Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A new leaf

These have been some interesting times for me. Stupid, ridiculous, hard times for me. And you know what? Lines were crossed. Things that should never have been said were said. And I saw this at reweaving and I was rejuvenated. It said exactly what I have always thought. The weights that have been holding me down at the bottom of the ocean were lifted. The gag over my mouth disappeared. I could see; I could breathe again. Here's what it says:
I don’t do blind loyalty to anyone, or anything, I critique and interrogate everyone and everything.

Don't expect me to censor my thoughts or my friendships into some thing you find acceptable

That's it, that's all it took. Not rocket science, I admit, but just those two simple sentences, those two little statements, they were enough. I have never been the darling of anyone. I say the wrong things to everyone, it drives my partner crazy sometimes. Even though I am a dedicated radical feminist anti-pornstitution blogger I have dear friends, who are friends for the reasons one generally has friends, who are pro-porn. They don't like what I have to say, but they listen to it at least and are respectful of my words as I am of theirs. We debate, but in the end, and this is all I think one can ever do, I present my argument to the best of my abilities and hope that it creates a spark-something that will cause them to see the truth in my argument and will get them to change their minds.

In the end that's all we can ever do: present our arguments and have enough faith in those arguments that they alone will cause someone to see our side of the story. Changing someone's mind does not come by telling them how wrong they are, by what they should change, or by demeaning them, yelling at them, or lecturing them. I have seen all of these and I am sickened by it.

Radical feminism is about getting rid of this entire system of dominance and hierarchy. No more oppression. No more capitalism. None of it. That also means that there's no "leaders." It is a movement of education, of information. The message is so powerful, the truth so right that we don't need to force people to do anything. I believe this. I believe with all my heart that a world without dominance and hierarchy is possible. Soon? No. But someday? Yes. It warmed my heart when I met some of The Redstockings in NYC and one of the women said to me "I'm doing this for my daughter's daughter's daughter." Which is what I've always said. (Though I'm not having any children.) What we aim to do is to make the world better for each generation of women, and one day.....

Anyhow. I have seen the yelling and the lecturing and it just makes my blood boil. I believe in this message with every fibre of my being. Words cannot describe just how much that message means to me. It is who I am; it is how I live my life; it informs every decision of every day. But who will hear the message when they're getting yelled at? Who? I used to do it too, and I cringe when I see it, you can find examples of it on the internet even. I was like that too, I admit it, but you know what changed that? I remembered that the world isn't black and white. I saw that I got one person to stop watching porn simply because when I found out he did I told him that I don't hang out with people who do and it started a series of conversations that ended with him buying Andrea Dworkin books of his own accord. It's the message, people. You need to make sure that it gets heard. That's my mission, making friends and allies is nice, but not if I'm supposed to toe some party line or pass some purity test. I've never been able to do that and I probably never will. Nothing's black and white. Not even math when you study it enough. (I know how to invent numbers!) It's all shades of grey.

But what's worse is what happens if you say something that the online community, which is very different from real life radical feminists that I've met for the most part, **not all** mind you, I am not making a blanket statement one way or the other here, doesn't like. If you critique the name of a blog like Dead Men Don't Rape as Laura once did you can be attacked and called pro-porn. If you thank people who supported you and suggest that you should talk more often even if you are across the great porn divide as Debs did then you can have your intelligence and loyalty to radical feminism questioned.

And these things were ugly. People were vicious and mean and condescending and all sorts of other things. Tears have been shed, things have been broken (inanimate things, but that might have just been me), and relationships irreparably damaged.

Why the self-cannibalism? Isn't a number of disparate voices good? I think it makes the movement stronger. Do we really have to agree 100% of the time on everything? Because if that's really what needs to happen then I fail. I fail miserably. It's never going to happen. I can think of one big bright shining issue that I know there's going to be a problem with: trans. We don't agree and unless y'all start thinking about being more trans-inclusive we won't. Hell, I don't even agree with myself all the time so I sure as hell aren't going to agree with whatever the hell I'm expected to agree with all the time.

