? What models do we have? What can we take and build on?

    The question “Can there be [x]?” isn’t all that interesting to me. But “Where is there [x] and how can we make more of it?” Now, that’s an exciting question.

  106. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm |

    Margalis, I don’t disagree with your call for specifics, but are you asking the same from Amanda / Pandagon? I don’t recall seeing such a statement from you on those comment threads, although it’s possible I missed it.

  107. sydney
    sydney April 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm |

    o let’s turn it around. What is working? What’s good? What’s succeeding? What’s helpful? What’s making change? What’s strengthening us as individuals, or as communities? What models do we have? What can we take and build on?

    Great question. Now I’m only speaking from my perspective, but what helps me is hearing stories. Testimonials about race, gender, sexual orientation intersect in people’s lives. Whether its looking for a school for your child (or yourself), applying for benefits, interacting with other women in classes or at the supermarket–whatever. The point is that actually hearing people’s experiences and sharing my own always opens my eyes to things that I didn’t know about.

    In terms of the clusterfuck that is this situation about online discourse (and I don’t call it this to disparage it, rather just to highlight how lost I feel), I’m starting to think that this whole situation–from the first “Amandagate” post and all the subsequent posts/blogs–should be published in a book or consolidated on a single blog or hell made into a documentary and taught to young women so we don’t keep repeating this fucked up cycle. The passion, confusion, anger, and pain–the FEELINGS– that have come from all this really speaks to the importance of this topic for so many people. And if it was in a documentary faces can be attached to comments the way that some people want.

    Anyway, i just wanted to start a solutions based discussion and this seemed like a good time. I’m all about holding people accountable but I also want to see something change and soon. Maybe if we all organized our energy toward an awareness project of some sort–using this as the foundation experience–things will change. If any of this doesn’t make sense, please let me know. I just took an exam and I’m wiped.

    Jill, thanks for your response. I know it couldn’t have been easy to write. (especially if you’re a graduating 3L).

  108. darkchocolate
    darkchocolate April 26, 2008 at 6:16 pm |

    I’m just happy the conversation about this situation is continuing at this blog. I was sorely disappointed to see a discussion about cell phone use over at Pandagon this afternoon. Sorry, I’m not saying Marcotte has ruined feminism, but the apology and quick jump to a completely unrelated issue, sends the message that racism in the women’s movement isn’t being taken all that seriously. And, no, I’m not requesting another apology . . .but at least a post that begins a dialogue like this one over here. We need accountability and less snark right about now. Thanks for this post.

  109. darkchocolate
    darkchocolate April 26, 2008 at 6:27 pm |

    oh — and i can’t agree more with sydney’s suggestion that these comments/posts/ etc should be compiled for young feminists to learn about. i was disappointed to read valenti’s response to the open letter from second wave feminist re the democratic election a few weeks ago. in her response, she insinuated that what made the third wave different from the second was the focus on “intersectionality”. really? are you kidding me? how someone can ignore the incredible work women of color and progressive minded white women did in the second wave (and, no, i’m not from the second wave) to call out the feminist movement for their white solipsism is truly incredible. the combahee river collective. this bridge called my back. making face, making soul. making waves. home girls. sister outsider. and much, much more. more importantly, though, these women were talking about sexism, racism, and capitalism. this is much different than the current intersectional analysis of “gender, race, and class.” the former is focused on systemic oppression, the latter on individual identity. it is frustrating to see women of color written right out of the women’s movement. we need to remind women to learn their history . . . so we aren’t always reinventing the wheel.

  110. ilyka
    ilyka April 26, 2008 at 6:46 pm |

    more importantly, though, these women were talking about sexism, racism, and capitalism. this is much different than the current intersectional analysis of “gender, race, and class.” the former is focused on systemic oppression, the latter on individual identity.

    Thank you for putting that so cogently, darkchocolate. That made a few lightbulbs flicker over here. That’s–well, it explains so much. So, so much.

  111. Lauren
    Lauren April 26, 2008 at 6:49 pm |

    these women were talking about sexism, racism, and capitalism. this is much different than the current intersectional analysis of “gender, race, and class.” the former is focused on systemic oppression, the latter on individual identity.

    Zing!

  112. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm |

    No, I totally agree. But it can’t stop with blogging, ffs.

    But it can start with blogging. And these recent blowups with Seal and Amanda were rooted in blogging. (At least at first, obviously the pictures have nothing to do with blogging)

    One thing I suggested a while ago was people write to RH Reality Check and ask them to add a “Further Reading” section that links to blogs at the bottom of future articles. It’s just one suggestion but it’s at least some small difference-maker. Why the hell not?

    Maybe if we all organized our energy toward an awareness project of some sort–using this as the foundation experience–things will change.

    There is so much energy waiting to be harnessed. (Insert tripe about turning lemons into lemonade)

    I guess my point is really just “do something.” It sounds kind of stupid but I want to contrast that with pledging to do better, which is not “doing something” to me. I’d like to look back three months from now and say “here is what people said they’d do, and they really did it!” I can’t do that with “we’ll try harder.”

    Now I’m only speaking from my perspective, but what helps me is hearing stories.

    Well then the question becomes why aren’t you hearing those stories? Which is kind of the whole rub here.

  113. Margalis
    Margalis April 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm |

    I should add that the reason I’m not make a lot of concrete suggestions myself is that I don’t have much of a platform and I’m wary of it being “not my place.”

  114. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 6:55 pm |

    So, if I wasn’t a technological IDIOT the whole trackback thing with the links would have worked, and you all could read it or not read it. And Jill, I’m not trying to be pimp-y, but I’m also trying to be cognizant to not put up some 80 page long comment over here.

    In terms of moving forward, in terms of concrete ideas, I think it’s really important to step back and talk some about how privilege might be effecting even our ideas for moving forward. And I thought about it–I told you all I was naming my own name, and I meant it–and I posted about that here.

    Jill, if you think the link is inappropriate, I won’t be offended or anything if you delete it. It’s not all chock full of white woman wisdom or anything. Just trying to continue the discussion.

  115. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    Margalis, again, I don’t disagree with your reasoning about needing to identify and follow through on specific steps, but I will say I would actually feel more comfortable if you did have ideas and suggestions, rather than just positioning yourself outside of *us* and ordering *us* to *do something*. Maybe it’s (unfairly) because I’ve seen your comments at Pandagon and elsewhere, and I don’t know what your motivations are. Sorry…that’s just my feeling.

    punkrockhockeymom, I read your entry and thought it was fantastic. I am also grateful that this conversation is continuing here, and for now all I can think of about what’s *going right* (to echo Brooklynite) are various blogs I’ve discovered in recent months, of which a couple are now, sadly, on hiatus or gone.

  116. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 7:29 pm |

    Charity, thanks.

  117. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm |

    And one of the reasons I thought it was fantastic, I must add, is that I -of course- recognized myself in what you wrote about centering oneself as the “norm”; I have been approaching this in all too much a vein of how to *make room* for others, as if I owned feminism and as if this (my pocket of experience, in whatever spaces I operate in) is the *center* and others are on the fringe.

  118. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 7:31 pm |

    Credit’s not mine, though. It’s Patricia J. Williams’.

  119. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 7:36 pm |

    Yes, absolutely, the whole framework AND your personal reflections helped me realize some things about myself.

  120. matttbastard
    matttbastard April 26, 2008 at 7:40 pm |

    Ico:

    And thanks for your comment way upthread, matttbastard. :)

    You’re welcome, Ico. :) (((hug)))

    Of course, outrage (and regret) is pointless unless followed by action. So, adding to Sylvia’s pointed question, and to quote myself, “[s]o where the fuck do we go from here, apart from (sincerely and humbly) continuing along the well-trodden path of least resistance?”

  121. matttbastard
    matttbastard April 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm |

    (And I see that others have continued on the “ok, so now what” theme – that’ll learn me to post without refreshing.)

  122. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 8:20 pm |

    I don’t have good suggestions, but since I’m procrastinating working on a project, I’ll say something anyway. Others have already made suggestions elsewhere as far as linking, modifying blogrolls, reading new blogs, owning mistakes, *listening,* taking action to voice outrage with Seal Press, self-disclosing fuck-ups and what was learned, etc. I am wondering if we need something grander?

    In one of these threads, someone suggested Amanda and Brownfemipower get together face-to-face to talk things through (that’s a generous interpretation of what their suggestion was). Now, that minimizes the systemic issues into a mere dyadic, personal issue, so I don’t agree with it (nor do I condone infantilizing people by having others dictate their actions and assume they’d be willing to participate in such a meeting.)

    But, I do think there is real value to “face-to-face” meetings / personal connections and being in / collaborating in the presence of others, given that we are talking about justice, community-building, and healing (not saccharine ‘healing,’ but actions that are in service of making things right). I wish this (meeting face-to-face) could be a possibility on the path to “now what” we are hoping to lay down here (not least because it would be wonderful to meet people in person whom I admire from their postings online.) I know the Allied Media Conference is coming up, and there are other conferences where discussions could take place, but travel is problematic and expensive, and certain voices would automatically be privileged based on who could afford to go (or WANT to go) and where things are located. Also, given what happened at WAM, there would be justifiable wariness, and this suggestion of mine may even be a slap in the face based on what I’ve read BA, Adele, Sudy, Donna and others write about their experiences there (so I apologize if it is). I do think that how a conference is planned and by whom, and who the conference is “for” based on the advertising and explicit and implicit messages, matter in terms of who feels OK in the space and what oppressions get replicated in the space and whether anyone realizes / cares / makes it right. Definitely not advocating for another WAM.

    What about a real-time conference online, with people logging into / onto various dialogues? Or something along those lines? Maybe that’s too similar to what already happens on blogs, but there are so many blogs, and conversations get fractured and individual people or small clusters of people “own” the space. Is there a way to collaboratively organize a space and chunk of time, and make plans for what happens in a way that’s as collaborative as possible (among anyone who wants to participate)? I don’t know if this makes any sense…I guess I’m thinking of a townhall meeting kind of thing (or series of meetings), but from home if a real meeting isn’t possible.

  123. Charity
    Charity April 26, 2008 at 8:29 pm |

    And (realizing that ‘healing’ will sound patronizing or glossing-over-y) I don’t exclude confrontation and calling out from the healing process, either…I see those as necessary, in fact. (I’m a group therapist so this suggestion reflects my biased view of how change occurs in people and in systems.)

  124. Grandpa Dinosaur
    Grandpa Dinosaur April 26, 2008 at 8:31 pm |

    I don’t know if this is too little too late. Hopefully the rift between women of colour and feminists can be repaired, but I really don’t know. A lot of people are still unsatisfied with the outcome and the small, but sincere apology from Amanda Marcotte (myself included).

    I hope that the concerns of women of colour will not be glossed over, ignored or forgotten in the world of feminism, but I am uncertain when I still see a huge resistance to our voices. Does as a whole feminism care to listen to the concerns of women of colour all all, let alone include them in the movement?

    I can understand the mentality of the hoards of women of colour leaving feminism now.

    Nobody wants to be put on the front line to fight and support a movement, where while they work their hardest to gain respect for all equal human rights—are put in the front row to be shot first.

  125. shah8
    shah8 April 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm |

    I’m pretty sick of “AmandaGate” or whatever, and I don’t think these threads have been much of a help. There’s just too much “Mean Girls” crap mixed in with all the serious stuff.

    What’s more, the root of the issue wasn’t really approbiation or plagerizing or whatever…The root of the issue is that it often takes a white person to raise the profile on issues that concern minorities–that white people are *reluctant* to take it from the source. In the end, it was never truly about Amanda, but her audience.

    It seems that too many people would rather fight about whether Amanda is doing (x), and take up all the oxygen, because That’s Your Friggin’ Safe Space rather than indulging in the messy, thought-heavy, activities like how the audience use links and how commenters in a blog post engages other commenters. I mean, have you guys taken a look to just how many responses there are to obviously non-white commenter? Not so many, huh? It’s not just blogmistresses like Amanda that may or may not do enough linking to good work by minorities.

    What annoys me the most about this conflageration is that Amanda M is a hell of alot better on most of this race and crediting crap. She’s shown enough of an interest to actually read somewhat in depth in this sort of material, and write essays about issues that may be percieved as of interest to minority women only. Look around the fucking blogosphere, people…not very many feminists blog this stuff beyond the “in the news” along the standard denounciations. If there is a desire to have a firing squad event, there are plenty of better canidates, and let’s use a wall! Just to be organized, yaknow? Of course, they don’t get in trouble because they are absent from the field. Amanda has the mindshare, and by god she’s going to get another piece of yours!

    I made the comment about Hillary Clinton in the Sean Bell thread in some degree of seriousness, but with also an element of sarcasm. It’s truly amazing how silent so many feminists, like, say Digby, at one point refuse to actually count the points, estimate the game (which is a scrimmage/preseason game rather than THE GAME), and understand that further support is more and more exclusively about disenfranchising voters as time goes on. Would those of you who support Hillary’s campaign continue to support her if she decides to run as a third party canidate after finally conceding defeat at the Democratic Party Convention? Tonya Harding isn’t the best of role models, you know.

    Because in the end, it’s still all about fucking power. A storm can happen in a teapot, but try addressing something serious (something about power or money) in a crowd of white folks, feminists or not, and you’re too damn likely to either just be ignored or have mirror attacks of ‘isms accusations (along with other techniques to shut down the discussion).

    Which is why the whole Amanda Marcotte fracas is, indeed, about her having a big blog, and a book deal and a bunch of people don’t and it bugs them–and as truly annoying as Squashed was in making that point, I think Squashed is ultimately right.

  126. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 8:51 pm |

    shah8: With all due respect, I just disagree with your comment at this stage. I don’t even think the majority of comments on this thread in the past few hours have even been about Amanda so much as they’ve been about next steps. And sorry to say this, AGAIN, but there’s no jealousy here about a book deal or a big blog. Many if not most of us have our own real-world careers, our own work to do–more of it than we can get done, frankly–and are less focused on Amanda than on trying to hear the voices of people that feel their concerns have been shut out of the debate. And it’s certainly, I think, frankly frivolous to intimate that, say, Jill or Holly or Lauren are upset about Amanda’s readership or platform. We’re not trying to drag Amanda down, here. I, at least, am trying to build consensus in an inclusive way, and figure out how to address the fact that my own privilege has contributed to marginalization.

    As far as the concern that not a lot of people in the feminist or progressive community are blogging about race: Well, that’s a positive suggestion for all of us to think about moving forward, isn’t it?

    This thread isn’t really about Amanda any more. And unfortunately, although I don’t think that’s your intent, it seems like your comment is the one trying to shut down a conversation here that seems to be moving toward the future, by intimating that it’s an illegitimate conversation to even have, because you think it’s born of jealousy over Amanda. Read most of the comments here: they seem to me to be about what to do moving forward as a community to be more inclusive and less marginalizing.

