Moving Forward & Digging Deeper; third in a series

September 5, 2008

Part I; Part II; Lisa Harney’s response/continuance, and ! a wonderful example of what we were talking about.

So, finally, it went differently. We were all very tempted to take the bait, but we didn’t (well, Lisa, you kinda did). I *would have taken the bait* if I hadn’t seen other people not do it, despite having just called out the dynamic, because it is so deeply ingrained into my head that my place in feminism, in ‘woman,’ and in fact in humanity, is precarious and must be defended at all times.

And we broke that. We kept having our own conversation. We talked about m Andrea, not with her. We said, no, not this time. no, not here.

So, while this is partially falling prey to this very same trap, I’m interested in analyzing the dynamic further.

1)m Andrea comments at QT, not here. That is, she comments not at the source of the criticism, but at the place people congregate, the place where there would likely be a conversation otherwise, the place where she can disrupt. She doesn’t want to start a conversation, she wants to prevent one, disrupt one.

2)Her comment is practically boilerplate. No, seriously:

i Hi Lisa!

ii Lots of declarative statements in your post, without any supporting reasons.

iii I’m particularly interested in the assumption that the only options are inclusion into women-only spaces or death.

iv Every oppressed group has had to justify themselves — why does transgenderism get to be the lone exception? Women are used to having our every right to equality questioned, and the requirement that we prove our assertions is taken as a given after thousands of years of constant criticism; so it appears quite peculiar to many of us that transgender people claim a special exemption.

i)pretext, since she has no intention of actually engaging with Lisa, but it makes her comment look a bit more like it’s about this post, which it isn’t.

ii)Really? Really? Like what? If you had *any intention of engaging in discussion*, would you maybe bring up a specific point you thought was unsupported?

Translation: “You’re stupid and you can’t form real arguments. You are an incompetent feminist, you are making shit up, you are fake.”

–This has nothing to do with the actual post. She could have put that *anywhere*.

iii)Where does Lisa say this? Where has she [edit: m Andrea] proposed any other option? If she and those like her are responsible for spaces that turn away folks who are desperately marginalized, aren’t they responsible for coming up with that answer?

Translation: “You are incompetent and incapable of analysis/rational thought. You are the one failing trans women because you’re so stupid you can’t come up with a way to help them, which is your responsibility”.

–Again, nothing to do with the actual post. This reads as if it was copy and pasted from some other comment she made in another blog where she thought we wouldn’t be reading.

iv)Is she arguing for hazing, or is she seriously arguing in favor of the oppression of women? I suppose she could be pretending that everything we say is just whining about how it’s not fair as opposed to demanding change, but does she really believe that?

But again, this is a classic conflation of dominance and support, accountability and subordination. It’s totally obvious that not having to justify oneself is support/having to do it is subordination, but she claims that our not liking it is dominance.

Translation: “You are ignorant and stupid. You don’t have a clue about feminism or oppression, and you need to accept the basic facts of life. You believe you deserve a basic need because you’re unaware of the basic facts of life; you believe you deserve a basic need because you’re privileged, which makes you morally abhorrent. The fact that I am oppressed in this way justifies me oppressing you this way. ”

–While this engages with the post, 1)it only does so in a totally superficial way and 2)it could easily have been written having only read the first paragraph, and mentions *nothing* after the opening quote. She didn’t even scroll down.

I don’t think she read the rest of the post. I don’t think she cared. She went to the absolute minimum effort. She commented *for no other reason than to make the space unsafe, to prevent meaningful conversation from happening, and to waste our time*.

She’s a troll, plain and simple. She wants to hurt us, shut us up, and get rid of us, nothing more.

Think about the *extremely patronizing* language in her “logic” post “proving” we weren’t legit. She is saying: you’re stupid, you don’t know feminism, anyone who argrees with you can’t form an argument or think their way out of a paper bag, etc etc.

