Werewolf on leftwing misogyny

Two stonkingly good posts over at Werewolf this week – both superficially about the ongoing tantrums of Martyn Bradbury, but more fundamentally about the direction for the left and the role of women within a leftwing movement.

Anne Russell writes on the misogyny at The Daily Blog:

Meanwhile, we need a Left to take care of the sick and wounded; women, people of colour, disabled people, sex workers, the queer and trans community, all those who know that their battles are at the centre of the fight rather than a distraction on the margins. A brilliant article on weareplanc.org about the emotional conditions of capitalism argued that contemporary leftist resistance needs to correspond to capitalism’s current emotional stage: that of making everyone very anxious and overwhelmed. The article argues that the Left, at least internally, has to be kind to its members, offering a haven from the angry and overstimulating world of neo-liberalism-cum-fascism. As I wrote last year, this approach is not incompatible with outward anger against the state, cops, the prison system, corporations or any other oppressive institutions and forces. Rather, it will help replenish our energy to do that work.

And Gordon Campbell the day before said on Labour’s candidacy troubles:

Bomber’s message is the one that women on the left have been hearing since time eternal ie, that they should keep quiet, remain patient until victory is assured, and – in the meantime – make sure their concerns and modes of expression don’t antagonise the heroes of the proletariat. Besides everything else, this looks like a failure of imagination. Is the Winston Wing of Labour’s support base – those heroic, hand-calloused members of the white working class that Bomber Bradbury and Chris Trotter always bang on about – really so immune to policy arguments pitched any higher than Greg O’Connor’s face on a campaign billboard, or Willie Jackson on the mike?

Martyn, who among his many well-nourished enmities has a strange grudge against Werewolf’s antecedent Scoop, will see these two posts (and this one) as proof of some grand conspiracy against him by the BlueGreenSocialMediaMillennialHipsterIdentityPolitics Stormtroopers. Doesn’t stop them being bang on the money, and doesn’t mean the broader problems they describe aren’t very real obstacles to real progressive change in New Zealand.

[edit: called it. It’s apt that Martyn describes Gordon Campbell as a “purveyor of violent sexual abuse revenge fantasies” even though it was Anne Russell who mentioned the case of Mervyn Thompson. Obviously women can’t have their own opinions in the absence of a man.]

Untroll the internet: Pantsuit Nation

Normally this would be an Untroll Thursday but I think we all need something to sooth our hearts before US election result anxiety explodes all over us.

Vox reports on Pantsuit Nation, a secret Facebook group of 1.3 million Clinton fans:

Now that its membership has ballooned, the community has evolved from a place to coordinate Election Day attire into a place where members (of all genders and political parties, according to founder Libby Chamberlain) not only rave about their chosen candidate, but also provide moral support each to other in the face of what many feel is a hugely stressful run-up to voting day.

“We share stories about our grandparents, our children, and our families,” Chamberlain said. “We support each other during this highly contentious election season and have created a refuge from the vitriol that is sweeping the nation.” Administrators encourage members to adhere to the “go high” mantra made famous by first lady Michelle Obama, and so far, she says, “the response has been astounding.”

Beyond the election, things like this really do give me hope. Internet forums don’t have to be hives of shitposting and misogyny. Moderators can build positive discussion and lay down the law about the kinds of environments they want to oversee, and it doesn’t have to end just because a bunch of agitating douchebags scream about free speech. They have the rest of the internet, you know?

I see so many people – predominantly women – who have just stopped posting about the US election on social media, because even on their own pages they’re not safe from other people – predominantly men – being negative, disingenuous and outright abusive. Who feel they have to let those comments stand, or go unchallenged, because it’s not worth the grief and whinging and social stigma of rebutting even the most obvious bullshit.

We can have online spaces where people just squee about the things they love. We can set the limits for what behaviour is acceptable in those spaces, exactly the same way we set limits for what’s acceptable in our homes and communities. We don’t have to subscribe to the idea that sharing our platforms with people whose sole purpose is literally to antagonise and derail discussion is somehow noble or desirable.

Let’s make a better internet.

The vast rightwing conspiracy: REVEALED

Readers, I have earth-shattering received information which will blow the lid of one of the greatest scandals of our time.

An internal WhaleOil document, exclusively created by released to Boots Theory, show the innermost workings of a corrupt, depraved, unmitigated, cryptofascist conspiracy to control our media, our government, our daily lives and even our rare Pepes.

Nicky Hager ain’t got shit on this.

I’ve uploaded the documentation at full resolution so it can be available to all in the event of my sudden disappearance.

Click to view the full, horrific truth.

Click to view the full, horrific truth.

