professornana (professornana) wrote,

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It seems for some folks that there are clearly drawn lines in life. THIS is sexism; THIS is bullying; THIS is right; THIS is wrong. I know I felt that way as a child. After all, that is child-like (if not childish) thinking. Cut and dried, right and wrong. Nothing in between. And so it has gone with the entire battle over an interview given by Andrew Smith. Here is the link to the actual interview:

For the life of me, I cannot see the outright sexism in this response to the interview question. Those who were the most vocal suggest that if I cannot see the inherent sexism, it is because I, too, must be "tone deaf" (and perhaps not a feminist or not as feminist as they are). Never mind that some of the "discussions" were ad hominem, some used a straw man argument, and others were just plain misplaced snark aimed at Smith (and his family in some remarks).

The call for more reasoned discourse resulted in some of the "real" feminists asserting that reasoned discussion was just another way to rid debate of their voices. Words like "kind" and "reasoned" and "critical without personal attacks" apparently have alternate meanings for some. So, instead of, say, offering some blog posts about the sexist nature of Smith's female characters, posts instead offered rationales for behavior, defensive posts that basically shut off any sort of discussion based on facts, reasons, evidence. I was reminded in one post of the phrase "by any means necessary" as the blogger stated that calm and kind and reasoned are definitions created by those in power and not by the oppressed.

I do NOT think we are above being criticized. I do NOT think that kind is synonymous with uncritical. I think we can be kind and honest. In this case, kind means not snarking on the person or her or his family. I DO think we need to be careful of how we bandy about terms such as "privilege" as well. And "oppressed." And "bullied." I also do not feel that I am constantly being oppressed or criticized because of my gender or any other cultural marker. I want not to turn to this as a reason for not speaking my mind (if you read this blog, you know I speak my mind).

I want to end with this: you have the right to be critical. Others have the same right. That is the problem with this whole freedom thing. I defend your right to call something sexist (though I would prefer some evidence, in-depth analysis, etc. rather than just a caustic comment). But the other side of that coin is that others have the right to disagree. If you say any sort of argument is allowable, then you have to abide by that same standard when it is aimed at you. AND if someone decides NOT to engage, that is not an indication of guilt or complicity or anything other than a decision NOT to engage.
Tags: argument, bullying, discourse
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