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Two Ouzo-Sprite, Please.

13 Oct

Actually, just one. Because, as I’ve learned during my latest grrrl holiday: that stuff might make Nadia happy, but, for me, just the smell is an excellent throwing up agent. To be honest, I’ll just have any kind of drink that will make this white supremacist patriarchy end faster, really. Thanks!

So, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged – about anything, really. That’s partially work related, partially related to the mere fact that I sometimes get the sense that I’ve basically said what I wanted to say. Many times. Without any impact, naturally. And there’s not much to add. Except for a link to 2011, perhaps.

kNadia and I mused on whether we should just start doing battle rap and self-centered podcasts instead – “Arab and Afrob Talk About Stuff,” for example. Battle raps indeed seem like the appropriate answer to most of my recent political online communication – this would be the adequate substance level. And that, again, is no only due to the fact that people react absurdly to what feminist bloggers write, but to the fact that feminist bloggers write at all.

When I started this blog, my intention was to make it about pop culture and gender – a fun, pink, neon, silly place where I do the stuff I like and people who like it, too, can come in and participate. Only a few months later, Sady Doyle’s piece about having been a much more cheerful person when first entering the bloggosphere really spoke to me; she followed it up with her analysis of the reactions to women_feminist bloggers with the #MenCallMeThings campaign shortly thereafter. For me, #MenCallMeThings was a nice addition to #WhitesCallMeThings – not that the two don’t frequently overlap.

Overestimating social progress (and/or people’s willingness to evolve past… uh, the social ideals of the Fifties, really?) was pretty much my crucial mistake. Underestimating the viciousness of people who think there are people and then there are women* was another one; the determination of people (predominantly white, heterosexual cis men) whose only purpose in life seems to be to make other people as downtrodden and miserable as possible to be able to continue feeling (and being treated) superior. Who knew?!

This isn’t the internet’s fault. Rather, this medium seems to allow for the concentration of said misogynists (and racists, and heterosexists,…) into a single ball (oh, ze pun) of awfulness, served on a silver platter, day in, day out. It is exhausting as a mirror of social reality. And never was my contempt clearer than now, after having taken a longer break from it. The sad thing is: getting digitally spat on everyday becomes a sort of routine. And I only realized just how routine it is after having taken a step back. Now, I do not feel re-vitalized to jump back in, however, but rather motivated to step further back.

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26 Feb

There are certain commenters on feminist and other social justice blogs that I keep wondering about, or rather: whose behavior keeps baffling me. These people (most of them self-identified men) are no “trolls” in the usual sense, i.e., they do not linger around comment threads with the need for petty recogni­tion; the people I am talking about would probab­ly argue that they are ho­nest­ly interested in feminist and other social topics, that they do value the writing people provide on it, and that they are here to argue in good faith. Still, despite all these seemingly benign intentions, even lower-level moderated feminist spaces can’t be bothered publishing or even replying to their comments. But despite the fact that about 90 percent of these commenters’ ideas never see the bright and shiny light of comment thread day, they feel the need to give bloggers the benefit of their opinion on every other post.

Can I just ask… why? What do people think they (or the ones they are confronting with this kind of behavior) have to gain from tactics like these?

Why would you continue to comment (most redundantly) on a blog that has not acknowledged your last ten posts? Why would you think that a feminist blog is very eager to learn your spectacular insights as a white, heterosexual, able-bodied cis-man on every topic imaginable (and why would you think that you actually have the knowledge to talk about all of that)? Why do you think it is appropriate to force your half-assed analyses on every feminist blogger you can get a hold of?

This curious behavior is nestled somewhere between critical commenting, mansplaining and trolling, so I personally find it harder to handle (…engage yet again to repeat the same basics one more time? Ignore? Delete? Spam?). It is, however, quite similar to good ol’ trolling in certain regards: people who have little knowledge on feminist/etc. issues (although they most certainly think they do…) feel the ever-growing need to educate you about either very basic feminist 101 ideas that they’ve just recently learned somewhere and now need someone else to validate them, or about long-refuted hypotheses on, well, The World ™ and how it works. The other possibility (that I find particularly charming) is the devil’s advocate role where some random dudes just start throwing stuff at you (because it’s just the internet, right, don’t take things so personally, you hysterical oversensitive misandrist radical ball buster), even though paying lip service to actually agreeing with you “more generally” – Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has written about that many times, and why it is not only exhausting but privileged and disrespectful behavior in the first place.