This is what they do. This is why what they say is damaging *even if their points are refuted*. Because they say, over and over again, that we are stupid, incompetent, and worthless–and all that kind of abuse needs to function is repetition. All it needs to sneak into your heart is to be taken seriously.

Who’s being shouted down and unable to speak, again?

PS m Andrea, don’t even bother trying to comment here.

27 Responses to “Moving Forward & Digging Deeper; third in a series”

  1. You did the a with no href=”” thing again on that “extremely patronizing language” bit.

    And I will say, I did respond to her, but I did so as an excuse to use this bit:

    It’s about over 30 years of systematic violence that cis feminists have inflicted upon trans women to keep us out of women-only spaces. I don’t see where you’re getting “inclusion or death” out of that. What I’m getting is “Stop fucking the hell up, own your shit, and stop trying to hold us responsible for said shit.” Unless you’re missing the point that refusing access to women’s services such as rape and DV shelters is dangerous to trans women, in which case, there you go: excluding trans women harms trans women. It’s not “. . . or death” but the lack of access in many places has no doubt contributed.

    But I could’ve found another way, maybe.

    Also, I should’ve linked something to the “. . . or death” bit.

  2. Well, at the risk of boring everyone to tears, I once again ask:

    What are transwomyn doing that mAndrea, Heart, Lucky, Satsuma, that whole crowd, DO NOT DO???

    IDing as one gender or the other? Wearing mascara? Cooking? Cuddling kittens? What? What exactly is the boogie(wo)man here?

    Just existing, as far as I can see.

    And you know, if you think a group should not exist, theoretically, that DOES lead to death. What else does it lead to?

    They need to be called on their language and their theory, which makes it OKAY to kill the people who transgress their laws. Yes IT DOES. If not, what exactly do they propose to do (after their mythical feminist revolution) with the gender-transgressors who won’t do as they dictate? Re-education camps? What, then? (As Renegade Evolution likes to say, what’s the plan?)

    Call them on their hatred at every turn. They ARE of the same piece as the people who murder transwomyn, just as Sarah Palin is of the same piece as people who claim the war in Iraq is some CHRISTIAN CRUSADE. Ideas have consequences, and their rhetoric surely exacerbates an already- volatile situation.

    They ALL need to be held accountable for their despicable language and what that language LOGICALLY LEADS TO.

  3. Debs said

    “She commented *for no other reason than to make the space unsafe, to prevent meaningful conversation from happening, and to waste our time*.”

    Thank you. It’s so refreshing to read that. And that “Hi Lisa” really annoyed me! As though they are best friends, or she’s really pleased to see her, or something – so false, so patronising.

  4. drakyn said

    “This reads as if it was copy and pasted from some other comment she made in another blog where she thought we wouldn’t be reading.”
    I think she basically did; same [lack of] idea behind it. In Polerin’s LJ I linked Helen’s “What If?” post and it was really obvious that mAndrea only read the two line summary I gave Polerin.
    “Another question would be, what would Helen do if transgenderism was just a fetish? She’s assuming that a mental disorder equals death — not very rational.” Which makes no sense if you read the post; there is no “mental disorder equals death” in Helen’s post. The suicide part was in reference to what cis* folk might have us do if we were proven wrong.

    She seems to love to come over and destroy any chance of meaningful conversation. Well, keeping us on the defensive and not able to discuss real issues/solutions is a great way of keeping us oppressed.

  5. Cedar said

    I mean, I guess my analysis of that comment (which actually extends to almost everything they say, period), is that she won’t read it. Not from us, not in this forum, not now. I need to do a post about *my* being an ex-transphobic-radfem, and how that change happens–but that’s beside the point. Anything we say to them has to be for our own benefit, you know? Which is not to say that that isn’t.

    Part of my point with the information about systemic violence (which I see you also use here🙂 is that they have a really big incentive to not listen and to shut us up–and they won’t stop so long as they have free reign to do so.

