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sorry, I don’t stop being feminist because it’s fandom

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Long time, no see.
At Ohayocon I let a couple of emcees know exactly what I thought of them.
People shout at anime conventions, and I figured there was no reason I shouldn’t do so at an acceptable time, either – never mind that my shouting was of a political bent.
I can’t, or won’t, or don’t, check my feminism (or femaleness) at the door when I go somewhere. Even though I can compartmentalize a little (or I’d never enjoy anything), I cannot and will not simply stop caring about problematic stuff just because it’s “only fandom/entertainment/whatever.”
It’s never “just for fun.”
Usually, if a show bothers me, I try to just ignore it, unless it’s shoved in my face. If something I enjoy suddenly becomes problematic (or if it’s problematic from the beginning), I’ll think/talk about that, too – because, like I said, I can’t not enjoy anything ever because it’s not completely politically correct. There would be nothing left.
However, if I am at a convention – if my physical body is in a physical space, especially one I have paid money to inhabit – then I absolutely refuse to just ignore it. Even if it’s not a literal and immediate threat of violence against me, personally, the kind of “jokes” that I ended up shouting about were implicit threats against my personal safety – especially the first time.
One of the improv actors in the Anime Whose Line made a “joke” about violence against women, and that was the first (and probably loudest) time that I spoke up. “What other manly things can we do?” he asked, “beat women!”
And I sat up straighter, cupped my hands in front of my mouth, and told him to go fuck himself.
It was only a conference room, not a big theater like the Masquerade. I bet everyone heard me. I hope they did. I hope he went home and was terribly embarrassed that some chick called him out as the unfunny douchebag he is.
I was worried at first, but then nothing bad happened to me – the actor himself just ignored me, and I got a few approving nods.
Whether he realized it or not, and even if he didn’t ~intend~ to make me (and, you know, like half of his audience) uncomfortable, what he said was directly threatening to women’s safety – and con spaces are not known as very women-friendly spaces to begin with. (I’m sure there are more examples, those are just the first two that came to mind.)
Of course, everyone in that panel was just a douche. Another guy called on an attendee for a suggestion, then said “see, I didn’t call on you as ‘that Black guy there!'” and I was like wow, really? because come on, dude not funny. I think once upon a time, fandom was a place for white, straight, cis dudes, but the world has moved on.
After that, the actor added a disclaimer, saying that the 18+ panel later during the conference wouldn’t be “PC.”
If you can’t be “funny” without reinforcing the *ist status quo, you’re a shitty comedian and need to get a day job. Seriously, there is nothing entertaining or edgy about being a douchebag. It’s just a lazy way to get some cheap laughs; ditto this to the emcee of the Masquerade, who said “you want to hear a joke? women’s rights.”
I shouted about that, too, but I think my protest was lost in the general din – and while I was offended*, it wasn’t as threatening, because what can he, this one loser emcee, do to take my legal rights away? Of course, it contributed to a general culture of misogyny, but unlike the first emcee, would could literally go out and attack women at the con, this one couldn’t really do much other than stick his foot in his mouth and make himself look like a douche.
I also yelled at a couple of Hetalia cosplayers for letting their flags touch the ground† but I couldn’t’ve addressed every case of that I saw, and… well, tbh I care more about the feminism thing than the flag thing.
However, if there is a repeat of the Anime Boston ’10 incident, I will be speaking up – and loudly.
I won’t sit back and let the parts of fandom that I don’t like slide by. I won’t be made to feel uncomfortable in something I enjoy because I’m not a cis white straight man. Fuck that; we’ve all got a right to be here, and to feel safe here.
-M


*and no, jokes about stripping me of my legal rights as a citizen to vote, to press charges, &c. are not funny and I’m not being ~over-sensitive~. just don’t start that with me right here/now.
†just don’t carry them, people. just don’t.

how to be a better feminist: a beginner’s guide

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Let’s start with this: I’m not a good feminist. I’m still working through my own issues around race, class, gender, sexuality. You name it, I’m still working through my issues on it. On the whole, I try to keep my privileged mouth shut, because most of the time, I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about in this post, either – but here’s how I’m starting to learn how to talk about it.

I made notes of as many identities as I could think of on the “about me” page,* so I won’t list them again here. They might be worth looking over if you want to know where I’m coming from.

I mentioned in my open letter to Feministing that they had strongly influenced me as a budding feminist, which, given what I’ve recently discovered, makes me uncomfortable. A lot of people have a lot of problems with their brand of feminism – what some have called narcissistic feminism – and I don’t want to be the kind of feminist that people within the movement have problems with. I have problems with a lot of those problems; I don’t want to be an ableist feminist, a racist feminist, a transphobic feminist … I want to be a feminist feminist.

But where to begin? When one of the biggest feminist blogs has failed you in this regard, what to do and where to go? Go everywhere. Follow links left by commenters to their blogs, and the blogs of other people. When you stumble across a blogger you agree with, don’t just read her blog, read her blogroll.†

For that matter, when you read a blog you don’t agree with – specifically, one that makes you feel defensive or uncomfortable – examine why. Maybe they’re just transmisogynist/homophobic/racist/classist/ableist/generally asshatty douchebags whose opinions are better left ignored. Maybe – and this is why you have to examine why you feel so uncomfortable reading what they’re writing –  they’re hitting you where it hurts: right in the privilege zone, which I imagine to be located around the solar plexus. (Have you ever been kicked in the solar plexus? I was, once, during martial arts: it hurts, and it sort-of makes you feel like you can’t breathe and want to throw up – all in all, quite the unpleasant experience.)

Confession time: sometimes Womanist Musings makes me feel uncomfortable which is why I keep reading it. Renee has some brilliant insights, many of which force me to examine my own privilege. It’s uncomfortable, like when someone tells you that there’s something stuck in your teeth … as you’re heading home from the party. Only it’s worse, because it’s not just that you’ve looked silly all day without meaning to or realizing it, but because you’ve been hurting people, possibly for your whole life, without meaning to or realizing it. Obviously, it’s more comfortable for you to just not know – but it’s not more comfortable for the people you’ve been unconsciously inflicting your privilege on.

While we’re on the topic of unconsciously inflicting your privilege, this is also why I don’t comment on WM: because I have issues that I still need to work through before I can be anything more than a well-meaning troll. Well meaning, certainly, but on the whole, my contributions would still detract from a generally more intelligent, more experienced dialog. Sometimes, it’s okay to speak up, but sometimes you should just sit down and shut the hell up.

(Never, ever try to tell someone else how it is for them. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it does happen and now stop it. The oppressor does not get to tell the oppressed what is and is not offensive. Write that down and stick it next to your monitor. Look at it every time you engage in conversation online about feminist issues.)

(Oh, and notice I made that a link? Don’t use other people’s ideas without crediting them; it’s not just good feminism, it’s good writing – whether that be blogging or academic writing or fanfiction.)

So there it is. Perhaps it’s a bit conceited or overblown to call this post “how to be a better feminist,” but I figured it might at least catch your attention. I’ll add the caveat “how to learn to be a better feminist if you’re a college-educated white woman just getting involved in this whole equality thing” (Have you noticed the blog title? I’m all about hyperbole.) I hope you even learned something, or found a link to another, more experienced and articulate blogger who taught you something.
(Also, reading real books is a good thing to do – but books, like blogs, tend to be dominated by a privileged “mainstream” few. Also, they’re expensive.)


*with the exception of a distinct class identity, because I’m not sure where I belong in that spectrum (more on this later)
†hi there, feminist men with feminist blogs! I don’t mean to erase you, but in my experience, the majority of bloggers (that I read) are female (actually, I read one blog authored by  a man)

Written by Fangirl

October 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm