With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Maybe I’m just ornery because my surgery got postponed (my doc wanted to do some more tests because my initial bleeding time test came back abnormal), but I was just reading a post on a blog I recently found (Athena’s Legacy). The post, written by Saralah, was entitled Haters Suck and was a defense against some pretty nasty ad hominem attacks that were sent her way.

I was with her all the way, feeling her pain and outrage, until I read this:

I am not a raging feminist. I do not scream about equality in the industry at the top of my lungs without pause, as some people seem to believe. Occasionally, I will post something on the topic here on the blog, and if those posts seem to get more attention, it’s because they usually draw the most comments.

Suddenly, I don’t feel that her blog belongs on our list anymore. No, it’s not because Saralah doesn’t want to be identified as a feminist; our very own Sarah also doesn’t identify as a feminist. I may not agree with it, but I recognize that it’s up to an individual to choose hir own labels. The reason I feel this way because she has chosen to degrade feminism as part of her defensive tactics. She may as well used the word “feminazi” for all the imagery “raging feminist” solicits, and portraying women who unapologetically fight for equality as “scream[ing]… at the top of [our] lungs without pause” is just a long winded way of accusing us of being overly emotional, “hysterical” women.

I am both shocked and disappointed that a blog that I chose to link specifically because of its laudable treatment of women’s issues in gaming would buy into that “I’m not one of those oversensitive women’s studies types” BS in order to… what? Appear less offensive to her misogynist critics? To show that she’s somehow “better” than those of us who chose to embrace the politically incorrect label?

It just makes me so angry that feminists are automatically the target of not only the misogynistic nutbags, but also of people like her who embrace our basic goals but have bought into the vitriol of the patriarchy and therefore feel the need to attack our movement anytime they are attacked by anti-feminist critics. Am I the only one who doesn’t see the earth logic in that? Attacking feminists because of… anti-feminist assholes. We’re not responsible for the continuation of the hate group that we are fighting against, so stop attacking us when they attack you!

I’m going to leave the link up for the moment and give myself some time to contemplate its removal. I had wanted to leave a note on her blog to see what her response would be, but it’s blogger only and I don’t have (or want) an account. I hope that ya’ll will weigh in with your opinions. When it comes down to it, I expect to butt heads with people who believe that women are lesser than men, but I’m just so tired of my group being constantly attacked by people who are, when all labels are stripped away, fundamentally in support of our cause. Like I said in the subject line: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Update: I would, first and foremost, like to apologize to Saralah for my unnecessarily hurtful tone. While I stand by the general thrust of my post, I shouldn’t have let my anger (both at the subject and my own personal issues) be directed at her. I cannot in good faith sit here and de-link her for having an adverse reaction to people saying horrible things on her blog, especially when I have fallen victim to the same tactics in the past. I in no way condone what was said, but I understand that she’s human, as am I, and we don’t always say exactly what we mean (see her comment for clarification on her position).That being said, I think both issues (non-feminist women’s rights advocates attacking feminism as a defense, and feminists using negative stereotypes of feminism as a defense) are worthy of discussion and are relevant/related to each other.

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10 thoughts on “With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  1. I feel your pain!

    I have heard so many women (a few friends of mine too) say quite loudly and quite passionately ‘i’m not a feminist’ in defence.

    It kind of feels like a slap in the face, not only for me who cares but for everything feminism has done for women.

    I guess the worst part is that feminism is seen as such a dirty word, an extremist almost.

    When this happens i always want to bring out the definition of a feminist and say to them so you don’t belive in equal rights for women?

    What’s even sadder is that you actually have some women who simply don’t care about equal rights (i had one on my blog recently), or at least say they don’t.

    Its makes me sad. We have a very long and difficult battle if women can’t even recognise that equal rights is important for them.

    Btw, I deleted someone else on my links for the same reason.

    I don’t know where to go from here. Although I can’t help but think what we reallyneed is more education and just some good public relations :-).

  2. Thanks for your response!

    It kind of feels like a slap in the face, not only for me who cares but for everything feminism has done for women.

    That’s a very good point. It’s like, “You may have gotten us the vote, the ability to use BC both in and out of relationships, helped to stop women from dying from back alley abortions, and allowed us to work outside the home, but that doesn’t matter because people like Rush Limbaugh say you’re evil and therefore it must be so.” And this sentiment from women who don’t even like our dear, crazy, woman-hating Rush (I use him as the example because he’s the one who coined “feminazi”, a word used by men and women alike to decry any woman who dares speak out for her rights).

    It is an outrage, I think, for women to benefit from all that feminism has accomplished and then turn around and bite the hand that has fed them. Don’t like feminism, fine, but either shut the hell up or stop taking advantage of the gains that the movement has brought you. Otherwise you’re just a lesser extreme of Ann Coulter; a hypocrite advocating the return to an age where women were seen as sub-human whose ability to advocate such hate speech was secured by the very women she demonizes.