    I think it’s important to note that there are times when I’ve responded to trolls for my own sanity, knowing they won’t listen. But that’s because I felt cornered, unsupported, etc, and in order to prevent damage within my head I have to argue/fight back–which is the real problem, right? The problem is that our ‘allies’ leave us out to dry when the shit hits the fan. (an entirely different context, and to mix metaphors, but still). The problem is that we don’t have the confidence to not do that–for good reason.

    This is exactly why they can do this ridiculous comment moderation that they do–because while they feel threatened in one sense, their legitimacy as people and as feminists is not at stake. And while no one’s legitimacy as a person should ever be at stake, I’m not sure it’s ok that their legitimacy as feminists isn’t at stake.

  6. Cedar said

    OK, I KNOW I put the link text in that time. argh. It was supposed to go here.

  7. Cedar said

    Debs! Welcome.

    Anyways, your comment feels all the more valuable to me knowing your history.

  8. Andrea’s obsession with “the only options are . . . or death? comes from someone saying that transitioning for trans people isn’t a matter of convenience but often a matter of life or death.

    She thinks it’s a clever way to refute trans people’s lives, so she won’t give it up. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  9. Cedar, I think it’s clear that the links around here are malingerers and gadabouts.

    And yes on the systemic violence. I want to write a real post about BI soon, but I don’t want to subvert the need to read it.

    Also, this:

    I think it’s important to note that there are times when I’ve responded to trolls for my own sanity, knowing they won’t listen. But that’s because I felt cornered, unsupported, etc, and in order to prevent damage within my head I have to argue/fight back–which is the real problem, right? The problem is that our ‘allies’ leave us out to dry when the shit hits the fan. (an entirely different context, and to mix metaphors, but still). The problem is that we don’t have the confidence to not do that–for good reason.

  10. Cedar said

    L: I’m not sure I get this comment.

  11. I was joking about how the links are broken.

    I want to write about BI specifically, but I feel tempted to just cover everything it says, which is what I don’t want to do. I really really want to get people to talk about the systemic violence you mention, especially.

    And I agree with what you said about responding to trolls for your own sanity.

  12. er: by “cover everything it says” being my code for “cover it so thoroughly that no one would need to actually read it.”

    “my code” being my code for “saying it clumsily.”

  13. Cedar said

    ah. thanks.

    You’re actually the first person to really harp on that part of the essay, and I’m glad you are. Everybody likes the MP section, but fewer have talked about the other. I think I likely make some leaps that I need to fill in, but the more I read about radfems the more I realize that things that occurred to me as a flash of insight in the 42nd hour were actually true, not just lack of sleep.

  14. I get that – my “Abolishing Gender” post came from a flash of insight I had writing my final response to Corey on Feministing, but it took 2-3 weeks to actually be able to put it into writing.

    I liked the male privilege bit most from your excerpts, but from reading the whole thing, I much prefer your analysis of feminist exclusion. The MP section is still good and says needed things, though.

  15. Well, as I said over on UPW where the very same troll pulled similar shit, one way one could interpret the phenomenon is this: the Universal Asshole/Troll card (didn’t you say something about the “I’m Not A Troll BUT” Bingo card on the other thread? i.e. this is an excellent starting point.

    http://uppitybrownwoman.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/i-dont-like-your-tone-missy/#comment-139

    so, okay, one square could be, say:

    “I MUST REFOCUS THE CONVERSATION ON MYSELF! EVEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAKING ME LOOK LIKE EVEN MORE OF A FUCKBRAIN THAN I ALREADY DID!”

    see, this is where “institutionalized privilege” really meets the more personal or rather interpersonal level of “just plain assholery.” a rather splendid little example, really. it’s not clear at what point the infantile “PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO MEMEME” ends and the “UH OH PEOPLE BELONGING TO THE GROUPS I REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE AS ACTUAL PEOPLE ARE HAVING CONVERSATIONS AMONGST THEMSELVES, MAKING FRIENDS AND INFLUENCING PEOPLE DESPITE MY DISAPPROVAL, THIS MUST BE STOPPED.”

    I mean, the distinction is less important when the privilege-enforcer in question, as in this case, has -generally- the brainpower and social skills of a particularly maladjusted slime mold; clearly other cases are more complex.

    ***

    wrt the specific comment she left at Lisa’s, I don’t know that the actual content is as important as the process you’re outlining here; but if for whatever reason one -did- want to consider the content for a moment, I was sort of struck by the underlying message in this, because I think it’s the same one that fuels the “No Special Rights For Gays” business (and this one has actually used the term “special rights’ for trans people with no irony or self awareness whatsoever. no, I have no idea if she ID’s as lesbian, but “some of her best commenters” at the very least), anyway;

    I mean, she frames it as this “women are used to being…questioned…[for] thousands of years” setup, which is disingenuous for several reasons, but what it ultimately boils down to is:

    “Why should you get something I don’t have, huh, huh, huh?”

    What it actually is she thinks she doesn’t have that trans folk are demanding is, well, at minimum, not what she thinks it is. Again, it’s related to the “No Special Rights” for gay people business: it’s rarely clear to me if the people who buy this shit really believe that the proposed law or whatnot is going to give the despised Other genuine advantages over themselves, but it’s definitely the case that they feel they’re losing -something.-

    I guess what I’m getting at here, and believe me, this is -not- an expression of sympathy for the loathsome mAndrea, because I’m not that spiritual, but it does interest me:

    Happy people don’t go all economy-of-scarcity when it comes to things like basic respect and decency and human rights and shit.

    maybe it seems like a truism, eh. I had more, but I’m suddenly having a total brain fart. it seemed more profound earlier in the mental composition, o well…

  16. …ah, right, I know, it was related to–this was another discussion offblog, but anyway reposting my own words:

    “you know, I think besides the cissexual priv there, I get the strong impression that she and a lot of these people are so out of touch with
    their own bodies, so uncomfortable in their own skin, that subtle concepts like “this is the way -I- feel, it isn’t about external directives” simply don’t compute because -they- don’t get it.

    not unlike the way I think really hardcore homophobic people often just have no idea of their own sexuality at all, of what real -desire- is, which is why they can’t empathize with people trying to live in a way that’s true to themselves. What’s that mean? Isn’t it all either about conforming or resisting conforming? They don’t know who they are or what they want, and of course the idea that someone else wants to live in a way that makes them -happy- without any -material-
    evidence of their “difference” sends them around the bend. They’re fundamentalists because they don’t understand the subjective, because
    they -have- no “I” really; they have little to no contact with their own interior life.

    put it together with a philosophy like “personal is political,” which is of course -only- about the subjective, or for that matter anything related to spirituality, which in theory would be intensely subjective and interior, and, well, you get the trainwreck that this is, don’t
    you.

  17. gallinggalla said

    @daisy:
    They need to be called on their language and their theory, which makes it OKAY to kill the people who transgress their laws.

    And, more than just being called out, cis allies need to tell them that they are not welcome in the space and then BAN THEM (whether from an online or a physical space), so that there’s real consequences and the trolls become increasingly isolated.

  18. Cedar said

    “you know, I think besides the cissexual priv there, I get the strong impression that she and a lot of these people are so out of touch with
    their own bodies, so uncomfortable in their own skin, that subtle concepts like “this is the way -I- feel, it isn’t about external directives” simply don’t compute because -they- don’t get it.

    This really resonates with me, because it totally describes my experience of pre-transition radfem-style transsexualphobia…A subject on which I need to post, but it will be a while, I suspect.

  19. Cedar said

    Oh! Also:

    put it together with a philosophy like “personal is political,” which is of course -only- about the subjective, or for that matter anything related to spirituality, which in theory would be intensely subjective and interior, and, well, you get the trainwreck that this is, don’t
    you.

    I think you lost me here.

