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A reader’s response to FAB blog debacle

April 22, 2010

As I mentioned earlier, I was attacked on another blog for expressing my opinion about what feminism is. I created this response to allow readers to discuss amongst yourselves as to what feminism is and who it should include. I thought the discussion went pretty well (compared to the discussion over at FAB blog).

The author of FAB blog, Miska, has demanded a response from me. I’m choosing not respond because I don’t feel like I need to defend my opinions with someone who is personally attacking me.

GAB reader Tiffany Cook wrote a response to the whole debacle on her blog. I’ll include the first few paragraphs, but you should visit her blog to see the whole post…

In Response To The Not So FABulous Miska

I follow a wonderful blog, Gender Across Borders. One of the writers, Emily, was recently attacked on Fabulous Fab Stuff, when she responded to a very elitist post made by Miska. Emily’s responses were very thoughtful and respectful; however, she was not given the same respect back. After she stopped commenting, Miska had the nerve to post a request for explanation regarding her views.

My Response

First, and foremost, I want to say that Emily should not have to defend herself. She voiced her opinion and she was brutally attacked. If you had respected her opinions in the first place, then there wouldn’t have been any issues. Instead of a productive, critical discussion, you and your readers verbally attacked her and her views on feminism. I agree that feminism means different things to different people, but when a feminist harms a person, or a group of people, that’s when I feel you are no longer positively promoting the movement. Your blog is transphobic, exclusionary, and elitist. These views are not in line with the ideals of feminism.

Why should feminism be a generalized equality movement rather than a movement for women’s equality, specifically?

As you stated, “Feminism began because women recognized that they were oppressed in specific ways that men do not experience, and thus feminism was born to address this specific oppression.”

You’re right, white, heterosexual women started the feminist movement. It was started by educated, white women who recognized oppression; and wanted to have EQUAL rights to men. Freud focused on sex, which is what you…

Click here to read the full article at Tiffany’s blog

18 Comments
  1. April 22, 2010 4:01 pm

    Thanks Emily and Tiffany.

  2. Helen permalink
    April 22, 2010 5:53 pm

    A wonderful, well considered response!

  3. April 23, 2010 5:04 am

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t like that response. For one, nothing on Miska’s blog makes any of the points Tiffany is refuting. It is an argument with a strawman. It makes me think that Tiffany never actually read the post.

    Secondly, it is beyond offensive to compare the struggle of ally’s with the struggle of the people who are actually oppressed. White people do not suffer the effects of institutional racism. Straight people do not suffer heterophobia. Able-bodied people to not face discrimination about where they can and cannot access. To stand up and say that these movements should be in the benefit of those who have institutional power *just as much* as they benefit those who suffer oppression has left a really bad taste in my mouth.

    • April 23, 2010 9:18 am

      We’ll disagree on your second point–but I’m glad you’ve shared your opinion. As I’ve mentioned before, I really do respect the different definitions of feminism going on here, and let it not be said that my definition, which I think includes many oppressions, be the be-all and end-all of feminism definitions.

      That being said, I would have to disagree on your first point; if you look back on Miska’s “a quick reminder” post, many of Miska’s comments and her reader’s comments do refute many of those points that Tiffany is making. In fact, Miska specifically addresses Tiffany’s comment and refutes it.

    • April 23, 2010 9:40 am

      I was simply responding to the questions she requested Emily to respond to.

      I do not think that those movements are meant to “benefit” white people, straight people, or able-bodied people in that sense. However, I think that all people will benefit by all people being equal (which is obviously very idealist).

      Consider this – if I ever have kids, I will want to teach them to be open and accepting of all people. Attending public school, going to a friends house, watching television, listening to music… all of these things are going to socialize them into supporting hetero-supremacy. I don’t want my kids to be socialized in that way, due to my support of equality for all. So, while I do not suffer from any of the victimization (which I believe I stated), I still feel that feminism and the fight against the discrimination of sexualities are intertwined.

      I do not feel that I am affected in an equally negative way as those of other sexualities, but I do still recognize that we cannot achieve our movements’ goals, without supporting one another.

      • April 26, 2010 6:29 am

        I agree with you that white, straight and able-bodied people will eventually benefit from the destruction of oppression but frankly, that is a side-effect and should not be the main focus (or a focus AT ALL) of the work!

        I still don’t understand where you are getting the idea that feminism is not intertwined with other types of discrimination. I don’t agree with many things Miska says – but she has never denied that intersectionality is a big deal. She simply said that feminism is not there to benefit men – which, to be fair, is true. This has little or nothing to do with excluding women based on their race or sexuality etc. which Miska is clearly not advocating!

        I disagree that a movement cannot achieve it’s goal without supporting the oppressors. Don’t get me wrong, I think privileged people SHOULD be ally’s but we do not deserve an equal share of the attention. We don’t even deserve 5% of it. We are there to support and to listen and to spread a message of anti-oppression. The oppressed groups don’t owe us sweet FA.

      • April 26, 2010 7:43 am

        Miska’s not even saying that privileged people should be an ally; she says that it’s not feminism’s job to break down patriarchy for men.

        You’re right, Miska never denied intersectionality. But she does deny its role in feminism. The point that I was getting at, was that you can’t possible have WOC and LGBT women in a movement without addressing civil rights and gay issues, which again, Miska said is not feminism’s job.

  4. April 26, 2010 8:19 am

    I’m not trying to be difficult – perhaps you guys are seeing something I am not? But where does Miska deny the role of intersectionality in feminism? She explicitly states: “No. I haven’t forgotten about intersectionality. Which in feminism refers to the ways in which WOMEN are oppressed along multiple axes (by being lesbian, disabled, black, poor etc). You know – the intersection between female oppression and other types of oppression.”

    So, she states that by her definition feminism DOES include the concept of intersectionality. Since women are gay, black, disabled, etc. it cannot NOT include them (is that a double negative? Sorry, my grammar is kinda poor but I’m sure you get what I mean!).

    The only thing Miska says is not feminism’s job is making life easier for men. Which, I kinda agree with. Feminism deconstructs male privilege and whilst I feel that men will ultimately benefit from that in the long-term they are certainly going to feel the loss quite acutely in the short-term. This is why I think there is such a huge feminist-backlash.

    • April 26, 2010 9:56 am

      Race and gay issues also affect men. Let’s not forget that many leaders of civil rights and the gay movement are men. So, I find it problematic that Miska is saying “Yes, WOC and gay women can join the feminist movement” but deny addressing other oppressions (which INCLUDE men) as well. It’s like making WOC and gay women pick which movement they want to be in.

      Yes, I understand Miska’s argument in saying it’s not feminism’s job to break down patriarchy to men, and not supposed to be an umbrella for other oppressions. I understand that, and I wish things were that simple. But I feel that she’s denying WOC, gay women, and disabled women a place in the feminist movement.

  5. April 26, 2010 10:09 am

    I still don’t understand or see where Miska said or implied that she was not addressing other oppressions. She isn’t making anyone pick. She hasn’t denied intersectionality and she specifically includes in her definition of feminism the fact that other oppressions need to be addressed.

    I really love Gender Across Borders but you seem to be pulling this one out of thin air. Miska says “No. I haven’t forgotten about intersectionality. Which in feminism refers to the ways in which WOMEN are oppressed along multiple axes (by being lesbian, disabled, black, poor etc). You know – the intersection between female oppression and other types of oppression.” and you still say that she denies addressing other oppressions! I mean, am I reading the same words you are?

    It now seems to me that some wires have gotten crossed somewhere along the line here.

    • April 26, 2010 10:10 am

      I’m sorry, that was meant to be in reply above.

    • April 26, 2010 10:51 am

      Miska says “No. I haven’t forgotten about intersectionality. Which in feminism refers to the ways in which WOMEN are oppressed along multiple axes (by being lesbian, disabled, black, poor etc). You know – the intersection between female oppression and other types of oppression”

      I find this argument to be somewhat problematic and hypocritical when you accept intersectionality in feminism but say that feminism is only there for the oppression of women. I don’t think it’s possible to address other aspects of women’s oppression i.e. race, sexuality, disability, etc. without addressing those movements (civil rights, disability, gay, etc.) that come along with it that include men and most movements which are led by men. If you know of a way, please let me know.

      • April 26, 2010 10:53 am

        I think that’s where Miska and I disagree because she thinks there is a way to address that, and I don’t think so (EX: 2nd wave feminists in the 70s leaving out a ton of WOC). If she thinks (or you think) it’s possible, more power to her.

      • April 27, 2010 6:37 am

        Ah, I think I see where you are coming from now. Sorry it took so long!

        Suffice to say, I think it is possible to address all aspects of women’s oppression (racism, sexism, disability, etc.) within feminism without making it about men. The thing is, and I think this is what Miska was trying to say (I could be wrong) is that feminist energy should be directed towards helping women, not making men feel better. We don’t have to answer the question “what about the men?” – feminism is not male centered.

        This is similar to anti-racism work. Often conversations can be derailed by white women’s tears or reverse-racism accusations or a whole host of other things. The question “what about white people?” is often asked even in feminist spaces. This question does not have to be answered because anti-racism work is not centered around white people, who pretty much have all the race-based privilege and all the power. It is derailing to ask about white people much in the same way it is derailing to ask about men.

        Basically, saying that feminism is not FOR men is not the same as saying that you cannot address issues of racism, disability etc. Just like saying that anti-racist work is not FOR white people is not the same as saying that you cannot address issues of class, sexuality, etc. Neither of those statements excludes men from feminism or white people from anti-racist work. It just means that you are mainly gonna be working for the good of another group – because it is the right thing to do.

