A response to AW
Well, I'm at a point at my thesis that I really can't do much more before meeting with my advisor later today, so I thought I'd write this response to a comment AW left in this post. First some background info.
Over at Feministe, Zuzu wrote a post about the uselessness for women to try to follow the "be careful so as not to be raped" advice that is so prevalent, finishing with this:
So, which is it? Don’t go to bars, don’t leave the house, or don’t stay home?
In the comments, ginmar made the observation:
[H]ave you noticed how rapists get the community’s sympathy whiel the victims get slammed? Have you noticed pregnant single mothers are either sluts or lying sluts who just trap men? Any of that ring a bell? I could go on.
No. Doesn’t ring a bell in the slightest. Not everyone lives in the same circumstances as apparently you do. Your community is pretty shit isn’t it.
To which ginmar responded angrily, saying:
Aw, troll. Go read Our Guys, Virgin Or Vamp, or any other books on rape. I’m not your fuckin’ mommy.
This devolved into an argument and eventually AW got banned.
I'll pause here for a moment and say a word about ginmar. For those like me who frequent a lot of feminist threads, ginmar is a pretty familiar face. She is a passionate radical feminist, and has a very confrontational writing style, that may appear rude at first. But she is also very intelligent, and I've found adds a lot to a discussion so that she'll often leave me questioning my own internal assumptions.
Anyway, when weekly rob came in and defended AW against ginmar (after AW had been banned) I felt compelled to reply by saying
the thing is, when aw says “your community is shit” he’s not implying that he’s lucky and lives in a good community and expressing sympathy to poor ginmar for happening to live in a shitty community, he’s giving a snarky condescending comment that ginmar doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And it requires at best a willful ignorance and blinding by his male privelege. AW is a man coming into a feminist space. He has to do the work to attempt to understand the perspective of the women here, not the other way around. And if he refuses, then what can he possibly add to the conversation?
Well, being banned from Feministe, AW decided to come to my blog and post
This is unfair really. I am in fact doing exactly what you say I'm not doing in your first sentence. I'm very lucky to live around the enlightened people who make up my community. It's partially self-selecting, since I'm mainly in a very large university town where I have a pick of people to hang around with, and don't have to mix with sexist idiots. But I realise not everyone else is so lucky.
And I meant what I said. Not what it was taken to mean. I genuinely think the people who have those opinion (blaming rape victims etc) are Shit. I expected her to agree.
I was also suggesting that blanket statements, rarely contain any sizeable truth, since the variety of human experience and etc is very very wide.
You say that I have to do the work to understand those women around me on the feminist website, rather than they working to understand me. And that's fair enough. And I would have explained what I meant - as I just did above - had I not been summarily banned. I tried to explain myself, but was prevented. So I hardly feel it is a case of me being willful.
Well, earlier in his comment, AW shows himself to being a Muse fan, thus I am now predisposed to liking him. So I'm willing to concede that AW had the best of intentions. Nonetheless, with maybe the elimination of the word "willful", I stand by what I said.
I'll ignore the fact that no matter how much AW defends it, his initial comment seems very snarky to me. Anyone who posts on web forums will come across a time when a poor choice of words will make a comment seem much different than intended. But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, it shows a profound ignorance of something that is extremely obvious to people like Zuzu and ginmar - that is that it is his male privelege that allows him to ignore the prevalence of rape. Maybe he's not noticing slut-shaming that victims of rape go through, but slut-shaming is something that can easily remain hidden from those not on the receiving end, and it serves a purpose to keep victims of rape from speaking up. And sadly, this goes on even in progressive communities.
Maybe AW is right about his community, and it would be great if he were. It would be nice if there was a community where slut-shaming does not go on for victims of rape. But the thing is, AW is not in the position to be able to determine that about his community. And until he realizes that, there is not much he can add to a feminist discussion.