I haven’t been long for reading the feminist blogosphere. It’s been maybe a year or so, but as with everything else I do, I’ve thrown myself into it pretty whole-heartedly, despite my late bloomer status. So I started off somewhat enamoured of the big names. I’m also a white twenty-something, well-educated and raised in a middle class family, so initially the issues they confront and their style suited me just fine.
In general, I’m not much for confrontation, which is on the list of reasons it’s fortunate nobody knows who I am. Being mostly invisible, it’s not like anybody’s looking to me to say “hey, I wonder what Purtek thinks of this?” so I have no obligation to write on whatever standard stuff is going around. And blog or no blog, I have no illusions about the fact that if anyone does read me, it’s not really because they’re that interested in me per se.
Which sets up both my irrelevance and my naiveté well enough, I hope, that I can now ask: how is it that feminists can manage to miss the point so freaking badly? How is it that they can’t see just how much they sound like all the men who have ever dismissed women as hysterical, irrelevant, special issues? So that when WOC start pointing out that claiming that a book about “empowering female sexuality” is not exactly the be-all-and-end-all of rape prevention that the marketing suggests, and that a book talking about how only yes means yes is unlikely to include stories of rape used in environments of blatant hate, in war, by authority figures, on reserves, and, given the publicity the book might get, that a book like this certainly acts to help in privileging the voices of a certain kind of feminist, certain kind of voice, certain kind of woman.
And excuse me, but fuck that. How can we not hear ourselves when we say “You’re not the target audience of this book” to WOC, when the subject of the book is why feminism is relevant today, in real people’s lives? How can we not hear that when we say “Go write your own”, or “The next one will be about you” that we’re might as well be quoting our own fucking bingo cards? What the hell is wrong with people who are well-versed in the impact vs. intent theory — for fuck’s sakes, the book Yes Means Yes emerges practically verbatim from discussions of this concept — but who still say things like “You’re really arguing more with the rhetorical posturing than the idea behind the book. I don’t think they’re trying to promote feminist in-fighting or denying radical feminist theory at all.” (Amanda Marcotte, over here).
I have a number of related thoughts I want to explore, but in this post, maybe I’m just expressing my feminist coming-of-age or something…I’ve been embarrassed recently to admit some stuff that’s been sparking those lightbulb moments (embarrassed that it’s happening only now, embarrassed at the many that are still to come) but whatever…the problem I’m getting at here, and it’s one that’s been striking me for quite some time now, is: How the fuck is it that feminists, activists, brilliant people, can become completely incapable of holding that mirror back up against themselves? I fundamentally do not understand how some of these words can unironically emerge from the mouths of people who know. I just don’t understand, and maybe I hope I’m never going to be important enough (in whatever little corner of the world I operate) that I can even try.
That’s not a comprehensive list, and there are links within those links, or follow-up posts by those same bloggers. But it gets you started, if that’s what you want.