|image is from here|
Dear Queer Community,
It seems to me there's kind of a general culture online of throwing around of hateful and disrespectful speech, particularly if not uniquely in the queer blogosphere. I see this in many blogs which I won't name in part because there are too many to name. That said, the list isn't uncountable. It's a definite number--perhaps growing, perhaps not. But what I'm seeing is a rather nasty, almost compulsively snarky, and generally unconstructive way of engaging that seems to do little more than demonstrate that yes, we can insult each other and treat each other in emotionally harmful ways, while never really engaging in meaningful dialogue and respectfully agreeing to disagree.
I also find that our online blogging community both is and is not a voice for the offline community. After checking this out with several people in our community as citizens and activists, what I find is that many of the terms we use to divide ourselves up, to fuel tensions and deepen disagreements do not exist offline in general discourse. This means one of three things:
--the realities we discuss here are not relevant to the lives of people who do not blog, or
--what we discuss does not reflect actual lived life of most LBGTIQA people, or
--how we discuss things is elitist and removed from how people offline speak of their lives and their struggles
I think particular environments are likely to creating their own ways of being and doing things. And in the blogging world, it seems, being snarky, nasty, mean, and hateful is too often held as both acceptable and a worthwhile endeavor.While it may benefit a few individuals to write about other groups of people in demeaning and grossly stereotypical ways, I wonder what the effect is generally on our capacity to care about one another or at least see one another as full human beings.
I hold out little hope that white het men will "come around" and care about the concerns radical activists working to end male and white supremacy, and Western corporate tyranny, and U.S. militarism-as-foreign-policy. I want them to get it and challenge one another accordingly. But I don't have much hope for that. The levels of protections and privileges, the forms of power and the range of entitlements, that WHM possess and maintain, are so encouraging of living in denial about what everyone who isn't a WHM experiences. The denials is a consequence of not experiencing what most people around the world experience.
If you are not raped, or your body isn't socially targeted for rape, and your gender isn't targeted for rape, how are you to know what it feels like to hear that another woman has been raped? How are you to register "rape" as a form of gendered terrorism that men commit disproportionately and intentionally against women and girls? If you are white, how are you to know the forms of invisibility and stigma people of color carry within them that are inflicted and maintained by white society?
What people raised with male privileges (however modified they might be by other factors), don't generally acknowledge, is the degree to which they shape the behavior of the people with them. I find the same dynamic operating among whites: willful denial of privileges based on race.
What I see in our community is men and males who (intentionally or not) disrespect and hurt women--lesbians and women who are not lesbian--without regard for the effect, except to take pleasure when the effect is damaging to women.What I have observed is gay men, bisexual men, trans men, and trans women raised with male privileges, discounting women's experience as not sufficiently real or valid to take seriously. Or to cause one to make changes in one's own male-privileged and/or misogynistic behavior.
I would say that white racism, male supremacy, and an attachment to the values of corporate capitalism are three forces that combine to make our community one more place where many women are not safe from abuse and harassment. I see this harassment and abuse online, on blogs that seem to think that radical feminists--the few they name--are able to inflict oppressive harm systematically against some in our community the way that men do. To me, that's utter nonsense. How, structurally, would that even be possible? How could that happen systemically, when radical feminists aren't in charge of any dominant systems? Men and males are in charge, not women, not females. And in the West, whites are in charge--not people of color.
Unowned and irresponsible use of white and male privileges are two things I see being acted out on blogs. Gay men disrespect women, lesbian or not, and male-privileged people, trans or not, disrespect radical lesbian feminists--the few they name or believe they know.
I have yet to see one book written by a radical lesbian feminist responsibly and respectfully engaged with. Not one. Why is that? I see writings by men engaged with as if the author was a person deserving of respect and regard. Whole academic disciplines are organised around the ideas and ideologies of men, too often white men. But when the author, the historian, the social and cultural critic, the activist, is a lesbian-identified woman who is not transgender or transsexual, there is not such engagement or care to understand the meaning of the work.
I welcome someone linking me to even one gay male-privileged, bi male-privileged, or trans male-privileged blogger who responsibly, thoughtfully, carefully, respectfully analyses and engages with just one book written by a radical lesbian feminist. Just one. Or with just one activist who is a radical lesbian feminist. Just one. Because I'm beginning to wonder whether anyone who is not a radical lesbian feminist is even capable of doing this. I mean emotionally and intellectually capable. I mean spiritually and politically capable. I have "virtually" no evidence of such engagement happening. And I believe that ought to be a concern for all of us. Because radical lesbian feminism is one of the most pro-liberatory and intentionally anti-status quo movements to rise out of our community, or one portion of it. I know many lesbians do not identify as queer or feel a part of queer community. But het male society does locate lesbians of any political affiliation or identity as "who is queer", and we are defined, often enough, by our oppressors.
Why won't non-lesbian, non-feminist, non-radical people engage responsible and respectfully with radical lesbian feminist authors and activists? I'd like someone to explain why without being anti-feminist, misogynistic, or arrogantly male supremacist when doing so.
Yours in the struggle,