So, a week or so ago, a bunch of liberal bloggers met with Bill Clinton at Clinton’s invitation and had their picture taken with him. The blogosphere now buzzes over two elements of this meeting: (1) all the bloggers who showed up were white; (2) a woman blogger criticized Jessica Valenti (of Feministing’s) appearance in the photo (too sexxee).
I’ve been scratching my head over this whole thing. Someone explain something to me: what feminist, pro-feminist, progressive , or, heck, liberal (!) wants to have his or her picture taken with Clinton? Either one? Who wants to meet with either one (other than to publicly debate them)? I’d like to have been invited so I could turn them down, after I told them how I really felt about their invitation!
All I could think looking at the crowd of bloggers who showed up all smiling is, come ON. Didn’t you have something better to do that day? It is surely no surprise that all the faces were white. Based on my cursory skim through the list, it looks like they were also all het. Did anybody see anyone who appeared to be poor or a spokesperson for the poor or homeless, a single mom, or differently abled?
I was recently invited to be interviewed on a feminist radio station about my Rape of the Hadji Girl posts, and I am excited about that. I would be worried if Clinton wanted in my good graces and would run like hell from anything like that. From my perspective, what we bloggers are, at our best, is media. Good journalism. Good writers disseminating news the mainstream never reports, as it is happening. The power of blogging is not so different from the power of any sort of journalism, reporting, writing; it lies in the writer’s freedom and commitment to the presentation of news and analysis which is as uncorrupted by party politics, deals with politicians or political power-brokers, or personal political ambition as it is possible to be. Do any of you see journalists you admire (admittedly, these days, if you’re like me, this is a short list!) posing for pictures with Bill Clinton or George Bush or any of the usual similar suspects? Neither do I. So why are bloggers doing it? My thinking is, in general, bloggers — as is usually true of people in any new grassroots movement — are often politically unsophisticated and so they are flattered by the attention. They wanna run with the big (and corrupt, and compromised) dogs. This is never, never a good thing! It is in this way that really thriving grassroots movements in large numbers have been and are co-opted, ultimately losing the energy, integrity and above all, freedom which make them a real force for change and good in the world.
We have an amazing, historic opportunity during this election to speak our minds freely in ways which might make a real difference. We don’t have to worry about editors. We don’t have to worry about advertisers or subscribers. We are truly independent media, widely read, in an election year! What the Clintons are is smart enough to recognize the power that we do have. I hope we recognize it ourselves, and protect it, and use it.