  20. Cedar said

    (didn’t you say something about the “I’m Not A Troll BUT” Bingo card on the other thread? i.e. this is an excellent starting point.

    I sure did, almost two weeks before you left that comment.😉

    I think it’s pretty awesome that the shit was so similar that I didn’t realize you’d copy/pasted until I followed the link.

    I don’t know that the actual content is as important as the process you’re outlining here; but if for whatever reason one -did- want to consider the content for a moment, I was sort of struck by the underlying message in this, because I think it’s the same one that fuels the “No Special Rights For Gays” business (and this one has actually used the term “special rights’ for trans people with no irony or self awareness whatsoever. no, I have no idea if she ID’s as lesbian, but “some of her best commenters” at the very least), anyway;

    So, I totally agree with you about said analysis of the content. BUT, said analysis has been given to them how many times before?

    I think that the argument is actually kind of ahistorical/acontextual. What I mean by that is that the RFT’s (radfem trolls) are taking the by-any-means-necessary strategy of the radical feminist movement and applying it. I mean, they probably don’t actually think that hard, but I don’t see any real difference between the RFT’s keeping Rich around as an attack dog and the larger movement’s alliance with the religious right to end pornography. They don’t care about the consequences. They don’t care about the implications. It’s one of the more important points toward the end of Beyond Inclusion, actually, and I won’t repeat myself here because it takes a fair amount of lead up….(I expect Lisa will blog about that part soon, if you don’t want to donate)

  21. […] September 6, 2008 So, I’ve been pontificating enough here, I want to shift gears a bit and go into facilitator mode. there are times when I’ve responded to trolls for my own sanity, knowing they won’t listen. But that’s because I felt cornered, unsupported, etc, and in order to prevent damage within my head I have to argue/fight back–which is the real problem, right? The problem is that our ‘allies’ leave us out to dry when the shit hits the fan. (an entirely different context, and to mix metaphors, but still). The problem is that we don’t have the confidence to not do that–for good reason. [link] […]

  22. “put it together with a philosophy like “personal is political,” which is of course -only- about the subjective, or for that matter anything related to spirituality, which in theory would be intensely subjective and interior, and, well, you get the trainwreck that this is, don’t
    you.”

    I think you lost me here.>>

    Just my roundabout way of noting that it’s particularly weird for something that’s supposedly -all about- the subjective, i.e. most feminisms that aren’t the Maoist International Movement (google them sometime, it’ll be a laugh)–to start talking as though there were some sort of objective scientific…something to the half-baked theories they’re putting forth.

  23. but actually as I type that I realize, yeah, you can justify “personal is political” without being particularly invested in peoples’ deep inner life; in fact it’s probably more correct not to than to take it the way I usually take it. still, though.

    just something about the half-baked-ness of the way certain people talk; there’s this kind of pseudo-sciencey tone…but that’s the nature of fundamentalism, I suppose. on the one hand, there’s an appeal to a sort of mystical deeply felt Universal Truth; on the other hand, feelings aren’t relevant, these are OBJECTIVE truths observable by EVERYONE…except, they aren’t, empirically speaking…

    I’m just getting more confusing, aren’t I.

    anyway. more later if I find myself more coherent.

  24. “So, I totally agree with you about said analysis of the content. BUT, said analysis has been given to them how many times before?”

    There is that.

    or, anyway–it’s a different discussion, I think. in a context where you’re specifically talking about, look, tired of trying to see it from their POV, whatever it is and however interpreted…yeah, fuck ’em, maybe best now just focus on the techniques and how to deal with it strategically.

  25. and, no, I’d like to read it, lemme get my shit together and I’ll donate.

  26. “And, more than just being called out, cis allies need to tell them that they are not welcome in the space and then BAN THEM (whether from an online or a physical space), so that there’s real consequences and the trolls become increasingly isolated.”

    Well, here you do also get into the less important but still persistent separate issue of “to ban or not to ban, ever” in leftie/political blogs.

