Sunday, January 13, 2013

More on Suzanne Moore

Julie Burchill responded to Moore's article with an absolutely disgusting, hatefilled, vile, repugnant piece bullying trans people and making out that her friend Moore cannot be wrong, just because she is her friend.  It is awful.  I am too old and tired to expect everyone to change their ways and be accepting of all groups within society, and I certainly don't expect Burchill to accept trans people as their declared gender, but I am appalled by the venom and outright bullying nature of the article.  If you're going to disbelieve trans people's life experiences and feelings that's your perogative, but for gods sake you can control your language and there is absolutely no reason to be that vile and hateful to anyone.

Nuclear Unicorn responded here.
In it she writes: "We do have a problem with “call-out culture” in our feminist and queer communities, we do have a problem with unchecked egos and with activist-cum-academic aesthetics becoming more important than material results. There is a real, meaningful discussion to be had about whether the Tumblr-isation of activism has been a wholly good thing, or whether it breeds reflexive semantic policing at the expense of necessary work."

I agree with her comments about the problem with the feminist communities.  It's a point I was trying to get at with my previous blog about Moore.

Something else I was trying to explain in my previous blog, and I have no idea how successful I was because I hit publish quite late on Thursday night and my brain was dead, is that I think there is a lot of value in solidarity and working to stop capitalist injustice.  I think capitalism is at the root of a lot (not all) of society's problems.  So in terms of that, I agree with Moore, there are big battles to be fought and we do need to look at the big picture.  However, solidarity must extend to everyone affected by capitalism, and that also includes trans people.  So it is not acceptable to make jokes at the expense of a group historically and currently punished and discriminated against for their gender.  It is even more ludicrous and wrong to then vilify and direct abuse against that group.

Stella Duffy also responded to Moore, (before Burchill's article came out) and I think she writes mostly a reasonable, fair, measured, honest article (it's a bit defensive in places, and does seem to put some blame onto trans people and their allies, but at least she's calm and honest - we can talk to her).  The way social justice is discussed on twitter can be classist and educationalist.  Sometimes tweeters expect their readers to understand all terms, and if they don't, the response is 'go educate yourself! it;s not my job to do it for you!'.  Apart from being really smug and self righteous, this argument falls down for me, because while it is absolutely not the responsibility of any oppressed group to educate their oppressors, if you are engaging someone who has hurt you, or hurt a friend of yours, if you are in discussion with them, if you respond to or take note of them, then if you not just out to hurt them, the polite responsible thing to do is to engage and educate them.  This can be as simple as pointing them to a website that explains things.  If you are not willing to educate them why are you responding to them?

And yes, I absolutely understand anger against people who are rude, or dismissive, or discriminatory towards you.  I understand outbursts of anger.  I do not understand exprressing a wish that someone can cervical cancer, dies in a fire, and gets stabbed.  I am also aware of the tone argument that gets thrown back in feminists etc faces.  I am not criticising anger.  I am criticising online 'activism' that consists of yelling 'chekc your priviledge' or similar at people and doing nothing more.

As an aside, I am coming to really loathe the words 'educate', 'social justice', 'offend' and 'hurt'.  I think we throw them around without really thinking about the meanings and I think there must be other ways to express their meanings.  If I was to talk about these issues to people outside my online activist sphere, using those terms, people would think I was a huge prick.

Which brings me to my next point, we need to be able to make our point, to campaign, to discuss issues in terms the ordinary person on the street can understand.  If we don't, if we can't, we will become as useless and out of touch as staid, boring, white haired, old professors.  We will cease to affect change for the average Jo on the street.  We will have no relevance and we will lose sight of the aim of feminism - to improve the life of all women (and men) everywhere.

I probably have more things to say but that will be it for now.

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