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Pre-2008 Posts

To White Feminist and Progressive Bloggers

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brownfemipower over on Women of Color blog has a powerful post up, Rape, Duke and Women of Color, about the treatment blogger Samhita received at the hands of white commenters in a thread at Feministing.  bfp says, among so many good things:

If racialized dehumanization of women of color is what happens on the internet, please please please explain to me again why it is so fucking impossible to believe that those poor little white “boys” could have done what they are accused of?

Damn straight.  How true are those words.

Jay Sennett in a comment at the end of the comments section spoke what’s been on my mind for quite some time, as follows:

and does anyone else besides me wonder why predominantly white liberal/radical blogs don’t moderate their comments?

it’s like they get a free pass to let folks say shit they may want to say or are thinking or???under the guise of promoting dialogue.

this is one of the many reasons why i avoid most white feminist blogs.

Exactly!  Why are the posts of racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, white supremacist haters not being moderated?  Are long-ass trainwreck comments threads, and endless displays of ignorance hits so important to you that you are willing to just blow off, ignore, the damage they cause as evidenced in posts and threads like bfp’s and nubian’s?  

And while I’m at it, got the dog by the tail, going on down shit creek, but whatever,  I just have to say this, a while back, there was a post on Twisty’s blog called “Yellow-Tailed Menace”.  The post was about Sun Myung Moon (who was wearing yellow).  In addition to being called the “yellow-tailed menace,” he was called “His yellowtailocracy.”  I called it out in the thread and got blown off.  Not a single person in that thread said anything, besides me– not in the thread, not later down the line, that I ever saw.   And please, do not insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting it was all about the yellow clothes.  Don’t you see, when a white person uses racist language and imagery including to “blame the patriarchy,” that white person is aligning with the patriarchy which is to be blamed!  Racism is a *tool* of the patriarchy.  Including, again, have to say it, the racism expressed in sentiments like bb’s, where she wished people would be as upset over the use of the word “cunt” as over the (n-word).  Nobody said anything in response to that.  Nobody did.  That is, unintentionally, I’m sure, but nevertheless, a racist thing to say, reflecting the blindness that attends white privilege.  I have that same blindness.  I am in no wise exempt.  But unless we call one another out on our common blindness, we’re going to remain in it, and more importantly, we are not going to be trusted by women of color, are not going to be read by them, are going to be kicked to the curb so fast we’ll be, as my mother-in-law used to say, “swimmin’ in the glass.”  We will definitely not be viewed as allies.  Which is a huge, huge deal, at least to me.  Twisty, bb, feminist, progressive bloggers, in general, have so many good things to say; why not be as sure as possible that as many people as possible will be reading!  Including people of color! 

My daughter, Jeyoani, and I were e-mailing about my blogs yesterday, and she wrote something like, “Moth-ive (her name for me) is always the wild card.”  That is true of me, and I don’t like it most of the time because it doesn’t feel good, I feel really alone sometimes,  but damnit, it’s just SO wrong for white bloggers and commenters, under the aegis of “discussion,” “debate,” “discourse,” to tolerate, without comment (or moderation in the case of bloggers), the kind of foul, destructive, hateful posts and statements which so many tolerate. 

It’s just wrong.  I can’t stand it anymore. I had to say so.  I had to. 

Heart

Discussion

24 thoughts on “To White Feminist and Progressive Bloggers

  1. Thank you for saying what I experience as a black male in “White Heaven,” a.k.a. Portland, OR all of the time. The problem, in my opinion, is that racism is in the bone marrow of white Amerikkka. You have to extract it in order to overcome it. Its like picking shrapnel out of a wound with tweezers; its gonna hurt and take a real long time.

    You can’t simply read “Soul on Ice” or, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and think you’ve purged yourself of racism. I don’t care how many Bob Marley records a white person has, or how many dreads they have in their blonde head; white folks, to me, are racist suspects until they can prove they aren’t racists in radical clothing. And that takes WORK!

    Posted by Maxjulian | May 31, 2006, 11:08 pm
  2. i agree 100%, heart. thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront.

    one of the main reasons i rarely comment on blogs is because i feel unsafe and uncomfortable on a lot of them. i think that far too many progressive bloggers do allow too many abusive comments to go unmoderated and it does create a hostile environment.

    i think it’s the old “you’re trying to block my right to free speech” argument of which they’re afraid to be accused. i think we all need to recognize the difference between respectful discourse and hate speech. i don’t think anyone is entitled to that right.

    i admire your bravery for talking about this.
    xoxo, jared

    Posted by ms. jared | May 31, 2006, 11:38 pm
  3. i totally agree with you. it seems to me that the goal is to have a comment thread of 400 postings, instead of a dialouge in smaller numbers.

    Posted by nubian | June 1, 2006, 12:04 am
  4. Just to say I agree with the general statement made regarding women of colour (of which I’m one, kinda) racism et al, but…

    I was posting the day of the Yellowtail post on Twisty’s blog, and I responded to you (or someone), saying yellowtail is the preferred tuna for sushi. That was the reference I understood and that had context. However, I can’t speak for anyone but me. I saw it as a fish/’sushi reference. The story *was* about tuna used for sushi and who owns the rights the primary production of it. I believe…

    Not to deny in any way your general comments.

    Posted by Pony | June 1, 2006, 1:21 am
  5. Hey, Maxjulian, those blonde dread-heads are suspect to me any time. :/ And so true what you say about picking out the shrapnel. But whatever it takes, you know? How the hell are progressives/feminists/leftists going to make real revolution if we don’t get serious about the work? I’ve been working on, waiting for, revolution since I was a college freshman in 1969. I’m getting on in years now, and I am impatient. I feel such hope seeing the spirit of revolution in yours and bfp’s and nubians, and so many others’ posts.

    Ms Jared, xxxxooo to YOU! Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

    Nubian, yes. I think that this tolerance for garbage posts has at least something to do with notoriety, controversy, getting any kind of person to read, take notice, post, get those stats moving up up up. Such absolute bullshit. I get a buttload of hits every single day and very few posts and why? Because I moderate. I don’t tolerate bullshit. And I don’t really care how many comments there are in response to posts here, my concern is, I don’t want to provide space and room for messed up people to comment!

    pony– I remember now that you did post about the sushi. I hear you. At the same time, it’s just wrong for white feminist to refer to Asians as yellow-anything. It’s racism. It’s wrong.

    I am a morning person– it’s way past my bedtime. I hope to the goddess on high I will wake up to posts or e-mail from white feminists and progressives wanting to make a few amends. Come on. How the hell can we change the world if we don’t attend to our own issues.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 1, 2006, 5:41 am
  6. Wow, I am real glad I checked this blog out.
    While I can not say I understood every word, I can say that I understood some of it (at least I hope).
    And I have to agree. I am white. I am racist.
    When children grow, they are taught things; directly and indirectly. (parents, friends, the news, movies, history textbooks)
    I believe the success of white america depends on the oppression of all minorities…but as we grow, people have to decide for themselves as adults if they are going to buy into the hate and perpetuate it.
    Its a daily thing, I catch myself thinking things that I have no idea where they came from or why I would ever think such a thing.
    I believe that all stereotypes are dangerous and I have to work on them everyday.
    And it really angers me that I am like this.
    It really angers me that I was taught to fear the black man, or that black women were “welfare queens”. My parents never said this to me, its all quite subtle.
    No one said this to me…it was just “known”…I wish I could explain it better but I don’t know how.
    Anyway, I wanted to comment that although I agree white america is racist, I DO believe that some try not to be.
    I hope what I said wasn’t offensive to anyone.
    Please tell me if it was and I won’t post.

    Posted by AKA The Vagina Warrior | June 1, 2006, 6:27 am
  7. I totally agree. That post on feministing went unmoderated because a) i have a full-time job teaching second grade and I just couldn’t get to all of the comments and b) several of the comments just made me cry so I had to stop, I shut off comments and am about ready to delete all of them.

