Some Transformative Justice Links

In the wake of recent conversations, I’ve been looking around for further resources on transformative justice. I haven’t been able to do a lot of intense follow-up on the topic lately, because in mid-January I had major spinal surgery (after breaking my neck in an accident back in 2011); this obviously has involved many painkillers and a lot of sleep and not-working as much as possible. However, I have been able to do some reading, and I want to share some of what I’ve found most compelling.

Since I’m in recovery, I may take a while to moderate/participate in comments on this thread.

* The most thorough overview of community accountability issues and strategies that I have found was created by INCITE!: Women Of Color Against Violence. Here is an awesome Community Accountability Working Document: it’s full of important principles, incisive questions, organizational ideas, and references to groups that are doing this kind of work.

* Over and over, for the past year and especially recently, people have directed me to Philly Stands Up:

Philly Stands Up is small collective of individuals working in Philadelphia to confront sexual assault in our various communities using a transformative justice framework. We believe in restoring trust and justice within our community by working with both survivors and perpetrators of sexual assault. We believe that sexual assault comes in many forms and we are doing what we can to actively combat it.

We work with people who have assaulted others to hold them accountable to the survivor(s) and restore their relationships within their communities. In dealing with perpetrators, we seek to recognize and change behavior, rather than ostracizing and allowing future assaults elsewhere. We support their healing process, and challenge them on their behavior in order to prevent future assaults.

We also work to educate ourselves and others on issues that contribute to sexualized violence. To encourage awareness building, we provide support for other groups and collectives as well as host workshops in Philly and elsewhere.

On the Philly Stands Up site, here is a post about their Points of Unity; here is a more detailed post called “Our Approach, Our Analysis”.

And here is a personal testimonial from a member of the collective. I personally found these paragraphs especially powerful:

We do not have a magic “perpetrator-free” stamp that absolves someone from whatever pain they have caused another person or community; we work to build an honest and accountable space with perpetrators. This demands a good faith effort from both directions. I have friends who upon finding out about the subject of my Sunday night meetings, are like, “What the fuck are you doing? why perpetrators? none of those programs ever work.” Valid response. But PSU isn’t a program. No one is more aware than we are that we can’t work with every perpetrator. In some cases, perpetrators are also survivors of other situations. We try to see the whole person and the whole situation, however complex, and remain aware of our limitations.

It isn’t easy to go step-by-step through our process, since it’s different each time. Typically, we’ll begin to work with a perpetrator either through a referral through [another group] or because someone will email us directly and ask for help or resources. We meet weekly, and commit to “tasks” — whether it’s contacting someone about a workshop, working on an article for a zine, doing research, working on a situation, or being the group’s email checker for the week. We do a decent job of checking our mail, and it’s the responsibility of the email checker to not only check the emails, but to respond based on the time sensitivity of what is emailed (either a “do you need to talk so someone in an hour” or a “can we check in about your request at our meeting on Sunday, which is four days away” type of response). Every meeting starts with a personal check-in and ends with a check-out, and includes a mixture of debriefing current situations and “tasking” new situations, discussing or planning upcoming workshops, projects, or proposals, or doing internal educational work. Committing to work on a situation depends upon what information we know, who can do the work — not only logistically, but also with respect to personal limits and triggers.

… Working with perpetrators, situation by situation, requires that we are continuously checking in with ourselves (individually and collectively) about where we are at, what we need, how we feel, what hurts, what is too much, where is the wall? We can do, feel, and trust this more when we operate in real time.

My commitment to PSU is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever experienced with an activist collective. I don’t have to feel guilty about my time limits — for example, at the time of this writing, I haven’t been able to go to an actual meeting in at least a month because of my work schedule, but my ability to commit to write this article and pull together resources for this zine is internally embraced as a valid part of our work. My emotional boundaries are respected — and furthermore, my efforts to even articulate my boundaries in the first place are appreciated as necessary. People step up and step back on a week-to-week basis. Literally. I was a little dubious that this function of the collective was actually the truth, but I personally have been proven wrong multiple times. I have learned that working with PSU demands a lot of honesty. I have to be honest with myself about my own triggers, limits, boundaries, needs. I have to trust my friends in PSU to help me both identify and respect what I can and cannot do. I have to be able to hear each of their own capacity for our work. I think our commitment to healthy activism works because we centralize it at our meetings (by framing with personal check-ins and check-outs), we have pre-existing/outside-of-PSU friendships and shared/local social networks that are incredibly powerful, and because there is a shared common and radical analysis of power and oppression — which informs not only our Points of Unity, but also our ability to just be there for each other and create a safe space (which isn’t to say that we don’t work to develop that space and challenge ourselves). I can only speak for myself, but I know I approach relationships (whether platonic, intimate, or somewhere in between) in a fundamentally different way since I joined PSU.

* Back in April 2011 I wrote a Feministe post about rape culture that drew (mostly) interesting and intense discussion, including some excellent commentary on transformative justice.

* Tangentially, one of the people who recommended Philly Stands Up told me that she met representatives of the group while attending a cooperative conference run by North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO). NASCO is a really great nonprofit, whose work I recommend to anyone interested in participating in cooperatives. (I’ve mentioned NASCO before, in another post where I talked about about cooperative housing.) Apparently Philly Stands Up ran a Transformative Justice Action Camp last year, in conjunction with NASCO; although I’ve found some references that tell me the event went well, I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who attended about what the experience was like, and what lessons they took away from it.

* A commenter on my blog noted that Creative Interventions is planning to release an accountability toolkit in 2012. Also, their website says that they are in the midst of a long National Story-Collecting Project and asks people to get in touch:

Do you know anyone who has intervened in violence within their family — friend — or social network? Was the intervention successful? This is the first documentation project on community-based interventions to family, intimate partner, and other forms of interpersonal violence. The collection of these stories from diverse communities across the country will help us better understand what makes interventions successful. These stories will also inform and inspire others who want to do something to end violence in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

* Here in Chicago we apparently have a group called the Transformative Justice Law Project: “a collective of radical lawyers, social workers, activists, and community organizers who are deeply committed to prison abolition, transformative justice, and gender self-determination.” The website hasn’t been updated in a while, and I didn’t hear much about them through other channels, but I’m hoping they’re still around. From what their site says, they take a somewhat different tack from other groups because they specifically try to make use of their experience as lawyers:

LEGAL SERVICES
We provide free, zealous, life-affirming, and gender-affirming holistic criminal legal services to low-income and street based transgender and gender non-conforming people targeted by the criminal legal system.

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS & TRAININGS
We create and distribute information, resources, and training curriculum for lawyers and social service providers who work with people targeted by the criminal legal system.

SUPPORT COMMUNITY SURVIVAL AND ORGANIZING ON THE INSIDE
We use our attorney access and attorney-client relationships on the inside to listen to the wisdom of and respond to the needs of those locked up. We help distribute resources and connect people to their peers, friends, family, allies, advocates, and the larger prison abolition movement.

* Finally, on another tangent, Jill at Feministe recently linked to an awesome “New Yorker” article about prisons in America. I’m linking to it again. An anthropologist I know also recommends a book called Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison, “a theoretically sophisticated meditation on what incarceration tells us about who we are as a society.”

UPDATE: In the comments there has been some discussion about my role in the previous controversy. It was suggested that I add a note highlighting my apology for my role in what happened before, so here it is.

127 comments for “Some Transformative Justice Links

  1. Purple crown
    January 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Clarisse, I am trying to understand the purpose of this post. Have you actually learned anything from this collection of links you share with us? I see in your byline at the bottom of the post, it states you are the editor of the sex and relationships section at Role/reboot where you actually employ/ commission Hugo Schwyzer to write for. In view of that, how should we consider these links about restorative justice? And more importantly, what have you taken from them in terms of your participation in a site like Feministe?

  2. January 30, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Purple Crown: Like Jill, I wish Hugo the best in his recovery. I am the Sex + Relationships section editor at Role/Reboot, but I have not commissioned Hugo Schwyzer for any articles for the site since my interview with him in December. As a general rule, I curate most of the content in that section, but not all of it. I don’t make any other decisions about Role/Reboot.

    I think that trying to learn more about transformative justice will have more of an impact on the real-life work that I do, than it will have on what I write at this site and elsewhere. But as I have said in multiple places, if I were to write my last post today, then I would write it very differently. I can see that I wrote it in a way that does not match up with survivor-centered ethics, and when I review the post now, I feel terrible about the subtle pressures embedded in it.

  3. Kristin Rawls
    January 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Clarisse: Then why not issue a straightforward apology showing that you understand what was wrong with that post?

    Like Purple crown, I am really confused by this post. Honestly, I am confused when anyone who doesn’t know very much about any given movement tries to work it out – and “learn more” – in public. Sorry, it feels disingenuous at best.

  4. jorge
    January 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Don’t gang up on her. The whole Schweitzer thing is pretty subjective anyway.

    Aside from that, I don’t really believe that transforming a person is possible or a real thing. Peoples’ behavior and tendencies are pretty much fixed right from birth due to genetics. There’s nothing you can really do about it other than keep them away from other people.

  5. January 30, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Why the sudden interest in transformative justice because of Hugo when these models are in response to the mass incarceration of working class people of color? Have you ever promoted the work of INCITE! before it could be twisted to benefit a rich white dude? And why are your personal notes about something you are just now getting around to learning about presented to us on a big ~F~eminist blog as though you’re going to teach us something many of us have been reading, writing, talking, and working around for years?

  6. January 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I have already apologized multiple times and in multiple places, including the Feministe comments. I thought that since I have already apologized, doing it again would be essentially narcissistic and would serve to focus more energy on myself; I thought that the energy would be better spent researching and sharing some results.

  7. January 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    ….how does that follow anything I just said?

  8. January 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Melusina, my previous comment was written in response to others; as you can see, it was separated from mine by 2 minutes. I was writing mine as yours was published.

    As a direct response to you, I never intended to position myself as an expert. I don’t anticipate that I can teach someone who knows a lot about this topic anything new. And nothing in this post is intended to “benefit” Hugo Schwyzer. I really am just trying to put up some links on the topic of transformative justice, since I’ve been looking into it much more carefully lately (although I have heard of some of these groups before, such as Philly Stand Up). If you have more resources on these topics or have written about them, then I would really be grateful if you could share links or other references in the comments.

  9. January 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    I’m going to eat some food and sleep now, folks.

  10. Nell
    January 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I’m going to eat some food and sleep now, folks.

    And close the comments?

  11. Branwen
    January 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I’m sorry, I must have missed the straightforward apologies. I saw a lot of “I’m sorry if you’re offended but” fauxpologies, but I was under the impression that you were still standing by your man, so to speak.

