Note to Self: Think on This

This post blew my mind.  I’m sticking it in my brain and rolling it around in there to see what comes of it.

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27 thoughts on “Note to Self: Think on This

  1. Shorter Daisy: If a person has enough money to live without working, then nothing this person says should be taken seriously. Even if this person happens to be extremely intelligent and has said repeatedly that she is a product of the patriarchy herself, then we should denigrate every thought in her blog because, as I explained, she has money which she did not earn.

    Well, I guess that’s easier than actually wrestling with her ideas, which are tough and prickly and frequently kick below the belt, but which are always worth the thoughts.

  2. OK, then I’m confused…whom is supposed to be experiencing the “teachable moment”? Is it Twisty, or Daisy?

    Favorite line:bourgeois, white yankee manners are still considered the mark of “maturity” in the political sphere)

    Sheesh, it only took three Waves and 100 years or so to get here, and here is where the realization comes that hypocrisy is rampant in the personal and the political, and, in the end, we make the choices we have to make to survive. Not one righteous, indeed.

  3. Thanks for the link, B. I’m now a Daisy groupie.

    Mack, I know it was a teachable moment for me.

    Steve, I don’t think that’s what she was saying. I think your interpretation sounds a lot like corporate media interpretations of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons; if you take the most inflammatory of a person’s words out of context and play them up, then you can easily make that person look like an asshole.

    I don’t think Daisy is an asshole, nor do I think she is saying Twisty is an asshole. I think it is more about being aware of how the larger contexts always affect us, and how we have to look at people in their various contexts before we accept or dismiss what they have to offer.
    (Also, Mr. Pick, I’m very hesitant to use the “shorter” thingie. It is a weapon best wielded by a select few, and is only effective on targets of greater simplicity and lesser self-awareness than Daisy displays.)

  4. Huh. I read the thing twice trying to wrap my head around it, and I came away from it with the same take as Steve. Both posts essentially seem to be saying “harder core than thou.”

  5. Autoegocrat, that’s quite a simplistic– I wouid almost say juvenile– interpretation of what Daisy wrote. Apologies if you are a woman, but which head were you ‘trying to wrap around it’?

    Some of the response to Daisy’s posts reminds me of the Jeremiah Wright flap. Wright was roundly demonized by the Right-Wing Noise Machine (of course), by the corporate media (not surprising), and by many liberals and Democratic faithful (for shame). The Noise Machine and the corporate media played up the militant tone of Wright’s sermons, taking the most inflammatory bits out of context and hyping them to death. So many Dems and liberals (including Barack Obama) took the bait and threw Wright under the bus. If they’d actually taken Wright’s words as they were delivered (in their entirety), and factored in the context of his delivery, then I can’t see from where all the fuss would have come. As it was, the incident might have been what I took it for: a very loud alarm about the kind of politician Obama really is.

    Methinks some of you are forsaking Daisy’s substance and focusing on her tone. And like the people who joined Obama in trashing Wright (or thought nothing of the public betrayal), perhaps you are less interested in Change that leads to a more just and peaceful world than you are in protecting the system that gives you your own privileges. Because the latter is all Obama is triangulating to do, and somewhere Bill Clinton is grinning.

    So what I took away from Daisy’s posts is that we (including myself, not just erudite liberals with blood-stained trust funds) have to seriously consider whether our feminist, anti-war, gay equality, or whatever progressive values are worth enough to question the foundation on which we’re trying to establish them. That’s a profound, universal issue, not petty oneupmanship. At least, that’s how I think grownups are supposed to interpret it.

  6. Church Sec, not to put too fine a point on it, but, (and i say this with all due respect) bullshit. I’ve been reading you for a long time, and I’m well aware of your politics and your intellect, and I defy you to tell me what exactly you were taught reading that overly long post by Daisy. Now, I mean something you didn’t already have a pretty firm handle on….

    was it that sometimes, it sucks to be poor and an activist? That it is easier to do good works and immerse oneself in pure ideology when the day to day hassles of putting food in the pantry don’t interfere? That privileged people often forget to factor in those concerns?

    If you ask me, she took like 29 paragraphs to say what you could have said in two. Nothing wrong with that, but I find so many Progressive writers, steeped as they are in academia, often only write in a style that appeals to other academic Progressives. Its a little self-indulgent, dontchathink?