    When this happens i always want to bring out the definition of a feminist and say to them so you don’t belive in equal rights for women?

    Has it worked for you? ‘Cause so far, every time I come across a woman who vocally supports women’s rights but “hates feminism”, all I get in response to that kind of reasoning is repetition of the myths that supposedly demonstrate how feminists are really man-haters. Last time I checked, the only feminists I know who hate men are the ones who acknowledge their fear/hatred isn’t healthy or a feminist value. I can’t say the same for the anti-feminist men who hate women, but we never hear about them, do we?

    Its makes me sad. We have a very long and difficult battle if women can’t even recognise that equal rights is important for them.

    I hear you. How will we ever stop being seen as male (normal) vs. female (lesser) and start being seen as people if the people who, by all rights, should be on our side are hell bent on helping their (and our) enemies destroy us? Nothing is gained when women’s rights advocates turn on feminism, but so very much is lost.

    PS. Tell Mr. T happy birthday for me. I was thinking about leaving a comment on your post, but it seems kind of odd to be well-wishing when I’m a total stranger. ^^;

  3. I am on my way out the door, so this must be brief, but I have to say something.

    I found your post about my blog, and I am hurt that you took my comment about being a “raging feminist” this way. I in no way meant to degrade the cause of feminism – I do consider myself a feminist, just not in the way that it had been portrayed in the horrible trolling comments that were made about me.

    What I was trying to get across is that some people think that because I talk about feminist issues occasionally, that is all I ever think about. They think that I believe I deserve equality just because I am a woman, never thinking that I could want it because I feel that I have earned it as a person. The “raging feminist” is not all feminists – it is the worst kind of stereotype.

    I apologize for any misunderstanding, and hope you will continue to visit my blog.


  4. Saralah, I appreciate that you took the time to come over here and clarify your position. I’m also very sorry for hurting you and I regret that I was unable to have a discussion with you on your blog, but I don’t have a blogger account and I don’t visit enough closed blogger blogs that would make a comment-only account worth it to me. I do understand your reasoning for closing off non-blogger comments (comment spam = annoying), although if it’s possible (I don’t know anything about how blogger works) perhaps you’d want to look into the kind of human-validation code that gendergeek has.

    I in no way meant to degrade the cause of feminism – I do consider myself a feminist, just not in the way that it had been portrayed in the horrible trolling comments that were made about me.

    I understand you wanting to react to the trolling comments made about you; the ones you left there were upsetting (to put it mildly) enough, so I can only imagine how terrible the ones you chose to delete were. There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour.

    However, my critique of your language still stands.

    And don’t think that I’m sitting here judging you from my high horse; I have been guilty of the same language as I’m criticizing you for. I know what it’s like to be the feminist being torn apart simply because she cares about women’s rights and chooses to speak up for them when the situation warrants. I’ve been in the position where I have cried out, in essence, “Stop attacking me, I’m not one of those feminists!” I have even used the word “feminazi” to distinguish myself from the same kind of “raging feminist” stereotype that you employed.

    But it is just that – a stereotype. While feminists who embrace anti-feminist ideals do exist (and, indeed, I would argue that the very human factor makes it so that none of us are immune from anti-feminist positions), it is misleading and harmful to the movement to continue to invoke the “raging feminist”/”feminazi” stereotype to defend against attacks from misogynists.

    Would you feel it to be ok for a heterosexual feminist to post on her blog something to the effect of: “I am not a dyke. I do not scream about vaginas at the top of my lungs without pause, as some people seem to believe.”? I know that I, personally, would find that very offensive to my feminist sensibilities. I don’t like being lumped into the “hairy legged, man-hating lesbian” category for being a feminist, but that’s not an excuse for 1) implying that there’s something wrong with having hairy legs, being a lesbian, or being vocal and unapologetic about a preoccupation with women’s issues, and 2) continuing to perpetuate a harmful stereotype (“man-hater”/”feminazi”/”raging feminist”/etc) as fact.

    Again, I’m sorry that my post hurt you; that wasn’t my intention at all. I’m definitely feeling pissy about my surgery being postponed, which I’m sure informed my tone and made me more harsh than I should have been. I hope that, despite my tone, you’ll think about the point I was trying to make about attacking feminism being a problem rather than a solution. I’m more than happy to discuss the issue further as well (this goes for any posters, not just Saralah).