    Also, what Purple Crown said.

  12. jorge
    January 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    And close the comments?

    That’s below the belt. Like I said on the other thread, let’s ease off on the ad hominoids.

  13. Matt
    January 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Clarisse, I think the issue here is less Schwizzy and more about Feministe letting you post this article as someone who really doesn’t know much about transformative justice. I wonder why they didn’t get someone more intimately connected with the movement to make a big post about this. It would have made more sense. It seems very privileged person personal journey to have you make the post especially given the expressed opinion of many people that the commentariat is not here to educate the newbies. Also you use the word I quite a bit.

    Sorry if this post makes it seem like I’m overstepping my bounds here.

  14. WitchWolf
    January 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    transformative justice is an interesting concept, something that needs more study. I have reservations on transformative justice because it emphases on the abuser, rather than helping the victim. I do think people who are the abusers need help, I don’t think absolving them from their actions and wiping away what they have done is “a” thing that should be a first consideration for the situation.

    I think that the victim should have front and center concern, then the abuser, only after they fully understand what they have done, and have taken steps which will help transform them.

    Not saying that people can’t change, I am saying that most MEN who are abusers use sympathetic alliances in order to continue the abuse or shift their abuse to another – This is well documented and well researched.

    The first step for the abuser to take is to own responsibility, explain how they are going to make amends, and face the consequences of their action – Only through these steps, and then sometimes, not then the abuser can seek forgiveness, if and when his victims are ready, willing and able to do so.

    transformative justice to me is a means to erase responsibility and consequence and go right to forgiveness —

    But hey that’s just me.

  15. January 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Damn. There is a lot of poison in these comments.

    I didn’t pay much attention during the Schwyzer fiasco, but I’ve re-read a lot of stuff and caught up. From what I’ve seen, Clarisse apologized for her involvement, as well as the accompanying post she wrote that day.

    I know a lot of people were triggered and pissed off by it. But if you don’t think that Clarisse deserves a space here, then just stop reading her articles. Everybody is allowed to make mistakes, and Clarisse is not the first, and certainly will not be the last person to put her trust in someone who turns out is a total scumbag.

    In conclusion, lay off the (passive-aggressive) insults. If you’re not going to say something constructive, then just move on, okay?

  16. January 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I have reservations on transformative justice because it emphases on the abuser, rather than helping the victim.

    I agree. I like the idea of transformative justice (yay! everybody can change for the better!) but I’m very, very suspicious of it. If for no other reason, than that abusers are often very manipulative and can twist resources like this to their own, skeevy advantage.

  17. Branwen
    January 30, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    “hominoids”?

    And yeah, this is just perpetuating the problem wrt racism and leaving out the voices of women of color. Not to mention the aspect of being disingenuous regarding the Schwyzer affair.

    Clarisse Thorn is a prime example of one of the voices that has been given a place of privilege within feminism to be heard over other voices, but who wants her “feminism” to be a voyage of self-exploration and examination of her likes and dislikes, and not anything larger or more inclusive. We’re supposed to accept that her various navelgazings on BDSM and polyamory are “feminist analysis” and when someone raises the question of race, we’re supposed to accept her voyage of discovery as she browses some websites as “inclusivity.” Asking her to consider another perspective–say of women who are marginalized in other ways–is “silencing” because well, it’s not what SHE wants to talk about (herself!) and all of a sudden she’s got a nasty headache and starts making non sequiturs about her eating, sleeping, and grooming habits. Like all our annoying nagging about racism and classism is keeping her from having a bowl of soup and going to bed or something, oh, the humanity.

    It would be merely an irritating personal quirk if it were not absolutely typical of “professional feminists” nowadays. The rest of us are supposed to shut up and let you all speak, because you’re the ones with the columns and the connections and whatnot, but you feel put-upon if asked to actually represent a broader swath of women than just “myself and women who are eerily like me.”

  18. Shelby
    January 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I like the idea of transformative justice (yay! everybody can change for the better!) but I’m very, very suspicious of it. If for no other reason, than that abusers are often very manipulative and can twist resources like this to their own, skeevy advantage.

    Except, saying things like, “I know a lot of people were triggered and pissed off by it. But if you don’t think that Clarisse deserves a space here, then just stop reading her articles,” kind of help fuel that dynamic. Dismissive comments like yours do not center the victims.

    Clarisse should be held accountable. Vaguely saying “sorry” in some places is not accountability. It’s not justice. Certainly nothing has transformed as she is still able to publish this manipulative, disingenuous, self-serving bullshit of a post.

    Nothing has changed. From the looks of it, nothing is going to change…

    So why should there be anything BUT poison in these comments?

  19. EG
    January 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    The whole Schweitzer thing is pretty subjective anyway.

    Excuse me? The fact that trying to kill a woman is not some minor misstep that seeing the light can absolve you of is “pretty subjective”?

  20. WitchWolf
    January 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Xeginy

    The problem I have with tranfrmative justice in the Schwyzer debate is that it’s a false smoke screen. It leads down the road in which people are forced to except that Schwyzer has changed for the better when there is real evidence that after his attempted murder of a women that came to him for shelter after she was brutalized and raped, is a sharde in oder to keep his role as a male feminist.

    His redemption journey is false because he took no responsibility and did not suffer consequences of his actions. Yes, there are major issues with the criminal justice system, however, it doesn’t excuse that there was no real jeapody for Hugo. Because of his race, privilege, status, and connections he was able to keep it under the rug until, HE decided it was safe enough not to face justice and to reveal what he did as a cautionary tale for another man who “neglected” his property. (WHICH I find disgusting !)

    For transformative justice to work – Hugo would have had to admit and take responsibility for his action and work for redemption within the social framework – His lack of confession and responsibility nulls his transformation.

    What he did wasn’t “pretty subjective” –

    It was very straight forward –

    When he “smells” a women who just was raped and was turned on by it, is pretty disgusting (yes, second time using the word)

    Clarisse Thorn maybe you should have written this when you feel better, and have a better sense of why you need to have us understand this.

  21. jorge
    January 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Excuse me? The fact that trying to kill a woman is not some minor misstep that seeing the light can absolve you of is “pretty subjective”?

    Apologies. I didn’t know about any of that stuff. But I’ve read it now and it’s pretty sick. I just thought people were disliking him because he was a bit down the lane and into the Mace.

    Branwen: ad hominoid attacks refers to the practice of attacking a person’s character rather than their ideas.

  22. Esti
    January 30, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I appreciate what you were trying to do here, Clarisse — in theory, the best way to handle the (extremely valid) criticism you got about your transformative justice comments in the earlier posts was to do some reading and then post something acknowledging the many great resources that are out there. In practice, though, people’s feelings are obviously still pretty raw and just posting links to transformative justice resources does very little to address the reasons that so many of us were unhappy with what went down.

    I don’t even begin to know what the solution is — I think conversations about your role in the Hugo situation stopped being productive a ways back, but saying nothing about it feels like glossing over things.

  23. Esti
    January 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    jorge, I think you mean an ad hominem. Hominoid refers to various primates and has racial undertones, which is what branwen was reacting to.

  24. BeccaTheCyborg
    January 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Jorge: You know, maybe you should actually look into why people are upset at a person instead of saying all those who are criticizing are mean judgypants. Just a tip.

    Also, the term is “ad hominem”. If you can’t even get the name right, why the hell should we be surprised that you can’t use the term properly?

  25. BeccaTheCyborg
    January 31, 2012 at 12:10 am

    And Clarisse, I find it really interesting that you are recommending Incite! to defend a white man, considering some of the many, many criticisms leveled at him are related to his absolutely disgusting treatment of women of colour.

    I’m sure you’re very excited about this new concept you’ve just discovered, especially when it gives you a way to try to shame those who haven’t accepted Hugo’s or your fauxpologies.

  26. DonnaL
    January 31, 2012 at 12:10 am

    For a while I thought Jorge was engaging in some sort of elaborate performance art, and that his use of “ad hominoid” in the other thread, in a discussion touching on evolution and what people did on the savannah in prehistoric times, was a deliberate pun. I’ve changed my mind again.

  27. EG
    January 31, 2012 at 12:13 am

    a discussion touching on evolution and what people did on the savannah in prehistoric times

    …except for the French, who apparently bypassed that whole evolution thing, according to him.

  28. January 31, 2012 at 12:21 am

    The whole concept of Transformative Justice is one I’d forgotten about in the years since college and I’m glad I’m getting a chance to get reacquainted with it again. I like the idea of an alternative in those cases where the victim doesn’t feel comfortable going through the additional trauma of an investigation and trial or in those cases where the behavior of the perpetrator was violating and wrong but not to the point where the legal criteria was met for criminal prosecution to be possible.

    However, after spending quite a while on the links in the OP, I feel the attitude that TJ could replace the bulk of the CJ system is unrealistic. Yes, I agree whole heartedly there are HUGE issues in our system that must be corrected but even then there are many cases where either the crime itself would not be solved or the perpetrator would not be held accountable under the TJ model. There are a large number of predators out there who the “drum circle” approach would not work on.

    Prior to entering law enforcement I worked in alcohol and drug treatment and a key piece of the puzzle in treatment for a person to transform their behavior is that they buy into the process. Additionally, many of these people who prey on others become extremely adept at manipulating those around them and I have reservations about putting them in a position to feign recovery to avoid prosecution. Without a recognition on the part of the perpetrator that they are out of line, they won’t change.

    **Trigger Warning**

    **Trigger Warning**

    The PIC is a trainwreck and the article posted from the New Yorker is a must read on that issue, but my coworker arrested a local guy once for a petty crime who had a history of sexual violence toward children. On the way to jail he bragged about how years ago he raped a young girl and how she cried and defecated while he raped her. He thought it was funny and made also jokes about anally raping her too. We ran his criminal history and he wasn’t making it up and I was proud of my coworker for their self control that day. I’ve dealt with that man many times since then. He is a monster.

    How would the TJ model deal with someone that evil?

    That’s why I believe the TJ model and law enforcement could/should work together and compliment each other. Each one picking up where the other was not designed or equipped to deal with the bad things that happen. Providing support for the victims that isn’t our usual “toughen up and testify” routine is something that needs to happen.

  29. January 31, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Hmm. I think I’m confused. Someone should probably fill me in.

    Are people assuming that these links have to do with defending or attempting to “rehabilitate” Schwyzer?

    I might just be having a fuzzy day, logic-wise, because I did not make that connection at all. I assumed that this was inspired by those events, yes, but I’d gotten the impression that everyone (including Clarisse) had written him off as a scumbag.