    Squashed claimed over at the Pandagon thread that, essentially, no one has any beef about racism or marginalization in this community–it’s all no big deal, and no one has any sense of humor. And to intimate that because a person does good work, it’s never okay to address how they’re contributing to a problem, is just crap. We’ve heard the same thing from men in the progressive community over and over, right? There are more important things for us to worry about than that silly sexist t-shirt, aren’t there? Silly, humorless feminists, making a bunch of flap about nothing. Don’t bother anyone over at any dude-centric progressive blog, either, with our silly claptrap about sexist language–after all, they’re trying to get Democrats elected and get us national health care, and that should come first.

    Sorry, and I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but that’s how I read your comment. I can’t help it.

  127. shah8
    shah8 April 26, 2008 at 8:54 pm |

    I wonder just how hilarious this can all get if we can get stuffwhitepeoplelike mixed up in all this!

    Ah, and one more note…It may actually not be Amanda’s fault. Publishers (at least in genre fiction fields like romance/mystery/sci-fi) are deathly afraid of putting minorities on their covers or use any images that might force the average white customers to empathise with non-whites. Non-normative being bad.

    For instance, in the science fiction fantasy fields, Admiral Honor Harrington is definitly not white in the text, but all the pictures show her as white. A couple of CE Murphy’s urban fantasy books features a creole woman as the protagonist, but the covers show a white woman. Most black authors who write for a mainstream audience have a pronounced tendency to have much fewer depictions of main characters on their books.

    Maybe y’all don’t notice it since there are plenty of black people on book covers–in places specifically for minorities, like African American Studies, or on the covers of fiction that is marketed straight to black people with no thought that anyone white might wish to read it.

    People really should take into consideration the extent that publishers understand the degree of racism held by the mainstream audience and the degree to which publishers pander to that racism.

  128. A.
    A. April 26, 2008 at 9:04 pm |

    shah – Stuff white people like – irony…but not at our expense!

  129. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 9:19 pm |

    Shah8, the whether Amanda’s fault or not question has been pretty thoroughly examined I think. And as far as the publishers and racism go, there are people who have been calling for steps forward on this. ProfBW has been leading on the issue with the girlcott, the subsequent dialogue w/ Seal Press representatives, and her thoughtful and clear response calling for very definitive action.

    All of that is on her blog, here:

    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/why-seal-press-is-off-the-syllabus-pt-2/

    So re: Seal Press, I think there is a very clear path.

    As far as the rest, I really don’t know. I like Charity’s idea.

    Grandpa Dinosaur, just want to say I echo your sentiments. Yours too, matttbastard. *hugs*

  130. shah8
    shah8 April 26, 2008 at 9:28 pm |

    punkrockhockeymom , if there’s one thing I’ve learned when dealing with white people at large, is how quickly they can disassemble, and put up protective coloration. It’s mostly a fuction of the view that racism is a label/tag, and not an attitude. So, in any discussion, I do check for subtexts out of habit–against the long-term behavoral trend. If someone plays it straight mostly, then I just take it for a general mindfart. If not, then I just avoid that person.

    Now to the line by line…

    First of all, I DON’T think badly of Jill or Holly, or Cara, for that matter. I like them and enjoy their work. It’s why I am here and reading this blog. I think they, for the most part are saying necessary things, and yes, I do agree that Amanda could link and attribute more. My comments are pretty much directly at the commenters here. The essential elements of Holly’s post about people not being able to get a word in was pretty much ignored in the comments that followed. It’s the same pattern when anyone eles’s thoughtful post aren’t really followed by a meaningfull commentry that enables us to understand each other better.

    About the “it’s a positive step to move towards…” What the hell are you talking about? I was talking about how original sentiments are getting subliminated into Amanda-bashing. It’s not as if I’m reading about *any* other violators of the niceties, or about roping in feminists who don’t normally talk about topics with a mindset of active inclusion of minority voices. In contrast, Amanda, who bloged with Jessie Taylor, bloggs with Pam Spaulding,= and has a relatively diverse profile of commentators–compared to what I see here, and vastly more so than in the other feminist blogs I’ve lurked on.

    Next, the claim that well, really, it sounds like your’re trying to shut down the conversation–>is fucking precisely my fucking point. Any agression, and out comes the mirror defenses. I did not say that any conversation was illegitimate, and it’s fucking disengenousto say that (crabs in a barrel effect) == implicit conversation should not be continued, when my entire point is that Amanda-fucking-gate is derailing everything to stupid emotionalism and empty PC-talk that gets mocked by Charlie Huston in his books. To insist on a desire that the conversation be on point and headed somewheres instead of being stuck in cyclic recycling of points is not shutting anybody up.

    Next, I’ll leave the squashed stuff to squash if it deigns to show up. However, my good works point is largely about people who want “available victims”, and not really about people who desire to actually think about who and how and what happens and why it happens. My feeling is that it’s not so much that what Amanda did or didn’t do is such a petty point to worry your pretty little heads over, but that the underlying issues that surround Amanda…surrounds her. She is culpable for her actions, but what I see is a mob mentality that has an icon of Amanda that includes things she didn’t do, that she ultimately isn’t responsible for (the audience is, but that flies over their heads), and asks for compensatory actions that are contradictory and sometimes unfair. I can’t help but seeing this as a power game that has little to do with original point(s).

  131. shah8
    shah8 April 26, 2008 at 9:47 pm |

    I enjoyed ProfBW’s post, Ico.

    I would add that it’s almost certain that Seal is blowing smoke up the ass. Like I said before, the images are not accidental. I repeat my assertion that the book publishing business is blatantly racist when it comes to images on and in books (people impulse buy based on images), because their aggregate normative and mainstream customer model assumes that the average customer is racist (which is true, given the permeation of racism in society). I do not know the particulars of Amanda’s contact with Seal publishing, but I can buy Amanda either not knowing, or not really seeing the internal page prints for what they were at a glance (much as Jill and others has apologized for).

  132. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm |

    I’m not being disingenuous. (Beats me how you can assess “disingenuous” in a comment thread, but whatever). I really am just being sincere. I also tried not be nasty.

    My point was this: that with regard to this…

    To insist on a desire that the conversation be on point and headed somewheres instead of being stuck in cyclic recycling of points is not shutting anybody up.

    …I think this thread is on point right now, that the conversation is heading somewhere, and so in my opinion the only rehashing was in your comment. Which is fine, and I apologize if I misread or misunderstood it. And I’m not going to engage with it any further. You are entitled to think what you want about the way the conversation’s going. But I wouldn’t want any continued disagreement between us about what the current state of the conversation IS to derail the actual conversation, so why don’t we just let it go?

  133. shah8
    shah8 April 26, 2008 at 10:44 pm |

    /me reads punkrockhockeymom

    …thinks through the language used

    …cocks eyebrow

    Very well, madam, I shall let it go. Enjoy yourself.

    /me leaves thread

  134. Chet
    Chet April 26, 2008 at 10:47 pm |

    She apologizes for using racist imagery and not noticing it, but says nothing to acknowledge the pain people are in because of this.

    Maybe because it’s not worth acknowledging. If you’re in pain because of corny images in a book by someone on the internet you don’t even know, that they didn’t choose to put in there, then you’ve simply worked yourself up into a painful outrage on purpose, because you’re one of the many unfortunate human beings who has become addicted to righteous indignation and victimhood.

    And I, for one, don’t think such people need to be encouraged, or even acknowledged. They should be shunned and ignored. If that’s all it takes to deeply, deeply wound you, there’s something profoundly wrong and fragile about you, and I wonder, truly, how you’re able to function in society. If you read these words and feel marginalized, then good – you should be marginalized. Not for your race – never anybody for their race – but because you’ve chosen to build your identity, your self-esteem, your emotional center in a way that cannot help but be an obstacle to social justice and equality.

    I’ll come right out and say it – I am trying to shut down the conversation, because it’s an inherently illegitimate one, and it’s a distraction from real racism – not just a distraction, but an actual negative influence, rolling back the gains of social justice in both the racial and sexual arenas. A great many people involved in this “manufactroversy” should be ashamed of themselves.

  135. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 26, 2008 at 11:35 pm |

    Pray tell, what is real racism?

  136. Ico
    Ico April 26, 2008 at 11:50 pm |

    Okay, so ignoring Chet, can we get back to talking about how to make “mainstream” feminism less exclusionary? I like Charity’s idea of dialogue in some kind of meeting about this (I have NO idea, though, how one would go about arranging that). The problem is, for a dialogue to take place, there has to be a safe space for it to occur in.

    Right now, as I understand it, mainstream feminist blogs are not safe spaces for WOC.

    Also, it’s been clear in some threads (both recent and in the past) that the voices of WOC have been ignored in conversation, with white people only answering other white people.

    So how do we make these spaces safe, and keep them safe, so that WOC can comment without being attacked? I’m asking this as someone who is not a blogger (not really, anyway), and… well, a big part of the problem with the whole LISTENING idea seems to be that we keep driving people away. So what are the solutions?

    Just sort of thinking aloud here…

  137. Vail
    Vail April 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm |

    I have an idea. It might be stupid, but here goes (and if anyone else has suggested this I didn’t know). How about Feministe picks one topic.. say Immigration. Then everyone posts links/books/newspaper articles that they find on that subject… and try to find as many as possible, from as many points of view as possible. Then we all try to read as many as we can then discuss it sort of like an on line book group? That way we gather up things in one area, and open it up to all to post their thoughts and feelings. That way we all have to do something (some research or reading) and we can all feel like we’re contributing to a greater understanding. Maybe a monthly type deal, to give everyone time to find/post things?

  138. plain(s)feminist
    plain(s)feminist April 27, 2008 at 12:05 am |

    I’m hesitant to add to thread derailing, but I’m gonna do it enough just to say this:
    Belledame’s trademark is tell people to “fuck off” no matter how gently they disagree with her. I’m sorry, but that is bullying.

    I have disagreed with her on several occasions, and she has never once told me to fuck off. “Gently” – I do not think this word means what you think it means.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  139. On shutting up | season of the bitch
    On shutting up | season of the bitch April 27, 2008 at 12:06 am |

    […] comment someone made over at this thread has me thinking about when it’s time to shut up and when it’s time to speak […]

  140. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 27, 2008 at 12:07 am |

    It’s whatever I think counts as racism. Duh.

    That’s ridiculous. You’re not Chet!

  141. Charity
    Charity April 27, 2008 at 12:20 am |

    Ico, I agree it might not work on any existing spaces – I guess I had in mind a new, agreed-upon and mutually chosen / crafted kind of space. I also have no idea how to go about something like that, or how the details would work.

    Vail, while I like your suggestions about sharing information and links, and building a community with people contributing like that, I’m wondering if the dialogue that needs to take place first concerns acknowledging the damage that’s been done and how to start rectifying that damage (rather than having it be topic-driven). Does that make sense?

  142. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 12:25 am |

    Sorry about addressing Chet, there. The statement was so outrageous I couldn’t resist. :(

    I’d like to see issues that affect women of color addressed more often, and even people of color. These issues are feminist issues (and if they’re not, we might as well explicitly label feminism as “the white women’s movement” so those of us who care about more than that can move over to the “all women’s movement”).

    And when white feminists address racial issues, I’d like to see them explicitly acknowledge the women (and men) of color who have already covered this ground, even if they personally didn’t draw from those particular people. It broadens the conversation and brings more voices in. It shows true solidarity.

    I’d like to see less defensiveness around the idea of racism. We don’t hesitate to call men on their privileged antics when they try to pull them, but some of us yell bloody murder when called on our own privilege (not just white privilege, either). If you’re called out for racism, it’s not because someone’s trying to destroy you – it’s probably because they’re asking you to be a better ally – to a point, anyway. A repeated pattern of racist behavior will reduce assumptions of goodwill rather effectively.

    Just a few thoughts.

  143. Vail
    Vail April 27, 2008 at 12:35 am |

    Vail, while I like your suggestions about sharing information and links, and building a community with people contributing like that, I’m wondering if the dialogue that needs to take place first concerns acknowledging the damage that’s been done and how to start rectifying that damage (rather than having it be topic-driven). Does that make sense?

    Not really. I’m pretty new to Feminism so I’m rather dumb about it. I just see that a lot of people are mad because their voices aren’t being heard (a great simplification I know), and this might be a way to fix that. I don’t know if dwelling on what went wrong will help at this point, as we all know we need to :

    a) Go the extra mile.
    b) Listen more.
    c) Try to expand our reading/blogging etc to include views of things out of our comfort zone.
    d) apologize if you screw up.
    e) and remember to look at ourselves, and remember where we’re coming from, which might be a position of privilege.

    I don’t think anything we say (we as in the white feminists) will bring back the people who have left. Words at this point I think are meaningless to them. I think if we DO something, say “here we listened and we’re trying” is a better way to mend some fences. I know in my life if someone hurts me a lot over time, words don’t interest me. Action does. But that’s me, so I don’t know.

  144. Christine
    Christine April 27, 2008 at 12:35 am |

    I am trying to shut down the conversation

    And yet you’re failing so MISERABLY. How does it make you feel, Chet?

  145. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 12:38 am |

    Also: When women of color speak, respond to them. Don’t ignore them or gloss over them, or only respond to white women – Blackamazon’s comment in another thread here was completely glossed over.

    She gets cited by other blogs without being named (or even linked), her words are twisted and used against her.

    BA’s not the only woman this happens to, how she’s been treated is simply the first example that comes to mind.

    If you can engage a white woman, read what she has to say, respond to it, you can do the same with women of color. It’s not necessary to accuse them of being oversensitive, of engaging best in negative discourse, of being mean, of being reverse racists, of … well, take any of the laundry list of ways to shut down people of color and don’t do them.

    Mostly, don’t ignore them or gloss over what they have to say.

    And, of course, this is stuff that has to happen now, not tomorrow, not some distant day, but now.

  146. Ico
    Ico April 27, 2008 at 12:52 am |

    I’d like to see issues that affect women of color addressed more often, and even people of color. These issues are feminist issues (and if they’re not, we might as well explicitly label feminism as “the white women’s movement” so those of us who care about more than that can move over to the “all women’s movement”).

    YES. And pretty much yes to everything you said, but I like this a lot because it seems very practical.

    If you can engage a white woman, read what she has to say, respond to it, you can do the same with women of color. It’s not necessary to accuse them of being oversensitive, of engaging best in negative discourse, of being mean, of being reverse racists, of … well, take any of the laundry list of ways to shut down people of color and don’t do them.

    And I think, honestly, that this is up to blog moderators as much as anyone else. Part of what makes certain blogs safe is the fact that comments that shut people down get addressed promptly by those running the blog. Feministe is a lot better than many other places, but still look what happened to Littlem. And you are right about BA…

  147. laura
    laura April 27, 2008 at 12:57 am |

    So how do we make these spaces safe, and keep them safe, so that WOC can comment without being attacked?

    Same way you create any safe space–heavy moderation. Perhaps an institution of rule in which one comment is allowed to slide, with an explanation of -exactly- why that comment is racist, exclusionary and so on, so that people who are not getting it have a chance to see what racism is, then all comments like that are excluded. I saw someone do something similar on their blog, in which they were obviously very frustrated, but said, I’m going to give you benefit of a doubt, assume you aren’t purposely doing this, but you are speaking from a point of privilege, this is how you are doing so, and this is why it is bad. Any comments similar to that one will not get past moderation.