Some of the latest examples for this kind of conduct were some of the reactions to Charlott’s post about the Oscars, over at Mädchenmannschaft. In reply to her pointing out the misogyny, anti-Semitism and racism of a show that centered around jokes about topless actresses, domestic violence, JewsControlTehHollywoodz and WeCan’tUnderstandLatin@sAmIRite?!, some people found it necessary to tell Charlott that this is just “the entertainment industry,” and what do people really expect from that? Yeah, thanks for that groundbreaking insight… In reply to Charlott stating the obvious, namely that the Academy Awards are given out by a jury of predominantly elderly white men to predominantly elderly white men, people thought it wise to interject that both in the categories of leading and supporting actor/actress, the same amount of Oscars have been awarded. No shit, Sherlock… When Charlott problematized the racist and miso­gy­nistic treatment of Quvenz­hané Wallis, people found it appropriate to “remind” her of Django Unchained and its oh-so-clear “anti-racist” message, and that this ceremony clearly was all about racial har­mony. Have you been staying under a rock recently…? I’d rather publish another response (ironically) praising the beauty of this “coal black child” than those trying to school feminist and anti-racist bloggers about, well, feminism and anti-racism with the most ridiculous assumptions and a bare lack of know­ledge, all while thinking they have a key insight to contribute to this discussion – over and over again.

shhh2And yet, magically, this happens with a large per­cen­tage of the posts on femi­nist blogs, and it is al­most ex­clu­sive­ly done by the same hand­full of people (mostly men*) in seeming­ly end­less loops of re­dun­dan­cy. So, let me give you a quick ser­vice an­nounce­ment that other bloggers are too polite to give you (…and we all know that subtlety isn’t for me): please shut up al­ready. No one cares about your ill-informed “in­for­mation” you think is pi­votal to the success of some­one else’s blog’s con­tent or their wri­ting sty­le. This is not de­bate cul­ture – this is simply draining re­sources from people who have to deal with you and full-fledged trolls on a daily basis any­way. If you have questions about feminism and/or racism, take a look at a 101 and then come back. There is no responsibility to answer every single douche canoe comment to make people happy, and there certainly is no benefit to having to repeat day in, day out, why feminist bloggers on feminist blogs care about feminism so much or why criticizing pop culture makes sense in a critical post about pop culture.

When you realize at some point that none of your comments (or very few) ever make it through, it might be time to step back from the hard and cruel comment game and start reading and listening a bit more. That’s how most of the feminist bloggers (surprise: including this loud-mouthed one) started out, by the way: shutting up and educating themselves in other feminist spaces, for example – not drowning everyone everywhere in a flood of useless comments. If you don’t have anything else but rudely phrased banalities based on superficial knowledge to add to the conversation (which, by the way, can be quickly determined by people’s reactions to your posts or the fact that your posts are never actually answered or never even appear on the page), you might want to reconsider your actions. You know, the basic common decency approach has proven quite popular here and elsewhere… Because right now, the thing you’re doing is essentially online harassment. You’re the guy who is “just not getting it,” no matter how pronounced one signals you to back off. It’s not sexual harassment, but it is gendered harassment – and No means No (including the “No” that is conveyed when ignoring you).

Now: step away from the keyboard, and try to keep it down.

What Fresh Hell Is This?

30 Jan

Femen Germany, a direct action group engaged in the tremendously important feminist causes of activism against sex slavery, human trafficking and sexualized violence and which has been modeled after the Ukrainian original “Femen,” has made a bit of a name for itself in feminist activism in germany. Incidentally, they achieved recognition by their forms of protest, that, apparently, always include some form of nudity and some form of discrimination. Whereas the biggest german feminist magazine, EMMA, celebrated Femen as a new generation of amazing feminist activists that evil wannabe-feminists from Berlin (!!11) are trying to stifle using all dictatorial means necessary, the fact that this group has been endorsed by EMMA is interesting in itself, given EMMA‘s stances on racism.

Besides the age-old question whether feminist activism in the nude is actually productive (personally, I don’t care if people choose this form of protest, as long as they do it consciously and know what it entails), Femen Germany have displayed an astonishing lack of knowledge and insight when it comes to feminist theory and action of the last three decades while displaying a special talent for being as offensive as possible towards people who are subjected to racism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, ableism and other forms of systematic oppression. I might add that one of their most prominent activists, Zana Ramadani, has actually been a member of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for two years, and Femen Germany‘s FB page displays countless german national flags (*ahem*).