    I feel like I’m missing a whole middle part of the picture…

  30. Justamblingalong
    January 31, 2012 at 12:29 am

    This is just hilarious.

    And Clarisse, I find it really interesting that you are recommending Incite! to defend a white man

    Clarisse fucked up, admitted she fucked up, and now posted a set of links she found interesting which she came across as part of her post-fucking-up-activities. She didn’t post a defense of Hugo, she didn’t post a justification for her original post, she just said “hey, I found these links interesting.” And guess what- there are some interesting links in there!

    I really don’t understand what the point is of making everything Clarisse ever does, forever, about the time she fucked up and admitted it soon after. Granted, I wasn’t around for the original shitstorm, so maybe I’m missing something important. If so, my apologies in advance.

  31. Safiya Outlines
    January 31, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Branwen – @ 18 Oh yes, that’s exactly it. Like we don’t eat, or work or whatever?

  32. January 31, 2012 at 12:42 am

    re: continuing anger at Clarisse and whether people are for/against it

    Can we remember that one of the major messages that came out of the original posts was that no one is obligated to forgive anyone? I can feel for Clarisse, I can definitely imagine myself in a similar situation and it scares the pants off me, but there is no get-out-of-jail-free card for fucking up, and she did fuck up.

    Maybe this is the fundamental divide, re: accountability. We seem to disagree about valid ways to hold people accountable. I think anger and mistrust, however unpleasant for either party, have to acknowledged as valid responses. (And I hope I will remember saying this when I am called to account for my inevitable fuck-ups.)

    I am invested in transformative justice, but – as comments above demonstrate – this cannot – CANNOT – be a top-down process (politically and kyriarchically). It will only fail if instituted from “above”. It must be bottom-up and community-grown and led by the people victimized most, hurt most, unserved most by existing systems of justice, or it will rightly fail. Transformative justice must be transformative at every level, in every way, not only of the offenders’ behaviours and attitudes, not only of the survivors’ experiences, but of the whole philosophy of justice and social organization around it. This is the lesson I keep seeing and being taught that seems to yet be embraced and widely understood.

    I just thought people were disliking him because he was a bit down the lane and into the Mace.

    WTF does that mean? I Googled it and this post and that comment were literally the only hits returned. jorge, you annoy me so much, I am actually getting attached to you.

  33. January 31, 2012 at 12:43 am

    And everyone knows that the French are not born – they spring from baguettes, fully formed!

  34. Annaleigh
    January 31, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Yeah, I would have liked if we had a post from someone who is more familiar with transformative justice. I find Andrea Smith’s work very important, and I’ve thought about it, but as a survivor and WOC, I am not entirely comfortable with it because the emphasis feels as though it is too strong on bringing the abuser back into the fold. In particular I struggled with this concept a few years ago when a recently released convicted gang rapist was in my World Religion class I was taking at the time. I eventually dropped the course because the triggers were too much and because I felt like our society is so strict about “he paid his debt to society, let him go on with his life,” that I, as a survivor, don’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if an abuser’s presence makes it impossible to go on with my life.

    I also find it frustrating that this concept has been such a strong focus by people who are essentially defending Hugo or defending their tolerance of him. Earlier today I had this same feeling of disgust. On Anderson Cooper’s show, he had a woman who has been trying to help Joran Van Der Sloot, and she had the nerve to lecture the audience about transformative justice. Through that lens, Joran’s suffering was of utmost importance, and two dead women, one a young, relatively privileged American white girl, and a young, queer, Peruana, are forgtten. I’m concerned that this interest in transformative justice will do the same for Hugo’s victims and those who are triggered by his on going presence.

  35. Branwen
    January 31, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I am familiar with the concept of an ad hominem fallacy. “Hominoid” as others pointed out means something else entirely and I wasn’t sure if it was just a persistent typo or an attempt to make some other kind of pointed remark.

    “Like we don’t eat, work, or whatever?” Right, ok, the hyperbolic martyr stance. I’m familiar with it because it comes up EVERY TIME. You know what, we all work, eat, and “whatever.” I have chronic pain and kids with special needs. But since I’m not a feminist leader, it’s not all about me and the particularities of my experience as a human being, so you’d probably say that was irrelevant, manipulative, and obnoxious to bring up if I was in the middle of being called out for something I messed up and started sighing about my hip hurting and the kid needing to get to physical therapy in the morning. You’d probably think “well why don’t you just go do what you need to do and come back when you are ready, good grief.”

  36. Justamblingalong
    January 31, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I think anger and mistrust, however unpleasant for either party, have to acknowledged as valid responses.

    Of course they do. But that doesn’t mean that when someone says something inaccurate out of anger and mistrust that we can’t call them out on it, and it doesn’t mean that people who aren’t angry and mistrustful have to shut up and hide in the corner.

    I’m fine with people who are pissed at Clarisse. Maybe if I’d been around when the whole Hugo thing happened, I would be too. But since, from what I can tell, she acknowledged her mistake and apologized, I personally am not pissed off, and I think a lot of the things said here are unfounded (for example: this post is nothing but an attempt to defend Hugo). It’s perfectly ok for people to still be angry, and it’s also perfectly ok for me to say “I, for one, think this post is absolutely fine.”

    I also find it frustrating that this concept has been such a strong focus by people who are essentially defending Hugo or defending their tolerance of him.

    Isn’t there a difference between saying that someone else has to tolerate Hugo, and defending your own decision to tolerate him? I mean, the dude has always set off my creep-alert, but if someone else takes him at face value and thinks he really has changed/ the things he did were due to untreated mental illness/ whatever, I’m not going to say that makes them bad feminists or bad people. You have the right to not choose not to tolerate people who’ve done bad things without being demonized because of it, and you have the right to choose to believe those people when they claim to have reformed without being yelled at, either.

  37. suspect class
    January 31, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Jorge, assuming you’re being sincere: it’s not an ad hominem attack to predict that someone’s future acts will be similar to their prior acts. It’s ad hominem to reject their argument out of hand because of some trait about them as a person that has no bearing on their argument.

  38. suspect class
    January 31, 2012 at 1:21 am

    it’s not an ad hominem attack, is what I meant to say.

  39. Justamblingalong
    January 31, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I have reservations on transformative justice because it emphases on the abuser, rather than helping the victim.

    It isn’t a zero-sum game. All experiments with transformative justice in the real world (that I’m aware of) allow victims to opt-in if they want, or not, and give perpetrators the same choice. Moreover, helping people convicted of a crime doesn’t have to come at the expense of victims. There’s nothing wrong with starting a program exclusively aimed at prison inmates, if it doesn’t do anything to make their victims worse off. Lastly, transformative justice programs are layered on top of the existing criminal justice systems- they don’t replace them.

    Am I misunderstanding your objection?

  40. WitchWolf
    January 31, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Justamblingalong

    If only Hugo’s objectionable actions

    were in the past

    — I can see where one might see his actions as transformative, but it’s his current actions and his continued denial and his continued racism, sexism, classism and actions

    are what bothers many

    people about his so called transformattion..

  41. Justamblingalong
    January 31, 2012 at 1:41 am

    First of all, I’m not sure where those quotes are from, but it wasn’t anything I wrote. Second, I am explicitly not defending Hugo here. I think the dude’s a creep. Third and finally, that’s fine. Since most of what I know about Hugo is drawn from threads here at Feministe, I don’t know as much about the guy’s writings as some here, and I’ll defer to their assessment. But all that is basically irrelevant to my point, which is that if people believe he has made a transformation- and most people I hear saying that are arguing that he was mentally ill, did awful things, and then got help, which is an argument I can sympathize with to some degree- and that his current actions are genuinely ethical, than that’s their prerogative. As are people who think he’s a shmuck and want nothing to do with him (which is basically where I come down).

  42. WitchWolf
    January 31, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Justamblingalong

    the quotes were supposed to be bold – not quote – sorry for the confusion. You can’t go and edit posts…

    The second point – is that this isn’t about just his past, but his continued actions–

    Yes, people can believe what they want like the moon is made out of cheese, but it doesn’t erase what the facts are.

  43. S.H.
    January 31, 2012 at 2:11 am

    and all of a sudden she’s got a nasty headache and starts making non sequiturs about her eating, sleeping, and grooming habits.

    She stated in the original post that she just had major surgery, not exactly the same thing as bitching about having a headache and discussing sleeping habits. There was no “all of the sudden” or “in the middle of”, she stated it in the start of the post and as a way to say she wouldn’t be commenting for the rest of the evening. There was nothing manipulative about it. The manipulation is coming from the commenters at this point and it’s nothing new. The same response was given to Jill when she mentioned her recent health problems and at some point here we need to realize that bloggers are human and actually have lives outside this space. They also have physical bodies that occasionally break down and other personal issues that take precedence over their work in this space. To claim that these issues are merely excuses for avoiding confrontation is not only manipulative, it’s also disrespectful of the space that they created and mantain, often at the expense of their physical and mnetal health.

    Clarisse Thorn is a prime example of one of the voices that has been given a place of privilege within feminism to be heard over other voices, but who wants her “feminism” to be a voyage of self-exploration and examination of her likes and dislikes, and not anything larger or more inclusive.

    And since when is any writer not allowed to talk about themselves? Some of the best writing comes from self-exploration, it’s something that writers do quite well. This whole blog covers the likes and dislikes of its contributors on a daily basis. She is a contributor to this blog and as such, she has the privilege to write about whatever she damn well pleases, barring objection from the other contributors at Feministe who make the editorial decisions (as opposed the commenters, see the difference?).

    And how exactly is any writer given privilege over others? I have the ability to start a blog right now, so does everyone else here. The bottom line is the editors of this blog are the ones who get to say who writes here and what they write. That’s one of the privileges of actually doing the work. It’s just like the people who run a restaurant get to say what goes on the menu and how to make it. It’s a pretty simple concept, and a completely fair one.

    It is quite clear there is nothing Clarisse can write at this point that will be appropriate redemption in the eyes of some here. But the fact is this post was not about Hugo, it did not mention Hugo, and it was not an attempt to defend Hugo. It was a blogger sharing a subject they are in the process of learning about in an attempt to engage others who are interested in the same subject. Again, it’s the same thing bloggers do every single day. If we want to talk about honesty maybe some need to admit that their aim here is to bully Clarisse right off this blog.

  44. January 31, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Seconding the request to know what “down the lane and into the Mace” means. Apparently it can be used to describe both Shwizzy and Louis XIV and in the high heels post it sounds from context like it could mean “clueless.” But explain the involvement of Mace. The mace of royalty? Or into Maceing people in the face?

    More substantiatively, I too would much rather have read something here by someone actually involved in transformative justice work.

  45. January 31, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Wait wait, does it have something to do with the mace of the speaker of the house, are you suggesting they desire that all questions be directed to them

  46. January 31, 2012 at 3:21 am

    @ Yonah

    It reminds me of Dylan Moran’s bit about the silliness of euphemisms for homosexuality:

    “Well, you know what they say about John, anyway?”
    “Well, no I don’t. Wh—what do they say?”
    “Well, you know, apparently he’s, uh, he’s, you know, he’s— [cocks leg] Oh yeah.”
    “I’m sorry, what are talking about?”
    “You know, if I have to spell it out, apparently he’s, you know, still picking up twigs in the springtime. Oh yes, one of Yul Brunner’s hairdressers. Likes his toast done on three sides, yes.”
    “What are you talking about?!”

    (It’s on YouTube somewhere as part of his Monster show, but I’ll be damned if I can find the specific link.)

  47. Iany
    January 31, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Clarisse, thanks for putting in all the effort that you have to improve your activism and hold yourself accountable.
    I appreciate the fact that this post brings a lot of good work to light in one place, since people here might not be familiar with it.
    I think it’d be nice if people here focused on the content of this post, rather than beating a dead horse (or the thread that actually generated that discussion).

  48. Iany
    January 31, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Clarisse, thanks for putting in all the effort that you have to improve your activism and hold yourself accountable.
    I appreciate the fact that this post brings a lot of good work to light in one place, since people here might not be familiar with it.
    I think it’d be nice if people here focused on the content of this post, rather than beating a dead horse (or the thread that actually generated that discussion).

  49. January 31, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Also, read The Revolution Starts at Home. This is a pretty thorough roundup of where sexual assault accountability processes are at this historical moment. Start here so you know what’s been done and gather ideas for where to go.

  50. January 31, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Sorry for the comment-spam. There are SO MANY zines already out there about experiences with accountability processes.

    – The Philly Stands Up resources page
    – The Riotgrrr Zine Distro
    – And on Zine Library

  51. January 31, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Jadey, so true, but I think I just figured it out.

    Definition 1:

    OK, listen to this… lane… BOWLING lane… Mace is related to bowling ball via this youtube video… = the images are based on bowling. the metaphor is of someone rolling the bowling ball down a lane, but it runs into an iron bar and becomes constructed into a weightlifting mace. And it is a metaphor for a person whose responses are random and inappropriate to a given stimulus, which is true of both HS AND Louis!

    Yet how can that be true? “INTO the Mace” suggests that there was an already fully-contructed mace… unless it is short for “TURNED into the mace.”

    I actually thought I was on to something until I went back and reread what somehow I had actually written.

    Definition 2:

    The metaphor uses the image of a person who is just jogging down a lane when suddenly they run into a continuous stream of Mace. The metaphor is for someone totally unaware of what the future holds in store for them.

    Definition 3:

    Someone is going down the lane, and turn and enters a popular convenience store chain by the name of Mace. The metaphor is for someone disappointingly ordinary. Yet this does not describe the French king.

    Definition 4:

    The lane-walker actually IS the monarch, yet upon going down the lane runs into the ceremonial parliamentary mace, causing a huge scandal, as under Canadian law the monarch or one of her representatives may not behold the mace, it must be draped with heavy velvet in his or her presence. The metaphor is for someone who commits an embarrasing faux pas.

  52. LotusBen
    January 31, 2012 at 5:48 am

    What I love about Jorge’s world is that people are always only “a bit” or “a little” down the lane and into the Mace. Personally, I’ve always considered myself HARDCORE down the lane and into the Mace, but that’s just me.

    Now, as for the OP. I’ll admit I’m a little drunk right now, so that could be clouding my judgment. But it seems to me this is Clarisse’s response to people calling her out earlier. Earlier, she brought up transformative justice as a way to deflect fromSchwyzer attempting to kill his girlfriend, etc. Now she’s basically saying: “wait, it wasn’t just about Schwyzer–I actually do care about transformative justice. See all this research I’ve done! YAY for me! And I’m even trying to get better at not invisiblizing women of color!”

    I don’t know–I’m probably being completely off-base, but I just can’t stand this sort of half self-righteous, half self-flagelating thing so many progressive bloggers do whenever they get called out for something offensive. Schwyzer’s done it all the time, Jacyln Friedman did it for her stupid article about Beyonce’s daughter, and now Clarisse is doing it. Clarisse, you seem cool, but just admit it: you’re a racist white person (I can tell because I’m one, too). You acted like a jerk because Schwyzer is your friend; everyone got pissed at you; and now you are trying to rehabilitate your image with the Feministe community while saving as much face as possible. That’s cool. Fine. But let’s be real here.

    OK, time for me to pass out.

  53. Louisa
    January 31, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Perhaps it is not “Mace” but “Mase”.
    Mase was a prominent hip hop artist who dropped out of the music business at the height of his fame to become a minister.

    Perhaps “he was a bit down the lane and into the Mace [sic]” means he was on one path but then swung off in a completely different direction, as Mase did, sacrificing one life for a new somewhat antithetical life.

    For further information:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUhRKVIjJtw

  54. piny
    January 31, 2012 at 7:39 am

    and most people I hear saying that are arguing that he was mentally ill, did awful things, and then got help, which is an argument I can sympathize with to some degree

    He was a drug addict. (Booze and barbituates during the attempted murder episode, which are not the same as, say, PCP or meth.) He hasn’t ever suffered from a mental illness. He does suffer from a personality disorder, NPD, but that’s not the same as a mental illness. To the extent that it’s a condition, it’s very dangerous to other people.

    And while he has been in therapy, and confessed his misdeeds to his superiors, there’s no reason to believe that his rehabilitation was voluntary.

    I don’t agree that he’s in recovery. I don’t think he’s even going through the motions of recovery.

    People don’t seem aware of this, but just several days ago he edited his accounts of this incident in order to make them seem consistent with each other and make information much harder to find. Most references to what had happened have disappeared from his blog, along with the initial account of what happened and the update post with another version.

    He’s not in recovery. He’s a liar, and as far as I’m concerned that makes him dangerous.

    And, well, I don’t really feel like I can offer constructive criticism to Clarisse, but the thing is: apologies by themselves don’t really offer much. You have to change; people react to that when they see it in your writing.

  55. Infra
    January 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

    “down the lane” = cutting, specifically down the wrist instead of across.

    “Mace” = to steal, take someone for a ride, etc. Supposedly from association with the bare-knuckle boxer Jem Mace.

    (Thought these might be the meanings intended. Just in case that helps to clarify anything.)

  56. PrettyAmiable
    January 31, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I really don’t understand what the point is of making everything Clarisse ever does, forever, about the time she fucked up and admitted it soon after.

    Have you never had an ally perpetuate a voice of an abuser over your own? Because it’s a tired fucking meme and Clarisse frankly sucks for having done it. If it didn’t happen OVER and OVER again – i.e. if this was the first time this kind of thing ever happened – maybe there’d be more patience.

    And did I miss the nuanced apology? Can someone link me? All I ever saw was the passive aggressive bullshit you get from abuser-defenders (sorry you were offended), a post from Maya, then a couple of links to other articles.

  57. Safiya Outlines
    January 31, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Branwen – Sorry for not being clearer, I was agreeing totally with your comment. Sorry again.

  58. Bunny
    January 31, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Clarissa,

    I am not writing this to attack you, but I really think you should consider why you wrote this post.

    You don’t say anything in the post, you don’t express any deep or meaningful opinion on restorative justice and you don’t describe what it means to you, or even what it means in general using your own words.

    You’ve just copy-pasted huge chunks of text from other sources, copied in some links and said “and here’s where I’ve mentioned this concept in the past”. This doesn’t read like a relevant, informative or useful post introducing the concept of restorative justice. Or an analysis of the concept.

    Did you ever write an essay in school and, afterwards, got told off by the teacher for failing to provide evidence of appropriate sources for the claims in your essay? This kind of reads like responding to teacher’s criticism by turning up the next day with a bunch of web links and copy-pasted chunks of data. It doesn’t read like a statement on restorative justice. It reads like you spent ten minutes googling the phrase and copy-pasted whatever you could find that was tangentially-related to your recent posts here.

    I can’t see any purpose to what you’ve posted, unless it is “look, see, I know this stuff!”

    If you really are in recovery from an injury to the degree that you can’t provide an actual, meaningful, useful post on this subject, maybe it would be better to just step back from posting until you are well enough to, rather than throwing in some half-arsed mess of links and copypasta. Or perhaps Feministe could approach some of the many feminists already deeply involved with restorative justice, maybe some POC, to write about it instead?

  59. Norma
    January 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Clarisse, I don’t understand how your post is a response to Maya’s post, which you links to in your OP. Maya’s major challenge to you was this:

    Your post read to me as taking exactly the same position as the climate camp safer spaces committee. You appeared to be arguing that your view that Hugo Schwyzer was reformed, and that his reforming mattered was important. Why?

    Your linking to organizations that do transformative justice work seems to be a non sequitur.

    Her second major argument was that the idea of transformative justice is too perpetrator-focus, and I don’t see you responding to that here either.

  60. January 31, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Cosigning LotusBen and piny.

    “I think it’d be nice if people here focused on the content of this post”

    Well I suppose that’s tough titty for you and Clarisse, because standpoint and context matter.

  61. Scheherezade
    January 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I have in the past found Clarisse’s writing compelling, fluent and helpful, which was why I found her posts on Schwyzer shocking and deeply disappointing, for all the reasons that others have expressed better than I could. It was a mistake that had a clear and deep impact on many people in this community and I do think that the message it sent out was alarming, for all that the damage was to some extent mitigated by the comment thread on Caperton’s post, and, as has been pointed out, the dropping of Schwyzer by more than one prominent feminist website.

    Having said that, for me, personally – and obviously no one else is obliged to feel this way – this post was really very cogent and enlightening. I don’t live in the US, so my awareness of transformative justice programs of these types is really very limited, and to have a post pointing me in the right direction to be able to pursue my own research is very valuable to me. I can see that the fact that it came from Clarisse is a problem for some people, and I understand why, but for me at least, the value of the content outweighs that, particularly because I don’t believe that her previous posts came from a position of malice, but of ignorance. If she’d included detailed commentary, and in particular if she’d written paragraphs about her own opinions, I’d feel very differently, but she hasn’t done that. She’s put the voices and work of experts in front of her own, so that she hasn’t got in the way of the content. And the content has been valuable and informative for me, for which I’d like to thank her.

