Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A short note to Greta Christina on a great post

Greta Christina is someone in the atheist movement I've long admired. I was hoping she'd weigh in on the current dispute, and I'm very pleased she has. I agree with almost everything she's said. But, unsurprisingly, I had a problem with one parenthetical remark, which seems obliquely aimed at, well, me:
(In fact... this is something of a side note, but it has bugged me during this kerfuffle when women have called other women tools of the patriarchy and the like for disagreeing about what is and isn't sexist. As a feminist who defends porn, sex work, sadomasochism, etc., I've been on the receiving end of that "you're just sucking up to sexist men" trope way, way too often. Let's not do it, okay?)
No, not okay. (And I tend, as an adult, to chafe at such a patronizing admonition, particularly when it contains that "Let's" that really means "Hey you, dont.") I would say the same thing to workers who become strikebreakers and beat up other workers for pay. It is not okay with me that men use sexist epithets, host blogs that become misogynistic hatefests, and mock and attack women who stand against sexism. It is not okay with me when women do it, particularly if they consistently make an effort to distance themselves from other women. Not okay. I will call them out on it.

I haven't used the phrase "tools of the patriarchy," but in fact it's applicable. That people can be called this inappropriately does not mean there is no appropriate use. If you say, "I'm a feminist who defends porn, sex work, sadomasochism, etc.," those are positions that can, as implied, be defended. You have defended them, as have I in many ways. The behavior I'm describing cannot be so defended. If it can, those engaging in it can easily enough do it themselves, just as easily as they hyperbolically bash other women. There's no need to patronizingly protect them or to attempt to chastise people for calling damaging, stupid behavior that works against other people like you for what it is.

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