    We don’t need comments for stats, we don’t need those kinds of stats. We don’t want those readers, trust me.

    Posted by Samhita | June 1, 2006, 7:51 am
  8. We agree 100%. Thank you for writing this post. “Dialogue” has become such a hateful, hurrtful thing on so many white feminist and progressive blogs that I rarely expend my life’s energy reading them. So thank you again for saying what you have said.

    Posted by Jay Sennett | June 1, 2006, 10:29 am
  9. Samhita, UGH– so that means the way things are set up, you can only moderate after the posts already appear. 😦 With WordPress posts go into a queue and you have to approve them before they show up (if you have it set to that, of course). I wonder if Feministing can be set to be moderated that way? The thought of you reading through that hideous stuff after the fact and crying just haunts me. I am so, so sorry and would not inflict anything more on you by criticizing YOU for not moderating all this crap!

    It’s not just that particular thread that troubles me, it’s this propensity so many bloggers have to allow hideous stuff to get posted and it just stays up there for everyone to read, people basically dumping their garbage and it just fouls the whole internet. 😦

    Thanks all for the good words– I will read more carefully when I get to work.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 1, 2006, 12:18 pm
  10. Hi Heart, it’s funny how this happens. I wrote a post today on the same issue following a heated debate on another thread and a decision to ban certain people from commenting. I put a link to here too I hope that’s ok. I felt it was important that people see that many of us are coming to the same conclusions.
    Thank you for this post. It seems this community is on the same page.

    Posted by deviousdiva | June 1, 2006, 2:55 pm
  11. Hey, AKA Vagina Warrior, I think what you posted there is great, as far as I am concerned you don’t have to apologize for a word and please continue to post.

    You know, it is a lifelong thing, for all of us. One of my adult daughters pulled me up short on something recently which really had to do with her own ongoing consciousness of these things (she is biracial). She was saying that although what we (the kids, their father and I) have always said is true, there is no one kind of blackness, there is no such thing as “talking black” or “acting black” — because this is a sore spot for my kids and many people, people ask why they “act white” or “talk white” instead of black — it is *also* true that there are many black people who speak and act in the way people are referring to when they speak of “talking” or “acting” black. She said to gloss this over or make this of no importance is something like a move in the direction of cultural genocide because black culture, in the way that people are referencing, definitely does exist. She was right and I hadn’t thought about it exactly that way before and it was good for me to. She also pulled all of us up short a while back for describing things as “ghetto,” talking about stuff we had that was broken and taped back together, for example. Why should that stuff be referred to as “ghetto”? And she was so right! I know that I will continue to have this kind of moment of recognition or insight for the rest of my life, you know? There’s no shame in not knowing everything we need to know, there’s no shame in our desensitization or even our ignorance. The shame comes in where we defend it or deny it or minimize the significance of the ways our views and ideas have been touched by racism.

    So true, Jay Sennett, about not giving our life energy to the horrible stuff people post in so many blogs. I have given too much of myself to that stuff over the years– no more.

    Deviousdiva, great post on your blog, I completely agree with what you say there, and thanks for the link!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 1, 2006, 4:05 pm
  12. This is so on point I’m besides myself. Hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna excerpt some of this and link to your post over at Taking Place.

    Posted by Kevin Andre Elliott | June 1, 2006, 9:59 pm
  13. Goodness, this makes me feel much better about my own hawkishness with regard to my blog’s comments. Right now I don’t have moderation turned on; then again, few of my recent posts have been especially controversial (which hasn’t been by design but because I have such a ridiculous abundance of real-world struggles to attend to, that I scarcely have time to blog about them). Still, I get an instant message when a comment appears, and I have no problem with banning abusive and/or commenters who are only there for the thrill of being abusive and/or inane.

    I also keep logs of threatening messages (e.g. when I received multiple threats of sexual assault after posts about the “roe vs. wade for men” horse crap), and I have notified such commenters’ ISPs whenever possible.