  62. Athenia
    January 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Wow folks, stop with the hate. You do realize that transformative justice just isn’t for POC? Shocking, I know!

    Let’s have a conversation about transformative justice. If we want to have it in relation to Hugo, wonderful.

    But actually bring something constructive to the conversation, damnit. If you want to hold Clarisse accountable, why don’t you make an accountability plan? You want to put together an accountability team?

    Anyway, perhaps we should have a Feministe book club on the Revolution Starts at Home?

  63. jorge
    January 31, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I’m cross-posting this:

    Mace refers to a ‘convenience store’ in Ireland and possibly other places I’m not sure. But anyway… On holiday there, some friends and I were walking down this lane that had a Mace on it, and then we came to a bigger road with a Tesco on it. Tesco is a shop they have in Ireland and possibly other places I’m not sure. But it’s considerably larger than a Mace with a wider range of products and lower prices. So I suggested that one would be mad to go down the lane to the Mace when there was a Tesco right there.

    Hence down the ‘lane and into the Mace’ means such like ‘mad as a dry goose’ or a bit of ‘connectile dysfunction’ or a bit ‘thick and fast’, ‘the elevator doesn’t go to the top floor’. But in the context of Hugo Schweitzer I intended to imply that he was a bit sanctimonious and paternalistic.

  64. Jane
    January 31, 2012 at 10:23 am

    @S.H.: I would say both parts of your argument in defense of this post are faulty. In terms of the mentions of health — of course bloggers need to practice self-care before any other kind of care. Of course they have the right to step away from a conversation. But the fact is, the way it happens here — the framing of the health issues as a mitigating factor in fucking up (whether intentionally or not, and I would guess not) — is not new, and it does make a pattern. I can think of two other instances off the top of my head where a feminist blog fucked up majorly and, in their sort-of apologies, made a big point of stressing the health issues that they are going through, the personal circumstances they were struggling with, etc. etc. etc., and I’m sure with just a little bit of investigation I could find several more. If it didn’t happen with such regularity, and if it didn’t come with such clear implications of, “Whatever I, personally, am struggling with ranks way above whatever harm I have caused, and you, the person harmed, have got to accept that,” maybe people would be less skeptical. I don’t think Clarisse is doing it deliberately. (I will admit I am skeptical largely because I have done similar maneuvers in real life — i.e. rather than fully apologize to someone for not fulfilling my commitments to them, start in on an explanation of all the things I have to deal with right now.)

    As for the second argument, that Internet is a democratic space, and therefore if we have a problem with this post we should go start our own blogs instead of criticizing this post? Come on. The same damn privileges that affect who gets published and who gets a media voice in the “real world” (white privilege – class privilege – hetero privilege – cis privilege – on and on and on) play on out the internet as to who gets read, who gets promoted, and who is regarded as an “expert.” Sure, the bloggers here have the right to post whatever they want, but this is a social justice oriented blog, and if it ignores the needs and wishes of the community that it is supposed to benefit and work on the behalf of, it sort of makes you wonder what the point is.

    I agree that self-exploration is vital, and that it is a valuable mode of discourse, but the context here makes public self-exploration in this space and on this topic kind of a questionable choice.

  65. January 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for taking time in this unrelated thread to explain your repeated use of an obscure euphemism that no one else on this entire blog had any capacity at all to understand. I was starting to think you’d gone completely up the clock tower with a chicken in a poncho.

    Now we can move our focus from jorge’s thought processes to a slightly more pertinent discussion.

    • January 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Oh god, Jorge, I cannot with you anymore. You are derailing every thread, and also making no sense. So I need to bid you farewell now.

  66. jrockford
    January 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I guess all slang has to start somewhere.

  67. chava
    January 31, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Oy. I haven’t commented yet on these threads, but now…

    Look, we’ve all got troubles. But the “How can you be angry! I am not a leader of anything! I have no accountability and Feministe has no accountability and I’ve got X and Y and Z health/personal/etc ISSUES so don’t hate!” routine is getting old, and repetitive. It’s starting to feel very marked by a certain kind of white-girl privilege, where the passive-agressive two-step of post/disclaimer/but-we-all-know-what-you’re-really-trying-to-say thing is a marker of race, class, and education.

    Feministe has a voice. You may not have wanted to be influential, but YOU ARE. Suck it the hell up. This can’t be both a personal blog and NOT a personal blog, it can’t be both a political blog and NOT a political blog. If it’s too much, do what Kate Harding & co did with grace and integrity at Shapely Prose, and pull out of the project.

    Anyway, La Lubu said it better in her response to Jill’s last post on this whole debacle. This just feels like more of the same.

  68. Lauren
    January 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

    As a former contributor here, you basically just have to write, submit, and request the go-ahead to post your own guest pieces or for someone to post them for you. There is less “editorial oversight” than I think the general reader assumes there is, and unless there is something egregiously gross, the writer is free to hang herself with her own rope, or not. People who believe they are better representative speakers on whatever topic are certainly free to try their hand if they have the time and ambition to do it and are willing to take on this audience (it isn’t an easy one).

    This particular post is a link farm, and it’s got some good links. Sure, it’s late for Clarisse personally considering the context, but I’m betting that more than a few readers will take these links as a start and run with them. That’s a net positive regardless of who posted them and why, and personally I’m okay with that.

  69. j.
    January 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Nice to see that Clarisse hasn’t learned anything and she still has any number of gullible people willing to tone-troll others on her behalf.

  70. S.H.
    January 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    But the fact is, the way it happens here — the framing of the health issues as a mitigating factor in fucking up (whether intentionally or not, and I would guess not) — is not new, and it does make a pattern.

    I’m still not comfortable with that argument because I read the disclosure of surgery as an explanation as to why she hadn’t commented or posted in a few weeks, not necessarily an excuse for fucking up. Spinal surgery takes you out of commission for awhile, any surgery does. It’s a trauma to your body. So to say “health issues” like “hey we all get a cold!”, just isn’t fair to me. And in the end it’s assuming bad faith on the part of the writer to claim she used her health issues as an excuse for fucking up or to lessen the blow of future criticism when there is no clear evidence of that. It was simply “I haven’t been around because x” and “hey I’m heading out for the night because x”. There’s nothing more in the post than that, there’s nothing more in comments than that, and what’s being added to it, including the intent for stating her health issues, is being inferred, and I think quite unfairly.

    As for the second argument, that Internet is a democratic space, and therefore if we have a problem with this post we should go start our own blogs instead of criticizing this post?

    I was really trying to not to come across as saying that, what I’m trying to say is that given the internet is a democratic space we all have the ability to contribute, and where I start getting squirmy is when it is stated or implied that someone doesn’t have the right to write about this or that (or at all) in certain spaces. There’s critique and then there’s silencing, and I think critique left the party a few weeks ago.

    I still think for some, this issue will not be resolved until Clarisse is no longer contributing here. And that’s fine to have that opinion and even to state it, but to hammer it over and over, it goes way beyond critique into just pushing someone off the stage, so to speak. I’m not comfortable with that or the methods used in the process. That’s what I was trying to say more than “if you don’t like it here start your own blog”.

    Sure, the bloggers here have the right to post whatever they want, but this is a social justice oriented blog, and if it ignores the needs and wishes of the community that it is supposed to benefit and work on the behalf of, it sort of makes you wonder what the point is.

    Who defines the community though? The needs and wishes of some on this thread is for Clarisse to continue this discussion regarding transformative justice, while the needs are wishes of others are for her to stop this line of discussion (or any line of discussion for that matter). So, who wins? I still think we’re confusing the line between contributor and commenter, at some point the writer needs to be able to write, because if not, it also makes you wonder what the point is.

  71. January 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Accusing people who are being critical of “hate” and personal attacks where there are none is the lousiest passive-aggressive tactic in the book.

    Waiting for “lynch mob” again…

    And I read The Revolution Starts at Home three years ago, thanks. I’ve helped a friend try to set up accountability processes with a perpetrator. That’s part of why I knew the sudden interest in transformative justice on the part of (definitely mostly white, but probably also mostly straight and cis) liberals surrounding Hugo is disingenuous as shit. No shit TJ is not only for POC – but it’s not for unaccountable, pathologically self-centered dangerous motherfuckers and their enablers either.

  72. Matt
    January 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Not that I want to make any posts but, are you saying that any commentator could just write a post, pass it to staff and have it posted? That never seemed to me to be the case, but it would be pretty interesting to read a post and attending comment thread from some of the people upset(rightfully imo) about Clarisse being able to make several posts here.

  73. Melusina
    January 31, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    You know, why do you people need to THINK OUT LOUD in order to learn about transformative justice? If you’re approaching this in good faith, I would suggest you stop acting like this is new ground you’re treading and go read and engage with the work of WOC on your own for a bit instead of expecting us all to suffer Clarisse’s Book Club in a public ~F~eminist forum with you.

    And also, as someone with a serious physical illness as well as mental illness (which, to put it mildly, did not respond well to the Hugo shit but our own health doesn’t matter of course), I also find it irresponsible and manipulative to put up a post like this and then say “alright sorry folks – can’t enage meaningfully or even be responsible for what I’m posting right now! see ya!”

  74. Kristen J.
    January 31, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @Chava

    I’ve been thinking a lot about La Lubu’s post and the argument you’re making here and I gotta say, I think its pretty f-ed up. I respect you both and I’m trying to see where you’re coming from but I am stuck on the idea that it demands that a person already invested in social justice do it a certain way or stfu (and we’re not talking direct harm here, we’re just talking about people doing more or in a certain way). I’m not on board with that for all the reasons I mentioned this summer about self care (can’t link with the phone…sorry!). Social justice cannot be one woman’s or one website’s responsibility. Requiring that anyone who has a leadership role in the movement, devote their time and energy as others see fit and put the collective interest above their own well-being is, in my view, unethical. When you slap on the fact that the burden of this “social” work is done primarily by women on an unpaid basis, its also misogynistic and reflective of the doublebind of caring that women are constantly in. Pragmatically, it also burns out activist after activist. Its bad all the way around.

    Said differently,our problems aren’t solvable by harder working leaders, they’re solvable by more active communities in which we are all leaders.

  75. Ladeeda
    January 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    @Melusina,

    I missed when this public space became yours to police. It’s a goddamn public(ish) forum and if people want to publicly go through the motions of learning about justice, I see absolutely no reason why you should “suffer” through a damn thing. I can’t know what browser you’re using, but there’s a good chance there’s a little ‘X’ up in the corner. Voila, suffer no more!

