Maybe the ‘older feminists’ don’t know how to click links,
but they sure knew how to “click” brains.

Much bloggy hand-wringing has taken place, focused mainly on calling out Jezebels Slut Machine (Tracie Egan) and Moe for being drunk and making anti-feminist statements in public, while representing one of the internet’s most popular feminist blogs. Some, but not enough, angry verbiage has been directed at Lizz Winstead for her sober-ish attempts to pin the responsibility for rape on women who fuck a lot. I watched the whole interview and can safely say that feminism was not well represented.

People have been calling Moe and Tracie unprofessional, embarrassing, shameful, narcissistic, privileged, drunk, on and on. Its true. Jezebel’s editor apologized for their shitty representation of the site.

Amanda Marcotte, on the other end, offers an apologia that sees “dark”–but essentially feminist– humor in Moe and Tracie’s dismissal of rape, safe sex and women’s oppression.

Personally, I saw nothing funny in the sloshy train wreck of an interview. But there was one thing that I think can be seen as actually feminist; one which points to why internet feminism needs less Vice-magazine- bravado-with-ovaries and more old-fashioned consciousness raising.

See, I recognized one of those drunk “girls” (women?) onstage; the one who is inappropriately working through her rape out loud to friends and strangers, the one who’s been “wasting time” for 10 years, drinking and telling herself and everyone else it was no big deal. I’ve been that girl. Sometimes, I’m still her.

Listening to Moe remember that she said “no” eleven times, and remember that her rapist said he only did it to her because she was a “slut,” recast the earlier “funny” part of the conversation–the part where Lizz asked Moe and Tracie what made a woman a slut. It turned my stomach. I wanted to give Moe a hug and tell her that it wasn’t her fault.

Instead, she got Tracie calling her less-than-smart by implication and Winstead blaming her for not reporting her future-doctor rapist.

But miraculously, Moe got something, somewhere else, and a little bit of feminist consciousness slipped in. After the interview I went back and read this post by Moe, about “grey rape.” In it, she puts on the “no big deal” pose, doesn’t call her rapist a rapist, and doesn’t call her rape a rape. Her commenters and other bloggers point out where she might be wrong.

That on-line feminist intervention seems to have helped. Onstage, Moe called it rape. She got mad. She even names her rapist out loud, but his name is lost in the cross-talk. That’s a big moment. Its a terrifying moment. I’m sorry its a moment that Moe had to share with Tracie and Lizz.

But it is, most importantly, a feminist moment.

Its the beginning of letting go of all the self-hating beliefs that Moe unfortunately expressed in the rest of the interview and is now getting attacked for. Beliefs like “I’m a slut (and thats why I got raped),” beliefs like “I hate the boys club, but I’m not really oppressed,” beliefs like “I didn’t report my rape because I had better things to do–get drunk.”

I didn’t report either. And in Moe’s posts I see myself, and I remember what I used to think. I see myself in her hope that Dr. Douchey Dude “saves” people–as if that would make it “ok” or worth it somehow. I see myself in her search for control; in the way she looks at her decisions in the search for the cause of her rape, in the way that she accepts full responsibility for her decision not to report and thus for any subsequent rapes committed by her rapist.

But I wanted to ask her–and Lizz–“what would have happened if you’d reported it?” Because the truth is, Moe knew then and knows now that what would probably have happened. She probably would have been publicly shamed for being a drunk slut (which is ironically happening to her RIGHT NOW, anyway) and possibly been forced to leave her school. She would have been called crazy or vindictive or a pathetic woman scorned by a “notorious player”. Likely, nothing would have happened to the good doctor.

Realizing that we make choices in limited circumstances–that we are oppressed as women–is difficult. It feels bad to recognize the limits to our individual capacities to control our own lives and bodies. I can see why, for a decade, Moe didn’t want to do that. I know how that feels.

But its the first step to developing a truly feminist outlook, to letting go of the dark “humor,” of the self-blame, and of the internalized misogyny we saw so starkly on display at Thinking and Drinking. Its the first step toward developing the collective strategies that can give us the power we need to stop rape, and all the other forms of violence and discrimination women face. Even if it was ugly, I’m glad it finally happened for one young woman with a powerful public platform.

Congratulations, Moe. You have a powerful weapon in your hands; use it wisely!

*Updated to add*–good work Ann of Feministing, for kicking it old school with your talent for CR-type intervention. You rock.

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“We didn’t think you’d find out about this! Seriously, what did you expect?”

Meanwhile, the Democrats are my other least favorite political party–Check this shit out. The Democratic Congress secretly approved funding to amp up covert operations against Iran.

Via Democracy Now and my 1st fave.

Victoria Falls

Should the UN intervene?

What about Mbeki’s proposal for a “unity” government led by Mugabe?

Why is South Africa choosing not to participate in meetings with other African nations?