Femen Germany, moreover, is not only ignorant towards these issues, but – and that’s the crucial point for me – furthers discrimination by their biologistic “theories” and offensive actions: be it with their Niqab performance at last year’s sl*twalk in Berlin or their newest “protest” in Hamburg against sex work, 24 hours before the Holocaust memorial day, where they had the nerve to compare sex work to (german) fascism, actually wrote “Arbeit macht frei” on a wall, and demonstrated carrying torches (!).

Femen Germany, thus, are not only a bunch of racist impersonators as seen at the sl*twalk, they actually don’t have an issue with equating sex work to the industrialized mass murder of the Holocaust. Femen Germany has thus proven that they take their name quite seriously – they truly are the worst…

Thankfully, the feminist activists from e*vibes have written an Open Letter that challenges Femen Germany and asks them many important questions (in german):

“Innerhalb der letzten Wochen sind wir über Facebook vermehrt auf euch als Femen Germany aufmerksam geworden. Vergangenen Montag dann haben wir von eurer Aktion in Hamburg erfahren. Nachdem wir den ersten Schock überwunden hatten, haben wir uns ein Herz gefasst und schreiben euch nun diesen Brief. Ein Brief mit einigen der vielen drängenden Fragen. Auf eurer Seite verlinkt ihr die internationale Seite Das Selbstverständnis, welches dort zu finden ist, haben wir uns einmal genauer angeschaut. Es hat sich gelohnt, denn bereits hier taten sich einige Fragen auf: Können Frauen ohne Brüste Femen sein? Wie definiert ihr „Frauen“? Was ist mit Trans*menschen? „Activists of FEMEN – are morally and physically fit soldiers“ Was bedeutet „physisch und moralisch fit“? Können „nicht physisch fitte“ Menschen Femen sein? Warum Soldat*innen?”

Go read the whole letter here.

Your Openness Excludes Me.

23 Jan

As stated before in the recent post on people’s curious interpretations of “censorship:” it’s not what some people think it is. That also goes for the alleged “censorship” that (most feminist) bloggers rain down on commenters by moderating their own digital spaces and deciding on who to (not) let into their private living room. Besides the usual trolls that can be spotted more or less easily and other people who seem to have certain, um, issues with social equality and choose to express them by calling bloggers fat, ugly, b*tch, whore, c*nt, n*ger, n**ger, etc., there are those commenters who insist on debating in “good faith” and are offended if you deny to engage with them.

There are blogs, moreover, who proclaim that letting everyone comment as they please (with very little exceptions) is actually furthering debate culture and leads to the self-exposure of bigoted people that usually don’t need a helping hand in doing so (yes, ScienceBlogs is one example, as there recently was a slightly preposterous debate about my choice to not link to a post anymore – it is just one of thousands of examples, however). I do agree with that assertion: racists, sexists, heterosexists, … usually expose themselves quite quickly, if not with their common first sentence (“I’m no XYZ but…”).

The problem is: they speak for many other people who don’t think what they say is ridiculously racist, sexist, heterosexist, … but “normal.” Maybe a little “un-PC,” but totally within a “normality” framework. To not counter them is to accept that substituting “Black person” for N* in children’s books puts us “on a path” that will “eventually lead to book burnings like those during the Nazi regime” is somewhat of a valid point of view. You might not agree, and you might think it’s ridiculous (yes, it is), but other people certainly do. And for them, this “point of view” is now just one of the many expressed, just as valid, just as argumentative. That’s part mob mentality, perhaps, but part political conviction. To not say anything doesn’t make that problem go away – and to be able to merely (and silently!) ridicule a person who says stuff like that is a privilege some people cannot afford.

That leads me to the next problem: by allowing (almost) anyone to comment whatever they want, you create a space that is heavenly for some people (at least for those with little self-awareness), but completely hostile to people who suffer from discrimination, for example. You might be the biggest anti-racist activist this space-manatee-forsaken place called germany has ever seen; if you let people proclaim that “N* is just a word like every other word and it’s only racist if it’s intended to be racist” in your space, your anti-racist ally-card will be revoked immediately. This rule is based on “real life” experiences: if you don’t stand up for people and/or contradict racists, you are not an ally, you are a poseur. Speaking up here isn’t the job of PoC, it is yours as an ally.

