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Shhh…

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.

On Censorship.

18 Jan

Apparently, it’s not what you think it is. “It,” that’s censorship. And people seem to have cultivated a most curious interpretation, so let’s repeat the basics:

Guaranteeing the freedom of speech, the freedom of the written word and freedom of images, and the unhindered access to and dissemination of information are the key elements that define german law on censorship (GG, §5). Guaranteeing the freedom of the arts and scholarship and research are fundamentals as well. That means that germany, as a national entity, as a government, as a constitutional state, as a society, entitles you to say and write and watch and learn whatever is publicly accessible to you and whatever the hell you want to put out there (within constitutional limits).

You know what you’re not entitled to, however? Saying and writing and watching and learning and publishing whatever you want without someone commenting on it or criticizing your choices or without the possibility of potential consequences if you produce discriminatory and/or insulting crap, for example. Criticism is not censorship. Potential consequences resulting from criticism are not censorship (they are consequences resulting from criticism).

Let’s take Christian Ulmen’s already infamous “Who wants to fuck my girlfriend?” clusterfuck of a proposed TV show as an example: both its title and concept have been heavily criticized as sexist and misogynistic, as a poor attempt at satire that might aim at subversion in a society steeped in rape culture (Sasha Baron Cohen’s movies and their reception seem to not have taught some people anything) but actually only works because it relies on rape culture for entertainment purposes, and “exposing” rape culture is neither the central aim nor a possibility within such a framework of late-night “entertainment.” The fact that certain people respond to a “satire” like that is precisely because of their internalization or even conscious normalization of rape culture (otherwise, the premise of pimping out your girlfriend to earn credit or the premise that this is something that women would actually want wouldn’t work and wouldn’t be mainstream-recognizable) is something Ulmen and his producers are just rolling with; they are actually enjoying feminist criticism and ridiculing it for their idea of subversive anti-sexism. How fun!

muteSo – yes, it’s Tele 5, and who watches that channel anyway? Yes, maybe the show will be quite funny for a very specific group of people  (see whom in the paragraph above)? So what? It’s still misogynistic bullshit, and – thanks to GG §5 – I am entitled to say so. Ulmen and other people’s entitlement to create and produce a show like this one is not similar to an absolute right of broadcasting it, come hell or high water – some people might have gotten that wrong. Angela Merkel issuing an executive order to stop the show because she doesn’t like the title or Ulmen – that would be quite understandable but it would also be censorship. Tele5 being served with an injunction against any broadcast activity – that would probably be for the best but it would also be censorship. Christian Ulmen being physically prevented from entering the studio or threatened because some people don’t like his hair – that would be censorship (…and really, his hair? Who cares?).

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Decolorize The Color Line?

11 Oct

Most things are more complicated than they seem at first glance – most people know that. Analyse und Kritik has published an article last month by Jule Karakayali, Vassilis S. Tsianos, Serhat Karakayali and Aida Ibrahim, named “Decolorise it!” This text has somehow become an internet sensation to many, and is posted and re-posted as if it had reinvented the wheel. I have mostly heard people refer to said article who found themselves confronted with some kind of racism reproach, in a multitude of instances. Even worse, most people who posted this article were white activists who have an anti-racist self-conception (and would object to being called white), occasionally with the – ironic – implicit or explicit note/justification that this text wasn’t even written by “white” german people, but by german people with a “I don’t want to say either migration background or PoC but somehow, well, not white, no, I can’t say that either – waaaah…” (thus rendering the article’s ‘”germanness” = priority’-argument moot).

This article is a nice example as to how little tweaks to allegedly neutrally presented theories can make people throw out “the baby with the bath water” through oversimplifying and generalizing statements and conclusions; in this case about Critical Race Theory and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) (although the AK article forgets to add the “Critical” to the Whiteness Studies – certainly a mere coincidence, I am sure…). Unfortunately, this text rejuvenates many justifications for (being able to ignore) individual privileges through white supremacy that CWS tried to mark. Although I personally think there are valid points made regarding concrete anti-racist practice and co-operations, the mere fact that so many people who have to stand up to being called “racists” by PoC (yes, I am sticking to that term) now cover their faces with this article seems to clarify that the immediate dissolution of  the (non-essential, even though some people love to forget that) “categories” this article is aiming at would result in (maybe mostly unintended?) disadvantages for anti-racist activism under present conditions.  The article’s conclusion and numerous examples and references are – on their own or through their curious interpretation – symptomatic for the issues CWS (and Critical Race Theory) criticize: the degradation of socio-cultural elements and systematic experiences of racism to a mere secondary contradiction, and cherry picking (Black) authors’ half sentences for the article’s own benefit.

The AK text is very elaborate and touches on many points, so I’ll point out a few examples to illustrate my evaluation but will not cover the whole text.

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(Not) Only In Germany.

27 Aug

I’m afraid I’m again suffering from a bit of racism overkill (mixed with a hint of white people fatigue), so this clearly isn’t a nuanced analysis, this is exasperation talk. Racism is a world-wide problem, it is a world-wide structure of systematic oppression, and, if only due to personal experiences, things are far from being  fine and peachy everywhere else.

And yet, today, this would be my (non-exhaustive) experience-summary of germany’s explicit racism in 2012 so far:

Only in germany…

... is protest against Blackfacing white actors brushed aside as “USian” political correctness and it is possible to state that Black ensemble members don’t make sense for any theater company anyway, due to a lack of “Black roles,” and cultural and theater critics and the general public heartily agree.

… is it perfectly acceptable to be unaware of any form of colonial history and to essentially negate related genocides by stating that the planned murder of people had happened too early to be classified as a genocide anyway - again, to general agreement. Does anyone recognize the bitter irony of stating that anything regarding genocides that happened before 1955 in germany, when this country implemented the UN convention, doesn’t really count? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!

… do people think that we’ve talked about the Holocaust long enough and people really should move on now, because past. Yeah, tell that to Jasper von Altenbockum, who thinks that even fascist pogroms have their perks; and anti-Semitic murder phantasies as “Death of a critic” by Martin Walser may have been called out by former friends (this is when FAZ’s Frank Schirrmacher actually had something valuable to say), but continued to be bestsellers, not ten years ago. Günter Grass just won’t shut the fuck up either.

… does it seem possible that one of the biggest and well-respected national daily newspapers commemorates the 20th anniversary of a fascist pogrom by stating that it had its upsides, namely putting “social romantics” who advocate human equality (…please!) in their place, and “opening up” the door to further immigration restrictions, without facing a substantial backlash and consequences for the author, who isn’t just an obscure guest columnist, but the actual editor in chief of the newspaper’s internal affairs department?

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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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