Now, this may at face value appear to be a really obvious two-minute job with the SmartArt functions in Microsoft Word and some Google image searches. The kind of “evidence” which shouldn’t even seem compelling to the people who really, really want to believe it’s true. Don’t worry, loyal Booters: I’m suspicious too.

But it’s so important to unveil the terrible depths that the rightwing will sink to – the secret Bitcoin payments, the hidden overseas blind look-through trust fund trusts, the pineapple on the pizza – that I am willing to pay hundreds, nay thousands of dollars to an elite super hacker who can’t even spell the names of my targets correctly and thinks screenshots of a Notepad file counts as “documentation”.

I’m doing it for you. I’m doing it for our country. And above all, I’m doing it for myself.

witness me

With absolutely no apologies nor credit to Cameron Slater or his self-important creep of a conman, Ben Rachinger.

Sometimes talking IS the work

This post was inspired by recent events in online/NZ/Twitter-based conversation, but it’s also part of wider thinking I’ve been doing about activism and policing other people’s behaviour. Remember: if it’s not about you, it’s not about you. If it is about you – that’s on you.

It confuses me when people attack activists for “just” sitting on Twitter doing “nothing” but talk.

I’m not puzzled about the inaccuracy of it – no one I know “just” confines their activism to Twitter. Besides, activism doesn’t always mean organising a rally or printing a zine or starting a hashtag. In a society which is doing its utmost to drive you mad or kill you – and that’s the reality for many people – surviving and thriving is political activism in of itself. But that doesn’t matter to the Twitter-deriders: their goal is to shut down criticism and demonize the people who dare to say “you screwed up”. Even if it’s a load of tripe.

I’m puzzled because they’re erasing the value of talking.

At its most basic: how do you build any kind of action without talking? Without discussing the situation, defining the problems, creating solutions and spreading the word?

“Just talking” is probably the single most important step in activism. Even if you’re “only” talking to yourself – even if surviving a society which hates you is the grandest goal you have. Even more so when you want to change the whole world.

There’s a passage in Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time, a history of (part of) the second-wave feminist movement in the USA. (Big disclaimer: there are many things the second wave messed up on.) Brownmiller talks about attending her first “consciousness-raising session” run by New York Radical Women in the late 60s:

Saying “I’ve had three illegal abortions” aloud was my feminist baptism, my swift immersion in the power of sisterhood. A medical procedure I’d been forced to secure alone, shrouded in silence, was not “a personal problem.” My solitary efforts to forge my own destiny were fragments of women’s shared, hidden history, links to past and future generations, pieces of the puzzle called sexual oppression. The simple technique of consciousness-raising had brought my submerged truths to the surface, where I learned that I wasn’t alone.

For those feminists, talking was the most powerful thing they could do. When society normalized ideas about getting married and having kids, and pretended no one else ever got divorced or had abortions or questioned their paycheck, just talking got the ball rolling.

And when they began to organise “real” events, what were they? Speak-outs. Talking. Lifting their voices in public on issues like abortion and sexual violence.

Talking wasn’t just part of the work. Talking was the work.

TWhen you talk, others hear. And hopefully, some listen. Because no one ever changed their mind about how society oppresses other people, whose lives they will never experience, without some kind of external stimulus.

I don’t believe I’m perfect (another dismissive line that gets thrown around.) But there are things I’m conscious of which others aren’t. And as a more-privileged woman, I can call my peers up on those things – not leaving it to women of colour, or people with disabilities, and so on, to always do the work of correcting others.

These aren’t problems I face. I didn’t intuit their existence. They are issues other people talked about, and when I listened, I learned.

I say “when” because believe me, there were times I did not listen. I have been the ignorant ally who said “well actually” to trans women. I have been the person getting personally offended because yes I know some white women try to compare their hair issues to black women’s but I don’t, tell me I’m good!

… And I am so, so sorry about that.

But me being sorry isn’t the point. The point is that, eventually, I listened. I got better. Not perfect. Better.

But that would never have happened if all the trans women, queer women, women of colour, indigenous women, or women with disabilities had sat down and kept quiet because I always deserved the benefit of the doubt. If their real allies – the other white cis women who probably re-explained everything to me because I was too pigheaded to believe women outside my peer group – had just said no, Stephanie’s one of the “good” people. If I had been given a pass each and every time because I meant well and everyone who knew me thought I was really respectful and right-on.

When we talk, we create solidarity. There’s massive value in knowing that out there in the world is someone else who totally gets why you’re angry or how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. That kind of bond doesn’t just build movements, it literally saves people’s lives.

If you don’t think that counts as constructive, righteous, progressive social justice work, you need to go back to a dictionary and look up every single one of those words again.

Some recommended reading on related themes and those recent events: