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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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Putting The Boot In.

5 Aug

…and people say I can’t let things go (ha! and here it is: the obligatory “putting the boot in”, possibly opening the doors to the hell of endless “debates”): some of you might remember the multitude on posts, including some on here, about failing white male allies* and self-proclaimed white male “allies” who actually aren’t allies but people seeking to get their heads patted for not being David Duke.

Let me reiterate that I’m not talking about the “sexism in video games” discussion on germany’s public broadcasting station “Deutschlandradio” because I think Deef and a variety of supporters should not be allowed to catch a break as people who have been called fauxminists (though I’m afraid I’m keeping the Fauxminism charge up), but because you just couldn’t make shit like this up to exemplify what the so often debated and facepalm-inducing problem is with people who believe they’re in it for  The Good Cause (TM) and yet, showcase anti-feminist thinking and behavior and give actual feminist allies a bad name.

In case you missed my problem with this particular incident, see posts here and here.

Yet, it has been a good month (which is what? Like 20 years in Internet Time?) and one might think that this Gate was solved by simply adding a couple more people to individual block lists. This, however, is apparently not the case, and one of the reasons seems to be the actually surprising decision by Deutschlandradio to host another show on sexism on the internet/in video games/in digital life with three different panelists, now including two women (Helga Hansen and Katrin Rönicke) who are, in one way or another, active in the feminist (online) community and a variety of other fields, and Anatol Stefanowitsch, a professor of linguistics who also writes about language and gender.

It has been noted that, ironically, none of the people who have expressed elaborate criticism of the previous show with Deef and others (namely, Femgeeks), have been invited to the show [Edit: Helga had actually been the first one to criticize Deutschlandradio's invitation policy on Twitter. I, however, still think that it  would have made a lot of sense to (also) invite one of the authors of Femgeeks who have written about the last broadcast elaborately and have been in direct contact with the show's host about it - that, ironically, did not happen. They were not invited, although the host kept referring to their criticism during the show, and continuously read out their tweets] and Anatol Stefanowitsch has aptly brought up the invitation policy of Deutschlandradio, including criticizing them for just assuming that everyone can drop every other responsibility, especially regarding care work, when their company calls three days in advance.

I have now listened to the broadcast and have, again, specific problems with certain assumptions and things that have been conveyed during this show, and also with the invitation policy, as have other people, also expressed on Twitter (one of them, again, Femgeeks). I am again annoyed that Feminism = white women, and that racism wasn’t even discussed here. I thought that the referral to certain female* body types as “normal”, thus making others pathologic, was cringe-worthy, as was the lack of reflection when positively naming Ursula von der Leyen, for example, as an alleged ally for feminists, thus missing awareness for class privilege and the question who profits from von der Leyen’s particular brand of feminism.

But you know what? The one thing this panel about sexism in/and the internet was not, was structurally and actively sexist. And, sadly, that is a huge success, given what happened the last time, when three white men discussed sexism in video games. It was a success in having a majority of knowledgeable and critical women* discuss sexism (let alone anything that isn’t defined as “chick topic”) on a public broadcast for a change, even though the host kept referring to Stefanowitsch as “quota man” (who, apparently, is needed to validate what all the emotional ladies are bickering about); particularly given the fact that, as Helga Hansen has shown, 90 percent (I repeat: ninety percent) of the show’s guests in the past year ten broadcasts [I'm sorry I misheard that, thanks for correcting me, Helga!], were men*. Another great detail? Stefanowitsch not battling for air time or interrupting the women* or having to add lip service to everything they said, but being a respectful conversation partner with interesting contributions (you know: what/how actual allies are and act).

So… what could have happened? People who have been criticized for what they have been saying in the previous broadcast and for their previous reactions to said criticism could have taken note on what was different this time; perhaps even come to a realization or two. People who have been criticized for their behavior during the previous debate could have taken note of the specific criticism made of particular fails in this broadcast, echoing some of the fails of the last broadcast, without ever reaching that latter’s epic dumbassery. But, as you have guessed: of course not, since we all know that this isn’t really about being a good or bad ally, this is about picking up your ball and going home, because ze feministz are mean and just won’t fucking show you the gratitude you think you are entitled to. And things could have gone so differently, judging from Deef’s first tweet:

[Deef: Looking forward to another talk about sexism and video games at Deutschlandradio's Netzreporter.]

Alright, so you actually don’t mention that the first round was kind of a dilemma in terms of not appealing to many of the feminist women you thought you were representing, but that’s fine. Class dismissed or something. Or just the adult way of sitting it out. I get that.

[Deef: Funny how racket-feminists (note: he uses the German male version here) were outraged by the last talk due to missing women, but don't have a problem with three white panelists (note: again using the German male version for three women* and one man* here).]