      • April 27, 2010 9:02 am

        I agree, feminism should be for women. I see Miska’s argument. However she (along with many of the commenters) are saying to forget the men altogether. I don’t think it’s productive to do that.

        Thanks for commenting! I appreciate your input.

  6. Kandela permalink
    April 28, 2010 9:00 pm

    Hi Emily,

    After you started your thread over at feministing I logged on to Miska’s thread to help back you up. I posted on the “Emily /Gender Across Borders” thread (http://fabmatters.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/emily-gender-across-borders/#comment-860).

    I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I too have been barred from making further comments. The last post I intended to make was blocked. Basically Miska called me an MRA repeatedly when I offered clarification of my comments and sought to refute her claims I was denied my final reply, and then was lectured on the meaning of ‘no,’ as if engaging in debate and activism was equivalent to… well, you get the idea. So, if you don’t mind, I’m posting it below:

    ——

    @Miska: If you like I will make this my last post since you clearly aren’t discussing in good faith.

    You say it was all my MRA arguments that tipped you off. Well let me ask you, how many MRAs acknowledge feminism as a force for good? How many MRAs agree with quotes by Gloria Steinman? How many MRAs acknowledge that the main drive of feminism must be irradicating disproportionate violence and disadvantage directed at women? All of these positions are clearly in my posts. Further I acknowledge that men as a group are relatively advantaged by the artificial trade-offs imposed by patriarchy.

    What I have advocated is attempting to break down gender roles and schemas as they apply to both men and women as part of feminism to acheive its goals.

    Personally my activism in the real world trying to break down ideas of gender roles and gender schemas, has taken the form of encouraging women into non-traditional roles. So, I’m not the type of person who only helps their own kind. My comments here are not an attempt to subvert feminists to men’s causes.

    I have stated that men also suffer under the patriarchy. BUT I have not done so to try and counter the affects of patriarchy on women. An MRA says men also suffer as a way of deflecting attention away from the oppression of women. That is not my position. Instead, I point it out only to aid in breaking down patriarchy.

    “Society has no independent existence outside of the people within it. And it, itself, doesn’t oppress. The people that make up that society oppress.”

    I fundamentally disagree with your assertion here. It is true that society doesn’t exist without people, sure. But people can only interact with each other through society. And what is society but a set of arbitrary rules for our interactions with each other? Society is bigger than any group of individuals, which means the people within it have restricted freedoms. Society is a bit like a hive mind. Acting contrary to society’s rules invokes self correcting mechanisms. Individuals only have a limited ability to act contrary to their cog in the machine roles.

    “Oh fuck off. Statistics also show that women ATTEMPT suicide more than men. Women also suffer more from depression and anxiety disorders.”

    Well, men are successful at 4 times the rate (http://www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/LIFE-Fact%20sheet%203.pdf). What do you put that down to? Surely men and women have similar abilities when it comes to swollowing too many pills, jumping off cliffs and slitting their wrists. Is it possible do you think, that men’s attempted suicide rates are under-reported? Do you think it might be possible that in the cold light of day, even after such an attempt, they still can’t bring themselves to admit weakness maybe? And it depends on which set of statistics you are looking at regarding mental illness, it is believed men under report depression and anxiety disorders at a much higher rate than women (due to, surprise, surprise, the artificial concept of their masculine role).

    “That is because your male privilege blinds you to all the ways you benefit at women’s expense. We women can see it though. And you can either trust us when we say you are benefiting at our expense, or you can disbelieve us. But if you choose the latter, then you are no pro-feminist man, and you are no friend of feminism or women.”

    You’ve made assumptions about my level of feminist education that are incorrect. I do trust that you can see all the ways men benefit at the expense of women, and I’ve taken the time to try and educate myself about most of them. However, you do not know my experince. You do not know what patriarchy has cost me personally. You can believe me when I tell you that I would not have made the trade-offs for the advantages patriarchy has afforded me or. Or you can disbelieve me, in which case you are no friend of mine (see how that argument works). Further, I would never have chosen a system where I arbitrarily receive advantage over another group of human beings.

    I’ve made it clear what I advocate, you’ve chosen to try and twist my statements to make me look like some sort of fiminist hating MRA, where nothing is further from the truth. I wonder, if you were convinced that attempting to unshackle men from their gender roles would help liberate women from their subservient status faster, would you do that, or would you continue to act contrarily out of spite?
    —–

    I’ve been a bit more forceful with my language above than I would usually, but if you go to the thread I’m sure you’ll understand my level of frustration, and how it resulted from having Miska repeatedly ignore what I was sayng to try and paint me as something I’m not.

    • April 30, 2010 12:22 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment. Yeah, I stopped commenting at FAB a long time ago because the convo is particularly one-sided in that Miska and her readers don’t really listen to what other have to say.

      I appreciate your response. I hope that feminism isn’t as divided a Miska makes it to be.

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