    And there, I believe, is an important point to be made. Like Daisy, plenty of men and women, who, if they possessed a deep intellectual curiosity, (and many don’t) or didn’t have to devote brainpower to figuring out how to feed 3 or 4 people on 20k a year, might just read Daisy’s post and come away having had their “teachable moment”. (If ever, in the history of history, there was a more arrogant phrase devised, i haven’t seen it.) Sadly, most people won’t read the article to its end, and isn’t that the point?

    I’m beginning to think it isn’t….

  7. Well … I almost commented about this over on Daisy’s blog, but decided that it was such a tangential thing that I ought not to bring it up. Because I agree completely with Daisy that unexamined privilege is a dreadful problem, and that being a feminist, a progressive, an anti-racist, whatever, doesn’t insulate a person from trying to exercise un-owned privilege within that movement. And, pace Steve, pointing that out isn’t a flat-out rejection of everything the person with the unexamined privilege has ever said or done. And that precisely because the privileged person automatically assumes the leadership role, s/he is going to have a lot of followers automatically discounting the criticism and attacking whoever makes it.

    But there’s a statement right at the beginning of Daisy’s post that throws me, and that I think is completely wrongheaded. It’s this: {i]sn’t it impossible for rich kids to have the proper class consciousness? Aren’t you irreparably tainted? Now, I’m completely ready to take Daisy’s word for it that the specific people of whom she asked this question weren’t examining their own privilege; I wasn’t there and she was. But I think that anyone who takes this position as a general principle is wrong. If we discount the possibility of imagination, empathy, of people doing the work necessary to understand others (which, as Daisy points out later, includes listening to and getting out of the way of whomever one is trying to help), then we give up any hope of getting outside of our own heads, too.

  8. NM, I think the statement to which you refer was presented as a question at a specific place and time (a long time ago). It comes with its own grain of salt. Otherwise, I’d agree with your general sentiment., which, I think, was the point of her first post.

    Mack, regarding the length of Daisy’s posts, at the time there were no good football games on and I wasn’t in the mood for porn. So I had some time to read all of both of them. Maybe she could have said things much more briefly, but it is her blog and she can write it how she wants. Anyway, I didn’t have a problem with the length, because when a topic interests me my usually rodent attention span stretches to accommodate. Beside that, learning (at least for me) doesn’t always mean that I am introduced to a completely unfamiliar concept. Sometimes the most valuable education I can receive is a comprehension of something familiar as seen through another’s point of view.

  9. CS, I think you’re probably right that that one conclusion of Daisy’s was meant to be very specific to that time/place, which is why I thought it was too tangential to take issue with over at her place. But something about the way she wrote it is ambiguous — she says she learned a big lesson then, and it isn’t clear right in that paragraph whether the lesson was to trust her own instincts, to question the automatic assumption of leadership that comes with privilege, or to assume that privilege can’t be overcome and no one can ever understand anything that hasn’t been experienced first-hand. I’m glad to read a post that rambles around a bit before it gets where it’s going, but one of the downsides of that is that readers may not get what the writer intended out of points, items, examples mentioned early on.

  10. Well, I have no porn or football either, so here I am!

    Decided to respond, don’t think Aunt B will mind.

    Steve: Shorter Daisy: If a person has enough money to live without working, then nothing this person says should be taken seriously

    Okay, who said THAT? Quote please? I believe no such thing. As is obvious from my blog and blogroll, there are plenty of people I admire who fit this description. (Have you read anything else I’ve written, or are you generalizing from just ONE post?)

    I worship at the altar of JG Ballard and no one ever accused him of working too hard.

    Mr Mack: Nothing wrong with that, but I find so many Progressive writers, steeped as they are in academia, often only write in a style that appeals to other academic Progressives.

    You know I have no college degree, right? I am not an academic–ha! (Not sure if I should be insulted by that accusation or not!)

    nm: It’s this: {i]sn’t it impossible for rich kids to have the proper class consciousness? Aren’t you irreparably tainted?

    As I thought I made clear, this was not my position, but the position of Chairman Mao, whose large photograph was hanging reverentially in the room in which this conversation/ideological brawl took place. I was getting Mao quoted to me day and night, and admittedly, I’d had enough. If people don’t want Mao quoted at them, they shouldn’t quote him to other people. (If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao…)

    And if people are going to talk about ‘the environment’ as a reason to refrain from having babies, then why can’t I ask why it’s okay for them to have two houses while they are saying that?

    If you ask me, she took like 29 paragraphs to say what you could have said in two.

    Sorry about that. I am long-winded and (compared to everyone else in Blogdonia) rather old, not quite used to the sound-byte era. I was actually worried it wasn’t LONG ENOUGH to make the point! Oh well! :P

    Church Secretary, thank you for your kind comments. I will make a point to visit your church! :)

  11. Church, my brother, you ain’t the average person. Thats all I’m saying. If the point is to reach a lot of people and convey a message, (as opposed to only a small segment) then there are obvious flaws inherent in a long, rambling post.

    Daisy sounds like a very interesting, substantive person. My incredulation(is that a word?) was with the idea that someone reading it not being acutely aware of her point long before she got to it. It is an interesting take, just not particularly groundbreaking.

    I will go to my grave believing you didn’t learn a thing about the issue you didn’t already know. I’ll admit i sidetracked us with the snark, but I felt compelled to insert that insulting phrase as a continuation of my earlier protests, re “The Teachable Moment.”

    I’m waiting for someone, anyone, really, to walk that one back.

  12. You know I have no college degree, right? I am not an academic–ha! (Not sure if I should be insulted by that accusation or not!)

    Ha! That will teach me to jump to conclusions. apologies.

    But you sure write like one.

  13. Good Lord, are there two?!!!

    I went back to check and see if you were puling my leg, and don’t see mag’s blog, but I may not remember the proper name for it. Anyway, in comparison, you speak in crisp, almost cryptic sentences. ;)

  14. Feline Formal Shorts (geddit?) — it’s the same Mags.

    Daisy, that’s cool. Lots of people saying lots of things — instant response isn’t generally possible.

  15. Well, I’m glad we can all have this Kumbaya moment. I’m not feeling it, but what the fuck? I’ll roll with it anyway.

    Shoot, maybe when we’re done holding hands and singing, we can have another round in the three week long song of “The things that Betsy cares about are stupid and oh, ha, ha, what an idiot she is for pursuing them as seriously as she did.” That, I’m sure, will also be good fun. We can follow it up with “I’ll continue to make Betsy feel like shit because I don’t feel like taking up the thing I’m pissed about directly with Bridgett.” That will also continue to be great fun, I’m sure.

    Anyway, back to Daisy’s post. I thought about it some and here’s what I keep coming back to. What holds my interest is not whether Twisty should or shouldn’t keep her mouth shut (which I don’t believe is Daisy’s point), but how, exactly, it’s decided that Twisty is some great feminist leader.

    Because I realize that when I read Twisty, I experience her as a character. To me, the woman who is Steve’s friend is Twisty’s creator and the artist who embodies Twisty, but I don’t experience her as Twisty. I assume that the real woman behind Twisty is about a lot more and different than patriarchy blaming, but that she created Twisty as a character in order to have some fun channeling her outrage.

    I like it and I find it thought-provoking, but I don’t experience the woman who lives in Texas and has however many houses as the character who is a feminist curmudgeon on the internet. So, it doesn’t bug me that Twisty’s creator lives in whatever circumstances she lives in, even if it is incongruous with Twisty.

    That’s not to say that Daisy is wrong or reading Twisty wrong. I’m just trying to take into account my different perception.

    And, for me, as long as Twisty isn’t positioning herself as some great feminist leader, I don’t necessarily give a shit about whether she’d make a good feminist leader. I don’t see much evidence that Twisty is working to become the face of feminism (unlike other prominent feminist bloggers).

    So, for me, I experience her as just another person on the web shooting off her mouth. And I appreciate reminders, like Daisy’s, that when you take it seriously as a whole, it can be deeply problematic.

    But people do take it seriously. And they certainly do experience and treat Twisty as some prominent feminist voice–both her supporters and her detractors.

    And I wonder how that happens. That’s a part of group dynamics I just don’t get.

  16. Just to be clear: anyone looking for a fight on this thread (Mack) can kiss my longwinded college-educated feminist ass. I’ve moved on. I suggest you do likewise.

    I guess that’s concise enough.