  76. Jane
    January 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Ditto the recommendation on La Lubu’s post.

    @S.H.: Breaking one’s neck is obviously a huge fucking deal, and it certainly explains not being able to engage on an intense (or any) level. But again, I don’t think you can separate this incident from a larger pattern of feminists taking on topics that they are ill-equipped to deal with and then failing to follow through, for whatever reason. Everyone has a right to engage on whatever level they wish, but in general I feel like Clarisse’s posts would benefit from waiting until she has the time/energy/ability to fully and honestly address the criticisms leveled at her, which I would agree with others she hasn’t done yet.

    You say that assuming this is a manipulative tactic assumes that the author is not engaging in good faith — well, clearly a lot of people on these threads don’t think Clarisse is engaging in good faith. For my part, I think the insidious thing about exercising privilege is that often you don’t realize you are doing it or understand how your actions reinforce your own privilege. Probably her intent by reiterating her recent injury and surgery was to explain her absence, but intended or not, the implication that her culpability is somehow decreased by this fact is definitely there.

    As has been said by many people, good intentions do not erase the hurtful effect of an action.

    what I’m trying to say is that given the internet is a democratic space we all have the ability to contribute, and where I start getting squirmy is when it is stated or implied that someone doesn’t have the right to write about this or that (or at all) in certain spaces. There’s critique and then there’s silencing, and I think critique left the party a few weeks ago.

    See, I don’t agree that everyone does have a right to write about every topic in every space, particularly when they do not have enough knowledge to do the topic justice, or when their contribution is overshadowing other people who have done the same work in greater depth and more understanding, or simply when the voice of the privileged in the situation (even if that voice is saying all the right things!) edges out the voices of the less privileged and the more affected. (See, for instance, criticisms of Tim Wise.) I, as a middle-class white lady, do not necessarily have the prerogative to contribute to discussions about racism as it affects WOC, for instance, and my attempt at a “contribution” could easily do more harm than good.

  77. Partial Human
    January 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Branwen, Jane, Chava and others:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Big F*eminist spaces like this always end up, by accident or design, alienating the people who would arguably benefit most from them.

    PWD/PWMI, WOC, LGBT people, people of lower socioeconomic status, non-neurotypical people etc. are routinely trampled on, or used as convenient props, or ignored, or even ridiculed.

    I’m tired and alienated by puff pieces like “I broke my leg and totally understand accessibility issues!”, or “I dated a black guy – now will understand racism!”, and so on.

    I wish there was a movement that could scoop up those of us who are invisible to Feminism. I care about reproductive justice, workplace equality, the rights of all women to be treated as simply human. But it needs to be a critical, intersectional movement, it needs to traverse the kyriarchy, it needs to be a rising tide that lifts all boats. All boats, not just the white shiny ones, not just the plush luxury yachts, not just the speedboats.

    Does such a movement exist?

  78. Lauren
    January 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Not that I want to make any posts but, are you saying that any commentator could just write a post, pass it to staff and have it posted?

    Historically, yes. It helps if the author has some kind of publishing history, either by a brick and mortar entity or online in the blogging community, so there is something to verify the submission against. There’s also a large portion of the year where contributions are solicited by the editors and people are invited to post freely about whatever they want, and some of these people have been extremely critical of the blog before and/or after their time contributing. Contexts vary on these experiences, but it’s one of the things that makes this blog different than the career vehicle, “professional” feminist blogs — to its credit, I think.

    If things have changed, please, someone jump in and correct me. But people seem to misunderstand the process, and I’m process-obsessed, so.

  79. Lauren
    January 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    “…where contributions are solicited by the editors…”

    Contributions by specific writers, that is.

  80. Branwen
    January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Safiya outlines, I am so sorry I misunderstood you! My sarcasm detector is iffy on a good day, but it was especially bad last night. :\

  81. January 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks especially to Millicent for comments #50-52, and the recommendations in them.

    @Norma — Clarisse, I don’t understand how your post is a response to Maya’s post, which you links to in your OP.

    I included a link to Maia’s post as context for readers who might not realize that the previous discussions had been going on. This post was not intended as a direct response to Maia’s post.

    @Esti — I appreciate what you were trying to do here, Clarisse — in theory, the best way to handle the (extremely valid) criticism you got about your transformative justice comments in the earlier posts was to do some reading and then post something acknowledging the many great resources that are out there. In practice, though, people’s feelings are obviously still pretty raw and just posting links to transformative justice resources does very little to address the reasons that so many of us were unhappy with what went down.

    I don’t even begin to know what the solution is — I think conversations about your role in the Hugo situation stopped being productive a ways back, but saying nothing about it feels like glossing over things.

    My feelings about this are somewhat in line with what piny said at #56:

    And, well, I don’t really feel like I can offer constructive criticism to Clarisse, but the thing is: apologies by themselves don’t really offer much. You have to change; people react to that when they see it in your writing.

    This is one of the reasons I’m not focusing on apologizing over and over. As I already said, if I issue Apology After Apology After Apology, then it feels narcissistic; if I do that, it will be making this situation All About Clarisse. I really don’t know as much about this topic as a lot of other people do, and so in the wake of having fucked up and apologized, the first best thing for me to do is to offer some relevant resources by other people who know more than I do, and then the next thing I need to do is work towards fixing my actual practice.

  82. esoteric turtle
    January 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    This is one of the reasons I’m not focusing on apologizing over and over.

    Did you actually make a real apology anywhere? I’ve yet to see one, and I’ve followed this whole thing pretty damned closely.

    You’ve done a lot of hemming and hawing, a lot of attacking and blaming anyone who doesn’t agree with you and/or has any problem with Hugo, and you’ve made some incredibly bizarre justifications, including claiming in one post that criticism of Hugo should be verboten because you can point to MRAs who criticize him, but I haven’t seen anything that remotely resembled a real, honest apology, or even a hint that you realize why so many people are justifiable angry at you.

    Forget apologizing “over and over.” Just one real apology would do.

  83. esoteric turtle
    January 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Sorry, that should have been in one comment, not one post, though it doesn’t make the claim any less gross.

  84. January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Forget apologizing “over and over.” Just one real apology would do.

    In an earlier comment on this thread, Clarisse linked to an apology in the Feministe comments specifically, so there’s at least one. I had stopped reading some of the threads at that point because they were so long and quick-moving, so I missed it as well.

    @ Clarisse

    I might suggest that these apologies have not been as well-publicized as you might have expected/intended. The post here might benefit from a short note and link to such apologies.

  85. piny
    January 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    This is one of the reasons I’m not focusing on apologizing over and over. As I already said, if I issue Apology After Apology After Apology, then it feels narcissistic; if I do that, it will be making this situation All About Clarisse. I really don’t know as much about this topic as a lot of other people do, and so in the wake of having fucked up and apologized, the first best thing for me to do is to offer some relevant resources by other people who know more than I do, and then the next thing I need to do is work towards fixing my actual practice.

    No, that’s not what I meant at all. It’s not narcissistic to apologize, and I don’t think it seems narcissistic. Real apologies are great, seriously, but you also have to change. Not just do homework, but figure some stuff out.

    And until people see that, they’re probably going to still be annoyed with you. Irritating as that might be, that is not your cue to reach for the justifications you sprinkle into your posts like some unholy marriage of macro and Mrs. Dash. That’s like fucking up all over again, except even worse, because you’re doing it in the face of helpful, albeit angry, advice.

    I didn’t say this before, and I’m sorry: Your health problems sound terrible, and I hope your recuperation goes smoothly. But to the extent that you’re engaging with all of this, the whole, “Yeah, okay, I could have done that, and maybe I should have done that, but but but….” string of comments isn’t something you should be wasting your time on.

  86. January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    @ esoteric turtle

    I just realized that you may have seen that comment, but didn’t find it compelling, in which case my comment would not be very helpful.

  87. konkonsn
    January 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Branwen @18

    Clarisse Thorn is a prime example of one of the voices that has been given a place of privilege within feminism to be heard over other voices, but who wants her “feminism” to be a voyage of self-exploration and examination of her likes and dislikes, and not anything larger or more inclusive. We’re supposed to accept that her various navelgazings on BDSM and polyamory are “feminist analysis”…

    I’m a little confused by some of this, but it may just be because we have different views on what self-exploration entails and the like.

    Most of us pick our topics based on what we like or dislike, and we explore those topics because they have some personal meaning to us (I mean, I basically think any type of personal research a person does is self-exploration). Also, I feel like if someone takes a feminist standpoint on an issue, they’re doing a feminist analysis because basically everything is seen through a lens, and figuring out what a person means when they discuss a topic is partially understanding that lens.

    Perhaps, are you saying that Clarisse isn’t doing enough to frame her issues in the world context? Like, she only discusses things as they apply to her and ignores the larger issues at hand?

    Sorry, I’m just kinda looking for clarification on how you’re seeing this.

  88. January 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    @piny — I didn’t say this before, and I’m sorry: Your health problems sound terrible, and I hope your recuperation goes smoothly. But to the extent that you’re engaging with all of this, the whole, “Yeah, okay, I could have done that, and maybe I should have done that, but but but….” string of comments isn’t something you should be wasting your time on.

    Well, for what it’s worth, I’m currently really trying not to.

    @Jadey — I might suggest that these apologies have not been as well-publicized as you might have expected/intended. The post here might benefit from a short note and link to such apologies.

    OK, I can link to it at the end.

  89. January 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Sorry, I can’t second all the love for Lubu’s post, not the least of which is because she mentioned soldiers and myself in the post and then allowed another poster to attack soldiers and myself and mentally ill and disabled people in order to defend addicts, then followed it up with the same classic, You’re all behaving badly, responsibility dodging that she is criticizing Jill for. (I’ve since asked her to remove mention of me from the post: thanks, I’ve already been cannon fodder a few times.) That kind of, “Just get over it/let it go/you’re both behaving badly/everything’s equally bad” false equivalency/silencing/minimizing/shaming maneuver has been used all over feminist spaces for years, and it’s one of the reasons people felt or still are being silenced. It calls to mind the passivity with which people greet any kind of attack on women, then react only when she—-or they—-defend themselves. It’s doubly bad when everbody gets lumped in together because somebody doesn’t want to moderate.

    Frankly, one of the things that has bugged me repeatedly about the Schwyzer situation are the constant citing of the intoxication excuse and the mistake excuse. But there’s also something else no one has mentioned, least of all Schwyzer himself, and that’s just how huge an advantage he has as a white dude.

