Monday, June 05, 2006

Radical Feminist Community

[Edit: This post comes from feeling under attack on ALL fronts. Of course there's the patriarchy to battle, but I'm so tired of "radical feminist" being used as a slur at radical and liberal sites. So not just the majority of men hate us, it seems the majority of women do too.

"Ah, the radical feminist whackjobs, oh, isn't that redundant?" Too funny.

We really need each other.]

The huge fight in the rad fem blogosphere over beauty and femininity has been heartbreaking for me. Valid points have been made on both “sides”, but women are talking past each other, and we’re not treating each other with respect. I have a post I’ve been working on for days (foggy brain = slow work). I think I’m going to trash this post, as things are so tense, so angry, right now that I don’t see any good coming from posting it.

The bottom line for me in all of this is that I think of radical feminism in terms of community. I’m not throwing the word “community” around lightly. I think of us as a group working together, arm-in-arm, fighting for the most important issues. Benefits of this community include having a chance to talk with like-minded people and providing support to each other. These functions are vital as the world is truly a terrible place.

But just as vital to our community is the ability to disagree, to treat each other respectfully as we disagree, and then to move past the disagreement without allowing it to fracture our community. A group cannot function if all dissent either is suppressed or ends up destroying the bonds forged by members of the group. Are we only willing to fight alongside one another when we’re in full agreement? Don’t we have more important enemies than each other? The last thing any woman needs is other women as her enemies. Our numbers aren’t that strong. We’re far stronger together than we are apart. Can our community survive this? I think it’s worth fighting for.

16 comments:

asdgasdfaserwe said...

Maybe if we all had more chances to meet in person these situations would not arise?

Justjuliefornow said...

I am not a declared part of that particular community although I have lots in common and lots of respect. I'm closer than I thought I was before I started reading your blog. I consider myself part of your community and feel that you have opened my eyes to many things in the rad fem community that I support.

That said, I saw something very similar happen on a "mom" blog where the blogger expressed her opinion, for herself & her marriage, and many women attacked her for so many things I cannot count. Worse, it became very personally ugly. One of my friends (known for years, in person) was on the harsh side of the equation. I could not believe that so many women felt it o.k. to attack another woman for her opinion oh her own blog. I am not sure why there is sometimes an inability to agree to disagree and why it has to become so vitriolic. It is a horrible thing to behold. Even worse than anonymous trolls who seem to relish being vicious.

spotted elephant said...

FF-Oh, absolutely. In person it would be so much easier, I think, to communicate without all the anger. Or, with anger sometimes, but still respect. Damned internet is so distancing.

Julie-That's very cool that you have a lot in common with the rad fem philosophy. :)

And you're dead-on about things sort of spiraling out of control-that's so depressing. But like Feminist First pointed out-maybe that's a function of the internet. I really doubt the same miscommunication would happen in person.

Justjuliefornow said...

The blogoshpere is such a powerful tool that women (in particular) need to learn to use it to their best advantage. It is THE tool for groups who are not supported in the mainstream. If everyone could take a deep breath and 'preview' before they hit send, and try to put themself in someone else's shoes, we would all be the better for it.

We have to fight the idea that this is anonymous. Every person must remember that there is another person on the other end of their comment and act accordingly. That just refers to the deliberate inflicting of pain. I have maintained for sometime now that the 2nd* most important invention, yet to be invented, is the written inflection tool.

Sorry to go on for so long.

*the 1st being teletransportation which would solve that in person issue.

hexyhex said...

Well said.

Debate is important, even within a community... but you're quite right when you say that this can deteriorate into personal attacks, even despite the best intention of the speaker/writer.

alyx said...

Like you SE, I don't think that my disagreement with another woman=End of Feminism. These arguments have been going on since the beginning of feminism (or at least the second wave), but natch, a lot of us were too young to remember lessons learned the first time round!

Amy has a good post over at her blog where she says arguments are always spoken of in metaphors that pertain to war: Y'know, like 'She ripped into me', 'We were engaged in a battle of wits', 'I felt so Defeated', etc.

The logic being that if we had a different metaphor for our disputes, like surfing or filming or drawing, we wouldn't always feel so crushingly defeated every time someone lobs a polemical molotov.. (damn! Warspeak has taken over my brain!) our way.

I still think we can get our shit together better than men. Trolls may sneer, but the planet is pretty effed up at the moment and it's not the women who are shooting their cluster-filled load over Iraq.

Kim said...

:(
I hate this current "battle."
Hate hate hate.

Well said, SE.

You know, though, I think it MAY all work out.
At least I hope.

Laurelin said...

I agree with you a 100 zillion percent, Spotted E.

Damned if I'm going to let the radical feminist sisters be split up over this.

Tell you what, all radfems (whatever they chose to wear) over to my house for a cuppa.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
witchy-woo said...

SE - "foggy brain" or not...you've hit a nail on it's head with this one, my friend.

We won't be split over this. It's a patriarchial red herring.

Tea and a huge dose of 'Um, And What, Exactly, Is your Beef?' is to be had at laurelin's any time soon.

See you there (I'm bringing wine and wearing my purple PRUDE pants so no tiara's, ok?)
xxx

spotted elephant said...

Julie-All we have for now are those smileys, and they are useful.

Hexy-It's so hard though, when you feel completely on the defensive.

Alyx-That is a great post, and it's surprising how the war metaphors permeate *every* area of life. We got to fight that! har har Seriously, it is an important perspective. We're working together, we're fighting the patriarchy.

Kaka-I think and hope you're right.

Laurelin-I think I left my rsvp at your blog, but just in case, I'm there! And a cuppa sounds lovely, even though I don't know what one is. (sheltered American)

Witchy-woo-I needed to hear that (you have a talent for doing that for me :)). We won't let this split us.

Bumble's the only one with the tiaras in this house, so we're ok. I'll wear my favorite yellow sweater even though it makes me look like my liver failed. ;)

Oh-cuppa tea! Right?

hexyhex said...

Laurelin:

That's going to be a really expensive cuppa, when you factor in the plane fare. :(

Sally's Life said...

Dear SE
I cannot begin to comment on this topic, except to say I am grateful that you feminists are working on it and exploring it.

Edith said...

I believe in fighting to keep this particular radical feminist community alive, but personally, I know there are certain people I will likely never feel the same about again. I wish it hadn't gotten so ugly. I believe in community as much as you do, but I don't believe in imposing any kind of limits to feminist discourse in order to make a community work. Hopefully, we can get past our egos and continue discussing anything that needs to be discussed.

hexyhex said...

Hey SE,

I've had to move my blog. For the moment it's at http://hexyhex.blogspot.com/, although it may move back later.

Can you please pass on to anyone I missed?

Winter said...

I'm sorry to hear there's been unpleasentness.

My own view on debate generally is that personal attacks are never acceptable.

And I think it is a problem with the internet. It's very easy to forget that there's a real person behind the screen name. It's also impossible to convey tone and expression when typing and so very easy for things to be taken the wrong way, or sound much more offensive than intended.