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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The (wo)man behind the curtain

posted by Silvana
There are a lot of things being written about me on the internet, so I guess it's time to resurrect this blog just for a minute to put some stuff out there. This deserves more than just a few tweets. In the interest of full disclosure and honesty.

On December 17, my friend Gayle and I wrote this post. It was about #mooreandme and the discourse around the allegations of rape against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It included, among three other arguments, this bit from a chat conversation:
silvana: i dont even know what to make of sady's last post
"It is very, very low. Because Michael Moore’s actions indicate that rape survivors just don’t mean as much to Michael Moore as Julian Assange getting bail. They just don’t. He has assigned a demonstrable, monetary value to these two causes, and as far as we know, Assange is worth $20,000 and providing necessary aid to sexual assault survivors is worth $0."
i find this to be shit
me: i find this to be UTTER SHIT
there are no zero sum games like that in life
silvana: moore doesn't have any obligation to give any money to anyone
silvana: As far as the world knows, going out for french food is worth $100 to silvana, and helping rape survivors is worth $0
i am so mad
me: i just went out for dinner and paid for pizza. I VALUE PIZZA MORE THAN RAPE PREVENTION.
i love our examples
written at the same time
silvana: hahahahhaha
silvana: and starving children
and people who have been the victims of landmines
me: and rape epidemics in the congo!
or liberia!
silvana: and women held as sexual slaves in thailand
me: sady doyle gave $50 for rape survivors. why does sady doyle hate starving african babies?

We used crass words, yes; it's pretty par for the course for me and especially for the feminist blogs. I admit that I hesitated about posting the words "fuck you," I didn't want it to sound mean. But on review, I assumed it would be taken in the crass, flip, somewhat humorous way it was meant. This is, after all, the internet, and if there's one thing internet feminists know how to do, it's swear.

I didn't mean to hurt her. When I found out that I did, I apologized. But it has nevertheless blown up.

Sady Doyle has taken issue with what we wrote. Here's what she has written about it so far. She also left this comment on our post.

I'm not going to quote all of it, because it's a lot, but here are some things I found particularly troubling:

"I'm sad that (if I'm recalling correctly, if you're the same "Gayle") you wrote me an e-mail saying that you'd started a new blog because you liked mine so much, I'm sorry I promoted that newborn and relatively readerless blog on Tiger Beatdown when it had very few posts and no comments, and I'm sorry that, now that you have readers and are receiving comments, you're trying to invite those comments by posting that I'm "UTTER SHIT" and shouting "FUCK YOU" at me. I wouldn't do that to you. I'm not sorry I helped you out, but I am sorry that it meant so little to you, and that you don't see me as a person deserving of basic respect."

"It’s just: Now that I’m getting all of these messages about the “enemies” I’ve made, for pointing out how even idealistic activist left-wing types will dissimulate and back-stab and attempt to promote themselves at your expense and without respect for you, I think it’s time we all get a brief crash course in How Things Work. If you’re a friend of one of these women, will you find a way to be nasty now? Yes, quite possibly you will."
(ed note: If someone can figure out what those last two sentences mean, please tell me; I am genuinely baffled.)

"It’s OK, Gayle. You did a bad thing. You were purposefully hurtful to someone who’d never done anything to you, and had in fact helped you in the past. You don’t have to post anything on your blog that you don’t want to; you just have to think about what sort of space you want your blog to be."

"But always look at the man behind the curtain. That’s my advice to you. The next time something seems to come up out of nowhere, somebody falls out of favor or becomes subject to hostilities, always look behind the curtain. You don’t know what’s back there. And I, personally, don’t care if there’s a chance that I’ll get in trouble if I tell."

"First I heard $10K, then I heard that someone had donated $2K on top of it, which I think means they have about $14K with the matching in place. That's a lot of money for them. That's a lot of people being able to call and deal with their rapes with qualified professionals.

$14K. That's a big number. For helping survivors.

Would you prefer that we didn't raise it?"

"If folks really want the link, I’ll send it, maybe. But this isn’t feminism. This is pretty clearly personal. This is someone getting all “FUCK YOU” over I am just not sure what, after I’ve done everything in my power to re-affirm that I like her and don’t need her to agree with me. So, yeah. It doesn’t have to be a spectator sport. I just mention it because, wow. Shit got pretty real these past two weeks. But this?

This was officially the lowest blow."

Those quotes are only a fraction of what's she's posted, which you can read in the links above. So, in response to these four words, we get a half-dozen posts in which she says that we are craven, self-promoting, backstabbing, disrespectful, purposely hurtful, venomous, using Sady as a way to get comments, and that we don't care about rape survivors.

You can decide for yourself what you think about this. But from where I'm standing, it looks like, apparently, because we posted the words "FUCK YOU" and called her argument "UTTER SHIT" in a chat where we were clearly making jokes and being crass, we are now getting the responses you see above. There is nothing else. There is no other objection. All the things that Sady has written about how she is upset at us, is about those four words.

Apparently, the fact that we disagree with her arguments means we don't want money to go to rape survivors. But it's not clear what her raising money for rape survivors has to do with the quality of her arguments, or somehow bears on the question of whether we should agree with her.

I still maintain that her argument as quoted in the chat above boils down to an assertion that anything that you have spent money on, you value more than all the things you haven't spent money on. And it was the argument that was used, again and again, to raise money for RAINN. I think raising money for rape crisis centers is great. But that doesn't mean I think every single thing that's said in support of the fundraising is correct. I still believe that what she said about the fact that Assange is fighting extradition suggests his guilt (as I quoted from here) is wrong and dangerous. I still believe that in the course of promoting #mooreandme, Sady made some disingenuous and problematic arguments, more than just these two.

I still haven't gotten any response to the arguments themselves. And that's fine--Sady isn't obligated to respond to me or anyone. But I would have liked to engage about them, rather than have this discussion about four words I used in a blog post.
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