    A man who uses drugs or drinks is a tragic figure, a tormented genius, a tragic hero who has so much to offer. A woman who abuses is just a self-pitying slattern. Drinking turns men into Winston Churchill; drinking turns women into sleazy, out-of-control, laughable figures. When some male actor tried to kill himself a while back, it was tragic, and the family’s wishes were by and large respected by the press. When Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears are out of control, they’re treated as disgusting, sleazy, ugly, unfeminine, permanently damaged, and scary figures. Don’t think ordinary women don’t suffer from this as well. When a man drinks, it’s part of the boys will be boys motif, and he’s not responsible. Fun times, hijinks, sowing wild oats! When a woman drinks, she’s a self-pitying irresponsible probably-wants-to-be-victimized target, and if anything happens to her, it’s her fault. That way of thinking is an explicit endorsement that rape is all about enforcing certain standards on women.

    When a man’s attractive, people say things like, “But he doesn’t need to rape anybody!” ( The first thing to come to mind.) When a woman’s attractive, she’s asking for it. She’s conceited. She’s a temptress, a plotter, a schemer, or she’s probably fake. And/or stupid. Ladies’ Night is an attack on male civil rights, amirite? And attractive women never have problems at all, and men never see them as objects that they’re owed simply by virtue of being men.

    As a white guy, Schwyzer started several rungs up the ladder in terms of getting away with it, but when you add these cultural stereotypes in there of men, women, substances, responsibility—and freedom from responsibility—–then his so-called remorse looks even more fake. He’s not even trying. All he’s talked about recently is how he’s being persecuted by mean people, and he has not said one thing about the language his defenders are using, most of it very sexist. “You’re all just a bunch of bitter, hairy-legged cat-owners who can’t get a man but I have a husband and so I’m better than you, neener neener neener.” It reminds me of the way he’d moderate his comments, and still does to this day: if MRAs said horrible things about women, that would not bother him beyond among-us-men chuckling admonishment, but women who got pissed off at the constant reiteration of things like the false rape accusation myth were harshly disciplined. His supporters are using really vicious and sexist language, which should bother such a supposedly ardent feminist, but all he’s said is that he’s being criticized by mean people.

    I might be a peasant, but talk of transformative justice is seriously premature in his case, where his alleged remorse is still not apparent.

  90. rayuela23
    January 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    And…. that apology just seems incredibly weak. The fact that it is at least 90% shorter than your post berating people for not agreeing with you is just one of the problems with it.

  91. ginmar
    January 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    So, Clarisse, any reason you’re holding my comment back?

  92. rayuela23
    January 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Hey ginmar, while we’re both here I just wanted to say that all of your comments on this whole thing that I have read have been amazing. You’re the main reason I’ve been lurking on this issue up until now – I just didn’t think I could put in any better than you already have. Much appreciation.

  93. Bostonian
    January 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I just want to see what ginmar has to say.

  94. ginmar
    February 1, 2012 at 1:38 am

    No pressure there! :)

    I really think that ‘transformative justice’ needs to be used with great abandon with offenders who were poor or considered lower class, who committed certain crimes and people who’ve suffered under the justice system—-and with great caution on rich, manipulative, white guys with a history of exploitation. I really think this is one of those situations where people can prioritize. How many poor people of color were falsely convicted or if they had received help would not have committed crimes? How many non-violent offenders wouldn’t dream of trying to kill someone? How many lives could we, really, save if we invested in these offenders? I think, too, that no matter how bad the offender might seem, or whatever they might have done, they still deserve a care and assistance that they’re not getting now, in most cases. But then again, I never believed people would argue about torture, either.

    Gavin de Becker was once asked what he thought was the biggest predictor of future behavior. His answer was swift and blunt: “Past behavior.” Jeez, there was a bank robber recently who turned out to be a homeless guy who returned the hundred bucks he’d stolen because he felt so bad about it. What did he get? Fifteen years. For the amount of money it will cost to incarcerate this guy and subject him to the horrors of US prisons, he could be given help, training, rehab, what have you, and frankly, he’s probably got fewer strikes on his slate than Schwyzer.

  95. Justamblingalong
    February 1, 2012 at 2:08 am

    allowed another poster to attack soldiers and myself and mentally ill and disabled people in order to defend addicts, then followed it up with the same classic, You’re all behaving badly, responsibility dodging that she is criticizing Jill for.

    This is an honest, non-rhetorical question; isn’t addiction a mental health disorder? I mean, most support groups I’m aware of certainly position it this way, as do the psychiatrists I’ve found by Googling (not a reliable source, I know).

    I mean, my general perspective on mental health is that I, personally, don’t hold people ethically responsible for things they do while untreated. But there’s a line somewhere that’s really hard to pin down, and I have no idea where to find it. Someone who drives drunk and runs over a pedestrian has to be responsible for that. Someone who is violently schizophrenic and stabs someone else during a hallucinatory episode isn’t. Between those poles… I don’t know. I know I don’t hold someone in my life responsible for actions she took while untreated for rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, even though in anyone else I would find those actions utterly inexcusable. So to your point- I guess I’m not sure.

    Big caveat; I am mentally able, so if I’m fucking up something as I write this, I will shut up upon being told to do so.

  96. EG
    February 1, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Personally, I hold myself responsible for what I do, even when I’m in severe periods of depression, even if I literally could not do anything else. What I mean by that is that, for example, when I’m in a severe period of depression, I tend to socially isolate; I stop returning phone calls and emails, and this can go on for months. I know that friends of mine have been hurt by this–very understanding friends of mine, I hasten to add, who have put up with a lot of this sort of thing. And I am responsible for having hurt them. What that means to me is that not only do I apologize, but I take responsibility for having hurt them by trying to put certain mechanisms in place to keep it from happening again; for instance, instead of not answering an email because I know I don’t have the energy to do it “right,” sending a short email that says something along the lines of “I’m thinking of you and I care about you; I just don’t have it together right now to send you a good email, but I will as soon as I can,” which, these friends tell me, makes all the difference to them.

    That’s a pretty minor example, hurting friends’ feelings, when you compare it to trying to kill someone. But the point is that if I took the other approach: “Oh, that wasn’t me, that was my depression, sorry about that, but it’s not really my fault or responsibility that you got hurt, and I am in treatment, so really, what more can you ask?” then I’m not being responsible about my illness and the fact that it can cause me to hurt other people, and my friends would be justified in believing that I fundamentally didn’t care about their hurt feelings. Which is what I see going on with Schwyzer’s approach to “responsibility.”

  97. ginmar
    February 1, 2012 at 2:35 am

    There’s some research that says that some addictions are heritary (dammit, I’ve tried every spelling!), and that some might be nuture. But with mental illnesses that are caused by injury or biology, I think it’s an extremely unfair comparison. Add in the viciousness of the soldier thing—–thanks, once somebody calls me a hired merc or killer or ‘mindless doll’ for my own good, I’m done. That’s happened more than a few times, and it’s always the weapon of choice from someone who lives in a world where they cannot imagine no ways out, no good choices, and where the military will give you a way out and up—-and it’s the only thing that will. And then there’s the allure of changing things from within. The military gave me strength I never would have believed possible. When I joined, you had a really good chance of serving twenty or thirty years and never dreaming of war—-before GWB. For people like me, the military meant an end to dead-end crap jobs, it meant self discipline and self respect, medical care—-and PTSD. It also meant a way out of working two full time $4.25 an hour jobs.

    Likening addicts—-particularly someone like Schwyzer—-to people who were mentally ill from birth, or due to injury or trauma—–it’s kicking people when they’re down. It’s kicking some people for things they can’t change about themselves. And when it’s done in defense of attacking a strawman that no one said, it’s especially bad. Schwyzer to me, seems like the model of the sort of abusive man that Ann Jones and Peggy Reeves Sanday and I wish I could remember all the feminist writers who’ve pointed this out—who drinks or uses before he does something, so he can use it an excuse. So he can blame it for what he did. As I noted above, it’s an especially durable, powerful excuse for men, but especially rich white men. As near as I can tell, Schwyzer has not sought atonement—to make up for his acts—-so much as he’s demanded forgiveness and acceptance as his right, without doing anything but talking about himself. That is not atonement, which may never prove sufficient, and which may not be possible. It’s not his to demand, in any case.

    As near as I can tell, various people, including myself, have been repeatedly saying that using various substances do not create a new persona or personality which then commits crimes which would be impossible for the sober version of that individual. (This is a common claim of rapist apologists and abusive men themselves, as I mentioned above.) Yet the opposition appears to argue exactly the opposite; that the addict is not responsible at all. And that I simply cannot agree with. A degree of intoxication that would produce such an effect would also produce impairment that would make it impossible to carry out Schwyzer’s complicated method of attempted murder/suicide. Schwyzer was, by that point, a long time user. He would have been aware of his tolerance and capacity.

  98. WitchWolf
    February 1, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Mental Health issues doesn’t = Not responsible.

    Addicts, just because they are addicts are not excused from criminal activity just because they are addicts, they have to face the consequences of their action in order to help recover.

    People who have Abusive Personalities, don’t get a free abuse cards, in order to torment their prey.

    Many people who have mental health issues work within the law and do not have a license to break the law.

    It can help in the over all picture when you look at why they have done somethings but it should never be used as a way to absolve people of their sins.

    When you let people get away with bad behavior they will repeat the bad behavior, because once you say it’s the mental health issue, they no longer have to own it.

    Most mentally ill people don’t go around planing to kill or harm others.

  99. February 1, 2012 at 8:20 am

    because she mentioned soldiers and myself in the post and then allowed another poster to attack soldiers and myself and mentally ill and disabled people in order to defend addicts,

    This is not what happened. I did not “allow” those comments; they happened while I was absent from the blog (as a single parent with one full-time and one part-time job, I do not have the luxury of full-time blog monitoring). Since in the past, very few people came to my blog, I never had a problem before. I have since resolved the problem by changing comment moderation to individual moderation (before, it was automatic if a person had commented before).

    No further comments of the ones you described have been allowed. And won’t be—it’s individual moderation from now on.

    So with that said, I understand what Kristen J. said:

    Social justice cannot be one woman’s or one website’s responsibility.

    One person could not do that. But I remember the history of this blog, and there used to be a lot more staff bloggers/moderators than there are now. Some left because life intervened, but some left because of ongoing problems that could be resolved (hence, the suggestions in my post). Feministe has an audience. Does it have any responsibilities to its audience, or is it merely a mercantile exchange (come here if you like it/leave if you don’t)?

  100. Dao
    February 1, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Hey ginmar, while we’re both here I just wanted to say that all of your comments on this whole thing that I have read have been amazing. You’re the main reason I’ve been lurking on this issue up until now – I just didn’t think I could put in any better than you already have. Much appreciation.

    Just wanted to co-sign with rayuela23. Definitely looking forward to ginmar’s thoughts on this.