    Since we are obviously not capable of self-reflection/control, someone will have to do it for us.

  148. Chet
    Chet April 27, 2008 at 1:04 am |

    Pray tell, what is real racism?

    For instance – five NY policemen, unprovoked, open fire on three unarmed black men in their car, firing more than 50 shots and pausing to reload halfway through, and then walk away, scot-free.

    That’s actual racism. This shit is manufactured outrage, promoted in bad faith. Images in a book? Devoid of racial context? In a book the majority of you aren’t even going to read? Come the fuck on. I can understand being dismayed – because that was my own reaction – but actually hurt? Actually in pain? Come the fuck on. What the hell is wrong with you?

    The problem is, for a dialogue to take place, there has to be a safe space for it to occur in.

    That’s part of the problem, right there – the insistence on “safe spaces.” Until you’re capable of having the discussion in unsafe spaces – spaces where you’re actually exposed to people not immediately inclined to overlook faulty argumentation and specious claims, people not immediately inclined to give premises and evidence a pass, unexamined – real discussion is impossible. In a “safe space”, the only person you can talk to is someone just like yourself. Only monologue is possible in a “safe space.”

    And yet you’re failing so MISERABLY. How does it make you feel, Chet?

    I’ll get over it, somehow. Unlike a lot of you, my personal self-image isn’t wrapped up in what people I don’t know on the internet have to say about me, or in the pictures they print in their books. It’s liberating. I suggest you try it.

    It’s not necessary to accuse them of being oversensitive, of engaging best in negative discourse, of being mean, of being reverse racists, of … well, take any of the laundry list of ways to shut down people of color and don’t do them.

    Oh, I suspect very strongly that the people to whose behavior I have been referring are, almost to a person, white. Almost all of the outrage manufactured on this issue has been outrage in another’s stead.

  149. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 1:09 am |

    Yes, on what happened to Littlem. :(

  150. links i love « Molecular Shyness
    links i love « Molecular Shyness April 27, 2008 at 1:58 am |

    […] Jill: On Those Pictures and On Privilege (and on owning your own skanky race […]

  151. belledame222
    belledame222 April 27, 2008 at 2:24 am |

    PF: you missed the subliminal part.

  152. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea April 27, 2008 at 2:42 am |

    There’s something that bothers me here, though I’ll admit I’m really guilty of it too, plus I’m very new at this. But it’s the assumption that feminism is white women’s space in the first place, and we “need to remember” to include women of color in it. As opposed to making a fundamental change to the fact that it is considered white women’s space at all.

    I realize some of this is addressing the practical fact that people act like it’s white women’s space and perceive it as such (for better or worse) and I know there are white women (me, I hope) who honestly want to make change.

    It’s just that I think there needs to be a whole rethinking of the idea that WOC can be “included” or “listened to” in something that needs to belong to everyone in the first place. I hope this makes some sense.

  153. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea April 27, 2008 at 2:44 am |

    perceive it as such (for better or worse)

    To clarify, I mean people may perceive it as such because they want to make positive change and break that down, or they may be riding on the privelege. I don’t mean it could be a good thing.

  154. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 3:10 am |

    Rosehiptea, I agree with this. I think I’ve probably even framed it that way in this thread, which is a thoughtless mistake. I don’t think a feminist space should be a white women’s space, either by assumption or default.

  155. Radfem
    Radfem April 27, 2008 at 3:16 am |

    No, rosehiptea, I think you raise good points. And “mainstream feminism” doesn’t have nearly as much to offer many women as it and its proponants think it does.

    Discussions on issues are good. But one person’s links and articles might be another person’s life and/or life’s workand I think one of the problems with feminism is that there’s a clash between the two and feminism shares the same inequalities that are present in society, many of the same dynamics including in discourse. It’s like with feminists discuss feminism with men who are anti-feminist or even feminist supporting and the men lay down the rules of what’s considered discussion and proper “civility” and downplay the feminists’ experiences in favor of their “research” which often is as much appropriated as when White feminists do it with work by women of color. Yet, we don’t look at our own experiences with that and transfer it into better understanding so that it impacts how we conduct discussions as much as we should. We often do the same things.

    And for many women, issues like immigration aren’t issues of the month, even within them there are so many issues. More issues than I realized until I read blogs like bfp’s for example. And many issues aren’t discrete within themselves but tie into other issues.

  156. RyanRutley
    RyanRutley April 27, 2008 at 4:08 am |

    I know I’m late to the party, but for what it’s worth…

    I’ve been processing the events particularly of the last few days, with BA (And Sylvia?) joining BFP in exile, and the (somewhat justified) hand-wringing over all the women of colour drifting out of self-identified Feminism as a result of persistent bullshit like we’ve seen the last few weeks.

    And I’m ok with it. Ultimately, when I think of what’s most important in making this world a better place, it’s about the work getting done. We don’t get BFP’s brilliance, or BA’s biting insight, or Sylvia’s style (which I’m not familiar with), but they’re still intelligent strong women, they’re still going to do good things and inspire the people around them. The world will still be a better place as a result of who and how they are.

    “Feminism” isn’t important. Seeing the change in our world that people want when they adopt the “feminist” badge _is_ important. I would rather see “feminism” dissolve, leaving loving, caring people doing good work for make this world happier and safer for women (and people of colour, and trans people, and queer people, and people with physical and mental challenges, and whatever), than to see “feminism” continue as a shell of its previous potential and have the work go undone.

    I think what I’m saying is that, whether they claim the label or not, the feminists expressing distaste for feminism, and withdrawing from it, are my kind of feminists, and all that’s important to me is seeing the work get done.

    (I know that I’ve, somewhere along the line, gotten withdrawing from blogging confused with withdrawing from feminism, and some of my examples may not make any sense. I apologize for my confusion.)

  157. kiki
    kiki April 27, 2008 at 5:45 am |

    Which is why the whole Amanda Marcotte fracas is, indeed, about her having a big blog, and a book deal and a bunch of people don’t and it bugs them…

    There’s just too much “Mean Girls” crap mixed in with all the serious stuff.

    Are you in middle school? OMG! You’re just like totally jealous and stuff! You’re just bugged cause she’s like totally popular and you’re just like…not.

    This whole thing really annoys me. I think that Amanda is way bigger in her own mind and that of her toadies than she is in any kind of objective reality. Yes, she’s a blogger with a big audience but so are a ton of others. She got a vanity press book deal. So do tons of others and yet they are not the focus of ire. Could it be something particular to her handling of this situation? Nah.

    I just don’t get it except that it’s a middle school mentality that says if someone has a problem with you…they’re just a hater. You’re mommy even said so. They’re just jealous of you, dear.

    And let me add, as someone whose dark skinned eleven year old daughter must now endure the endless bullshit of popular white girls that “mean girl” behavior is about POWER and the ones that wield that power are for the most part white and wealthy and their privilege guarantees that they are above the rules.

    So, like if you’re totally wanting to deal with serious stuff and you’re way tired of mean girl crap then like totally look at who the mean girls really are and stuff stop being such a hater.

  158. kiki
    kiki April 27, 2008 at 6:16 am |

    about her having a big blog, and a book deal

    Sorry for the double post but believe it or not…not everyone wants a big blog or a book deal…how do explain our participation?

  159. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 8:04 am |

    Shah8, if you’re still here: I don’t understand why on earth you would think I was asking you or wanting you to leave the thread? I was just trying not to get in a side fight about what the conversation is or is not about. I was trying not to rise to the bait myself.

    **headdesk**

  160. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 8:26 am |

    Radfem:

    It’s like with feminists discuss feminism with men who are anti-feminist or even feminist supporting and the men lay down the rules of what’s considered discussion and proper “civility” and downplay the feminists’ experiences in favor of their “research” which often is as much appropriated as when White feminists do it with work by women of color. Yet, we don’t look at our own experiences with that and transfer it into better understanding so that it impacts how we conduct discussions as much as we should. We often do the same things.

    I think that’s exactly right.

    And there are issues we don’t even SEE the same way when our experiences differ. I think that support or non-support of the VAWA is maybe an example…mainstream feminism has several factions (not all of them, but many or most) that are working toward more on the books protection and/or more enlightened works in practicality protection from law enforcement for intimate violence. And coming from one framework of experience, it seems necessary, and laudable, and effective.

    And yet I SKIMMED (yep, just skimmed, couldn’t find them again now if I tried, which I regret), blogposts by WOC arguing that advocating for more police protection on the books frequently in many communities is experienced as just giving the state-sponsored violence folks more reason to come in to their communities, and that’s not experienced as protective, but dangerous.

    I know a lot of people who would say, “Yeah, yeah, but let’s just get the protections in place, and we’ll deal witht he state-sponsored violence later.” OR, “Yes, but what about the women who need that protection? State-sponsored violence against (primarily) brown men isn’t a feminist issue. My work doesn’t address it.”

    Hell, I might have said that, without even bothering to give it any real analytical time in my head. Without REALLY listening.

    And it may be that there might still be disagreement. Hell, I DISAGREE with white feminists about the best way to deal with things every day. But I typically, I think, pay more attention and analyze more when the very fact of it being a “feminist” issue is right there in my head.

    Maybe we still come out differently about VAWA, maybe we don’t. But serious engagement is important, and an effort to understand that privilege flavors our reactions, flavors our agenda, and is what gives us the power to define the agenda is absolutely necessary.

    Rosehiptea: I think you’re right about the framing of the issue, too. I have done the same thing, in both of these threads…How I can help to make feminism more “inclusive” to others. Which I’ve since translated for myself as how I can help to make white feminism more inclusive of other women of color. Which, of course, I have the power to do because I can define feminism, and include WOC as an addendum.

    When you look at yourself in a bright light, it isn’t comfortable.

    UPDATE: Yay, google-fu! I found a link for an article discussing the VAWA issue. It’s a pdf, so be warned.

  161. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 8:35 am |

    Gah! So, I drafted a comment…and then I tried to post it…and it doesn’t say it’s in moderation or anything, it just disappeared.

    So I thought maybe I didn’t post it after all…so I hit submit again…and then WordPress said I already posted it.

    Anyway…it ain’t all that and a bag of chips, but if it does eventually appear here TWICE, I apologize. And if it doesn’t appear at all, well, I emailed the content to myself and I’ll do something with it when I get to the office.

  162. Charity
    Charity April 27, 2008 at 9:34 am |

    Vail, what Radfem said.

  163. Vail
    Vail April 27, 2008 at 9:59 am |

    My idea might not be ideal, but it’s a start right? And if by reading on one issue other issues are brought to light then it’s a good thing right? I mean WOC might have one view of Immigration (for example) and someone who is transgendered might have another. By bringing those thoughts together, I think, doesn’t lessen them, but elevates them all to public view. We’re not taking away from someone’s life work, we’re giving them another stage to sing in. We do not own the ideas, or take them away, but can learn to sing in harmony. No method will be perfect, but at least trying means we care enough to fail. To take a chance.

  164. Miss Nomered
    Miss Nomered April 27, 2008 at 10:13 am |

    Aargh. I feel like I should say something about this, but everyone else has pretty much said what I was thinking.

    The situation is fucked up.

  165. EG
    EG April 27, 2008 at 10:22 am |

    She got a vanity press book deal.

    Seal is not a vanity press. Seal is a small press. There’s a big difference.

  166. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 10:45 am |

    Oh look. I’m glad I didn’t try again! :)

  167. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 10:49 am |

    For instance – five NY policemen, unprovoked, open fire on three unarmed black men in their car, firing more than 50 shots and pausing to reload halfway through, and then walk away, scot-free.

    That’s actual racism. This shit is manufactured outrage, promoted in bad faith. Images in a book? Devoid of racial context? In a book the majority of you aren’t even going to read? Come the fuck on. I can understand being dismayed – because that was my own reaction – but actually hurt? Actually in pain? Come the fuck on. What the hell is wrong with you?

    So racism only counts if someone dies from it? If someone is bleeding on the ground?

    I certainly agree with you that this is indeed racism, and it’s disgusting and vile and beyond the pale that it even happens. But racism is more than that, more pervasive than that, and the fact is that it happens on every level of society, and dealing with this does not take away from dealing with that.

    This is a false dilemma.

  168. Kristin
    Kristin April 27, 2008 at 10:51 am |

    There’s something that bothers me here, though I’ll admit I’m really guilty of it too, plus I’m very new at this. But it’s the assumption that feminism is white women’s space in the first place, and we “need to remember” to include women of color in it. As opposed to making a fundamental change to the fact that it is considered white women’s space at all.

    Rosehiptea: This bothers me too. Glad you pointed it out. This notion that we need to “remember” WOC is paternalistic. I’m glad to see that others heard you on this point too.

  169. Kristin
    Kristin April 27, 2008 at 10:58 am |

    I think what I’m saying is that, whether they claim the label or not, the feminists expressing distaste for feminism, and withdrawing from it, are my kind of feminists, and all that’s important to me is seeing the work get done.

    Me too.

  170. Kristin
    Kristin April 27, 2008 at 11:00 am |

    Not sure if my comment went through, so I just wanted to say that I second what Rosehiptea said above about “including” WOC. Seems paternalistic. I’m glad so many of you heard this point.

  171. Kristin
    Kristin April 27, 2008 at 11:01 am |

    So racism only counts if someone dies from it? If someone is bleeding on the ground?

    Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.

  172. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 11:04 am |

    Lisa #170. You’re right.

    And our casual acceptance of casual racism and exercise of white privilege and dismissal is part of the same problem that leads to that sort of violence, and leads to people not caring about state-sanctioned violence against people of color, because they simply don’t see any racism in it. It wouldn’t be very hard to round up a bunch of arguments from the overtly racist on the internet claiming that there was nothing racist about that shooting. Just like it’s not very hard to find a lot of arguments that there is nothing sexist about intimate violence.

    It’s not a difference in kind. It’s a difference of degree and level of tragedy in the result.

  173. laurab
    laurab April 27, 2008 at 11:18 am |

    Vail says:
    April 26th, 2008 at 11:58 pm – Edit
    I have an idea. It might be stupid, but here goes (and if anyone else has suggested this I didn’t know). How about Feministe picks one topic.. say Immigration. Then everyone posts links/books/newspaper articles that they find on that subject… and try to find as many as possible, from as many points of view as possible. Then we all try to read as many as we can then discuss it sort of like an on line book group? That way we gather up things in one area, and open it up to all to post their thoughts and feelings. That way we all have to do something (some research or reading) and we can all feel like we’re contributing to a greater understanding. Maybe a monthly type deal, to give everyone time to find/post things?

    You know, as I was reading this, I was thinking, “this calls for a book club.” : ) But if we do it, we should start slow, I think — not “as many articles as possible” but just one book, or a series of articles (4-5). Otherwise you’re pretty much asking for each person to read a different set of selections and then confusion reigns because everyone’s read different stuff.

    Of course, every other book club I’ve been in has disintegrated into a drinking club… but maybe that wouldn’t happen if said book club met online instead of, um, in a bar.

    Anyone else interested?

  174. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 11:21 am |

    Of course, every other book club I’ve been in has disintegrated into a drinking club… but maybe that wouldn’t happen if said book club met online instead of, um, in a bar.

    That just cracked me right the hell up.

  175. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 11:22 am |

    Oh! And yeah, I’m interested.

  176. Chet
    Chet April 27, 2008 at 11:26 am |

    So racism only counts if someone dies from it? If someone is bleeding on the ground?

    No. But something is not simply “racist” just because someone asserts that it is. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the only legitimate interpretation of these images, or of their appearance in a book, is the racist interpretation.

    If you have to be doing literary criticism to “detect” the racism, if you can simply flip over it without noticing until someone tells you to look and bullies you into accepting their interpretation, then you’re at least several steps removed from actual racism.

    Hundreds of people, so far, looked over those images and did not perceive them as racist – including persons of color – until there was significant community outrage. While that may indicate a level of privilege going on, another legitimate interpretation is that this is a manufactured controversy, whipped up in bad faith by bullies who have something to gain by being considered “victims.” Certainly the enormous outrage directed at those who have attempted to stand up for Amanda supports this alternate view.

    But racism is more than that, more pervasive than that, and the fact is that it happens on every level of society, and dealing with this does not take away from dealing with that.

    Absolutely wrong. The circular firing squad does prevent us from dealing with that. It took a whole day before significant blog attention developed on the Sean Bell ruling; Pandagon still hasn’t mentioned it. Why on Earth would they? If a slight miscue with some campy illustrations have prompted this level of punishment, God only knows what the trauma-culture bullies would do if a white woman commented on an issue of real racism.

    Pictures in a book are a distraction. Worse than that, they’ve been made into an excuse, a flimsy pretense for bullies – most of them white – to cloak themselves in the addictive mantle of righteous victimhood, especially on another’s behalf.

    And our casual acceptance of casual racism and exercise of white privilege and dismissal is part of the same problem that leads to that sort of violence

    No. Completely wrong. Racism persists in our culture not because of “picaninny” natives in campy books, not because of black families in KFC commercials, but because the coercive machinery of the state has not been brought to bear on racism.

    And why would it have been? The people who are so ostensibly concerned about racism are too busy eating their own, parsing every single blog post for ideological purity, and burning piles of literature for the crime of “privilege.” No success of social justice has ever come from such insular nonsense, but it’s a great way to assuage one’s guilt, I hear.

  177. Chet
    Chet April 27, 2008 at 11:28 am |

    You know, as I was reading this, I was thinking, “this calls for a book club.”

    Christ, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    How about instead of the indolent wankery of a “book club”, you start a political action committee?

    Just a thought.

  178. Chet
    Chet April 27, 2008 at 11:33 am |

    Or a community group. Or a scholarship. Or a food bank. Or any one of a dozen ways you could help the community, instead of trying to “improve yourself” or “understand others” or “raise awareness” or other such nonsense white people do to make themselves feel like they’re accomplishing something.

  179. laurab
    laurab April 27, 2008 at 11:37 am |

    punkrockhockeymom says:
    April 27th, 2008 at 11:21 am – Edit
    Of course, every other book club I’ve been in has disintegrated into a drinking club… but maybe that wouldn’t happen if said book club met online instead of, um, in a bar.

    That just cracked me right the hell up.

    Yeah… the bartenders thought it was pretty hilarious, as well. We’d all show up, order drinks, put our copies of the book on the table… and then, after a few awkward stabs at conversation, it’d come out that only 2 or 3 of us had actually read the entire book.

    But I can do better, I promise! Just don’t tempt me with demon rum.

  180. Vail
    Vail April 27, 2008 at 11:40 am |

    The only problem with a book club, is that people have made the point that WOC haven’t been published that much. I would still like to do a book club, but the idea of linking to people who’ve done the work, deserve the credit, and frankly (I think) need to have more stages to show off their songs. Books tend to distill ideas into a solo (one point of view), but if we have the different voices we end up with a harmony. We could do both, maybe one complimenting the other.

    (Sorry for all the music metaphors).

  181. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm |

    I have been planning to buy this anthology:

    INCITE Anthology: Women of Color Against Violence

    I don’t know if anyone has heard anything about the essays. But anthologies are great because there would be more than one perspective.

  182. Entomologista
    Entomologista April 27, 2008 at 12:08 pm |

    That dead horse? Yeah, it’s pretty much just mush by now.

  183. Radfem
    Radfem April 27, 2008 at 12:09 pm |

    Women of color have multiple views on immigration, like Whites do. And there’s often intersections with transgenders which would shape views as well. As for sources, there’s lots of blogs addressing issues including those pertaining to immigration. Some of the best ones are as you know if you’ve read these threads currently off-line.

    I’ve framed it as an issue of inclusiveness and am still constantly checking myself on that one. And I’m not even a feminist.

    And yet I SKIMMED (yep, just skimmed, couldn’t find them again now if I tried, which I regret), blogposts by WOC arguing that advocating for more police protection on the books frequently in many communities is experienced as just giving the state-sponsored violence folks more reason to come in to their communities, and that’s not experienced as protective, but dangerous.

    I know a lot of people who would say, “Yeah, yeah, but let’s just get the protections in place, and we’ll deal witht he state-sponsored violence later.” OR, “Yes, but what about the women who need that protection? State-sponsored violence against (primarily) brown men isn’t a feminist issue. My work doesn’t address it.”

    They go hand in hand and that’s definitely true for women because they’re impacted heavily by policing as well. Protection from crime and protection from state violence are major concerns for many women. Take Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old Black woman in Atlanta who lived in her home and didn’t leave it much. There was a lot of violence and drug dealing in her neighborhood. Her family worried about her safety provided her with an old 38 handgun. I think they believed that if she ever used it against anyone, it might be someone who broke into her home intending harm on her, because she was an elderly woman living alone.

    But a group of men did break into her house. They were narcotic officers from Atlanta’s police department who had spent their day doing the following:

    They had found marijuana unattended and placed the baggies in the trunk of their unmarked car. They drove around with the marijuana until they found an informant who dealt drugs. They threatened to plant the marijuana on him and bust him if he didn’t give them a drug house. The informant under threat of arrest pointed out Johnston’s house. The officers then called up at least three informants to do a buy there. None could come, so they decided to manufacture a warrant. They did that lying that they’d surveiled the house for a while and witnessed dealing. The judge signed it. They took it back to Johnston’s house. They tried to pry off her security bars on her windows first then they did what’s called a “no knock”, breaking in her door.

    At some point, Johnston with her handgun fired one and only one shot which went upward and lodged in the eave of her doorway. It’s not clear if the door was fully open at that point. The officers fired many times at Johnston, hitting her six times. She bled to death handcuffed on her own floor while officers searched for drugs. They didn’t find any so they did the next best thing. They planted drugs in her basement.

    The police spokespeople lied about witnessing drug buys at Johnston’s house but they knew early on they were screwed. If they’d shot a Black man with a gun, maybe no one would take a second look especially if they planted drugs but Johnston’s age worked for her after her death in a way it didn’t during her life. It brought serious attention. In the rarest of outcomes in cases like this one, two plead guilty to federal charges and a third is on trial this week.

    So her family worries for her safety because she’s an elderly woman living alone in a neighborhood with high crime and gives her a gun, but what kills her is not a drug dealer or a gang member but police officers who are policing her neighborhood allegedly to make her safer though it’s clear that’s not what they were doing in Atlanta as is the case in other cities as well. And speaking of gun ownership, did the NRA rally behind Johnston’s “right” to bear arms? Hell no, despite its rhetoric, gun possession and ownership is for Whites only.

    Incidently, she wasn’t the only elderly Black woman in Atlanta who had police officers break into her home. Frances Thompson, who is 80, was nearly shot by police while she was in her bedroom two months before Johnston.

    In all the excuses White feminists often use to avoid the issue of addressing violence by the state in communities of color, their favorite is that it’s a racial issue, it’s about protecting Black men, Latino men, etc. of course conveniently forgeting that as has been said here, it’s often the women in the families who take the lead in fighting for justice. But there are women who are victims of police shootings as well as other misconduct. Where’s the concern that these two women in Atlanta feel safe in their homes from violence whether it’s on the street or from the police? They won’t be safer and won’t feel safer until there’s more focus on the different kinds of violence. And that’s been a big discussion among women I know addressing these issues. White feminists often see them as a contradiction and focus on one, but they’re not, they’re interrelated.

    Whether or not White feminists focus on addressing state violence or not, they shouldn’t downplay it as not being a feminist issue in my opinion.

    Views about law enforcement in communities of color differ as well. I’ve found that what’s consistant is that the residents in my region is that they want police to be responsive to what they want and their expectations of policing instead of having the police dictate how their communities will be policed in ways that are intended really to protect White people, including those who move into neighborhoods which are predominantly Black and/or Latino as part of gentrification which of course, brings even more police to protect them and their homes. I don’t know if this is similar to what is happening in other places. They want to feel safe in their neighborhoods but not have to add the police as another entity which makes them feel unsafe.

    Response times to crimes or calls for service in Black and/or Latino communities is always poor. In many cases, women of color for example aren’t considered victims including of rape. If their loved ones are missing, they want the same attention by law enforcement to their families as is given Whites. It’s harder to get rape kits done. Women of color who report rapes have often been criminalized.

    What I’ve heard a lot is about wanting to be protected and served not policed. More preventive/ intervention programs for gangs and family violence. Dealing with root causes including racism.

  184. laurab
    laurab April 27, 2008 at 12:18 pm |

    Vail says:
    April 27th, 2008 at 11:40 am – Edit
    The only problem with a book club, is that people have made the point that WOC haven’t been published that much. I would still like to do a book club, but the idea of linking to people who’ve done the work, deserve the credit, and frankly (I think) need to have more stages to show off their songs. Books tend to distill ideas into a solo (one point of view), but if we have the different voices we end up with a harmony. We could do both, maybe one complimenting the other.

    Agreed. Maybe we could do a rotating schedule:
    1st item: nonfiction work
    2nd item: collection of 5-6 articles or blog posts, etc, on a linked theme
    3rd item: fiction work

    or something like that. While I agree about the imbalance in who gets published, I also think it’s important to support those authors who have been published, and those publishers that are publishing those authors. Does that make sense?

    I would also suggest that every so often (maybe not 1/3 of the time, as above, but now and again) we read a novel or short story collection instead of a nonfiction book… just to break things up a bit, you know?

    punkrockhockeymom says:
    April 27th, 2008 at 12:02 pm – Edit
    I have been planning to buy this anthology:

    INCITE Anthology: Women of Color Against Violence

    I don’t know if anyone has heard anything about the essays. But anthologies are great because there would be more than one perspective.

    I think that would be a good place to start. I’m of two minds on anthologies: they are good because you get a variety of viewpoints, and also because you can read one essay, put the book down, read another essay…etc. Good for the over-scheduled. But they can be uneven in quality, and the very variety of viewpoints can make for a LOT to discuss. Which is good in that, you know, you’ve been exposed to a lot of viewpoints and you’ve got a lot to discuss, but practically speaking it can be unwieldy. I am, however, willing to be overruled, on either side of my opinion, on this issue.

  185. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm |

    Incite! has a flyer filled with stories like those, Radfem. It was the topic of my first blog post ever. There’s so many stories like that, of women of color alone – before you even touch on the men – who have been shot and killed by police officers, and who didn’t get anything worse than a slap on the wrist for it.

    I can’t find it now, unfortunately, and I linked to BFP’s post, and not directly to the flyer itself.

    Also:

    And there’s often intersections with transgenders which would shape views as well.

    Just speaking for myself, but I always cringe when someone uses “transgenders” as a noun like that. It always makes me feel othered, and set apart from women.

    Monica Roberts writes a lot about the intersections you mention, although she’s not writing from a feminist perspective, strictly speaking (and not that it’s a bad thing that she doesn’t).

  186. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 27, 2008 at 12:26 pm |

    Radfem:

    Thanks for posting that.

  187. littlem
    littlem April 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm |

    For instance – five NY policemen, unprovoked, open fire on three unarmed black men in their car, firing more than 50 shots and pausing to reload halfway through, and then walk away, scot-free.

    That’s actual racism. This shit is manufactured outrage, promoted in bad faith. Images in a book? Devoid of racial context? In a book the majority of you aren’t even going to read? Come the fuck on.

    Chet, even though you’ve decided there is no relationship between what you perceive as trivial and what is “real racism” — because you of course are never influenced by media — Dianne has another point of view you might want to consider.

    *looks around*

    You may want to take a poll first on the speech content, though.

  188. Radfem
    Radfem April 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm |

    For instance – five NY policemen, unprovoked, open fire on three unarmed black men in their car, firing more than 50 shots and pausing to reload halfway through, and then walk away, scot-free.

    That’s actual racism. This shit is manufactured outrage, promoted in bad faith. Images in a book? Devoid of racial context? In a book the majority of you aren’t even going to read? Come the fuck on. I can understand being dismayed – because that was my own reaction – but actually hurt? Actually in pain? Come the fuck on. What the hell is wrong with you?

    No, at least not that rewriting the rules on policing in this country wouldn’t fix

    I agree that the Bell shooting was racism and many people have argued that it isn’t because the officers were Black (which is only partly true, as two were Black, two White, one Latino and the supervisor was White). But that doesn’t really matter and it doesn’t make it any less racist. But I don’t agree that the definition of “real racism” is that narrow.

    But one of the reasons they bothered me when I saw them as strongly as they did, is because they don’t stand alone. They are part of a lot of other shit as you call it that’s happened. Part of a pattern and practice that’s been documented by many women of color for a long time before this thread, here and on other blogs. Some of those female bloggers aren’t with us anymore. To me at least, that’s a bit more than dismaying.

    The other reason is because of your comments about the Sean Bell as being “real racism”. Yeah, it is definitely but it’s not in a vaccuum and other incidents like it don’t exist in vacuums either. And you know what? The racist imagery that was used in this book doesn’t differ much from racist imagery and stereotypes used by police officers including those who are involved in fatal shootings of men and women of color. If it’s not in pictures, cartoons, posters or photos, it’s through comments and jokes. And it’s part of the same system that engages in shootings like Bell’s, Diallo’s and others.

    I’ve talked to relatives who’ve lost loved ones to shootings including in cases where racist banter, jokes and even in one case, a post-shooting celebration of sorts was involved. That type of behavior hurts in its own way as much as the killing.

    Hearing that the original cover used a gorilla on it with the White woman bothered me after the fact. One reason why? Because White police officers in my region have referred to Black men and women as “gorillas”. Stacy Koon of the LAPD was heard on his mobile radio unit making a reference to “Gorillas in the Mist” after dealing with a domestic violence situation involving a Black couple. Koon of course supervised the beating of Rodney King by four LAPD officers in 1991.