Does it mean we all have to like each other? Because really if someone who doesn't like me doesn't like me and says so that's FINE. It's much better then someone who doesn't like me pretending to like me. There are enough fish in the sea and I don't have to be friends with every single one. (I've always fancied sharks though and I thought of that as I was writing that so does that mean I want to eat a few people?) I learned long ago that sharing an ideological connection with someone was not enough. Most of the people that I worked with in activist communities were the people that have abused and assaulted me. So obviously I know that just because we share the same ideology it does not necessarily mean that we're going to be best of friends or friends at all. I'm OK with that. (not the assault and abuse part but those are also not the people I'm talking about here for the most part).

Some of my friends have been abused by some of my other friends. This pains me and I try to stop it as much as I can. Sometimes I'm successful. I wish I was more often, but then again I'm one person and I'm not always around. But here's the thing. I am expected to stick up for people who are abusive towards me simply because we are both anti-porn. Well FUCK THAT. I am no more going to defend ideas I do not agree with or people who are abusive to me then I am going to start cheerleading porn. I am and always will be my own person. I will not defend something I do not agree with because I am told to. I will defend it because I believe it.

But anyway, I'm sick of it-sick of sitting by and not saying anything to all sides. Y'all are on notice. I'm gonna say what I think and I'm not too good at being anything but blunt, it's just the way I am I never learned the "social niceties." Anyway, it feels like my Independence Day. I feel like me again. (Knowing I'll probably disappear back down the rabbit hole again after this, but whatever, when I emerge you know what to expect.)

Melanie C sums it up nicely. Here's Independence Day for you:

I know I make mistakes
I will have to live and learn
Sometimes you play with fire
And sometimes you get burned

I have my dream to live
Following that star
It doesn't matter how long it takes
It doesn't matter how far

No time for make believing
And it's too late to turn back now, you-you-you

I've been dreaming about it
I can't live without it
I've got to find my own way
I'm not changing my mind now
Or looking behind now
This is my independence day
My independence day

I know it'll take some time
But I won't give up the fight
Sometimes you win, sometime you lose
But that's alright, oh yeah

I've got to spread my wings
And learn how to fly
Cos this feeling drives me on
It's something I cannot deny

No time to make excuses
Cos it's too late to turn back now, you-you-you

I've been dreaming about it
I can't live without it
I've got to find my own way
I'm not changing my mind now
Or looking behind now
This is my independence day
My independence day
Hey, my independence day, oh-oh

No matter what comes my way
I'm gonna live for today, yeah-yeah
This is my, this is my independence day
(Gonna live for today)

I've been dreaming about ir
I can't live without it
I've got to find my own way
I'm not changing my mind now
Or looking behind now
This is my independenceƂ

I've been dreaming about ir
I can't live without it
I've got to find my own way
I'm not changing my mind now
Or looking behind now
This is my independence day
My independence day (independence day)
Day, my independence day (independence day)

Wishing on that same bright star
I shouldn't wish my life away, wish my life away (independence day)
They say it's a small small world
They say it's a small small small small world (independence day).


Debi Crow said...

Can I just second this whole post? I like what you are saying here, I like it a lot, and it makes a hell of a lot of sense. Parts of it sound like I could have written them, like the bits about not being able to help being blunt, and not being able to pretend to like people. You've done a great thing, writing this - thanks Lost Clown. And if you do disappear back down the rabbit hole again, please make sure it's not for too long - your voice is important.

Laura said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE you :-D xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anji said...


Debi Crow said...

Oh by the way, that Redstockings site is brilliant - I hadn't come across that before, thanks for the link! :-D xx

lost clown said...

You're welcome. I have all their writings and they still have things in NYC. it's really cool-I miss living there.

Liz said...

I completely agree. It is time to start the independence day ;)

I was angry about what happened to Laura too. I feel as if the people who did it don't understand what they did or that it was so very wrong and cruel. In particular, stormcloud really bothered me, and still does to this day because when I try to have a conversation with her she comes back saying I'm 'wrong wrong wrong'. I can't talk to people like that, who just won't listen.

Kim said...

I gotta start coming here more often, LC, as in EVERY DAY. This post is wonderful and I'm so happy for it.
You are truly a gem, LC.