Gilliard/Gilbert/Jesus' General FlamingHello from Connecticut. I arrived here safely over a week ago but as I mentioned previously, I wasn't sure what sort of opportunity I would have to read or post. Not much is the answer, but I have made a few quick checks online and have seen some of the latest flamewar and that many bloggers I like and respect have gone on hiatus or are quitting completely (I hope they change their minds at a later date!)
I want to say a few things about the Steve Gilliard/Brittney flamewar. First, I feel badly for Zuzu. I don't know how many times I or other POC have said that we hate having what feels like purely academic theoretical discussion with white people about race, because for us we are talking about our real experiences, feelings, and lives. Our humanity is under the microscope and being ignored or dismissed or denigrated about it doesn't feel too good to us. Are we being oversensitive, or are those white people insensitive? This is exactly what is happening to Zuzu. It really doesn't matter what Brittney's intentions were when Zuzu feels like she has been kicked in the teeth. Is Zuzu being oversensitive or is BG insensitive? I think BG was insensitive and should have known that when a popular young blogger dies many people would be doing searches for any information about his life and untimely death and come upon that posting. But this is not an evil vs good moment either. I disagree with the blogswarm against BG and don't think that she should have quit her job over this either... a cop shoots a teen in the back because he was running away after shoplifting, the punishment does not fit the crime. The punishment does not fit the crime here either.
I really wish BG had been able to step back and see how painful that post had to be for those mourning Steve Gilliard's death, I really wish she had just taken the short amount of time and effort to change the title of the post and/or add comments to it to express how vile she believed it to be. But I also wish that Jesus General and his supporters would have de-escalated after being told about who BG is and what her intentions were. If I had been online throughout this, initially I would have attributed JG's reaction entirely to grief and disagreed with Ilyka about the sexism, but I came in late and saw what his commenters said and that he did nothing to discourage it. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said that Feministing is unsafe for POC, they do/did little to discourage racist/white supremacist language at their site. (I haven't been there since the blogwar over FFF and resulting friction between WOC and Feministing, so I don't know what they have done to improve comments moderation. They did say they were discussing this and I'd give my eyeteeth to see better relationships between major feminist blogs geared towards white audiences and those of us in the WOC arena.)
People can have more than one reason or motive for the things they do and say. I actually believe JG when he says that he went after BG because she blogs for a ABC affiliate, because he didn't want to send traffic to smantix etc. I also think it was due to grief and...sexism. I concluded this because he either doesn't recognize sexist language amongst his commenters or condones it, it's not a huge leap in logic to think that he might see a woman as an easier target than a man too. As I said when criticizing Feministing, you don't have to ban people or delete posts, I know that JG has a light touch when it comes to moderating, but all he had to do was make a comment indicating that he doesn't agree with what a commenter is saying, doesn't even matter if it is direct or snarky. If he does that, he lets the people on his site know what he thinks of sexism instead of having so many wonder if he agrees with the sentiments. And the weird part to me is this is exactly what he was asking BG to do, to clarify if she agrees with that vile post, why can't JG do the same when a commenter steps over the line with sexist or misogynist language?
I consider Democommie a friend, I have had private email exchanges with him and hope that one day we will meet. If I had been online during this I would have explained to him that calling a woman "kitten" is the same as calling a black man "boy". That's why it's sexist, it dismisses the woman as a child not worth responding to, the same goes for his explanation about putting women up on pedestals and firing with both barrels at men. Native Americans know that when people idealize us as stoic, mystical, and wise it isn't a good thing. Asians know the same about the model minority label. The same goes here. There is a tendency to use the pedestal as a way of keeping people in their place and an unspoken assumption that they can either stay there or in the gutter, no in between, no being a fallible human like yourself.
The posting I found most upsetting personally was at Sadly, No! It reinforced what I have discovered most recently about the liberal/democratic/progressive white blogosphere. The post and so many of the comments are willfully ignorant about sexism and racism. Do these people really not see the racism in what Maha said? And I am not talking about the end where she says that black people are racist (which I strongly disagree with but understand what they mean and see as a distraction to the rest of the problems with the post), the rest of it is condescending and dismissive. I still want to hear a blogger from a major white blog answer my question; If that table had been all men, would they have expected any anger from women bloggers? Or would leaving them out have been just as ok as leaving POC bloggers out? Without identity politics that table would have been all men. It is women bloggers fighting tooth and nail for recognition, respect, and equality that got those women there.
I'm too tired and demoralized to go through the whole 700+ comments thread but will leave you with a couple of them.
…identity politics is not just a function of being a minority and feeling marginalized, it’s the belief that marginalization gives you a sort of privileged access to the nature of reality. And it is a deeply harmful thing to believe. But how do you attempt to reason with someone who believes their ability to perceive reality is more accurate than yours - which conveniently allows them to dismiss anything you say which they do not like?
Jillian just turned white male privilege on it's head. See it's not white's or men who have privileged access to the nature of reality or dismiss us because their perception of reality is more accurate than ours. We don't know racism when we experience it, we don't know sexism when we experience it. No, just let the white men tell us when racism and sexism are real. They have no vested interest in telling us that the way we got crapped on which is the same as the way we got crapped on before and that other time and the time before that, it's all a coincidence! No racism or sexism involved in the fact that whites and men do these crappy things to us ALL THE TIME!
Random Observer said:
That is my interest here. Not in defending some awful troll speaking ill of the dead. People who loved and respected Mr. Gilliard are not the “stupid, self-righteous morons” I was referring to.
What I found interesting about this quote is that Random Observer's main point is that saying, "It's not about you." is an invalid argument. But that quote is clarifying what he said, and basically saying "it's not about you." This really isn't a difficult concept. In the heat of the moment people make sweeping statements about a majority of a group who angered them. There will be a minority who don't fit the bill, it's not about them. If what you read makes you say, "Hey! I resemble that remark!" then it's probably about you. On the other hand, if you go in saying, "But I don't do that!" then it's not about you and quit identifying with the assholes who do those things.
What Random Observer and the others slamming Zuzu don't get is that Zuzu isn't mistaken or identifying with assholes, she knows that it's not about her, and that is what pisses her off. She wants it to be about her and wants someone to acknowledge her rational pain and disgust. This is what happened between WOC bloggers and the post Jill ran about FFF critics. She ignored us and specifically excluded us and our real concerns, just like Zuzu is being ignored and excluded. Zuzu's complaints deserve attention, but it doesn't fit the framing some are making, so they try to exclude and ignore her valid points. I'm not saying I would completely agree with everything Zuzu says but it tears me up the way she is being treated.