The mere fact that you write “Krawallfeministen” [sic] (…and “Diskutanten” [sic]; there were two women* panelists, by the way, one is the actual host) is pretty telling, I’m afraid. First: you hereby ignore the tweeted and otherwise expressed discontent with aspects of the show that were even in part read out loud by the host during the show. Second, you reduce and ridicule and tone-argument-piss all over the rather elaborate criticism and suggestions as to how to not act like that guy after the broadcast you took part in. Not agreeing with your stance, calling you out on your failures, criticizing your reaction to said calling out, not declaring you Awesome Dude Of The Year for a matter of course, and not being nice and pleasant and shiny and happy while doing that, is “racket” in your view. Actually, the person making all the racket was and continues to be you.

If you had, at any point, taken a step back and had taken a look at the criticism, instead of only thinly veiling your contempt for the feminist critique of your action and instead of ignoring the numerous suggestions as to how to not be that guy, you wouldn’t have encountered increasingly annoyed responses to your ignorance. Yet, here we are again: you still don’t think you’ve done anything wrong (and, let me just say, the worst part of your failure was, in my view, your reaction to being criticized), and are now making a lot of racket on the passive-aggressive half-offense. That’s not activism, that’s not being an ally, that’s not exposing anything – it’s simply anti-feminist trolling.

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Back To Shouting, Then.

8 Jul

One of the dangers of social media tools is that you’re always up to date, and this makes my particular decisions whether or not to be witness to yet another incidence of failure rather difficult. Discovering this morning that the public radio broadcasting company, Deutschlandradio Wissen, had decided on a round table, discussing an unorganized array of video games, cultural impact and sexism, and yet, did not have a single “expert” there who wasn’t a self-identified man*, this Saturday morning started out rather troublesome.

Many things were wrong with this “round table” and the fact that three men* kept musing on about what Women* (TM) really wanted in video games or what Feminists (TM) might have to say about sexism was just the most ironic part. The fact that a representative of this radio station felt the need to answer my twittered criticism by saying that if I didn’t like it, I should read newspapers or blogs instead and they thought it was a good show (surprise!), was also just another example of how alleged “professionals” deal with people who criticize their pseudo-”artistic freedom” (when this artistic freedom is nothing less than the marginalization of certain people) in germany. Not even the l**e [I apologize for using ableist language - thank you for pointing it out, zweisatz!] bad  excuse that the radio station simply couldn’t find any women* competent enough for this debate, that shit happens and that we should all calm the fuck down was particularly exciting. [Check out Femgeeks for their reaction!]

What annoyed me the most, yet again, was the publicly spoken white privilege and its subsequent defense. Two quotes were particularly sharp, namely – when (rightly) aiming at criticizing the white-man-default of video games – the continued talk of “people of other skin colors” (other meaning not white, as was the guests’ unspoken agreement, because white universality is awesome), and the half-sentence about the irritation of being prompted to battle against “Taiwanese 15 year-olds” when logging on a game.

Most people who have heard a thing or two about white privilege and racism probably understand what my problem is with this. Hints: whiteness as default and its constant reproduction, racialized clichés about “ethnic” groups, general dumbassery.

And, as it was to be expected, this was just too much for some people on Twitter. As this post might come across as putting the boot in with more than 140 spaces, let me just say that: 1. Totally. 2. Ben is just a wonderful example for a line of argument and behavior that is typical for some people.

So… Ben showed up! Male, atheist, non-smoker, and self-declared debater who thought that I read “too much into” the whole thing, and that finding racism wherever I can was my personal “wishful thinking”. Yes, he apparently believes I actively hope for discrimination, because I’m hooked on that sucker like no tomorrow. I am, actually, but not in the way Ben thinks… The “debate” rapidly worsened, because Ben was determined to show that the “context” of white privileged expressions (such as “other-coloreds”, or complaining about those videogame crazed Asians, amirite?!) is crucial, and posed investigative, multi-layered questions: if I always thought that racist language was a sign of racism, what about oral presentations about racism that are critical of racism by pointing out racist language, are they racist too…? Huh? Huh?!

I tried. Honestly. Because once in a blue moon, I think that debating people might help, and I shouldn’t virtually shout at them right away. So, I tried. I tried to explain that racist stereotypes are racist. That racist language is racist. That having three white dudes debate whether women* like a good rape background story in Tomb Raider is a really bad idea. But Ben kept asking for evidence!1! of where the actual racism or sexism lie in these words and interactions.

Not being convincing enough, he called me a “child”, accused me of trying to read between the lines (of “other skin-colored people”, because that’s such a subtle innuendo…), of being a coward and telling me that he totally believes in structural racism and sexism, but that he doesn’t want me to bring it up so much when talking to him, because he sees me as a human being, not as a woman* (yes, I had to chuckle – this sums the sexism issue up, basically…), and that I didn’t even know him, so I shouldn’t be so mean. He just doesn’t think that racist stereotypes and racist language mean racism, because context.

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Breaking: Beth Ditto Is Fat [and she sings, too]!

7 May

I like Beth Ditto. No, seriously! Because she has an awesome voice, and is loud and colorful and smart and funny. Because Gossip make quirky music. Because Gossip isn’t afraid to say they’re a feminist band. Because Ditto is from Arkansas and has had the courage and strength to still be Ditto [trust me, that's a huge accomplishment - I am writing this post at Little Rock].

Also, and this might come as a bit of a shock to some of you, Beth Ditto is fat. Like, FAT. Not curvy, not chubby, not a little on the heavy side, but actually fat. What comes as no surprise in a culture of patriarchal fat-shaming and the enforcement of standardized beauty, Ditto is not known as that great voice from Gossip, or as that woman from Arkansas, or as that black-haired white lady who designs her own clothing, but mostly as that fat girl who sings quite well and wears tight clothing in public despite her weight. *pearl clutch*

You’d think that at some point the novelty would wear off, as I am quite sure that both Beth Ditto and everyone else already know that she is fat (if only because media outlets have been telling people for years now) – but nope. This is Gossip’s eighth album, and still the headlines of magazines’ supposed music reviews read like this one: “The Mega-Madonna“.

Looking on the bright side, one might have thought this could be an ode to the innovative mind or vocal strength of Ditto and not yet another hint at her weight, but: of course not. Andreas Borcholte, a man who has actually studied sociology and yet, seems to be unable to fathom the social dimension of the continuous and rather boring “FAAAAT!!!” puns in this article, cannot but write a “review” in which half of what he has to say about Gossip’s new record circles around Ditto’s weight.

Apparently going for the “How many fat-related word choices can I possibly include”-award [is that a thing? Someone nominate me!], Borcholte commingles Ditto’s music with her weight, calling the singer “weighty”, “opulent”, “Knutschkugel”, gives her height/weight stats, and, oh how very surprising, has to connect Ditto to Adele (because all fat chicks in public know each other or are somewhat alike, right?).  At certain points, he provides a couple of lines about the actual record (*gasp!*), some anecdotes about the band, their views on Madonna, “homosexuality” and subversion, and, finally, a whopping two sentences of actual music evaluation in this review; but: the so very peculiar event here remains Ditto’s fat.

The male* gaze is certainly rather unsubtle in this piece, and the constant exoticization of a fat female public figure whose work can eventually be condensed to her weight, is not less apparent. I guess it is too much to ask of a music critic to write a nuanced piece about the actual music when a non-standardized attraction like Ditto can be gawked at. Thankfully, “Spiegel” linked the entire album – so you can be your own judge. It’s certainly more productive and instructive than reading yet another article about that fat girl who also sings.

Did I mention she was FAT? No, seriously:

Do Your Homework.

21 Apr

Usually, I don’t do this, but it was too good to not answer it bit by bit…:

Gabriele Wolff, a jurist and fiction author who prides herself in “having analysed the devastating effects of feminism à la Alice Schwarzer on the state of law” (…LOL!), has published a reply to the various criticism Kristina Schröder’s book (and, you know, her general policies…) has received, including citing mine.

Of course, it is necessary for argumentatively forceful replies to entitle themselves with a hint of rebel and anti-political correctness, so her article is named “Kristina Schröder also says what has to be said”. Indeed, it is always a great selling point to construct your argument as the only voice of reason in a firestorm of mass media political correctness; as the sole keeper of truth and decency in this jungle (yes, I am using that consciously) of anti-racism and anti-sexism that leaves such devastating effects on public interests you alone have discovered, and to imagine yourself as being the censored minority publisher, when all you do is repeat the same arguments that every other Stammtisch and the millions of people who bought Thilo Sarrazin’s and Eva Herman’s book and will, without doubt, also buy Schröder’s, think and argue all along.

After having made this introductory maverick statement, Wolff continues that

und erntet dieselben Reflexe, die Günter Grass erfahren hat. Denn Feminismus-Kritik ist dasselbe verminte Gelände wie Israel-Kritik.

I find it marvellous that people have to step into every trap of cliché they possibly can to defend Schröder. Günther Grass has written a ‘poem’ that accused Israel of wanting to “eradicate” the Iranian people; he then complained about the “gleichschaltung” of the media (as you seem to do, dear Gabriele Wolff, but you have the sense to not use that word), and imagined himself, just as Wolff does, as the sole voice of reason in this politically correctness crazed world.

Indeed, what Wolff does here, is to play with the implicit belief that both feminism and Israel (as a state? As a government? As “the Jews”?) are so powerful and all-consuming forces that any form of criticism leads to inevitable, horrific repercussions (hence: the “mine field” analogy); a very subtle hint at the continuous and revoltingly anti-Semitic idea that both have a secret power network and are above democratic influence and are somehow capable of pulling every string. This is how antifeminist and anti-Israel prejudices work, apparently: regardless of the fact that an explicit and outspoken anti-feminist is now germany’s Federal Minister for women, and that Israel has been up for every form of criticism (and attack) since its existence, and middle-Eastern conflicts seem to be a little more complicated than what Günther Grass makes of them, somehow both feminism and Israel have been the secret victors all along.

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