Monday, April 21, 2008

Sit down, shut up, and behave

EDIT: I have been calling people reminding them to go vote tomorrow and to go vote for Hillary. You should too.

Now back to your regularly scheduled post.

In the past several days, two distinct things have happened that, while I should not be surprised, are disheartening nonetheless.

I belong to a (kick ass) knitting website Ravelry, and there are of course topic boards for people to come together and talk. Someone came onto ours and made a comment and then went back to the Obama board and made a comment about someone "being off her meds." As a disability/mental health rights activist I had something to say about this.

OK, I don’t know or care who you are talking about, but making fun and using a mental health issue/disability as a slur is deeply offensive. It is just as bad as using a sexist or homophobic slur.

It implies that what someone who has mental health issue or disability has to say is somehow unimportant or not as important as “normal” folks. It is offensive to me personally as a mental health/disability rights activist.

I know that most people do not think of this, and I ask you to please not use mental health as a way to insult people as it is offensive and demeaning to people with disabilities.

I was replied to with this:
Sigh. Ok. First of all: I realize you do not know me at all, and therefore have no way of understanding the irony of the charges you have leveled against me, but seriously…you’re way out of line. There is such a thing as being overly sensitive.

But more importantly: I was not referring to you.
But that said, I will remove the offending post, although I do want to make it clear (since the post will be removed) that I did not actually mention anyone by name or make any sort of indication who I was referring to. (unless more can be deduced from this post, which is possible.)

Apparently because it was not directed at me and because it was a "harmless" ableist slur I should just shut up and sit down. I was also accused of making a stink about this oppressive remark because it was made by an Obama supporter and told that if I knew anything about the person making it then I would know that I was out of line. So I should not speak up when she does this? How about sexist or racist or homophobic slurs? Should I just let those lie as well since I support a different candidate which apparently makes it impossible for me to want to end oppressive and marginalizing behaviour? I would also like to add that Obama supporters on her own forum were chiming in saying that they agreed that those sorts of comments were out of line.

Apparently I should, because in another forum on the same site someone pointed to this Salon article called Hey Obama boys: Back off already! (A preview, for those who haven't read it:)
I am a loud feminist and a longtime Clinton skeptic who was suddenly feeling that I needed to rationalize, apologize for, or even just stay quiet about my increasing unease with the way Clinton was being discussed. Meanwhile, I was getting e-mails from men I didn't know well who approached me as a go-to feminist to whom they could express their hatred of Hillary and their anger at her staying in the race -- an anger that seemed to build with every one of her victories. One of my closest girlfriends, an Obama voter, told me of a drink she'd had with a politically progressive man who made a series of legitimate complaints about Clinton's policies before adding that when he hears the senator's voice, he's overcome by an urge to punch her in the face.

The discussion turned to the rampant sexism of the campaign and someone brought up Obama's comment “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” So the discussion turned into how any sign of emotion in President Senator Clinton is seen as a weakness because women are painted as being too emotional, especially too emotional to do anything as silly as run a country *cough*Thatcher*cough*.

Some *ahem* argued that it was a harmless statement to which I pointed out that it is loaded with sexism when used to talk about women. To which I was told to "stop it right the hell now" and that I have "no critical thinking skills" am "regurgitating what the patriarchy and media tells me" (since I had said that if we had no critical thinking skills that's what we would be doing and we weren't, natch) and "playing the victim." Because there is no logical or factual basis for our response that the "feeling down" comment was sexist. Then same person, and this is were it gets really good said "If feminists can’t allow for more than one interpretation of a comment..." HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA Because I guess that only applies to you, eh? The plethora of people who disagree, Clinton AND Obama supporters alike, are not allowed their own interpretation? We're just dumb people who can't think for ourselves and must be told what to do! I see! (Sound familiar to anyone else? Now I really want to move out of this country. These people fucking scare me.)

So lets recap shall we?
1) No matter how many oppressive slurs people use, especially against the differently abled and women, as long as they are Obama fans they are somehow above reproach. We should just lie back and think of England, because apparently if you ignore (dis)ableism and sexism they will just go away. (But not racism. We must call everyone on everything that can be considered racist, which I agree with, but it MUST ALSO be applied to all other oppressions. Including heterosexism *cough* Obama equal marriage rights *cough*)

2) If you do dare to see sexism (which is punching you in the face every time you turn on the TV or open a paper) you are somehow wrong. Just sit back and let the Obama people tell you how you are supposed to interpret these things. Remember, sexism is not a big-T Truth, but a little-t truth and can only be correctly interpreted by people smart enough to love Obama.

3) Any comments about oppressive remarks made to an Obama supporter are not valid if made by a Clinton supporter. EVER. Even when an Obama supporter agrees, if a Clinton supporter ever says something about an oppressive remark it somehow overrules what the Obama supporter says and thus invalidates the objection.

Everyone clear? If we all just sit back and behave (i.e. let them tell us what to do), maybe we'll get a cookie.


Mary Tracy9 said...

"There is such a thing as being overly sensitive"

BOLLOCKS! I don't know if there is "such a thing as being overly sensitive" but THIS AIN'T ONE. Referring to someone as "being off her meds" is DEEPLY OFFENSIVE. And he/she should rectify. What, is he/she off his/her pod?

It doesn't matter "who" you are, if you offend someone you apologize, full stop. You don't get defensive and start blaming the other person for being "overly sensitive".

You are right about NOT SHUTTING UP.

pocochina said...

I absolutely love what you're doing here. I hope you don't mind, but I've added you to our blogroll at hillary1000. I found you via Reclusive Leftist.

lost clown said...

Thank you!

No Blood for Hubris said...

Yes, we should all just sit down and shut up, should we not?