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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