Yet, every now and then, my inner educator too makes me engage people who I think might benefit from a debate and might be arguing in good faith. Sometimes I think it even makes sense to dismantle mere trolls who certainly won’t take anything from it, be it on here or over at Mädchenmannschaft; both highly irregular occasions… This, however, is usually educational only for a completely different set of people than the one it is supposed to aim at: it is educational for myself, and for readers who more or less agree with me anyway (and like to “hear” me shouting or something for some reason – thanks for bearing with me all the time ;)!). It is also entertainment. But is not educating ignorant people, and it is not making a difference in their way of thinking. Or, as a recent commenter told fellow author Sabine over at Mädchenmannschaft: “Your post is fantastic, and you’ve exposed this guy’s argumentation as being completely racist. I still think he’s right, though.” Alright then…

90s-Phrase-Talk-to-The-Hand-Cause-The-Face-Aint-ListeninOn­ly ve­ry rarely do people who co­mment like that change their opi­nion even in the sligh­test bit, de­spite being challen­ged be­cause of their mis­in­for­ma­tion or straw­men or out­right dis­cri­mi­na­tory views – it seems to never have any sub­stan­tial im­pact. That, of course, might be heavi­ly due to my lack of ar­gu­men­tative skills and rigor, but at times, it’s simply due to the fact that people did either not argue in good faith from the start, or are not here to en­ga­ge with another per­son and learn from them or others any­way, and, most im­por­tant­ly, wouldn’t ar­gue for things like calling Black peo­ple the N-word in chil­dren’s books in the first place if they were a) not a terrible hu­man being and b) ac­tually bothered to read or listen to any­thing that might broaden their hori­zon of dis­cri­mi­na­tory nor­mal­cy.

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4 Dec

[Update: This text has also been published in german on Mädchenmannschaft: "Entweder... Oder?"]

It’s Alice Schwarzer’s 70th birthday. Alice Schwarzer is the official icon of the german women’s liberation movement of the 1970s, and she has been the editor-in-chief of the oldest german feminist magazine, EMMA, for decades. Alice Schwarzer has, in my view, indisputable achievements in terms of feminist activism, e.g., fighting publicly and effectively against §218 of german penal law that illegalizes abortions, and putting feminist perspectives on political and media agendas. Alice Schwarzer has also been criticized heavily, has been called every disgusting insult in the book, has been threatened and yelled at for over 40 years. That she’s still a feminist activist is a sign of courage and perseverance, I believe, and I don’t think that criticism of her political views and actions should negate that.

Alice Schwarzer, however, is also an activist who has made the patronization of other women* an integral part of her brand of feminism, and who has now become a bit of a caricature of an unrepenting Second Wave [sic] feminist who adamantly insists that all women* share the same basic life experience because of their sex, and that Feminism ™ can and should be a completely unified movement encompassing and speaking for every woman* on the planet (…whether they like it or not). In her newest blog article (which, apparently, will also be the editorial note of the newest EMMA issue in January 2013), “Back to Zero?” (in german), Schwarzer laments the “sectarian” tendencies of some modern feminist currents, and believes that anti-racist activists are trying to silence the feminist ones.

Schwarzer believes that there are feminists (the good ones), and that there are groups of women (the bad ones) who are trying to silence the feminists. Schwarzer believes that these groups of women*, particularly the bloggers of Mädchenmannschaft (yes, again, always, blah… – Nadia at Shehadistan has published a great comment on another EMMA article that also jumped on the bandwagon) and other feminist bloggers and activists in Berlin (…although most of them actually aren’t Berlin based, but that would cramp the narrative that other newspapers and magazines have already established, so…), are trying to silence feminist activism by randomly accusing said activists of alleged racism (a reproach Schwarzer denies), and that self-professed PoC assert that they’re automatically right and white people are automatically wrong (…I am not exaggerating, she actually wrote it like that). Moreover, and this is when Schwarzer comes back to the Berlin sl*twalk, these pseudo-anti-racist, anti-feminist groups of women* do not only think feminism is less important than anti-racism (a claim she tries to underline by equating it with her experiences with german working-class activists who thought class was more important than gender), they use their anti-racism as a hidden strategy to further Islamic fundamentalism which she describes as fascism. To sum up: the anti-racist critique displayed by some allegedly feminist women* towards other (the real) feminist women* is just a front for justifying the tenets of radical Islamism/neo-fascism, and it is just a matter of time until these groups of women* who call themselves “left-wing feminists” switch sides to right-wing extremism, and the totalitarian tyranny of said fauxminists has placed an iron curtain of fear and regret on femininist activism in Berlin (and soon across Europe, I assume – alright, here I actually am paraphrasing a bit).

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