Saturday, May 26, 2007

For Fuck's Sake

I'm not "looking out for these breaches of egalitarian principle."

I really, really, wish sometimes that I could just turn off this ability to see them. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

For every feminist out there who's giving things a fair evaluation, there are those who operate on assumption rather than evidence—tarring, feathering, and dismissing with a description that becomes so common that it begins to lose all strength: misogyny.

Misogyny kinda goes hand in hand with the concept we like to call "the patriarchy." When employed properly, it's (usually) not a critique of you, or even your work. It's a critique of the system, inasmuch as a hatred of all things womanly tends to go hand in hand with considering "male" the default. Unfortunately for all of us, "properly" does not necessarily equate to sparingly.

When they become especially attached to their role, it often takes some fierce discussion to convince them that they are not seeing what they imagine they are seeing. I'm gathering that a portion of the feminist (note: not female) comic-blogging atmosphere is suffering from such a malady.

In deep contrast to the blindness of privilige, to be sure.

Plus, I'm dying for some examples of the "fierce discussions" that "convinc[ed feminists] that they [were] not seeing what they imagine[d]." Simply because, in my experience, most feminists don't "imagine" that they are seeing sexism. Not so much because we're smart like that, but because it is so pervasive that it's like trying to hit a house from the street with a rock. The problem is more often one of not seeing the shape of sexism clearly enough rather than conjuring it up from nothingness.

I also like the "(note: not female)" bit. It's not so much that I can't see people conflating the two, it's that I can't see people who would conflate the two taking offense at dane arguing that (some!) feminists suffer from a malady.

One of the things that makes the reception of a creative work such a dicey proposition is that I see some feminists praising a specific instance in a book while other feminists revile the same instance. And both groups cite their feminism as the basis for their decision to praise or revile.

Well, knock me over with a feather! Feminists disagreeing - you don't say!

Well, obviously one group must not really be feminist then. Or possibly not thinking straight. It couldn't possibly be that there are several feminisms.

Honestly, I wish Dane all the luck in the world, and I'm fairly certain that the simple fact that he bothers thinking about any of this means that I'm significantly less likely to object to his story than half the crap out there. However, Dane, if you think I'm not going to give you as bad a time - or worse - for your mistakes (literary and otherwise) as I do Joss, then I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

But since I'm also fairly certain that you aren't writing your comic as a favor to all of us (since you've never struck me as dumb) I also don't quite get the point of the post. Do you think that unless we honor you the feminist of the year award that we aren't going to spend money on your comic and so it will tank? If so, huh? If not, huh?


The Dane said...

Hey, Mickle. I appreciate the comments. I think the large part of my post was just simple expression of my feelings of inadequacy at the outset of my project. I'm pretty nervous about the whole thing.

And that may be expressing itself through unfair paranoias, I don't know.

The one thing I know is that I don't want to screw it up. I'm definitely not writing as a favour to anyone, but I'm cognizant of the gross inadequacy much of the comic works out there and I don't want to be a contributor to the problem.

As it stands, I've never seen you as one of those suffering from the malady I described. I think fresh critics of every stripe suffer from it in the beginning (I did as a proof-reader, as a film critic, as a comic critic, as a religious critic - and I see it enough to know that it's just not my own problem). You might be fresh and you might be an old hand, but you were the kind of feminist I was talking about.

And despite my inadequacies, I'll welcome your critique when it comes. Not that you'd need my say so :)

Mickle said...

dane, dane, dane

The first rule in flame wars is to go for the cheap shot.

You were supposed to say "well if you don't do this, then maybe I'm not talking about you!"

But seriously....the tendency of newer feminists to overreact has, I think, more to do with the combination of

1) lack of experience in parsing out individual culpability vs. cultural culpability (bc new feminists are still trying to make the transition from a larger culture that assumes feminists always see the former to the reality that the latter is more our concern)

2) lack of exposure to actual feminist theory - which supports the idea that different thing have different meanings for different people - ie pole dancing is not necessarily by definition sexist

3) the fact that most people tend to be very loud and not terribly coherent when they finally let bottled up feelings out

than with a tendency to see sexism where it doesn't exist. It's more that they have a tendency to assign blame too readily - and a lot of that's because they are taught that feminism works by assigning blame, so they aren't always sure how best to react to the stuff that rightly bugs them. Most new feminists are mainly reacting to the contradictions they see around them, not trying to argue theories that explain them.

at least in my experience, and I would include myself 10-5 years ago in this group

I hope that makes some sense.

The Dane said...

I think you're probably right about your three-tiered combination of things. Thanks for the thoughts. Sorry, to respond with tardiness, but I'm on vacation in Nebraska and don't get a lot of net-time.

p.s. I only engage in flame with those I don't respect - and with me, respect has to be lost before I won't respect you, so you're safe. For now :)