Important Lesson from Feminist Indoctrination Camp and then some Mushy Stuff

This week the girls at the feminist indoctrination camp learned an important lesson.  I don’t know if they heard it.  I wouldn’t have at that age.  I’m still not very good at hearing it now.  But I think it’s the truth and so I share it with you:

You are constantly teaching people how to treat you.

See, I told you this feminist indoctrination shit was good.

I was thinking about that with Roger Abramson today.  Y’all might remember that we had a little… let’s call it a misunderstanding.  I’d written a post back at blogspot and at the end of the post, I told about how I was almost raped.  Brittney quoted the beginning of the post, which was pretty self-contained, over at Nashville is Talking.  I mention that it was pretty self-contained because, in retrospect, I can see how a man might think it was the whole post.

Which, I think, clearly, Abramson did.  And so he started critiquing what was at NiT as if it were the whole thing and I started getting pissed off because I just assumed that he’d read the whole thing.  And then he made the unfortunate mistake of saying something along the lines of, if you aren’t clear about your intentions, you get what you deserve.  Again, clearly, in retrospect, it was obvious that he meant that I wasn’t being clear about my intentions in my writing.

For those of you who read me and have had to come to terms with my "let’s figure this shit out at we go" style, I think you can appreciate that it sometimes breeds misunderstanding.

But I thought he’d read the whole post here and was saying that, based on his judgment, I deserved to be almost raped.

As you can imagine, it was a long, long time before I didn’t want to stab him right in the chest and eat his heart right in front of his eyes while he laid dying under my feet. 

But, eventually, my white hot rage subsided and I realized what had happened, that he hadn’t even read my whole post, and, though I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that I read him, I put him on bloglines and kept track of what he was up to, even though I thought we’d probably never share a civil word again.

Y’all know what?

He wrote me and apologized to me.  I know for certain he doesn’t know why I was so pissed at him, because I went straight past trying to explain clear into I will cut you and then subsided into don’t ever come near me without making sure that he understood why.

He just knew something wasn’t right between us and he wanted to fix it.

I honestly think that takes such balls–to approach someone you know is hostile towards you though you don’t know why and to try to make it right*.

I’ve just been thinking how honored and lucky I am to know you and how y’all have taught me so much and are continually teaching me.  I look at Peg and Bridgett and even when I know that, if anyone’s going to call me on my shit, it’s going to be one or the other of them, I just feel really glad to know such brilliant, funny, strong women.

And look at Lee and W. always ready to demand I explain myself.  I only hope I make them half as uncomfortable and unsettled.

Ha, look at me, getting all mushy on you guys.  I just feel honored to know you and to have you here.  I guess y’all probably know that, but I thought I’d tell you anyway.

We’re lucky to live in a time when we can make such deep and yet ephemeral connections to each other.

Well, this may be my most disjointed post ever, but what can you do?



*Which is also why I find this whole "Is Roger Abramson conservative enough or will we run him off?" controversy to be so hysterical.  Yes, purge the folks who are trying to do right, even when it’s difficult; that makes good sense.


Fish as Shareholders

There’s an excellent article in today and I defy you to read it and not want to cause trouble.

Do you know about the American doctrine that says a corporation has the status of a person and enjoys all the legal protections afforded by the Constitution, including the right to own property? Well, beginning this week, Jeremijenko is selling the buoys to collectors. With the money, she plans to form a corporation called Ooz Inc. — zoo spelled backward — and put the fish on the board. That way the fish, as shareholders, will acquire personhood, and have a say in the preservation of their grungy habitat.

Doesn’t that just set your wheels to spinning?  Doesn’t it make you want to make some art?

God, it makes me glad to be alive–fish on corporate boards.

That’s what Nashville is missing, some god damn whimsy.

I Smell Like Beer

Rinsing your hair in beer is supposed to be very good for it.  The fact that I still smell like beer, though, makes me think that my shampoo is not actually that great.

On the other hand, folks who love beer are going to find themselves inexplicably drawn to me today, I bet.

The Gender Role We Leave Unexamined

Y’all may have missed the two humongous feminist “controversies” this past week–Twisty calling the blow job a tool of patriarchal oppression and Linda Hirshman taking elite women to task for not doing enough to advance feminist goals–and so you probably also missed the very interesting comments about those controversies.

When I was walking Mrs. Wigglebottom this morning, what struck me is that many of the comments surrounding both issues can be boiled down to this: “If you don’t validate my life choices, I won’t be a feminist.  So, you’re ruining feminism.”

I’ve long thought this was bullshit on the level of “Oh, sure, you’re willing to take all the hard-won benefits of feminism–your job, your education, your name on your own credit card, your ability to go about unescorted, etc.–but you don’t have the courage to honor the folks who won you those benefits.  Nice.”

But what I realized this morning is that it’s bullshit on another level, too, because, inherent in these criticisms of particular feminists is the idea that these women aren’t being careful with the feelings of others.  Just let this sink in for a second.  I’ll say it again, the objections to these women’s arguments often center around the fact that these women aren’t being careful with the feelings of others.

Here we are, a bunch of… let’s say women with progressive ideas about gender roles (since we can’t say “feminist” because some of them appear to threatening to turn their backs on feminism in order to punish the individuals they don’t like) who all think that a valid criticism of a woman is whether or not she’s being careful enough with the feelings of others.

Holy shit.

Y’all, this is how deeply some of these ideas are ingrained.  In our example, even women who should know better are unreflexively complaining that other women aren’t taking care of them.  Women who should know that it’s nobody else’s responsibility but her own to take care of herself are hurt that these particular feminists aren’t being careful enough with them.

On the other hand, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been some good critique of these controversies.  Check R. Mildred’s take on the blowjob controversy, for instance.  But I think the important distinction here is that, rather than being all “Oh, you hurt my feelings, because you aren’t taking care of me,” R. Mildred is pissed off (hurray for anger) and she and the commenters in this thread have smart, substantive critiques.

So, ha, suddenly I feel like I’m undermining my own point or not being clear.  But what I mean is that there’s a way in which too many of us are avoiding the intelligent pissed-off rant in order to continue the pouty, flouncy “but you hurt my feelings” bullshit that is very bound up in traditional gendered expectations of women–both in terms of how women are always supposed to consider the feelings of others and how our reaction to conflict is supposed to be either to resolve it or to flounce off in a cute little huff, leaving the real work for the grown ups.