While COSATU is boycotting Zimbabwe, the ANC says the following:

“Any attempts by outside players to impose regime change will merely deepen the crisis.

“It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves,” the statement said. “Nothing that has happened in the recent months has persuaded us to revise that view.”

This, in truth, strikes me as sensible. Given Mugabe’s vocal condemnation of imperialism, invoked as the justification for every act of violence and repression, and given Tsvangarai’s unabashed advocacy for neoliberal “market solutions,” UN intervention seems likely make things worse.

But can be the same be said of African intervention? It seems unlikely that we will find out.

Instead, “leaving it up to Zimbabweans themselves” means that Mugabe will go ahead with this “election,” opponent-free. Hopefully, the fact that he is the only one running will reduce his need to employ roving bands of thugs to genderate “support.”

In other news on the topic, I cant find a print quote, but WBAI’s Wake Up Call quoted my president, Cynthia McKinney, in a statement on Zimbabwe. Her comment focused on the land question in a way that could be read as implicit support for Mugabe’s campaign of terror and anti-democratic repression. I understand, politically, why that would be her position, but….ew.

While “what next?” remains a swamp of least-worst and worst-worst options, tomorrow I’ll focus a bit on how Zimbabwe got here in the first place.

Read more

Yesterday on CNN, coverage of the Obama/McCain race for President of the United States of America included a graphic which contained the phrase “Battle Royal.” Too bad I couldn’t find a screen shot.

This small detail is either just one turd in the coming avalanche of steaming racist horseshit, or incredibly incisive, subtle and stinging political/cultural commentary from a rouge disgruntled graphics designer.M

DLC PDA: “Quick-I’ll find something shiny to throw over a fence while you figure out how you are eventually going to duck that thing about permanent bases in Iraq.”

You can listen here

1) Obama is taking cheap shots to “play against type.” Makes me wonder if running for President constitutes absentee parenthood?

2) Confidential to Ralph: Thank you for running in 2000. You made me excited about my first ever chance to vote in a presidential election. You are the only candidate whom I have ever endorsed for the office of President of the United States of America.

In that spirit of loyalty, I just want to point out to you that in THIS election, John Kerry is NOT running against you. That was last time. I know. It seems recent to me, too.

3) The Progressive Democrats of America, while still seeming to largely miss the point about the Non-progressive Democrats of America, do at at least appear to have a handle on what it is that Kerry is running for this time around. The fact that their acronym is “PDA” never ceases to crack me up.

How do you get a reverse-bikini-tan-line sunburn? If you would like to try this at home, email me for further instruction.

Round Two! Ding!

May 14, 2008

What *will* they think of next?

If the MSM and the Blog-stream media are to be believed, Hillary Clinton as potential president is toast, or very close to it. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the inner workings of the Democratic Party, nor do I care to underestimate Clinton’s desire to win and/or willingness to resort to technocratic fiat to make her thing happen.

But if it is true, if she is out, that means the fun is REALLY about to start. And by “fun”, I mean “steaming pile of racist horseshit”.

Not that the Clinton camp has thus far avoided racist innuendo, insult and implication. Hardly. But if Barak Obama is crowned presumptive nominee, I think we can expect to see the matter escalate to an entirely new, amazing, level of hideousness.

Because, in a way, Obama is perfect. He’s a perfect avatar for both competing strands of emergent American racism; both naive liberal color-blind racism and conservative, Islamophobic, strategically color-blind racism find a near-exact answer in Obama’s personal and political history.

Thats not entirely amazing; after all, color-blind racism is color-blind racism. They’re not so different. But it is incredible how well-suited Obama is to playing both the hero’s role for the liberals and the worst enemy of conservatives.

For blind liberals, including Obama himself, Obama represents “Hope” and “Change.” It sounds vague, but in fact, its very specific. Specifically, a quick perusal of Obama’s website makes it clear what isn’t  what isn’t expected to change: reform to create universal health care and education, a new, just, criminal justice system, investment in our crumbling infrastructure, or a reversal of the U.S.’s heretofore imperialist foreign policy.

Instead, its a hope that things have already changed, and in a specific way; Obama, as his supporters contend, “embodies” change. His mixed-race status, his “articulate” personae, his personal history that simultaneously embodies blackness but avoids a connection to the history of Black slavery in the U.S.– it all represents transcendence of DuBois’ famous “color-line.” A new post-race era of American life, and a confirmation of the progressive power of waiting around for things to improve.

Meanwhile, for conservatives, Obama manages to embody a holy trinity of enemies-under-the-bed; secret socialism, underground “Islamism” and overt (is there any other kind?) Blackness. They can use his Blackness while avoiding it–drawing (more-or-less) implicitly on anti-Black racism by attacking him for his secret political radicalism and covert association with Islam.

But Obama is neither what liberals hope for, nor what conservatives fear. He’s certainly no socialist. He’s a fairly secular Christian with an absentee dad who was a secular Muslim. At the same time, his Blackness does nothing to ameliorate the increasing social inequalities faced by working class Black people in America, even as it reflects the changing configuration of race and class politics in the U.S.

I worry that this deadly confluence of color-blindness will leave liberals unprepared to mount a response to racist right-wing attacks on an general election campaign for Obama. I worry that we’re about to find out how deep race and racism really runs in America. I worry I’m right.

I don’t wanna watch.

Somewhere, some Black people also think this is funny.

Apparently, many white people really like the blog Stuff White People Like. I have been sent the link to Stuff White People Like by aproximately 1,297 white people. They thought I would like it, being a white person and all.

White people like Stuff White People Like for the same reason we like jokes about how white people can’t dance. Because it implies that whiteness is a cute, if inherent and unchangeable foible. We can’t help it! We’re white!

Whats wrong with Stuff White People Like is that it is basically, totally wrong. First, there’s its utterly class-blind approach, a problem which becomes apparent if you are unfortunate enough to peruse Stuff Educated Black People Like.

As a result of this significant lacunae, Stuff White People Like is more or less completely off the mark, obscuring the stuff all white people *actually* like. I’ve begun an incomplete list below:

1. Jokes about how white people can’t dance

2. Police protection

3. The freedom to do lots of drugs without going to prison.

4. Book deals.

Feel free to contribute!

Hope in Days of Silence

April 30, 2008

On this day in 1939, the New York’s World Fair opened with the theme “The World of Tomorrow.” The fair was attended by tens of millions, and was seen as a beacon of hope for internationalism, peace, prosperity and progress.

On this day in history, six years later, Adolf Hitler shot himself in the head in a Berlin bunker, pushing one of the most violent, nastily nationalist periods of history towards closure.

Which might seem like a depressing start to our morning in blog land, yes. But to me its not; its a reminder that history and social life can change very fast and that “the world of tomorrow “can be a very different one than the world of today, in ways that seem totally improbable and unlikely.

Today, I’m specifically holding out hope that our world of tomorrow will be one in which Black American men have no reason to fear random death-by-firing-squad at the hands of “peace” officers, and for a world in which eighth-graders have no reason to fear violent asassinations delivered by their homophobic classmates.

I find it encouraging that I am not the only one who hopes for these things. It appears that 5,000 schools had participation in this years Day of Silence aimed at drawing attention to the harassment and abuse of LGBTQQ students and in honor of Lawrence King.

And while the rally I recently attended in protest of the legal whitewash of Sean Bell’s murder (incidentally, not at all far from the site of the 1939 fair), was disappointingly small, I find it encouraging that this injustice isn’t going unnoticed–not in New York City classrooms, not in discussions at work, not in activist circles and, despite what NPR thinks, not in communities affected by police brutality.

Two reactions to the trial made me hopeful, each for different reasons:

1) Cynthia McKinney’s statement on the verdict does a great job putting Sean Bell’s murder in context, but also linked it to a call for all of us to imagine something different, and better.

2) I heard an announcement from the Queer Justice League of New York City on the radio yesterday, making connections between police harassment of queer people and police violence in communities of color. I looked up their website, and while I really know nothing about this organization, except that they have an awesome name, that also gave me hope.

————————————

Really, its mostly the name that gives me hope. Like this postcard of the 1939 Fair’s Lagoon of Nations, the fantastical super-hero ring of “Queer Justice League” reminds me of the sometimes secret, sometimes shame-faced connections between a hopeful left-wing politics and the realm of utopia, imagination, and fantasy.

Because, of course, behind all my emphasis on hope this morning lies the stark reality that the present moment gives us little to hang our hope hats on. The movements for Black Liberation, Queer Liberation, Women’s Liberations and Workers’ Liberation are at low tide, to put it mildly. The US economy is in a world of shit, and empty rhetorical cover for a right-wing neoliberal agenda is what passes for a politics of “change” around here these days.

That’s why hope requires a different, more imaginative, engagement with the fourth dimension. I’ve previously alluded to the significance of reflection on the past and past hopes. But maintaining–building–hope, much less any communities or movements rooted in it, requires imagining, often detailed imagining of not only the past and the present, but the future as well.

This is what left-wing activists, queer communities and sci-fi geeks sometimes share–imagining a wholly different kind of economy, and/or new and liberating configurations of ‘family’, and sometimes all of the above on a yet-undiscovered planet.

Doing that can make you unpopular, yes. Perhaps it is slightly insane. And uncool. But, I am compelled to argue, its nowhere near as insane and uncool as accepting a total lack of alternatives.

Don’t Mourn, Theorize!

April 18, 2008

http://www.blacklooks.org/2008/04/aime_cesaire_1913_-_2008.htm
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/books/18cesaire.html?ref=art