  101. February 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Just wanted to co-sign with rayuela23. Definitely looking forward to ginmar’s thoughts on this.

    ginmar’s comment is out of moderation at comment #92.

  102. February 1, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Lubu, this is the last thing I’m going to say on it. You adopted a one-size fits all method when the other poster said some really awful things—-things that were incredibly class-biased, and just plain designed to drive a knife in. As far as I can tell, you did not specifically call her on that, but made vague general statements about people behaving. Well, that’s exactly the kind of one-size-fits-all mindset that has been used to dismiss women, and the kind of attack used by that person is designed to put someone on the defensive. If you want to talk about women soldiers, you had a prime chance to do something specifically about it, and you didn’t address it at all. I do not feel that your blog is a place where I can comment in the future because I have every reason to believe that if I am attacked in such a fashion again, the onus will be put on me, and not the offender, to give it up, to let it go, to ignore it, and that is precisely the dynamic that has been employed in the past to silence or just outright shame some women. I’ve expressed this before, I”m not going to talk about it any longer.

    I have a comment that just came out of moderation at 100, and personally, I think EG’s comment at 99 is amazing and gives everyone who suffers from debilitating mental illness a standard to shoot for. EG, you’re amazing and strong.

    I remember one thing from Basic: if you were having trouble with something, and kept it hidden, you’d get ‘smoked’ (disciplined with pushups or something) or yelled at, depending on the severity of the offense. But if you went to the drill sergeant and told him that you were having difficulties, he’d say something like, “Well, then, Private, let’s see what we can do here.” It was a revelation, I think, partially because as a woman, I’d gotten so resigned to the sheer daily injustice of being blamed for things that men did or said about me. It felt like strength.

  103. February 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Sigh, no caffeine just yet. That last paragraph only works if the men and women you’re working with are honorable and fair. For me, it was the armed service where I found that kind of standard. In the civilian world—hell, even among feminists, in a lot of cases, I have not. This experience might be my own, but I do know that for many of the women in my platoon, it was a real shock. Ahem. Now I need to go have tea.

  104. Kristen J.
    February 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

    @La Lubu,

    Feministe is not an object separable from the individuals who run it. Its not an institution with institutional power. An institution is more than just a couple of people working hard and having the ability to change lives. We all do that.

    It seems to me that you’re arguing for Feministe to step up and become an institution. But I find that antithetical to anti-oppression work for the reasons I mentioned above. Society is constantly free-riding on the efforts of a few volunteers and then flogging those volunteers for not doing enough. No one is obligated to be our center of collective action. If we want collective action we all have to participate.

    Because Feministe is not an institution the people who run it have the same responsibilities as you and I. Don’t cause harm. Don’t lie. Etc. Sometimes they fuck that up and get called on it. But sometimes they just don’t perform to our expectations, we turn our excellent institutional analysis on to humans which results in the stuff I said above, i.e., badness.

  105. Esti
    February 1, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Does it have any responsibilities to its audience, or is it merely a mercantile exchange (come here if you like it/leave if you don’t)?

    I don’t see why these are posited as opposing states. Feministe may well have responsibilities to its audience, either self-imposed or by way of the expectations of its readers. But presumably those responsibilities have limits. Jill (or any other writer, or the writers collectively) will never live up to every expectation that their audience has for them. When that happens, individual readers can express why they are upset and the writers will either agree and try to remedy the problem or disagree and leave things as they are. If individual readers aren’t happy with the reaction their complaints get, their choice is either to continue reading despite that issue or to leave.

    There is no set list of responsibilities that a blog has to its readers in the abstract. There isn’t even necessarily agreement that blogs *have* responsibilities to their readers. Any that come to exist over time are the product of the individual expectations that each writer and reader holds. That means that individual human beings — Jill et al. — are mediating a lot of different expectations, some of them conflicting, from a lot of different sources to sort out for themselves what they think their responsibilities are. Presumably community feedback is part of that. Presumably the writers’ own values, and the practical limitations on their blogging life, are also part of it. And if at the end of the day you disagree with the responsibilities Feministe or individual writers have chosen to take on? Then your only real choice is to leave.

  106. Annaleigh
    February 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Someone who drives drunk and runs over a pedestrian has to be responsible for that. Someone who is violently schizophrenic and stabs someone else during a hallucinatory episode isn’t. Between those poles… I don’t know. I know I don’t hold someone in my life responsible for actions she took while untreated for rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, even though in anyone else I would find those actions utterly inexcusable. So to your point- I guess I’m not sure.

    Big caveat; I am mentally able, so if I’m fucking up something as I write this, I will shut up upon being told to do so.

    __Trigger Warning__

    When I was 8 years old, my alcoholic (and probably bipolar, like me) dad tried to suffocate me. Damn right I hold him responsible for that.

  107. February 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Well, as a father and an adult, he’s got so much power that he has to be responsible for what he does with it. I’m so sorry he did that.

  108. Annaleigh
    February 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Well, as a father and an adult, he’s got so much power that he has to be responsible for what he does with it. I’m so sorry he did that.

    Thanks, and you’re right, but I was just trying to make the point to Justamblingalong that he was drunk at the time, and no way and heck should he have been let off the hook for that.

  109. February 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    And no way and heck should he have been let off the hook for that.

    Agreed. Pretty simple concept, isn’t it?

  110. Partial Human
    February 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    La Lubu – it seems (to me) pointless to even try any more. This site and others like it are for hip, young, white, thin, professional ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’. They’re straight, cis, able, neurotypical, affluent, employed, American and loving it. They care about their own, about celebrities, popular causes, and advancing their own careers. Anything difficult, or that doesn’t affect them directly might as well not exist.

  111. Partial Human
    February 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Oh and ginmar? Thank you for being a light in a sea of fog.

  112. Miriam
    February 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    They’re straight, cis, able, neurotypical, affluent, employed, American and loving it. They care about their own, about celebrities, popular causes, and advancing their own careers. Anything difficult, or that doesn’t affect them directly might as well not exist.

    That’s an extremely broad net.

    • February 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      They’re straight, cis, able, neurotypical, affluent, employed, American and loving it. They care about their own, about celebrities, popular causes, and advancing their own careers. Anything difficult, or that doesn’t affect them directly might as well not exist.

      Yes clearly me, Caperton and Sally are all straight, cis, able, neurotypical, affluent, employed American and loving it. And we only care about celebrities and popular causes and advancing our own careers. And all of our careers are in feminism. Right?

      I mean seriously? I understand this is the go-to insult when it comes to complaining about The Big Feminist Bloggers, but maybe think it through for a minute and consider if it really fits.

  113. DoublyLinkedLists
    February 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Isn’t it generally frowned upon to just copy and paste someone else’s work into your own post, or is there something magical about the tag that I’m missing?

    Because this post is mostly other people’s words.

  114. Donna L
    February 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    They’re straight, cis, able, neurotypical, affluent, employed, American and loving it. They care about their own, about celebrities, popular causes, and advancing their own careers. Anything difficult, or that doesn’t affect them directly might as well not exist.

    And it fits all the commenters so well, too. Why, I could be looking in a mirror when I read that description!

  115. February 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    The point of writing a post that was basically links and excerpts from other sites was to, as Scheherezade put it at #63, “put the voices and work of experts in front of her own, so that [Clarisse] hasn’t got in the way of the content.”

    Folks, I already stated that comment moderation on this post might be slow. Please don’t take it personally — it really is not about you. I’m grateful that the main Feministe bloggers usually take comments out of mod for me.

  116. February 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Incidentally, there’s a really amazing-looking upcoming Chicago panel about sexual violence next Monday that will feature the founder of INCITE!.

    EDIT: comment edited to include a better link.

  117. Echo Zen
    February 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I remember one thing from Basic: if you were having trouble with something, and kept it hidden, you’d get ‘smoked’ (disciplined with pushups or something) or yelled at, depending on the severity of the offense. But if you went to the drill sergeant and told him that you were having difficulties, he’d say something like, “Well, then, Private, let’s see what we can do here.” It was a revelation, I think, partially because as a woman, I’d gotten so resigned to the sheer daily injustice of being blamed for things that men did or said about me. It felt like strength.

    I think that’s a powerful story. Is it okay if I share this with other members of my team?

  118. Justamblingalong
    February 1, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks, and you’re right, but I was just trying to make the point to Justamblingalong that he was drunk at the time, and no way and heck should he have been let off the hook for that.

    I think I said pretty clearly I don’t think being drunk absolves you from ethical responsibility. But being in the midst of a hallucinatory episode does. And so I have a hard time figuring out where to draw a line. I hope that doesn’t come across as if I’m trying to minimize or erase the things mentally ill people have done to others, including people here.

  119. ginmar
    February 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    121: go ahead. The other big thing, for me, was how , for the first time, I was treated in a non-sexual way. I wasn’t there for my fuckability to be assessed. I wasn’t there to look pretty. I was there to work, and that’s what mattered. That was absolutely astonishing to me.

    We had an all-male drill team, and it was apparent from the nervous giggles among the troops that when the drills talked to us about the effects the stress and exertion might have on our periods, that for these girls and women they’d never before experienced a man speaking about their bodies in an absolutely matter-of-fact kind of way that didn’t involve some kind of cringing or disgust.

    122: I was thinking about something, as somebody who’s wrestled with suicidal depression for the last six years or so. I remember how clear the thought was that I had to relieve my friends of the problems I was causing them. I was a burden, and I was weighing on my friends.

    But the idea of hurting someone else? I can’t even. I was trying to relieve pain by killing myself—–that of my friends and family. Taking someone else’s life would have been so appalling a thought at the time I can’t even imagine. I don’t know how common that is with people who have attempted suicide, but I remember the feeling very clearly. I had to make amends for my existence by relieving people of my presence. And let’s face it—-trying to kill somebody IS hurting them. I cannot imagine being that deep in depression again and actually deciding, planning, and executing a plot to kill someone else.

  120. EG
    February 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I have a comment that just came out of moderation at 100, and personally, I think EG’s comment at 99 is amazing and gives everyone who suffers from debilitating mental illness a standard to shoot for. EG, you’re amazing and strong.

    That’s so kind of you, but please don’t think I’m very good at making it work. I try, I really do, but when I’m in a bad episode, well…trying doesn’t always work.

  121. February 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

    @Yonah

    “It reminds me of Dylan Moran’s bit about the silliness of euphemisms for homosexuality”

    (at almost the very end)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQaoPHV9YvA

  122. ginmar
    February 5, 2012 at 6:12 am

    EG, let me tell you—-I know exactly what you’re talking about. Far too well. That’s why your comment is so amazing.

Comments are closed.