  17. Aunt B, I slept on what you said… I realize I am with you, partly. The guys at Feminist Critics were upset that I argued with Twisty without taking on what they see as her man-hating, and I realized, I do see that aspect of her personality as part of the “character” she has created. Then again, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are “characters” too, and we still expect them not to cross a certain line. When they do, and on those occasions they are exceptionally offensive, they get eaten alive, whether they are largely fictional “characters” or not.

    And the whole “character” thing–Coulter wearing that silly damn little black cocktail dress in the morning on the TODAY show, for instance–is a way to comfortably distance oneself from the fallout of what one actually says: “You don’t take Twisty/Ann Coulter seriously, do you?” I think it’s a way of ideologically having your cake and eating it too. You get to say the offensive thing, and then not get seriously criticized for it; I mean, what do you expect from someone who wears a black cocktail dress all the time?

    Conversely, the people who embrace the “character” are people who like what that’s about: they think fluttering about, fulminating about godless liberals on TV while wearing a cocktail dress in the morning is cool. When Coulter showed up on an outside-broadcast on MSNBC, she had partisans with signs cheering her on.

    Likewise, on the thread, people are thanking Twisty for “allowing” them to be feminist and have children. (It’s like she is dispensing blessings in the manner of some feminist pope or something.) Obviously, her readers idolize her. I respond as much to the people who love the whole “spinster aunt/gentleman farmer” character as I do to Twisty herself. Gentleman, indeed–I simply pointed out which class the “gentlemen” come from, and what they seem to take for granted.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  18. Well, hmm. That’s true. I also assume that Coulter is a character and she bugs the shit out of me and I believe, spreads evil. So, yeah, that could be a blind spot of mine–that I give the benefit of the doubt to folks I like and agree with but not to people I don’t.

    But I do think–and I was glad you hit on it–that the troubling thing is not just what Twisty says, but the response to it. I mean, Twisty is not running around saying “I am the feminist pope,” but you are right in noting that people respond to her as such.

    Not to bring this up again, but damn it reminds me of that part in The Beauty Myth where she’s talking about how, with the decline of religion, it’s not like that framework has gone away. It’s just been repurposed towards dieting. Now chocolate is sinful. We’re “bad” if we eat too much. We’re good when we don’t. Etc. Etc.

    But I’m starting to think that we use that framework in all kinds of things–like “Oh, there’s a whole group of us and we need a leader. Let’s look around and… Okay, Twisty’s the leader. Let’s all treat her like it.”

    And I guess that I see the continual reuse and repuposing of that framework–which has in the past (when we hung religion on it) been very hurtful to us–to be the most troubling and hard to get at part of the problem.

    That framework is no good. Yes, often the stuff hung on the framework is also shitty but the real problem is the framework.

    But how, when you are (and I mean you generally) hanging from it yourself, do you dismantle it? And how, when you are deep inside it, do you see some other way?

    I guess I feel like my goal is to just try to do something different. It’s not going to be fixed in my lifetime, but I can keep trying to do a little bit to make it easier for the next folks.

  19. Wow! I kinda forgot I commented on this the other day, and look at all the talkin’ goin’ on.

    First, as Aunt B points out, Twisty Faster is an old friend of mine, and I actually the remember the day she asked on a list-serve we used to dominate, “Hey, have any of you guys heard about these blogs?”

    Second, I don’t think she’s playing a character on her blog. She really believes what she says, and she can back up everything with her own quite complex philosophy.

    Third, I believe she is a utopian, and as such, I take everything she says about the way the world should be as something that I may or may not agree with, but can’t possibly imagine a way of happening. To that degree, I can see Daisy’s point – it’s always easier for people who don’t have to worry about day to day struggles to imagine some sort of perfect world in which everybody acts the way they are supposed to if they agree with a particular philosophy.

    Fourth, I think Twisty’s blog continues to bring up points worth talking about, even though I don’t think the utopia she envisions is actually possible (and if it were, I’m not 100% sure it would work the way she envisions it). I don’t want to put words in her mouth, or even guarantee she actually has said things I recall her saying in effect, but I kinda think she has acknowledged that patriarchy affects everybody, most especially including herself, and that it’s worth constantly looking at the ways privilege is embodied in the real world.

    Fifth, there are always people who simply take what is written and accept it, and there are people who try to learn from different viewpoints without becoming devotional about it. When a blog gets the readership Twisty has acquired, the author can’t be held responsible for the different ways people use it.

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