    Personally, I have no problem deleting or banning if I think someone’s a pointless troll; oddly, I’ve rarely had to exercise it at my own space. I mean -really- rarely. And technically I don’t know as I -can- ban, blogger doesn’t block IP’s, for instance.

    As for real life spaces…well, again, personally, even more so, I think: yeah, sometimes, to make a space a “safe space” you need to bring down the banhamma; the thing is, in political spaces, people often really don’t seem to get what does and doesn’t make a space…well, let’s not say “safe,” because it isn’t therapy; but, at minimum, “not a total bear pit,” and “not a place where a particular already vulnerable group of people regularly gets savaged.”

    …and I can hear the outraged screams as I type this of “hypocrisy!” because certain people think I and others do exactly that for/to “radfems.”

    Except for: it ain’t about ideology or demographic, at least as far as I’m concerned: it’s about -behavior-, and this is another long rant which I won’t bore you with here.

    Back on topic then:

    What I think is more basic is that feminists take “hey, this shit is transphobic, i.e. rank bigotry, and/or we’re going back to 101 again” complaints more seriously. There are a number of ways in which to deal with this, but first of all, it needs to be communicated that -yes, I agree, this shit isn’t on,- which right now, I think, is not happening nearly enough.

    I think what happened with the feminist Carnival wherein mAndrea’s spewings were included was a perfect case in point. Not just the fact that it was included in the first place, but the way Natalie Bennett responded as host. (and to be fair, that particular incident was a gross enough example of hate speech that quite a lot of the peanut gallery, cis too, were outraged and pointed it out).

    I don’t actually think Natalie banning mAndrea outright from her blog when she showed up in the comments was necessary, although again I personally wouldn’t have had a problem with it; what I really had a problem with was the dismissive way in which she responded to the many people who expressed their distress, not to mention an ignorant comment that led me to believe she actually saw -something- in that tripe to begin with, and didn’t seem terribly interested in engaging people who pointed -that- out, asked for clarification, and so on.

    and what I keep going back to in that example is: on a -feminist- carnival, would, say, someone posting something about how she “questions homosexuality” have been included? Or would people have recognized it right away for the hate speech it is? And if so, why? It doesn’t happen automatically, that process. What it means is that mainstream gay and lesbians have made enough inroads into the mainstream discourse that at least purported liberals/progressives know better than to entertain -that- level of hateful crap, which is not to say there is no homophobia, of course.

    but if you go to, I don’t know, certain other pockets of society, you’d find similar “debates” over whether gay people get to, like, exist.

    and I am sure if you go back enough years, you will find exactly that in supposed “leftist” and yep! even feminist circles as well: hi, Lavender Menace, anyone? ironically enough the impetus for a lot of the radical feminists in the damn first place.

    …maybe it’d be worth taking a look at that, actually, Betty Friedan and NOW and Rita Mae Brown and all the rest of it. same shit, different day, slightly different model. and yet, change DID happen, certainly wrt how (cis) lesbians are incorporated into mainstream feminism (which is not to say all is perfect, laws no, just, you know, a baseline of “yes, obviously we have a right to be there”), so…I don’t know, though, does it translate to here and now and this situation? I’d think so, but I’m obviously biased, here…

  27. […] If I need to back that up I’ll need another post–it just gets kinda convoluted. The short version is that she acknowledges that a certain group is suffering distress, but is only interested in making sure they *don’t* get a certain kind of resource, rather than making sure that they do get other resources. Furthermore, her paranoia about even a single children’s book that “pushes drugs and self-mutilation” on kids is demonstrative that she isn’t really worried about how many kids it might cause to transition–because individuals’ cissexuality is much more robust than that, but society’s isn’t. Society’s myth of universal cissexuality *is* incredibly fragile, and has to be protected at all times–but what has to be done is not to create a stronger foundation (which they never ever do) but to disrupt any other conversation that’s happening. (see my Radical Feminist Troll series, especially parts two and three) […]

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