Erica Barnett, of the Feminist blog “I am Sick of Your Insane Demands” has apparently let her domain name expire. I sincerely hope this doesn’t mean the end to her blogging career. Erica was insightful and provocative and always had something interesting to say. Her awesome blog was one of the few on my blogroll and I always clicked as soon as there was new stuff to read. She was, among other things, my go-to girl on PETA and Hillary Clinton and I will miss her terribly.
Erica, if you’re reading, come back! We need your voice.
Maybe I’m coming in a little late to the game and there’s already a whole bunch of incisive commentary about Pandagon’s ads. I’m new to that site, having just discovered the Google Reader iPhone app and gone batshit crazy on adding every femblog I could think of to it, so pardon my ignorance to the backlash, if one indeed exists.
So what the fuck? When did popular feminist blogs start being okay with ads using the faux-frightened, finger chewing women wearing only t-shirts to sell clothes and a naked Pamela Anderson to promote PETA, one of the most mysogonistic organizations to ever curse the planet? “Watch as this sexy icon lays it all out in this very graphic video.” Clever bait and switch, except not. Vile and disturbing and profoundly disappointing.
That’s the kind of shit I expect to see on just about every other kind of website in the universe – liberal and conservative and ecommerce and catholic and movie review and cooking tips and music downloading and nutrition and world news, whatever. It’s everywhere. But on a feminist blog? Are you freaking kidding me? Is nothing sacred? Nothing at all? Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing the writers at Pandagon are trying to change about the world?
I actively avoid sites/blogs that use this kind of imagery to sell or promote. It ain’t easy, I tell you what, but I do it because seeing that stuff a thousand and one times per day makes my hands shake and puts me in a funk that’s getting harder and harder to shake off. Of course I realize that I can’t entirely avoid provocotivey positioned ladies on the porn-addled, man-is-the-default-user innerwebs, and I’m more than adept at clicking away when I see it, but I honestly expect that the sites that I’ve designated in my little reader as Feminist will not actually contribute to the woman-hating horseshit I presume they’re rallying against.
For heck’s sake, Pandagon. I hope you get your priorities straight.
My blog has of late been inundated with critical comments from folks who think that feminism is sexist and that feminists are kinda dumb. They tell me that they’re right and I’m wrong, declare my blog a pointless waste of time, and proudly claim that I’ve proven their arguments about feminism because I don’t engage them in a healthy discussion about how brainless and robotic feminists are. Aha! They say. Gotcha!
I am obviously under no obligation to respond to the criticism levied at feminism on my blog, what with me being my own actual thinking person and not, in fact, the press secretary for the international feminist club trying to take over the world, but I have to admit to being mildly titillated by all these attacks on feminism based on what I write here.
It would be justifiable to dismiss it all as part of the feminist backlash/product of male privilege and move on, and it may very well be those things, but I also think that there’s something way off about the whole thing and I want to figure out what it is. Maybe there’s a fundamental misunderstanding at work here?
Flimsy and unsupported endlessly-regurgitated hypotheses, psycho-socio-jargon, ideological rhetoric, dominant feminist discourse, sense of intellectual superiority, lens of theory. All phrases used in critical comments about me and, directly or implicitly, all feminists.
Hmmm. It appears that my blog (and many like it) has become akin to an intro women’s studies class where a few tardy, unprepared, dialogue-dominating, self-righteous freshman boys, who are taking it in order to get what they think will be an easy A and to sharpen their debate skills, only listen to female voices in anticipation of finding a faulty theoretical argument to attack and use against them.
So first of all, what the hell is the dominant feminist discourse? Can someone point me to the Wikipedia article on this? I really have no idea what they’re talking about. Wait, now that I think of it, I’m not sure I know what most of those things mean. Ideological rhetoric? Lens of theory? Psycho-social jargon? What the fuck? None of those things mean anything to me. You wanna talk about jargon? Well that’s just about the most jargony jargon I ever heard! So who’s regurgitating what now?
Hey, I think we’re on to something here. Perhaps the Freshmen, as I will call them, think feminism is just a debate topic. An academic exercise. A set of well-defined theories, held uniformly by all of it proponents, for them to intellectually process and refute. And I’m getting the sense that they think women experience it that way too.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I experience feminism through my revulsion to popular misogyny. When I see a beer commercial about a man’s inner struggle with his hot blonde twins in bikinis fantasy versus his naggy brunette girlfriend reality, I don’t think about it, I feel it. When I watch 37 trailers to upcoming movies and don’t see a single one about a woman, I don’t immediately come up with “regurgitated” rhetoric that explains it, I feel it first. When I hear a CNN newscaster tell me about the sexual history of a rape victim, my heart beats fast and my tummy hurts.
This has nothing to do with intellectual processing, everything to do with my aversion to being instructed to hate myself and my refusal to accept that women are peripheral to the human experience. Feminist theories on gender and patriarchy have given me the ability and the language needed to put it all into perspective, but the raw, unfiltered physical reaction I have to such messages, along with the resounding ‘Fuck Yeah!’ feeling I get when someone voices a frustration that I haven’t been able to put words to – those are the things that make me a feminist.
This is why it’s hard for me to respond with any measure of understanding to the men who come at me, guns a-blazing, ready to debate feminism as if it’s a fun little academic exercise, all rife with “you’re all the same” declarations. I don’t respond well to those attacks because I don’t understand feminism or misogyny as theoretical in nature.
Misogyny is my enemy, men are not, and telling whomever will listen that it’s rampant and painful, in a time when its many manifestations are vehemently denied as being harmful, is how I’ve chosen to participate in the battle against it. Denigrating me for that is a fantastic waste of time.
Funny thing. I’ve noticed that the men who come on to feminist blogs to argue about how men have rights too and how feminists are woefully misguided about the true nature of women – these men very often have obviously male names. They make it clear, if not within their comments, then with their handles, that they’re men.
I wonder, if these guys want to actually engage in meaningful dialogue about feminist ideas, as they claim they do, why do they feel the need to make it clear from the get go that they’re men?
Could it be that they assume from a lifetime of male privilege that they have a right, an obligation even, to interrupt women, announce their manhood, and expect full attention? That any discussion among women is not legitimate until a man is there to guide the conversational journey? That what they say has more weight and is inherently more important that anything a woman has to say? That women joyfully welcome the wisdom of the male perspective on whatever topic is at hand?
Or are they hoping that the feminists will quickly see that one of the “enemy” is in their midst and then attack whatever he says (because he’s a man, of course, and not because he’s saying ridiculous and ignorant things), thereby giving him all the proof he needs to support his argument that feminists are a bunch of hateful irrational hags that viciously slander the kind-hearted men who only want to help them become better people?
I was wondering how long it would take before the rape threats made it into my comments. I know how any blog written by a woman, but most especially feminist blogs, get a ton of the “you just need a good fuck” comments, but I guess I thought my barely-read, barely-begun blog would be immune for at least a while. Ack, no such luck.
News flash! Suggesting that a female blogger be raped in order to cure her of having opinions you don’t like isn’t new, funny, or interesting. Male-dominated culture is defined by its relentless threat of violence against women – you aren’t saying anything that all of us haven’t heard a thousand times before in some form or another. Which is pretty much the reason that I started writing here in the first place.
I’d love to prevent people like you from even thinking the way you do, but that’s a big task. I need more time. Until then, keep away worthless little trolls. You’re fucking dumb and your words mean nothing to me.