  5. Sorry about the surgery — bad enough they’re going to cut into you, but now they’re delaying it? Bastards. (Don’t forget to get all the doc’s salient info! :D)

    Query: what do you think of the stereotype of the feminist with no sense of humour? The lightbulb joke goes: “How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? One. And that’s not funny.” I used to think that was a gross overgeneralization, but when I see people in feminist forums seriously using words like “womyn” and “herstory,” or who say “I find your use of the word ‘lame’ to mean ‘pathetic’ insulting, even though I am not diffferently-able,” it makes my brain twist. When did feminism become about ignoring practicalities in favour of political correctness?

  6. DS: Well, surgery got rescheduled to tomorrow. So, on the good side it’ll be finally over with, but on the bad side it screws my chances of going to the conference. The only other option would be messing with my flights, again, and I just know if I put it off that something would go wrong anyway.

    what do you think of the stereotype of the feminist with no sense of humour?

    Do a google search for “daily Kos” and “humorless feminist” and read some of the links. That stereotype is just as harmful as the rest, and misued just as badly to degrade feminism and women in general.

    I may not agree with spellings like “womyn” and whatnot, but I do understand their underlying point. Words have power.

    I used to be one of the staunch defenders of using the word “gay” to mean bad, because my argument was that it was far enough divorced from the connotation of homosexual that it wasn’t hurtful towards gay people. I also argued that, because people in the GLBT community used it, it was further ok, and by extension it was ok for me to use it. I have since changed my position, mostly as a direct result of those same “humourless feminist” forums making me see how hypocritical my stance on language was, but also because of being called the “humouless feminist” when I spoke up against the true homosexual bashing (woman bashing, etc) that went on in my WoW guild. I witnessed first hand what it was like to have people of the majority group dehumanizing groups that I belonged to and then turning on me, personally, if I dared to speak up and say such hate speech made me uncomfortable.

    The negative conntation to the term “politically correct” is also rooted in conservatism. I have no problem discussing the merits (or lackthereof) of using certain words, but to dismiss the arguments (and the women using them) as merely trying to be “politically correct” is offensive. It’s the same tactic used on us to try and shut us up any time we step outside the box that the men in power have tried to shut us in. Think reproductive freedoms are important enough to challenge the dems support of “Democrats for Life”? You’re just one of those PC, humourless, women’s studies types, aren’t you?

    As per your example using the word lame, here are some other contexts that I hope will help you understand why I disagree with you:

    1) “I find your use of the word ‘nigger’ to mean ‘disadvantaged’ insulting, even though I am not a person of colour,”

    2) “I find your use of the word ‘slut’ to mean ‘promiscuous’ insulting, even though I am not a sexually active woman,”

    3) “I find your use of the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘stupid’ insulting, even though I am not homosexual,”

    I would be shocked if you were to argue that a white person can’t object to the use of “nigger”, or that a chaste person can’t object to the word “slut”, or that a patently heterosexual person can’t object to the use of “gay” in the sense I described in my anecdote. It is the same principle for the use of “lame”. I have seen all sorts of people argue against its usage, including a fair number of those who identify as “differently-able”. I cannot stand here and rail against sexism while knowingly perpetuating other forms of oppression. No feminist should, either.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to understand, or agree with, everything these people say. I, certainly, don’t agree with the feminists who believe that all (female) homemakers are brainwashed zombies. I have run into some of them who, in other areas, are quite sane. But that does not mean that I’m going to use the stereotype that they fit to defend against women-haters, or even sit by and be silent while other people use the stereotype.

    I don’t know if you were walking close enough to hear our conversation, but at the pride parade Cat (Kat?) made a disparaging comment about feminists, then when I challenged her she clarified that it was the type (she had personally enountered) described above. While I agreed with her that the mindset she described was wrong, I also stressed that it was an anti-feminist value while explaining that it is possible for feminists to hold such values despite our striving for the ideal. She may or may not have been affected by what I said, but at least I didn’t sit on my ass and let the movement be harmfully stereotyped by someone who should be an ally of ours.

    There is no gain in using divisive language on our own people. However, the harm it can do to our cause (eradicating oppresion) is clear: if we continue to attack ourselves, and let our moral allies attack us, then all the progress we’ve made in North America in the past years will continue it’s steady descent down the toilet. I don’t want that, do you?

  7. Sorry, but doesn’t ‘slut’ by definition mean ‘promiscuous’? I see how the other examples are wrong; but ‘slut’ just seems like a more vulger term, like saying ‘fuck’ instead of ‘intercourse’

  8. Calfaile: “slut” at it most literal definition means “promiscuous,” but it’s usually used to mean “anyone who has more sex than I am, and I’m jealous of them.”

  9. Yah, promiscuous wasn’t exactly the best term to use (as it, too, can have a really bad connotation), but I figured that DS would be able to pick up the nuanced difference that I was implying. I was right, yay! ^^;

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