    There’s a lot to say on these issues.

    I love the Incite! flyer. I learned about it from bfp’s blog too. I showed it to people here and there was so much interest that I was going to send away for more copies and there’s interest possibly through the local uni of starting a chapter here.

    I’m sorry Lisa for using transgender. Bad choice of words on my part.

    One of my first entries in my blog was on “driving while transgendered”, because this police officer gave a talk to this local community and what he said reminded me of the same speech others gave many a time to African-American leaders on why the department racially profiles. Interesting parallels but just as frustrating dismissiveness, I think. Though that officer wound up reading it when he was in Internal Affairs because the blog got investigated several years ago for some of the not-so-nice comments it attracted from anonymous folks. Never found out what his reaction was. Some of those who were there at the meeting, I think called it “DWT”.

  189. Danakitty
    Danakitty April 27, 2008 at 4:10 pm |

    Hey! The idea for a book club is a really good idea.

    Also, I just started something that I want your (I mean all of you) help, advice, comments, criticisms and whatnot on: The Privilege Project

    I hope to start off small and then grow to be a really comprehensive website that can be an easy reference point for discussions of privilege.

    Everyone is welcome to contribute. Please look through your old (or new) blog posts on the subject, because I’d like to make a list of links about privilege from bloggers of all kinds.

    Let me know what you think of this idea. :)

  190. kiki
    kiki April 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm |

    Has anyone heard if any of the other Seal Press authors have commented on any of this?

  191. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 27, 2008 at 5:19 pm |

    Dana, I’ve got a couple of posts on whiteness up over at my place that might interest you. (Sorry to self-promote and run, but my one-year-old is wandering the apartment, and I have to track her down.)

  192. belledame222
    belledame222 April 27, 2008 at 5:34 pm |

    i like the idea of a book club, fwiw, i’d be on for that.

  193. belledame222
    belledame222 April 27, 2008 at 5:35 pm |

    On law enforcement and what it means for WoC vs. white women, also, this piece by Maegan La Mala at anti-racist parenting:

  194. belledame222
    belledame222 April 27, 2008 at 5:39 pm |

    You know what, Chet? What’s really not helpful? You. Start something that -really works- yourself, then, assuming of course you haven’t already, which hey, given your wisdom you probably have, and let us all know what it is. I’m sure people will pile onto the bandwagon forthwith.

  195. Chet
    Chet April 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm |

    Dianne has another point of view you might want to consider.

    That’s one post, compared to, what, three on Picture-gate? And you people are trying to tell me that this conversation doesn’t draw attention away from other racial issues? Pandagon has yet to mention it at all. The evidence is manifestly against your position.

    The racist imagery that was used in this book doesn’t differ much from racist imagery and stereotypes used by police officers including those who are involved in fatal shootings of men and women of color.

    Oh, come on, really? They thought Sean Bell was a cannibal? They thought he was going to stab them with the bone in his nose? They testified that he was going out to the car to get his spear?

    Come on. I’m sorry to be coarse but that’s the only appropriate response to idiocy – coarse dismissal. This is nothing more than your attempt to convince yourself that piling on Amanda Marcotte accomplishes something legitimate, instead of just a way to waggle your e-peen.

    Some of those female bloggers aren’t with us anymore. To me at least, that’s a bit more than dismaying.

    I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you talking about people who died?

    Because White police officers in my region have referred to Black men and women as “gorillas”.

    So do you boycott the zoo? Do you demand that Damon Albarn change the name of his band? Or do you recognize that it is possible – indeed, common – for a cigar to just be a cigar, as was abundantly the case with Marcotte’s book?

    Is it really the case that people are under an obligation to make every possible concession to someone’s perception of racism, even when that racism is mistakenly apprehended?

    I’m sorry Lisa for using transgender. Bad choice of words on my part.

    Was it? You were in an impossible double-bind, as best I can see. Had you simply referred to “women”, intending that term to be inclusive of both cis- and trans-women, you would have been open to accusations of ignoring transgendered individuals, or promoting their invisibility within feminism. But, then, explicitly mention transgendered women, and some of them feel “othered.”

    It’s an impossible bind. You’re going to offend someone no matter what you say, because they’re going to perceive your words in a different way that you intended. Does it really seem fair to you that, in every single case, you should bear the responsibility for how someone else chooses to interpret your words?

    Really? Every single case? Every single interpretation?

  196. Ico
    Ico April 27, 2008 at 6:04 pm |

    Okay, I know I should be outraged, right? But Chet’s post? Totally cracking me up. Boycott zoos? People who died? It’s such an absurd cross between offensive and st00pid that I can’t stop laughing.

    Srsly. Thanks for that, Chet.

    Oh and folks, sorry for feeding the troll. Carry on the discussion. :D

  197. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 27, 2008 at 6:24 pm |

    Jill, I’ve rewritten the post you commented on in light of your concerns. And I’ll say here what I said over at my place — I’ve been really impressed with what you’ve written on this subject in the last few days.

  198. Astraea
    Astraea April 27, 2008 at 6:35 pm |

    I haven’t had much time to keep up with posts or commenting today, but FWIW I love the book club idea and I’d love to join in something like that. It sounds like a really positive, constructive way to build a community, rather than going into something with the condescending attitude that “we’re” sharing “our” space.

  199. Radfem
    Radfem April 27, 2008 at 6:48 pm |

    Okay, I know I should be outraged, right? But Chet’s post? Totally cracking me up. Boycott zoos? People who died? It’s such an absurd cross between offensive and st00pid that I can’t stop laughing.

    Maybe it’s sleep deprivation, but I just read it and thought, he’s being silly to get attention. And moved on.

  200. Vail
    Vail April 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm |

    Thank you so much for that link Belledame222 to the Anti-Racist Parent. I’m in on the book group too. BTW I can relate to that subway story a (little) bit. Since we adopted our Asian daughter I’ve heard “wasn’t there any white babies you could adopt?” and “How much did she cost you?” and “at least you know she’ll be good at math.” Nothing towards me, except “your such a GOOD person for doing this.” Grrrrrrrrrr

  201. yliza
    yliza April 27, 2008 at 7:06 pm |

    Compare this post to the cesspit that is Pandagon.

    Jill, thank you. For what it’s worth, you have my full support.

    Peace
    yliza

  202. Brenda
    Brenda April 27, 2008 at 7:09 pm |

    Jill, I’ve been mostly offline for a couple of days and I didn’t get a chance to comment with this earlier, but I just wanted to say how much I admire you for writing this.

    My favourite thing was the idea that a lot of this criticism is loving. Holly said something similar in her post and it really stuck with me, the idea that the reason feminist bloggers get hit so hard with these issues is that people feel they’re capable of doing better, of being better.

    Anyway, thank you for using your microphone to say something thoughtful.

  203. laurab
    laurab April 27, 2008 at 7:09 pm |

    Okay, for those who are interested in the book-club-that-will-also-read-shorter-works-from-time-to-time, I think the next step is to create a blog where we can discuss what books to read, how to discuss, etc. Yes? To keep doing it in the comments here would be… unwieldy, at best.

    Also, we need a kickass name. Clearly figuring that out should be at the top of the agenda.

  204. laurab
    laurab April 27, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    okay, folks, let’s move the book club discussion here: http://theasyetunnamedbookclub.blogspot.com/

    I am in no way wedded to blogspot or that name or anything — I just wanted to get a space created.

    Ideas, go!

  205. Ico
    Ico April 27, 2008 at 8:56 pm |

    Not to beat a dead horse, but re: action we can take right now, I’d like to point out again the link to Seal Press’s blog (click on Seal authors’ blogs to get to comments):

    http://www.sealpress.com/blog.php

    Also, the link to ProfBW’s detailed analysis and step-by-step plan for Seal Press:

    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/why-seal-press-is-off-the-syllabus-pt-2/

    She has called for them to do some pretty concrete things, all of which would improve their work tremendously. So far they have not responded to ProfBW. We must keep up the external pressure. Removal of the pictures, while significant, does not by itself cure the problem. Those pics are a symptom of deeper-rooted issues (I mean, look at the stuff that went on over at Blackamazon’s blog. And there was the cover, too).

    IF Seal follows ProfBW’s suggestions I think they will become a very good press. Please write to them, review on Amazon, and join in the girlcott.

    Okay, done repeating myself. ;)

  206. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 9:11 pm |

    Radfem,

    I didn’t mean transgender was a bad word, just… if given a choice between saying “transgenders” and “transgender(ed) people, men and/or women” I’d prefer the latter…although I only speak for myself.

  207. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 27, 2008 at 9:17 pm |

    And also, on the stuff about gorillas: Not surprised, but disgusted. :(

    Ico, yes on all of that. Do what Ico says!

  208. laura
    laura April 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm |

    I have no clue as why people are still engaging chet. That said, I feel the need to comment on this:

    I’m sorry Lisa for using transgender. Bad choice of words on my part.

    Was it? You were in an impossible double-bind, as best I can see. Had you simply referred to “women”, intending that term to be inclusive of both cis- and trans-women, you would have been open to accusations of ignoring transgendered individuals, or promoting their invisibility within feminism. But, then, explicitly mention transgendered women, and some of them feel “othered.”

    She said “transgenders,” very similar to the old phrase “the gays.” Unless I missed something in the last year or so, “transgendered people” is preferred. Thats the whole point, the phrase “transgendered women” or “transgendered men” or any of the other better phrases that recognize the humanity of people was -not- used. There -are- differences of opinions as to whether or not people what to be considered ‘transgender’ or simple a certain gender, but there are ways to be inclusive of people who want to be ID’d trans without being isolating others. But you know, thats what this is about, isn’t it? The subtle use of othering language and imagery that you just don’t want to see.

    Gah! okay. thats it.

  209. laura
    laura April 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm |

    mmm, sorry, that took me too long to respond, apparently

  210. Margalis
    Margalis April 27, 2008 at 11:13 pm |

    It’s clear that nothing is going to come of this. None of the “big bloggers” and “white feminists” that are part of the problem have pledged to do anything concrete and measurable, and nobody has been able to name a single “white feminist” other than Amanda who is part of the problem.

    Let’s do it again in 3 or 4 months?

  211. Hugo
    Hugo April 28, 2008 at 12:33 am |

    Margalis, I am part of the problem, very much so. And I’m working very hard to try and change the way I write, not merely in terms of improving my style, but in writing from a perspective that doesn’t take white privilege for granted. Ignorance is initially intentional, but if you keep getting called out on something, you realize that ignorance is, after a while, a choice.

    Being better about linking and citing is ONE small thing we can do, that I intend to do.

  212. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 12:36 am |

    But do you get the whole scapegoat aspect? Not you yourself, just the furor.

    It’s like the whole church thing, where it’s all aknowledged that everyone’s a sinner and nobody’s perfect, and then there’s that creep(?) over there in a corner picking his boogers. And everyone piles on, and if you all remember those bully threads that popped all over the place, a narrative begins that forments more action towards the designated violator.

    I don’t want to be a part of that, and I don’t want to be a part of a community that does that on a regular basis.

  213. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 1:14 am |

    I do see many people here promising to be better about the issues that have arison since the end of BFP’s blog, but is that anything other than idle promises that have small impacts? If somebody from this crowd gets big public notice and maybe cash and political capital as well, will they remember BFP and other WOC activists who can do with resources and exposure? Personally, I think they’d have to contend with the whole mainstream desire to incorporate racist aspects into many aspects of commercial life–the same processes that interfere with the natural mentoring process that older corporate women might wish to do. It’s truly alot of work to do great humor that doesn’t take it out at the expense of someone else or do so with some sort of consensuality. It’s truly a lot of work to get coworkers to accept new women or minority protege fully as a person of their capabilities. It’s truly alot of work to get press media of various stripes to stop looking at you and give a boost to other people who might not be telegenic, or who’s work demands more of the audience. One loses time, money, and effort to do all of that.

    I hear a lot more about “safe spaces” and various efforts at shaming, and it all sounds so damn cheap as compared to what we really need, and I don’t get the sense that people are actually interested in being engaged rather than in being seen and acting out internal dialogues. One can talk about Amanda’s history all one wants. She has one, and I, personally, know she can be a stubborn twat impervious to contrary data points. But many of YOU, in HERE, also have a history. I read you all in many blog topics over a while at Feministe, and there have been plenty of threads where people can say some shaaaaameful shit. Just recently, the prison abolition thread and illinois ruling on forced sterilization had some truly spectacular comments. The common thread that derails threads like that is when the *personal* costs of being truly engaged–like thinking (and making sure it’s an actual emergency) before you call the cops into minority areas, even though your personal safety *might* be at some small risk.

    Sean Bell died because US cops these days believe in carrying and using heavy weaponry at the slightest chance that they might be danger (this attitude is in “unsafe” areas only, of course). Or believing that the prison industry can be “reformed”, when one of the purposes has always been inherently racist.

    Then there was all the comments that dropped the central premise of feminism–that of bodily autonomy–in the illinois case. The denseness of some people who think cognitively impaired people who can’t operate a stove means some totally drooling and stupid woman who obviously shouldn’t be able to have kids–without actually reading anything about the case which clearly shows the woman able to have cogent conversations about her wish to be open to the possiblity of having children. Which is completely natural. Yes kids are work, but rich and or able people who can get all kinds of help remains part of an invisible norm, while a single woman with just one aunt who ponders about the possiblity of children sets of screams of “not with my tax dollars!” “What about the Aunt?!?” “What about the children?”

    Now, the crowd is different for each thread, at least slightly, so don’t think I am blaming the entirety of Feministe, but I do want to say that everyone is a sinner, and everyone should hate the sin, and not the sinner. Thwapping Amanda and saying NO! NO! BAD AMANDA! NO RACIST IMAGES is fine. Turning all tribal and saying amanda and her toadies, that pandagon crowd, and making personal attacks on her and each other…just isn’t kosher

  214. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 1:28 am |

    I don’t know any answers either, Jill. You, and others, run a successfull blog. That pretty much means you have the issues with the classic cartoon that depicts what a normal person given anonomynity and a forum will turn into.

    I mean, I’m not doing any better, I just gave into my penchant for ranting, and mostly just added even more contradictory noise. It’s not as anyone’s going to really listen to me.

    About the only think that would help, I think, would be a a mini-Wiki gadget plunked onto the side of the thread–and it would collect facts, lines of thoughts, and links and anyone (registered, I’d think) can edit the wiki, while the blogmaster can freeze part of a wiki and focus on moderating out the obvious stuff into the widget. This way, howling confusion can get damped down abit and give good faith commentors a quick run-down and debunkings (shutting down the plagerist aspect in that earlier thread would have been truly helpful), and fewer people are typing out confused telephoned GIGO responses to what just happened…

  215. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 28, 2008 at 1:32 am |

    I think that a lot of the focus on Amanda came from Amanda and her defenders, and from their pushback against the idea that Amanda could have in fact done a lot better by pointing to WOC who have been writing about and doing activism in regards to immigration for years.

    It’s why any attempt to move that conversation forward gets answers about shifting goalposts and nebulous references to accusations of plagiarism.

    Am I saying there wasn’t a dogpile? No, but there’s a reason the dogpile happened in the first place. Or to put it another way:

    People reacted to Jill’s post about the reading about as strongly as they did to Amanda’s article. The difference was Jill came in fairly early on and said “Oops, I made a mistake here,” and she followed up on that. If she hadn’t, it would have spread and we’d be getting multiple long discussions about her lack of action.

    But at the core of it, the controversy wasn’t about Amanda, or not just about Amanda, but about how this happens over and over again, and that the article was just one of a string of similar events. Read the original posts that talked about it – they talk about the pattern, and refer to the article as an example.

    As for the Pandagon “crowd,” I’ve seen a lot of nastiness over there in Amanda’s apology thread – stuff that I wouldn’t leave on my blog. If I had a poster like squashed, I’d ask him to kindly shut the hell up and stop with the false appeals to authority… just for one example. Of course, he’d probably respond by looking up my blog’s technorati ratings and tell me I’m irrelevant – because, you know, that’s maturity and shows an ability to address arguments instead of diverting the conversation into pointless attacks.

  216. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 28, 2008 at 1:33 am |

    And the above is not saying that Amanda is the only person at fault, or that her commenters include the most ill-behaved commenters in the blogosphere.

  217. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 2:00 am |

    Well, I think the handful of people who -seem- to be trolling and coming over from P’gon is feeding the “tribal” animosity. Apart from that, I agree, and in many cases we’d be talking about the same people anyway–it’s not as though a lot of people don’t blog hop.

    Just to note that, um. Hm. Well, there was an offblog situation that I was part of where there was a sort of similar dynamic and apparent dilemma, albeit on a much smaller scale, quite possibly with some of the same players (not Amanda, just to be clear). anyhoo, the upshot was that the one person who was the flashpoint of the tension left, the one who was perceived–correctly, I judged, eventually, if reluctantly, since this person was also a friend–as being, at best, extremely clueless and defensive wrt race, and–and this was the key point–just -wasn’t hearing- anything anyone had to say. Wasn’t, in fact, engaging the people of color directly hardly at all, and was getting increasingly defensive and, well, I don’t have to tell you what the dynamic is, we’ve just seen it more or less.

    So, like I said, this person left, unfortunately not before someone else did; but the thing was, was, yeah, a number of people, including the other one who’d left, who’d been most aggravated by her (a PoC) were cautioning about making this All About ___, in that it wasn’t -just- this person, but rather that this person had been sort of taking a lot of sort of subtexty undercurrents and making them, well, more blatantly texty and offensive. i.e. that the dynamics wouldn’t -all- be magically resolved once that person was gone.

    Thing is, though–yes, that was true? but at the same time in fact the overall dynamic -did- in fact get a lot better, the conversations more productive, once that person left. And continue, imo, to be so, several months later, increasingly so.

    And this is not because ___ is/was a particularly evil person, more inherently racist than anyone else, had done any -one- thing that was SO offensive, in fact (nothing like this, for instance, although it wouldn’t have been applicable, anyway). The -real- problem was, __ was too defensive to really talk; it was ___’s way or the highway, and so all discussion around the subject kind of ground to a halt with her around, because it DID become all about __, because __’s behavior made it inevitable that it would be so. i.e. ___ dug in and kept digging, would neither concede a point or apologize or rethink or even say, you know what, i need to just step back from this.

    That was -not- true of the people who remained once ___ had gone, certainly not to the same degree. Which meant that while people did and continue to fuck up, they deal/dealt with it very differently, which meant/means progress could happen and community could be built.

    So, it both was and wasn’t about ____. Yeah, you can go overboard making something about a personality, and it’s true that the interpersonal dwama aspect to all this means that at least some of that is inevitable; but still, at the end of the day, the “structures” are made up of actual people and their actions. And, sometimes, you do have to be able to point to person ___ and say, y’know what, this person has been at the epicenter of this particular battle over and over again, and at this point it’s difficult to write it off as a coincidence or scapegoating for the sake of it, it -does- have to do with the way ____ is -interacting,- or really, rather, isn’t. And deal accordingly.

    fwiw.

  218. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 2:05 am |

    Lisa slip’t while I was posting with much the same point.

    People reacted to Jill’s post about the reading about as strongly as they did to Amanda’s article. The difference was Jill came in fairly early on and said “Oops, I made a mistake here,” and she followed up on that. If she hadn’t, it would have spread and we’d be getting multiple long discussions about her lack of action.

    But at the core of it, the controversy wasn’t about Amanda, or not just about Amanda, but about how this happens over and over again, and that the article was just one of a string of similar events. Read the original posts that talked about it – they talk about the pattern, and refer to the article as an example.

    Yeah. That.

  219. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 3:06 am |

    belledame222, that was a pretty interesting schematic you put out in 223. Food for thought.

  220. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 6:29 am |

    Turning all tribal and saying amanda and her toadies..

    Anyone whose defense of another rests on “wah, you’re just jealous” is by definition a toady. I could have said sycophant but toady better captures the middle school mentality exhibited. I am amazed that people will come here and defend Amanda by filling posts with accusations of petty jealousy, mean girl behavior and other immature nonsense and then in the same breath condemn the level of discourse and response here. You were the one who interjected this into the conversation and then you have the gall to complain when the conversation is lowered in tone? That’s a bit rich.

  221. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 7:19 am |

    I do see many people here promising to be better about the issues that have arison since the end of BFP’s blog, but is that anything other than idle promises that have small impacts?”

    I think accountability is a good issue to raise. I think that Jill, Holly and others of Feministe have shown that they can be held accountable. Lack of accountability is just another reason that Amanda is taking so much heat over this issue. She shouldn’t serve as a scapegoat, but much of the focus has been an effort to hold her accountable for what she has done, since she has resisted (and enabled her supporters to be similarly dismissive).

    As far as actual, constructive action, I think a very, very good model is ProfBW’s suggestions for Seal Press, as I think Ico linked to in another thread. The goals are measurable and achievable. We’re up against a very big issue, and it’s easy to feel like, well, what can I do? What’s really going to come of this? Admittedly, there’s only so much a few blogs (even if they are big blogs) can do.

    For a start, I’d like to see more threads like this to continue the discussion. I know I’ve learned a hell of a lot in the past week or so.

  222. It’s been a very bad few weeks for revolutionary feminism « High On Rebellion

    […] the “jungle”.  Oh. Dear. God.   Good discussion of the issue at Feministe here and here.  You can read Amanda’s apology here.  Beware:  some of the comments are really, really […]

  223. Chet
    Chet April 28, 2008 at 9:41 am |

    I have no clue as why people are still engaging chet.

    Oh, am I being engaged? Seemed to me like I’m still waiting for people to engage with my ideas.

    There -are- differences of opinions as to whether or not people what to be considered ‘transgender’ or simple a certain gender, but there are ways to be inclusive of people who want to be ID’d trans without being isolating others.

    Really, Laura? And what are those ways? I notice you don’t provide any examples. My point stands. Refer to “transgendered people”, you’re “othering.” Refer to “people”, and you’re “overlooking” someone. The people who have made it their mission to get offended whenever possible, to feel righteous and bully others, simply will not be appeased. No matter what you do or say you will open yourself to criticism from them. If not in one way then in another. The whole “gorilla” episode made it abundantly clear that the bullies had Amanda in their sights, and once that was true, nothing she could have done would have appeased them. If it hadn’t been campy Tarzana pictures, it would have been something else. False accusations of plagiarism, perhaps. (Oh, wait. They did that, too.)

    Sorry, but I think bullies – bullies like you – should be marginalized and ignored at every opportunity. That’s the only way to rid us of your poisonous, deconstructive discourse.

  224. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 11:09 am |

    Come on. I’m sorry to be coarse but that’s the only appropriate response to idiocy – coarse dismissal.

    In that case, you’re dismissed. Next!

  225. Jessica
    Jessica April 28, 2008 at 11:19 am |

    i was disappointed to read valenti’s response to the open letter from second wave feminist re the democratic election a few weeks ago. in her response, she insinuated that what made the third wave different from the second was the focus on “intersectionality”.

    darkchocolate, sorry you were disappointed by the piece. I actually wasn’t trying to say that intersectionality was lost on the second wave, in fact, I was really trying to avoid the generational argument and make the point that it was more about institutional/mainstream feminism. But when the piece got cut down, it certainly seemed to focus more on the generational tension stuff. But I totally agree with you re: the incredible second wave work done by woc. What I was trying to do in the nation piece was show how the same women (older, middle class white fems) are overwhelmingly framing the conversation in the media even when there is a lot of other work being done that is more cutting edge and important. in any case, i’m working on a post for feministing on all of this, so hopefully that will do a better job…

  226. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 11:26 am |

    The whole “gorilla” episode made it abundantly clear that the bullies had Amanda in their sights, and once that was true, nothing she could have done would have appeased them.

    You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Go back to that original thread that discussed the original cover. The first call-out of the racism in that image was incredibly polite. The woman repeated several times her respect for Amanda, and issued no demands, nor was she a bully. SHe said, basically, please take a look at this, I think it’s important.

    The IMMEDIATE response of other commenters was dissmisive and rude, and apparently Amanda took that as permission to join the real bullies, the ones insulting a very thoughtful call-out of racist imagery. She insulted the woman who called attention to the racist imagery by implying that she was just stupid and/or humorless to not get the irony. She continued to insult anyone with concerns as joy-killers.

    I shouldn’t engage the troll, I know, but i absolutely cannot let those kind of lies pass. It is absolutely not true that bullies had targeted Amanda for that cover. She was the instigator in the negativity.

  227. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm |

    …how the same women (older, middle class white fems) are overwhelmingly framing the conversation in the media even when there is a lot of other work being done that is more cutting edge and important.

    No disrespect Jessica but as a WoC it seems that those older white fems have just been replaced by their younger white fem counterparts and you are still “overwhelmingly framing the conversation in the media”. Despite your attempts to highlight the differences, from the outside you guys really don’t seem that much different. It feels like more of the same and that is frustrating.

  228. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm |

    I meant “are being replaced…” not “been replaced”….sry

  229. darkchocolate
    darkchocolate April 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm |

    thanks for these comments jessica. i look forward to checking out your post over at feministing. i just want to reiterate how much i’ve enjoyed reading this thread this past weekend. i was unsuccessful in my attempts to spark more dialogue on the issue over at pandagon. one person suggested i read macintosh to understand the use of “privilege” and others suggested the conversation would eventually happen when things calmed down a bit. my point: racism doesn’t ever “calm” down or take a break and i think macintosh along with other readings contextualizing the historical depths of exclusion in the US feminist movement are critical to understanding this particular situation.

    and, i just agree with everything astraea just posted. the negativity is in full swing –creating a hostile, dismissive, and uninviting environment for those who dare to call for an open dialogue on this issue. being told to read macintosh was particularly insulting, given that i was invited to participate in a workshop with her in june. of course, people don’t know that nor do they know my profession, but the mere assumption that i’m somehow “stupid” on the issues smacks of arrogance.

  230. Jessica
    Jessica April 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm |

    …it seems that those older white fems have just been replaced by their younger white fem counterparts and you are still “overwhelmingly framing the conversation in the media”. Despite your attempts to highlight the differences, from the outside you guys really don’t seem that much different.

    I totally agree. That’s certainly why at Feministing we’ve been working hard to use the blog as a forum for other feminists doing important work (lending the site to activists in our Voices of… series, for example) and passing on media opportunities to other fems whenever possible so that it’s not the same three people always getting quoted, writing something, etc. But I agree that there’s still a lot of work to be done and I absolutely think it’s all of our responsibility – esp those of us who are getting more media – to not recreate the same paradigm.

  231. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 1:21 pm |

    kiki

    I use a heuristic:

    People get up and bothered and spend calories being agressive in return for three types of power…Money, Authority, and Recognition.

    It is generally traditional for many such people to deny such base motivation in whatever they are doing, and even more traditional that they get angry when someone calls them on it. And deliberately miss the point in subsequent conversations because that would mean resolving th conflict would leave both sides in the preconflict state with minor modifications.

    I do think much of the vitriol does come from the higher profile that Amanda has, and it’s certainly very much like other crabsinabarrell-community fights that I’ve been on the fringes of, or reading about in movement histories. Now, imagine if one of the commenters, at say, Racialicious, had a thing about denigrating people from pakistan, and they make a “mistake” a couple of times. Do you think there would be this much of a fight? Or perhaps one thread, maybe two, delinking, etc, etc.

    I *do* think some aspects of this conversation does come straight out of middle school in the petty jealousy department. I mean for real, can you *not* see those backbiting comments and “She’s Looking At Me (Stalking)!!” comments as puerile? That I’m not a toady of anyone to point that out?

  232. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm |

    Oh hay Laura, you’re a bully too. Kickass. Can we form a cabal? Posses are so passe, and I always wanted to be part of a cabal.

    So, Chet, where’s this fabulous REALLY HELPFUL real world project you’d started that you were gonna tell us about?

  233. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm |

    225: thanks.

    and the thing was, was, in -that- instance, in fact the person in question was -not- particularly high profile, anything of that sort.

    I do imagine that the fact that Amanda is high profile accounts for why so many more people get involved in the discussion, but I’m leery of the whole “crabs in a barrel” thing, because, again: we’re not all IN the same barrel, and frankly most of us -really- don’t care about her “career” as such, much as she keeps trying and trying and TRYING to frame it that way. Let her have her fifteen minutes, for heaven’s sake, if it were only that. I don’t know that the world has a burning -need- for another book like hers, but pictures aside (and that’s a BIG aside, der, obviously), I don’t see any particular harm in it; no one’s going into conniption fits over the “sex and barbecue” or whatever it is book, of itself, for instance. The real problem, besides, well, this, is of omission, and misplaced emphasis: it’s not cool that something like Amanda’s book is supposed to take precedence over the actual issues people like bfp are concerned about.

  234. I’m just a link « zunguzungu
    I’m just a link « zunguzungu April 28, 2008 at 1:41 pm |

    […] this via Acephalous. It’s the sort of thing I would blog about if they (and, to steal from this person’s list, Karnythia at The Angry Black Woman, Noli Irritare Leones, Lauredhel at Hoyden […]

  235. Marcotte’s Jungle: People Make Mistakes « Fitness for the Occasion

    […] I read. I read Jill’s take on Feministe, Amanda’s apology, and Seal Press’s Apology (emphasis mine): We also […]

  236. renska
    renska April 28, 2008 at 1:49 pm |

    It does feel like a lot of pent-up frustration and pain is coming to head over one person. And yes, that one person did make a mistake, but… I just don’t know. I don’t know what the right balance is. I know that it does involve checking ourselves, and calling each other out. But yes, there has to be a way to do that where it doesn’t feel like a pile-on. We can dispute whether or not this was actually a pile-on, but I don’t doubt that Amanda sees it that way, and so do a lot of other people. When I wrote this post, I did wonder if I’d be contributing to that sense. I’m sure I did. But how do we show solidarity when there’s a problem without making someone feel piled-upon?