    In any case, whether at any given moment I have comment moderation on or off, I find that the critical thing is to not buy into the idea that anybody deserves time and space in your own forum for promoting racist, sexist, or otherwise oppressive bull. Free speech is all about your right to control your message (it’s not like the racist, sexist shitheads of this world are actually suffering for lack of forums – either in their own spheres or the public ones), and good for you for having a spine in this matter.

    Posted by Victoria Marinelli | June 2, 2006, 1:18 pm
  14. Right on, Heart! Beautiful.

    Posted by dykotomy | June 2, 2006, 5:57 pm
  15. i agree with everything being said!! I think it is time for us to re-examine the rules of blogging…i’ve almost dumped my sitemeter thing because i’ve been thinking, is the point of my blogging to get as many hits as possible or to use blogging as a tool towards revolution? I think hit counters, just like open comments sections, is all a part of the blogging structure that was created by the privileged white guys who started it all–and as women, woc, poc, trans folks, queers, etc start making our way into this world, we really need to challenge and restructure the system of blogging to better suit our needs just as we do to “real world” structures…

    Posted by brownfemipower | June 2, 2006, 11:36 pm
  16. Thanks for all the great thoughts– connecting with all of you feels really good, and it’s nice to meet some of you I don’t “know” yet. 🙂

    What will be interesting is what happens now. Everybody is reading this thread– The big, white progressive/feminist/leftist blogs know what we are saying here. What will they do? Keep letting assholes post to their threads and having trainwreck after trainwreck? Or will they moderate? I guess we will see. One thing is, when a blog is apparently successful, if success amounts to how many hits someone gets and how long their comments sections are, never mind the actual content, then that blogger becomes the sort of spokesperson for feminist blogs or progressive blogs or whatever, when they might not be any kind of spokesperson at all, they’re just good at instigating free-for-alls basically, or allowing free-for-alls to unfold without moderating them, hence creating a looky-loo situation where everybody lines up to view the carnage. 😦 But then what they say is taken as representative of what feminist blogges or progressive bloggers are saying or whatever.

    I e-mailed a couple of bloggers, too and asked them to consider what I was saying here. So far, only one person has e-mailed me back. The first question this person had in response to my initial e-mail was, “So, are you saying race trumps gender?” :::Heart pounds head on desk::: To her credit, so far anyway, she has responded at least somewhat favorably to what I have had to say over a couple of e-mails. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 3, 2006, 4:55 pm
  17. You know, honestly though. Why would someone not respond to my e-mails. They were written respectfully and not accusingly, more like, would you give this some thought? Maybe they are thinking about it and will still respond. Maybe they will respond in their blogs and I am being too antsy.

    Here is something I am afraid of, being honest, since it seems like honesty is what's going on right now. I am afraid that for some of these bloggers, the ones that are radical feminist, the issue isn't whether race trumps gender. I'm afraid the issue is that wherever issues of race make issues of sexism complicated, they choose to focus on sexism instead of race, because they can, because they are white and because that makes things "clean". That's what I'm afraid of. I'm also afraid that some of them are not going to respond because a lot of the women of color blogs are "sex positive" and trans-inclusive, and because they haven't thought enough about that, that women of color might view these issues very differently from the way they might be viewing them for reasons that are so worth thinking about, worth considering.

    I love the post Black Amazon has up right now that gets to some of these issues so powerfully. I hate to call what Black Amazon does "posting" even– she basically blogs spoken word and it is beautiful. Here is an excerpt.

    This is why I will be a Sista before I'm female a womanist before a feminist and angry all my damn life.

    This is why ridicule is okay . This is why Paris and Britney need to be attacked mercilessly for their choices and non choices. These paragons of privilege who snap their gum and pop their asses as a personal choice DESERVE it . and they should have to DEFEND IT.

    More importantly because all the theory and patience and trying to reconcile with the " rest of america" half stepping doesn't change that while women of substance and drive of All colors , creeds,belief systems, orientations and origins do the majority of the labor. the women who get to enjoy it safely will always stand by their man.

    Andrea Dworkin.

    * fire *
    *flames*
    *screeches of the innocent*

    Everybody done?

    Man I dislike, disagree with, and am somewhat frightened by a good deal of her theory. It often seems as far away from my life as Mars.

    But I love her. I LOVE HER. Because she was there, she was trying , she was ragged, she was working.

    I'm stealing wholly from Katha Politt :I miss the movement that had room for her

    IN editorials I read about her passing I was so continually hurt by the qualification of women to loving her while space is continually made for women who kick dirt in our faces. As if loving and respecting her required agreement or her not being part of OUR views meant she had to be negated ,while constantly making covers and hemming nad hawing for women whose life goal is hedonism and self concern was more forward. WE HAVE TO BE SEPERATE FORM HER ! THE UGLY ! THE NOT SEXY !

    The cheese stands alone.

    Don't make fun of Paris and Britney and LIndsey no matter how ridiculous and sad because thats anti feminist and hurts all women . No matter how much they hurt all women as part of a larger progeny of women MY AGE who truth be told just don't give a fuck about feminism or other women.

    BUT RUN FOR THE HILLS from ANDREA DWORKIN.

    MAKE SURE WE KNOW GENDER TRUMPS RACE

    OR RACE TRUMPS SEXUALITY

    Make sure we understand and be even keeled about women "supporting " misogynistic asswholes ( those who are asses in their whole and entirety).

    Meanwhile that

    Hooker

    NAvy Mama

    De fact ho

    Student

    is all

    Alone.

    Forget Ricicule . I Want these women and men and others ROASTED. I want them to finally for once in their zephyr like lives to have to answer for everything they do and say. I Want them to have to face the shit and dirt they do every day

    STOP FORGIVING THEM

    because everytime you do

    you tell women everywhere that some people can do nothing to lose your love

    and others can do nothing to get it

    and will always be

    Alone

    Read the whole thing— so worth it.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 3, 2006, 5:29 pm
  18. whoa. that piece is so amazing. i’m off to read the whole thing now and i appreciate you sharing it here. when i think of all the things i’d miss if there wasn’t a sisterhood sharing the knowledge…

    xoxo, jared

    Posted by ms. jared | June 3, 2006, 8:58 pm
  19. Piny:

    No one wants to waste so much as a nanosecond on your feelings, or your intentions, or your guilt, or your pain. Now and forever, keep them to yourself.

    If I unintentionally hurt someone, I am going to apologize.  I apologized to Jay Sennett, not to you. I do not  feel guilty; that's not what my post was about.

    No one has ever believed that Heart sits up at night thinking about ways to hurt the transsexuals because she hates them so very, very much

    Unfortunately, this is completely incorrect. I've been accused of precisely this, many times, by MTFs.

    It’s about the validity of her arguments (nil)

    piny, you plain don't understand my arguments or my position, and you never have that I have ever seen so far.  You can't pass any sort of accurate judgment on arguments you misunderstand or aren't interested in hearing out.

    I don’t care whether she wants to give every transsexual on the face of the planet a big hug and a hot cup of camomile tea, any more than brownfemipower cared that I felt real bad about my inadequate linking habits.

    Your comparison here is incorrect from the standpoint of power differentials under white male heterosupremacy. I am not to you as you are to brownfemipower. Get the power differentials right.

    Finally, an apology is a promise to change. I therefore don’t accept this as one.

    When did I ask you to? I don't recall ever doing that. I was talking with Jay Sennett– not you. As to promising to "change," I don't know what you are talking about. What I do know is, you don't get my position. And again, you never have so far. What's really bad is, you don't ask, and you consistently mischaracterize what I say and accuse me of saying things I have never said and thinking things I have never thought for that matter.

    Having said that, I have no intention of changing my opinions or my politics. They are important to me, and I have worked them through over many years from every conceivable angle.  I'm as committed to mine as you are to yours.  Before you react or respond to that, once again, you have never evidenced that you have the slightest understanding what my politics or my opinions as to transsexual issues actually are.

    We plain aren't on the same page, piny.  Honestly, I wish we were.  Maybe one day we will be, but right now, we just aren't.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 4, 2006, 6:02 am

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