Monday, December 24, 2007

In which I eat crow...

I've caused a lot of anger and resentment about this post, and my responses to the criticisms people had about it. Blackamazon, in particular, had a lot of important things to say about it, over at Having Read the Fine Print, and irn had a really insightful response in the comments, too.

The criticism about my getting the pronoun wrong was something that I wanted to immediately fix, but I also wanted to step back and take some time to think about the rest. Because... honestly? It's really hard to read something like that and not feel ridiculously defensive and frustrated and angry and about two inches tall, and, and, and... well, basically, to try to justify why I'm Right and All Of My Critics Are Being Unfair and I Didn't Do Anything Wrong and I'm Doing My Best.

Which, obviously, doesn't actually do anything good for anyone but me and my bruised feelings.

I don't like pissing the people I respect off, and it's troubling to see people that I know are doing good work, and that I know are living and breathing this, and that I know are smart as hell about these issues looking over and thinking "What the fuck are you doing?" Because, well... it suggests that, you know, maybe I'm doing something really wrong.

So, I realized that what I really needed was to step back and think about the situation, and really think about what was being said to and about me and my post before I opened my mouth again. Because, yeah, my first instinct was to react- to respond. Instead, I turned off the computer and walked away. I think it was the right call.

Because, after obsessing over it for most of the weekend- running it around my head, going back and rereading Blackamazon's posts, rereading the comments on my and other sites, I have to admit that I was being an asshole. Ignoring, for a second, my failure to properly cite Blackamazon's site (which was also egregiously stupid and rightly criticized, and for which there is no excuse), I still really dropped the ball here, and I want to take a moment to apologize and recognize what is being said.

It's not remotely fair to expect other people to see the proposal with the same eyes that I do, or to have the same feelings that I do. And the fact is, Blackamazon is absolutely right, my stake in all of this is significantly different, and it does let me "blithely pullout resumes as predictors and say at worst were no better off." Because, yeah, I'm no worse off... that doesn't mean that nobody is. That I come to this from a place where the stakes are low if it's not handled properly doesn't mean that there aren't a whole lot of people who have very good reasons for being really concerned about what happens.

Which is to say that it's ridiculously shitty of me to accuse other people of coming in bad faith because they're coming to and looking at all of this from a place that I will never experience. It was a shit move, and did nothing to engage with the very real criticisms and concerns that a lot of people were having. It doesn't answer their concerns- it ignores them and, worse, silences them by distracting from what people are really trying to talk about.

And whether or not I agree with all of the criticisms of the proposal or not, I should be able to understand that it does come from a place of genuine concern, legitimate frustration, and a history of really fucked up shit. Not least of which: the open dismissing of critics out of hand, or the implying/outright stating that they're insane or unreasonable for having the concerns and criticisms that they have. Both of which I did, and which are... well... "disturbingly common shit".

I am sorry that I couldn't and didn't disagree without being ignorant and offensive about it, and without recognizing that my place of privilege was giving me a significantly different read on things, and blinding me to the really significant concerns of other people. I don't want to offer any excuses. As irn pointed out, intentions are secondary to consequences. Right now, I can admit that I was wrong, offer my apology, and acknowledging that I've got a long way to go, and a lot of work to do.


tekanji said...

That sort of thing is one reason why I try not to blog in anger if I can help it. Yes, anger can be a very useful and effective tool to fight oppression, but all too often it has the side-effect of begetting anger, not just from the opposing side but from different factions of the same side.

This is one reason why I think it's important to distinguish between safe spaces and discussion spaces. The former is where you can, and should, let out all that raw emotional crud that's eating you up without having to worry about being "rational" or "fair". The latter is where you take a deep breath, examine the situation, and try to present your feelings in a logical -- but impassioned -- way.

Of course, this is only what I've found works for me, but I figured I'd share my philosophy just in case it helped :)

Sylvia/M said...

I wrote my piece on this, and tekanji, I really have to disagree with you here. This is ridiculous.

The fact is people speak cordially to whom they want to speak cordially. They frame arguments above the belt for whom they want. And they recognize who they want to recognize. That's it.

I don't think it's an issue of lacking control and it has everything to do with destroying others to protect someone you care about. And the destruction's often incidental.

