Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney
rozk

I really did want to sit this one out...

OK, because people have a right to know, this is why I am always sceptical about the assumption that no-one from a minority ever critiques someone from a hegemonic group illegitimately and without good cause.

Back in the 1980s, during the sex wars, which were essentially, in London, a turf war about which groups were allowed to use the Lesbian and Gay Centre, and most especially the women's floor, the argument was that people who were prepared to defend the rights of SM women and men were behaving in a racist manner. The argument went ' Some radical separatists are women of colour or Jewish women. The sight of women and men in black leather outfits reminds them of slavery and the Holocaust. The presence of whips and studded collars reminds them of slavery and the Holocaust. Almost anything that SM folk might do in public that is different from what other people do is racist. And therefore the rights of women who are triggered by these things are so much more important that all SM folk should be banned from all public spaces where they have a say.'

This was an argument seriously maintained and which was taken to straight officers of the GLC by lesbian women trying to bar other lesbian women from public spaces that the GLC controlled, and not, as I recall, just the Centre either. Several of the women involved in doing that have subsequently acknowledged that they did not really feel anything of the kind and their claims to be deeply upset were wholly spurious and all to do with maintaining control of the community.

I remember during one of the public debates on this, someone - I cannot remember who - said not especially sotto voce and in an Irish accent - 'all my ancestors died in the Famine and the noisy crunching of those potato crisps is deeply offensive to me.' More seriously, they went on from accusing the SM people and their allies of being not only insensitive, but Fascist, and we made some serious points about how ill-advised it is to accuse other progressives of being Fascist sympathizers when there are real Fascists out there. Which I also feel to be a relevant point here.

People who are to some degree clueless need to be schooled by those they are hurting, but they are allowed to at least discuss the precise degree to which they are clueless. I am sure, looking around, that if I really wanted to beat people over the head for their assumptions of cis-gender privilege, I could feel very righteous indeed. And I don't partly because small and very oppressed minorities don't get to go around doing that and partly because it's not my way.

When people are committed in principle to learning to mind their manners better, it is not a good idea to talk as if their discussing with you the precise extent and way in which they need to mind their manners were itself part of the surrounding system of oppression. Oppression has to be fought and sometimes getting the internal consensus ideology of the progressive community absolutely spotless is a diversion from that fight. ( As is talking an issue endlessly round in circles to feel good about you and your friends, and talking about reining people in and then not doing it, and taking the moral high ground by not being horrible to the other side in the sure and certain knowledge that your friends and supporters will do the dirty work for you.)

The Revolution, as someone once said is not a tea party, but this is not the Revolution, it is a conversation among friends

My feeling is that this particular row, which is certainly about a very important and very real issue, is now getting seriously out of control, partly because it has become a generation clash and a war over turf and status.

More recently, anti-trans 'feminists', most of them white, have tried to claim that the mostly white middle-class online trans community do not really care about the killings of usually working class black trans women. They do this, mostly, by lying about the extent to which we have cared and commented. The crucial issue though is that by posing as White Allies, they get to use the deaths of women whose choices in life their ideological position entirely disrespects in order to go after white people who are part of the actual same community as the dead women...And mud sticks, which is why it should not be thrown.
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