I love the interblog fights. Last one I was in on took off from the Feministe slapdown of the Sadly, No! ruffians over their free use of the word cunt as an epithet. Which goes to show the liberal dude is not your ally but a wolf in sheeps clothing, steeped in privilege, typified by his refusal to knuckle under the feminist re-education campaign which went on for a week and led to thousands of posts on millions of blogs.
I’m about to share my take on it by starting with the insightful and pro-social Pinko Punko, who checked in with an indication of how bad things got on day three or so, when the frayed and sleepless were trolling each others blogs, performing our umbrage and rolling fat heads on the killing floor:
Everybody just take their asshole reduction pill. Nobody is arguing from a purely intellectual stance anymore. Everyone is just pissed off. Just stop it. Nobody has said here’s what bothers me and here’s why. Everything is couched in all these weird terms and spouting off. It is pretty clear people only care about pissing other people off. That is what happens in real life. That is why people make fun of other people. They want to piss them off and make themselves feel better.
Seriously, corn dogs for everyone. I’ve seen JackGoff around the internet a lot and he’s pretty reasonable a lot of the time. You know what, he’s pissed off now, and he’s doing to same thing others would do if they were pissed off, going over and stirring shit up. That’s how it works. Since everybody is projecting their entire life histories onto these arguments and other people’s motivations, it is pretty clear that there can be no way forward. I call it the “wall of pain.” The wall has been breached and there is a fucking pain fountain of everybody in the world’s issues related only tangentially to anything.
These things cannot be sussed out in a multi-dimensional comment thread featuring 400 different voices. If anybody here cared about any of this shit, they would start doing it one on one offline. But I don’t think people really care, they just want to flame on. Chunderbags of the world know where my e-mail is, so they can follow up there. If people want to actually talk to each other they should do so, but I think it is clear this whole thing is a ridiculous farce.
Those words made me happy to eat a sandwich and consider my own participation. When feminist controversies come up I start from intent and proceed from there. Bloggers looking to demean men are easily dismissible, but the threads I relate to are even worse in their way, the ones professing a sincere wish to dictate what any fool can see as appropriate behavioral norms, which in this fight is the majority and hair-raising feminist stance (as articulated here), and though I totally relate to the impulse to fix people I’ve made peace with the realization that at best I might be able to influence them, and that’s both fair and enough, fair enough.
Ilyka is working hard on influencing men. Let’s take a page from her notebook, the much-quoted conversation with her boyfriend, who says:
I swear, but the way you express things sometimes, isn’t it just making it easier for men to get defensive?”
“No,” I said firmly, “What we aren’t doing is taking care of them. Nurturing them. Putting their feelings first. Looking out for them, making things safe for them. We aren’t making them the center. … I mean, you can pitch a fit, go right ahead, but it’s not going to end with me bringing you your binky and kissing your forehead. It’s going to end with my foot in your ass.”
I hope that answers the question: No, the way we express things clearly isn’t making it easier for men to get defensive.
It’s this sloppiness I resent. I’m not against making men defensive. There’s no right or wrong in it. If I make you defensive, I’m not going to stop, I’m going to be interested in it. I’m going to learn what it is you’re trying to protect.
I’m interested because I’m trying to influence you, which I take as my feminist prerogative. I have to get through the defense to be heard, so doing what I can to get passed it is simple problem solving. But this is when I feel clobbered by women who posit that my caring about the other person’s reaction to me makes me unfeminist. So let’s blow the dust off a body of scholarship that maintains caring as a feminist imperative. Oh, it’s out there:
“…a state of being in relation, characterized by receptivity, relatedness and engrossment…that is to say that both gain from the encounter in different ways and both give.”
But it’s beneath me to care about your feelings. I care more about injustice, so should you!
Go ahead and make me!
Problem solved. Seriously, what the hell is this? It’s called feminism, sugar, we’ll come back to it.
And now, NOW we can talk about “cunt” being “just a fun word to say:” Sure it is, when you’re a guy. When you’ve had it directed at you personally, not to refer to your parts but to reduce you to them, it’s not such a blast….We are not being language police when we say “please quit calling us cunts;” we are being worse than that. We are being idea police, and we’d like the idea that you cockslaps have any right to dehumanize us, any of us, to die, now. It is past time.
Which was her response to this misguided commenter at Roy Edroso’s place:
The staggering diversity of opinion on what cunt means just on this thread makes its intent cloudy no? Could mean a lot of things — thus, like in MOST THINGS, context matters. And the context of nigger does too — obviously.
But that doesn’t even address the fact that blacks can choose all by themselves what they consider offensive, just as everyone else can.
No they can’t and saying so is to participate in the sort of mental health propaganda I’m trying to cure here. The conflation of emotion with reason is not just wrong, one could even call them opposite and be closer to the truth. What’s the opposite of logic? You would know this if not for having been successfully propagandized. The point is one can’t change emotion by rational argument. We resolve emotion, suddenly you realize what used to make you crazy doesn’t get a rise out of you anymore, and you don’t know exactly how that came about, but it’s far from spontaneous. The way to resolve emotion is to let it finish, and that’s not a predictable or linear process.
What can be predicted is cause and effect. People take rigid positions because they’re reacting to emotional wounds. You weren’t born with the reactions you have to certain words, whatever they be. Words become charged with emotion according to our life experience. I have an emotional reaction to certain words. The words are not themselves good or bad. My history and relationship with the word matters, more than the speakers who continue to use it with indifference to my pain. Something older than now is the cause of my reaction. You are not the problem. But I still have a problem. And you have your own words that are not the same as mine. All we can do is say what hearing those words does to our equanimity and marvel at their triggers.
It’s clear that many women are wounded by the use of the word cunt, I see today this blogwar still going on in some circles. Rollo May said we heal others by virtue of our own wounds. I can’t wait to see that.