Blackamazon said...

pLease do understand that this is something i Have been trying to think of the most cordial way to present in the spirit of moving forward and not just expressing my own emotions but I frankly have a couple things I wish to address.

first and foremost it is well and good you apologize to me after it is brought to you r attention.

I am at the point where this is something that continually happens to me form "feminist" bloggers and " allies" that is neither here nor there,

But frankly this wasn't about me.

This was about your desire to take a well thought our considered criticism ( mfallingup's) and phrasing it and parsing it in such a way and in SUCH bad faith you felt comfortable enough to make pronouncements on zer mental health glibly.

It wasn't a whole lot of people you attacked there .

It was ONE.

You managed to discount the rest on your way over to purposefully demeaning zer opinion.

That was LONG before i even read your response and had my head nearly explode.

the fact that you made people you respect think your whatever or that you "d ropped the ball or arent usually like this" still manages to make your apology ( which you gave to me even though i had to statcheck it) disturbingly all about your construction of yourself as a " proper ally" than the very real and easily fallen into dynamics ( that oddly enough both of us were pointing to when it comes to the definition of womanhood engagement and basic human respect of OC/LGBTQ/PwD persons.


Tekanji I join Sylvia in saying thats RIDICULOUS.
It's nota bout safe space and non safe space it;s about the fact that even in safe space or non there is a disturbing ease with which certain peopel's humanity gets down graded and turned into conduiting for the "cause"

Rational and fair are often terms used to eliminate criticisms ( fucking insane)because the " important" peopel can't ever seem to figure out why these folks are so "ANGRY" scare quote.

To call it factions is actually kind of insulting.

IT's not about logics and impassioned it's about the fact that no matter what their is an expectation that we aren't you knwo dealing with actuall barriers to cross organizing but silly turf wars in our head.

tekanji said...

I think there was a miscommunication about what I was saying in my comment.

I was saying that what Richie did in that other post was venting and that it's important to not vent in a discussion space because other people will be reading it as an actual argument. He was clearly blogging angry, and because of that he said a lot of unfair and insulting things. What I was saying is that it's important to distinguish that kind of post as venting, and therefore best left to a safe-space, versus the kind of material suitable to a blog that people read (ie. a discussion space).

People can't control their gut reactions to things. Frankly, I've said lots of crap in my friends-locked LJ that I would be ashamed to say in public -- angry reactions to criticism, both fair and unfair, entries full of angry cursing at privileged commenters on my blog, etc. A lot of it isn't fair to the person/people I'm venting at, and I know that. That's why I vent in a private safe space.

Then, once I've gotten my raw feelings out I figure out if there's anything actually worth saying and I say it in a logical way that tries not to attack anyone.

No one can stop their instinctive reactions to things, but by figuring out the right places to say things, and how to vent FIRST (in a safe space where no one will get hurt) and blog LATER, one can cut down on the collateral damage pretty well. It's something I learned in my early days of blogging and it's worked pretty well for me.

And, let's face it, if Richie had written a polite post acknowledging mfallingup's right to be angry, but disagreeing with the tone and stating reasons why he found the tone problematic it would not have been such a big deal. He would have had people disagreeing, of course, but if he framed it in a respectful way most people wouldn't be offended. And that is my point; how we say things is important, and if we aren't mindful of our venue and our words we create problems that don't need to be there.

tekanji said...

When I said "Richie" I meant "Roy". This is not my day ._.

Sylvia/M said...

Tekanji, I'd understand most of your comments if this were a moderated space that were shared with people or if we were all in a group that promoted safe space. But now you're trying to allocate responsibility away from Roy by bringing up a lot of distracting hypotheticals.

First of all, this is Roy's space. He makes it what he wishes it to be. He can combine his space into a vent-discussion-nudist colony triad if he wants to. His readers have the option of not reading it, and the responsibility with what he does here belongs to him.

Secondly, he admits that he was venting some ugly feelings. Through his post he tried to discredit imfallingup and he rendered Black Amazon invisible in that process. He's fessing up to it, and I do think that's big of him. But I think that what you've written is distracting from taking that responsibility.

Thirdly, I have a huge grudge against tone arguments because while it is true that tone is one element among many for evaluating an argument, most people use tone arguments to dismiss what a person is saying. He arguably did establish throughout his piece that the tone imfallingup wrote in was enough for hir to be ignored. Repeatedly. It sounds like you're taking issues with the tone of his tone argument, and I find that pretty hilarious.