    I know this must be difficult for you considering your friendship with Amanda. But, I don’t know that anything other than a “pile-on” would have made an impact. And, frankly, I don’t think that her past behavior entitles her to a gentler approach.

    Amanda’s initial response to the criticism of the first stab at a cover for this book was hostile and dismissive. Even when she acknowledged the problem, she did so in a very brief, almost curt, fashion. If she had, at that time, written a longer post that addressed why she hadn’t seen the image as racist, and apologized for her initial dismissiveness, things might have progressed differently.

    Amanda’s style, in general, is deliberately, and effectively, confrontational. She pulls no punches and when it comes to misogyny and other related forms of stupidity. I’m sure the same coming back at her — from those on the other side of the fence — rolls right off her back. Maybe she’s on a hair-trigger: any criticism gets an escalated, rather than eliciting a thoughtful, response. And that is probably a personality thing, as well as a “she’s been in the line of fire thing.” But having that be her default mode is harmful in situations like these because she reacts WITHOUT thinking. And she also seems to be constitutionally incapable of issuing an apology that does what you do — thoughtfully takes on the wheres and whyfores and acknowledges the fuck-up(s).

    I can’t feel sorry for her. I can try to imagine what I would do in her shoes and sympathize with the impulse that leads to her behavior, but when I look at her actions I can be nothing less than aghast. I can see where she might not have seen the original cover art as racist. But her response to the critique was unacceptable, especially in light of the spirit in which the initial critique was offered.

    And I really, really, REALLY can’t see how she didn’t see the racism in the interior illustrations. Her apology didn’t go far enough — she said she “should have caught it sooner.” But she didn’t catch it — it was up to others to point out their, ah, problematic nature. And she hasn’t stepped forward to tell her supporters to just shut the fuck up — that no matter how much she may appreciate them coming to her defense, they are just making a pretty horrific situation worse, and worse, and worse. (That’s not to say that her supporters would listen to her (they’re not required to, of course), but at least it would be a sign that she’s acknowledging the problem.

    But she hasn’t. She’s retreated in high dudgeon and the bridges continue to burn behind her.

    I can’t respect that. It’s contemptible, in fact.

  237. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 2:13 pm |

    I do think much of the vitriol does come from the higher profile that Amanda has, and it’s certainly very much like other crabsinabarrell-community fights that I’ve been on the fringes of, or reading about in movement histories.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  238. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    I think that Amanda is a high profile blogger IS a factor in the size of the response, but not necessarily in the way that is being suggested. As a high profile blogger, Amanda has a larger responsibility because the impact of what she does is so great, and she has so many willing to defend her. If I reacted badly to being called out on racism, I probably wouldn’t have anyone rushing to my defense and most people would probably write me off and move on. No one’s going to think I speak for feminism or white feminists.

    But it matters when it’s someone who does have a lot of impact and is seen as at least partially representative of the (white) feminist blogosphere.

    Also, I think a lot of response from white feminists came when we saw that Amanda and her supporters were being the voice of white feminism. Another function of white privilege, and it should not have taken that much for the rest of us to speak out. (With some exception.) But much of the outrage is sort of a Not in Our Name effort.

  239. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 2:56 pm |

    Saying that her profile within this insular community is a factor in the size of response vs her profile is a factor in the amount of vitriol seem to me like two different things.

  240. kiki
    kiki April 28, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

    Thanks for your response Jessica, I hope you really mean what you say.

  241. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm |

    kiki, yes. Thanks for adding that clarification. I definitely disagree with “vitriol” as a characterization of the response. It’s a loaded word that is inappropriate here.

    I also totally disagree iwth the idea that Amanda just made a mistake a couple of times.

  242. shah8
    shah8 April 28, 2008 at 3:10 pm |

    Ok, Kiki.

    One last addition…I don’t believe in personality tests, but for those who do think they are significant, I am INTP. I’m pretty introspective, and I like to try out different perspectives. Sometimes it makes me a pretty easygoing (or appear so). I take Jill’s and even Amanda’s apologies at face value, in part because not only is everyone different in and of themselves, those differences lead to differences in what is an acceptable apology. For alot of people, it’s really hard to do, and blank wall apologies can mean anything from a shameless absolutely nothing all the way to gotta hold the blubbering tight. The opposite is also true. What’s more, at least in mixed race company, confusion about intent happens alot. When I was a kid, I got caught shoplifting, and I was made to serve on a jury in a sort of kids trial…handing out community service to others. All of us in the jury had done something like what I did, and we were judging other people who had also done what we did, but they were at risk of losing 30 hours to community service than the 2 or so hours we were commited for. One defendant was a white guy who stole a video game, worth more than 40 bucks in 1994. The other was a black girl who stole a baseball cap, worth about 24 dollars. I was the only black person on that jury, which decided that the girl (who had her entire family there) didn’t really show that she was sorry, and that the boy, who evinced about the same level of remorse, did. I went along with it, because I was uncertain, and thoughtless as well (hey, I was a kid!). So the black girl got the maximum penalty and the white boy got the lightest sentence, despite the disparity in the crimes, at least monetarily. Nobody on that jury really even *thought* very much, let alone the fact that someone was white and someone was black. If it was there, it was subliminated into all sorts of other issues.

    That’s part of my history and part of my makeup. It’s why I get sensitive about mob self-righteousness, even though many people in that “mob” truly was being self-righteous. But it’s hard to make out their voices sometimes, because they are modulated when they speak. It’s why I don’t try to assume why someone does something out of very incomplete evidence. It’s why I try to walk a mile in everyone’s shoes. And when I do speak up I generally say my piece and sit down (most of the time, not like now, or when global overpopulation is the topic). If I have a consistent problem with something in the community, if speaking up about it doesn’t work, and the issue repeats, then I leave, without making much of a fuss, like how I moved from HousingBubbleBlog, which is racist, to Calculated Risk, where the moderators act against racist commentors and the crowd self police as well.

    For me, I think that kind of system works well. Low stress and all.

  243. Sam
    Sam April 28, 2008 at 3:42 pm |

    I think the only way to have diversity is to have many blogs and many commentators. I know that goes against the building of a “brand” like some want, but for the movement, it’s better to have many because of situations like these where the first reaction is: you’re wrong and shut up. Consolidation of the media OR consolidation of the blogs doesn’t work to have truly open and active information.

    After all, it has been a problem that some blogs censor the postings to their political end and to censor criticism of their own blogs’ postings or links to other blogs. By the way, everyone that offers some criticism is NOT a right wing troll to be scurried off the list.

    Also, in this political season, some blogs clearly endorsed one candidate, and the difficulty of getting even coverage or getting a diversity of stories on the blog’s headlines didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen. By the way, I miss La Chola, who stopped blogging in despair. Let’s send her some love.

    I have missed notices of important marches in the US when I’ve solely looked at the “big” feminist blogs. Of course, some of these marches dealt with Clinton, which the blogs didn’t endorse. If it doesn’t match the sensibility of the blog, it doesn’t get there.

  244. tommy
    tommy April 28, 2008 at 4:19 pm |

    I asked this on another thread, but I’m curious as to whether someone here might be able to help me:

    Can anyone here come up with a rigorous definition of the term ‘privilege’? I see it thrown out there a lot, but the more I look at how it’s used, it doesn’t seem to have any real meaning. Someone argued that Amanda Marcotte’s request for “safe space” was a key example of privilege, but I’ve seen plenty of people request such space in the past after embarrassing incidents and it hasn’t been based on race or sex as much as popularity or prestige. The ability to make such a request wouldn’t seem dependent on someone’s race or sex, so I don’t see how this is a cardinal example. What exactly is this thing you call ‘privilege?’

  245. Rebecca
    Rebecca April 28, 2008 at 5:54 pm |

    A book club? Could you people get any more white? I hope someone submits ‘book clubs’ to that website about what white – pretentious/upper middle class/yuppies/hipsters/wannabees – people like.

    After this thread, I finally understand why the WOC bloggers are so pissed. You people are seriously out of touch. You also need to catch the clue bus about what is important and what matters only in the blogosphere.

  246. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 6:15 pm |

    Damn, yeah, learning about the issues and discussing them is such a bad idea, I can’t believe anyone would want to do such a thing.

  247. renska
    renska April 28, 2008 at 6:19 pm |

    On privilige — a simplistic explanaation. Let’s pretend that life is like a game of cards. You get dealt a hand. So if you’re white, you’re born with three aces in hand; if you’re a white male, an additional two kings. Let’s say that being a white female, means you only get one additional king. If you’re born into wealth, that’s another king; if you’re born middle-class, that’s a queen. Parents who have both been college-educated are also face cards.

    One of the prime factors likely to indicate whether you’ll get those additional cards based on income/education is whether you’re born into a white family.

    Sure, you can play your cards with varying degrees of skill; you can successfully bluff. But, no matter how much you’d like to think it, as you play your cards, the hand wasn’t dealt randomly. It’s not your “fault” that this is the hand you were dealt — you have no control over the (history of the) society you’re born into.

    The problem with privilege is not just that you have an advantage, it’s that you’re often blind to it. Most of us grow up in areas where people are more or less like us. The assumption becomes that the rest of the world contains people whose experiences mirror ours, too. If you’re white and middle-class, your assumption that your experiences can be generalized to the rest of society is reinforced by the majority of television shows. So, it becomes hard to see not just the people who are different from you, but how those differences (such as skin color) affect everything from where they’re born, to what kind of education that they’re likely to receive, to their likely success in their chosen profession.

    Have to run… Anyone else want to riff on this?

  248. Note: This Bomb I Did Not Throw « Off Our Pedestals

    […] Note: This Bomb I Did Not Throw I have to admit, though, that I was kind of wondering that myself. […]

  249. Kristen
    Kristen April 28, 2008 at 7:40 pm |

    The problem with privilege is not just that you have an advantage, it’s that you’re often blind to it.

    To add to renska’s excellent analogy…(which I will likely steal when explaining to others in the real world given its awesomeness)…

    Its not just that you are blind to it. You also begin to believe you’ve earned it. That those three kings you’re holding are yours because you are a superior player.

    Sort of like the thing that happens to day traders…we always assume our “winnings” are due to skill and our “losings” are due to luck.

    But in reality, no matter how hard you’ve worked to achieve your goals…part of that achievement was a “gift” from society that came at the expense of others.

  250. Margalis
    Margalis April 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm |

    A book club? Could you people get any more white? I hope someone submits ‘book clubs’ to that website about what white – pretentious/upper middle class/yuppies/hipsters/wannabees – people like.

    Only white people like to read?

    I do think a book club is kind of a silly proposal here that won’t accomplish anything, but the idea that only white people would be interested is a bit odd to me.

    Again I’d like to see the Feministe bloggers promise to do something concrete and measurable.

  251. ilyka
    ilyka April 28, 2008 at 8:49 pm |

    I do think a book club is kind of a silly proposal here that won’t accomplish anything, but the idea that only white people would be interested is a bit odd to me.

    I see what you mean, yes. I took it differently–that what makes it so “white” is that it’s a feel-good, so-long-as-I-grow-things–automatically-get-better kind of idea.

    Not, not, NOT, though, that there’s anything wrong with growth, or that it’s even a silly proposal entirely. I’d say the good things about it to me are (1) it’s a way to do homework without tagging around after people of color and going, “teach me, teach me,” and (2) it is something concrete: It’s a commitment to learning, and I can’t find fault with that.

    It’s only a problem if that’s all that’s done, and it’s a problem in the sense that it doesn’t . . . okay, I’m not sure how to say this, exactly, but like, I’m not sure I’d feel too great going up to BfP and saying, “Guess what?–Your problems are over. We started a book club!” You know?

    I would actually like to hear more what Rebecca thinks, because even though I kind of agree with her, well, what else would she suggest?

  252. Charity
    Charity April 28, 2008 at 9:13 pm |

    My feeling about the book club is that it’s a nice idea for the reasons Ilyka said – and can I just say Ilyka, you have been *on fire* lately (i mean that in the best possible way) with some of your zingers (possibly in other threads, I have lost track). If people want to start a book club, it’s really none of my business…i don’t think they are claiming it is THE ANSWER, by any means.

    It would be interesting to hear ideas for conversations *between* WoC (feminist or not) and white feminists, given that is the relationship in need of repair (whether or not white feminists should be afforded that opportunity is not my call). I guess that was what struck me about the book club – not that it’s not a good idea, but ideas were not forthcoming beyond it and it seemed like another way to have a *side* conversation.

  253. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 9:43 pm |

    Well, I’m sure the book club idea wasn’t meant to be the end-all-be-all of this, or even anything CLOSE to a solution to any problem. I can see how it might seem silly from that perspective. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would like it because I really want to try to connect with other people about these and other issues, and books for me have always been sort of catalysts for that kind of thing.

    I don’t expect anyone to teach me. I certainly didn’t view it as a way to ask WOC to edcutate us white women. More like a way to communicate, build a community. Isn’t that a good goal?

  254. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:10 pm |

    More like a way to communicate, build a community. Isn’t that a good goal?

    Is to me. Certainly better than floating around blogs and constantly repeating how this, that, and the other thing is a waste of time without -actually- offering anything constructive oneself.

    also, “reading is fundamental.”

    and y’know, people who’re already in communication can also start talking about other shit, -too-, activist campaigns and so forth. A lot likelier to happen, in fact, when people are -already talking to each other.-

    and no, I had no plans whatsoever to go to bfp and tell her everything is solved, with or without a book club. I imagine she’s rather busy.

    and I really wouldn’t assume that the people who’ve already expressed interest in this are all white–you know, actually, this whole “assuming” thing in general: might want to knock it off.

  255. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:13 pm |

    apologies for the snarky tone there, p.s., friends, just the constant string of erm well one doesn’t wish to label something “concern trolling”–wait, why on earth not? anyway. a bit cranky.

  256. ilyka
    ilyka April 28, 2008 at 10:17 pm |

    and no, I had no plans whatsoever to go to bfp and tell her everything is solved, with or without a book club. I imagine she’s rather busy.

    For pity’s sake, Belle, I didn’t say or even suggest that you did. I was trying to put my finger on what was itching me, that’s all. Charity put it better anyway with “seemed like another way to have a side conversation.”

    As for floating around blogs negating, I’m gonna really hope that doesn’t refer to me because if it does, all I’ve got to counter it is a very tired, “oh, come ON.” I said what I liked about it too, you know.

  257. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm |

    Ilyka, no, I was definitely not referring to you. as I say: apologies for the snarky tone, I read AStraea’s response, then I kind of skimmed upward in an increasingly annoyed blur, hitting Mitchforth as well as Rebecca and seeing your post in passing.

    and again, y’know, wouldn’t assume that the people who want to have this conversation are–ergh, I can’t actually do this without seeming dodgy in my own right, just: other people besides the ones already posting here and at the blog have expressed an interest, okay.

  258. ilyka
    ilyka April 28, 2008 at 10:23 pm |

    well one doesn’t wish to label something “concern trolling”

    No, indeed one doesn’t. Especially if all it is is slight befuddlement that three threads and who knows how many comments later, the best we’ve got is “book club.”

  259. ilyka
    ilyka April 28, 2008 at 10:25 pm |

    Fuck, cross-posted.

    Okay, sorry about that–I hear you. Just know that I adamantly refuse, REFUSE, to call for the immediate disbanding of Book Club. No one can make me! I won’t do it.

  260. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 28, 2008 at 10:25 pm |

    Chet, stop being such an idiot, please. No one’s engaging your arguments because you’re a troll.

    Rebecca, I’m not a big fan of the book club idea, so this isn’t about that.

    What I’m curious about is what you’re dismissing as only important in the blogosphere vs. what you consider to be really important?

  261. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:26 pm |

    I guess, just, you know, I am aware that there is–erm. how to put this. Reading shit like Chet’s and others’ little billet doux, it’s actually not all that hard to internalize: “oh, this is stupid, oh, this is silly, oh, shame on you, that won’t work.” You know what: fuck it. If it’s stupid and pointless we’ll figure it out pretty soon and stop. Meanwhile, I think, you know, other suggestions are also welcome. It’s not “this OR that,” it’s, “yes, AND.” I just hate squashing shit in the bud, you know.

    It’s not meant to solve anything, of itself. It’s a good thing to do for its own sake. Can’t it just be that? And then, can’t we keep talking here, too?

  262. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm |

    Belle, I know the feeling. My first response to Rebecca was snark and that was probably a mistake, too.

  263. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:30 pm |

    No, indeed one doesn’t. Especially if all it is is slight befuddlement that three threads and who knows how many comments later, the best we’ve got is “book club.”

    I read Rebecca’s comment as a lot more derisive than “slight befuddlement.” I also wasn’t at all clear from whence it was coming; the “no wonder WoC bloggers” sort of suggested to me she was not, in fact, including herself among them, or indeed posting in particularly good faith.

    I know what my gut reaction was: shame, embarrassment. And then I thought: screw it.

    And, y’know what, three threads isn’t exactly–we’re -talking.- This shit is longterm and has been fairly intractable.

    We keep talking.

  264. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:32 pm |

    I mean, hey, okay, Chet here suggested a “food bank.” Terrific. I’m not sure exactly what that -directly- has to do with what we’ve been concerned with here, but sure, it’s a great idea in general. Would you care to share with us your experience on how you got this rolling in your own community, Chet? I for one am genuinely interested.

  265. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:36 pm |

    but okay, more suggestions: Sylvia/M had had a “carnival of radical action” at one point. Not sure what the status is, but hey, the archives are still up:

    http://blogcarnival.com/bc/cprof_1616.html

  266. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm |

    for that matter, I know at least a couple of the bloggers here have a good amount of practical experience in activism and organizing: we could talk right here. If that’s what we’re talking about.

  267. Astraea
    Astraea April 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm |

    And honestly, well, there DOES need to be more talking. But blog comments, especially when we’ve been hit with a lot of trolls and Amandafans, aren’t exactly the best way to establish action plans. I’m working on my own suggestions, for whatever they’re worth.

  268. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 28, 2008 at 10:55 pm |

    I read Rebecca’s comment as yet another iteration of “arguing on the internets = srs bznz” type of dismissals. That is, the idea that a conversation is happening on the internet makes it automatically irrelevant.

  269. punkrockhockeymom
    punkrockhockeymom April 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm |

    You know, the other thing is that sure, it’s three threads, but it’s also only been about three days. And I am sure I am not the only one here that’s got a very demanding life away from the internet too (what with all of that demanding job, single motherhood, mom needing calling, mortgage needing paying, etc.). We’re not going to come up with a detailed plan and agenda that fixes everything and restores community in 3 days. We’re just not.

    And we’ve been at this for a while. And like with my writing, that’s going to get diminishing returns for a bit while things sort of …I guess…brew in the back of my head.

    And that is not minimizing my commitment to change. It’s just that I think that you’ll see a lot of better ideas or bigger ideas coming after people have had a chance to get started and have been letting their creative “back brains” mull on it for a while, and once we’re already creating a dialogue, and listening to people (which is my number one priority right now anyway, which actually does involve a lot of reading–because me deciding I’ll come up with a bunch of solutions seems a lot like white girl big footing to me, too). I mean, this is the MIDDLE of a conversation. It’s not like anyone over here said, “Hey! Book club! Now we’re finished, let’s get back to SOP.” Which I did not read Ilyka as saying, by any means, but that is sort of what Rebecca sounded like. Which still, short comment, not a lot to go by.

  270. belledame222
    belledame222 April 28, 2008 at 11:08 pm |

    I’d just like to throw out something here as a general sort of erm template, see what you make of it:

    In improv theatre, or certain acting exercises in regular theatre, we used to have this trope called “Yes, and.” Someone says, “I went to teh store yesterday,” and you say, “Yes, and you bought a can of peas.” and they say, “Yes, and there was a peculiar mark on the outside of the can,” and you say, “Yes, and i noticed it was the same as the one I found on the inside of my wrist this morning…” and from there you build a story.

    Or, whatever, not a wonderful example; point is, it’s different to going,

    “I went to the store yesterday.”

    “No you didn’t, you went to the circus.”

    …because that just sort of makes it grind to a halt. And you might have had the best of intentions: oh, shit, the store, that’s boring, let’s go somewhere more exciting! but in fact, it’s better to just go with whatever it is and -add.- And if it sucks at the end of it, as it often does: hey, you start something else.

    Therapy has this as a trope, too, where it’s called “amplification.” used in, f’r instance, dream analysis.

  271. octogalore
    octogalore April 28, 2008 at 11:27 pm |

    “No, indeed one doesn’t. Especially if all it is is slight befuddlement that three threads and who knows how many comments later, the best we’ve got is “book club.”

    I disagree. Some mentioned above and elsewhere include:

    1) Carnival of Radical Action that Sylvia had, as Belle noted;
    2) Recognition on many people’s parts of failures to cite that go beyond Amandagate, and presumably plans to do better;
    3) Various apologies, many of which too little too late, but something;
    4) Research done by a number of people on alternative diverse presses;
    5) A number of links to AMC and hopefully more folks planning to attend;
    6) As mentioned above, various plans for activism that are happening offline;

    and

    7) A book club.

  272. Cuntlovin
    Cuntlovin April 28, 2008 at 11:31 pm |

    Not to beat an off topic horse but even Transgender persons or Transman or Transwoman is hard to use…I try to stick with gender variant because Trans is medical/academic in its root, and has been used to legitimize a very narrow definition of what ‘Trans’ which disinfranchizes the many people it wants to scope under its umbrella…

  273. Cuntlovin
    Cuntlovin April 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm |

    If people identifying to be a transperson obviously I have support, Im just saying many people seen by society as ‘Trans’ reject that term for their identity.

  274. piny
    piny April 29, 2008 at 7:04 am |

    I see Rebecca’s point, but I kinda like the idea of a book club for a few reasons:

    1) It combines the addictive nature of blog discussions with some solid, long-format theory.

    2) It would therefore provide a great incentive to read all those people you keep hearing about but haven’t made time for.

    3) It might offer a lot more to more people in the discussion–a book can be a lot broader than a blog post, and a book-thread would therefore have more places for people to latch onto.

    4) It’d take some of the focus off of latest/upcoming/classic fuckups, which, while morbidly fascinating, tend to limit the discussion in some SOP-type ways.

    5) A book list is an open-source document, and it’s always fun to give your commentariat opportunities to suggest topics. It means that they’ll point to something they’re genuinely excited about, and that they might well post long and thoughtful comments on your threads.

    6) A book series offers temporal flexibility, too–a newspaper article has limited currency sometimes, and some of your readers will miss it altogether or have too little time to follow the links in-depth. They’re more likely to talk about a book they read even years ago.

    7) And for this specific purpose, it might actually seal up some loose ends around remedial knowledge bases–it’s a way for some people to have detailed discussions while other people go away and do their homework. Of course, the same people who can’t be trusted to hop a few links or add a blog to their regular reads can’t be trusted to run off to the library, but one lives in hope.

    The problem with a book club–aside from the one we’re discussing here, namely that it’s not much per se–is that you really have to stick to it as a blogger. I was hoping to do more book reviews, but I’m a big flake and a pretty casual reader–since I’m never without a book, I tend to grab whatever’s handy. And all of the things that make books such great fodder tend to make them intimidating–it’s hard, sometimes, to post a paragraph about say the new edition of Body Outlaws.

  275. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney April 29, 2008 at 7:57 am |

    I never use “transman” or “transwoman.” I use “trans man” or “trans woman” and I’m really not a fan of “gender variant,” although I have used it when I couldn’t think of any better way to say it.

    But as I said above when I mentioned it in the first place, I was speaking only for myself.

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

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  277. On Facing Your Bias, Owning Your Prejudice, and Allies - Part 1 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

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  278. danadocus
    danadocus April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |

    Still, though, I wonder if even among the more moderate/liberal of us, if it’s worth considering that a bit more focus on ummm checks and balances of economic power, let’s say, is an important feminist issue

    white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. nuff said. buy into one and you buy into them all.

    jill, thanks for being a decent role model to others.

  279. belledame222
    belledame222 April 29, 2008 at 2:33 pm |

    What piny said.

    per stick-to-it-ness: I kind of like the idea that was already posted, of rotating it so that one month it’s a nonfiction book, the next some online writings, the one after that fiction (maybe).

  280. Crys T
    Crys T April 29, 2008 at 2:58 pm |

    I haven’t got enough time to read every response here with the care it deserves, but I have done some skimming, and there seems to be a bit of an idea amongst certain people that because the incidents with Amanda and Seal Press of the past few weeks are the ones that have been under discussion, that means that all the anger we’re seeing is due strictly to those specific incidents. And I have to point out that that idea is dead wrong. Over the past several years (at least 5 or 6), I have seen other similar incidents blow up every few months, and that is where the anger is coming from.

    And for those of you who are discussing concrete ways of changing, I’d like to make some suggestions:

    One of the hardest parts of these blowups is having people you consider your friends coming out for the denial side. It’s hard to call out someone you’ve developed warm feelings for, knowing that they’re going to feel betrayed by you. But if we’re ever going to make any real change, we have to be honest with each other, and we have to publicly speak out when others are screwing up. I do understand how hard it’s been for Jill to say some of the things she has about Amanda, but they had to be said*.

    No doubt many of the feminists of colour and those WOC who no longer wish to call themselves feminists will find this all way too little, far too late (and rightfully so), but if we ever want to rebuild our credibility we’re going to have to make honesty paramount, no matter how painful it may be.

    *And can I point out here that the reason they had to be said was not so they would hurt Amanda (either her feelings or her career) but in order to be honest and acknowledge the wrongness of what was happening? Despite what a lot the racism deniers have said these past few weeks, I don’t think most of Amanda & Seal Press’s critics were interested in punishing anyone. I got the impression that what they were after was the acknowledgment that these behaviours are not acceptable, either to feminism or to progressive politics (note that’s small p politics). That and some freaking consciousness so that we wouldn’t have to be doing this same dance yet again a couple of months down the line.

  281. Kali
    Kali April 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm |

    One suggestion: Feministe is one of the best-known feminist blogs. Is it possible to have a rota of guest WoC bloggers such as ABW, Latoya (Racilicious), WOCPhD, Apostate etc to present their own points of view knowing that the majority of their audience here reading this blog are nonWoC.

    I spent a large portion of my grown-up life in Britain and it was a huge difference that I still have not come to terms with. Among the ‘priveleged’, educated men and women (white and POC) I worked with there was little racism and racism (as well as other sensitive topics such as politics and religion) were openly discussed. I’m talking of 15-20 years ago!

    I think a similar openness here would do a lot to bridge the gap and minimize the polarization – at least among women literate enough to be reading blogs and these women white and not have the the greater power and therefore the greater responsibility to make a difference to others of our sisters.

  282. Kali
    Kali April 29, 2008 at 6:59 pm |

    Glad to see the “we’ll be doing the same this summer” that could mean that you will be back here?

  283. Manju
    Manju April 29, 2008 at 8:32 pm |

    it would be intersting to have some non-progressive WOC guest blog. The Apostate would shake things up, as others have mentioned, but a real regressive would make for an eventful summer.

    but if you insist on RWOC only, may I suggest Tom Head, J.Goff, and belledame222.

  284. Kali
    Kali April 29, 2008 at 9:11 pm |

    It’s your blog to do with as you wish but I would suggest having a weekly guest post from diverse circles all year round so that WoC and other groups are not a interesting summer diversion but an integral part of the community.

  285. Holly
    Holly April 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm |

    It’s worth noting that we do actually have guest bloggers all year round — it just depends on when opportunities and interest arise, for instance when one of the regular bloggers is out of town. I started off as a guest blogger like this, and I’m not the only WOC or the only trans woman, etc. who’s guest-blogged. The summer thing that Jill mentions is just the only organized, planned example we’ve done recently — and that’s in part because organization and planning take extra time that we don’t already have to devote. I blog in limited snatches here and there, and tend to fall behind on sleep just so I can write posts. I would love it if someone had time to do more organized planned things, of course, but that’s easy to say when you don’t have time to commit yourself.

  286. Kali
    Kali April 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm |

    Holly and Jill
    I don’t know enough about the blogosphere or I would volunteer to help you.
    Do email if there is anything you think can do to help in a virtual assistant kind of way.

  287. Sheesh Louise
    Sheesh Louise May 2, 2008 at 1:51 am |

    You know, I used to be an avid reader of feminist blogs. I loved them. I love the “theory” of feminism and the history and learning about the patriarchy. I stopped reading them all about a month ago because I just got so sick of the infighting and the constant offense and apologies over everything. I thought today that I’d pop over and look through my favorites, see if anything as changed. Guess not.

    I love you all and I am generally on your side, but goddamn, I can’t read anymore of this. So adios, online feminist movement.

  288. The Limitations of Swagger « fat fu

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  290. Jungle Feminism « Jungle Books
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  291. The Importance of Questions « alicia dk

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  292. Feminist Review
    Feminist Review May 29, 2008 at 9:33 am |

    I’ve seriously considered dropping out, too. I promised myself that I would quit when I felt like blogging was doing me more harm than good; that is how I feel right now.

    I think this is your white guilt talking, and white guilt makes everything feel awful. Instead of turning your back to it, face it and learn how to utilize the privilege that you have in a way that is liberating for yourself and others. Not to be glib, but therapy works.

    Which isn’t to say “Poor me.” I am still here. I haven’t been a victim of anything except my own poor decisions. But it is to say something that a lot of us feel: This is not good. And I don’t know what to do to fix it.

    Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step. It’s cliche, and it’s true. No one but yourself is going to be able to fix this for you. You’re asking the right questions… of yourself and of others. It’s a hard row to hoe, but keep at it, even when it hurts.

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