The Collaborative Road to Positive Potentiality and Progress, Let’s Talk.

This blog is about progress. It is about criticism and personal attack. I recently wrote a blog where I discussed my tragic disappointment in the current social climate relating to Feminism & Race. I used two examples I came upon in order to showcase the state of things as it related to my disquiet. One of the examples I used came from a blog post I came upon in which the author spoke disparagingly about Feminism. This blog post is entitled, “Between Feminism and Gun Control, Women Are Screwed.” From this I was compelled to write. Here is a snippet from my original blog post regarding my disquiet as  it relates to the aforementioned blog post:

One of the tragically disappointing things was a blog entry that was basically overtly saying that with more gun regulations, comes the end of the ability for women to truly protect themselves from their stronger, male counterpart. This person used a very essentialist argument pointing to the notion that women are inherently physically weaker than men, and suggested these regulations would be taking guns away from women who depend on them for protection (without guns, women would become damsels in distress I presume). The author speaks about feminism pejoratively and leaves me with a bad feeling. Why? Because I know this person is NOT the only one who holds these convictions. Here is the blog to which I am referring. A couple of the more disturbing quotes from this person reads,

“Yes, some women are stronger than some men, but they are never stronger than strong men, and a woman without a weapon is no match for a man who wants to do her harm, even if she knows how to fight.”

and especially,

“No matter how much the Feminists rail, and no matter how many times Hollywood portrays heroic fighting women, women are the weaker sex.  This doesn’t mean lesser, it just means physically weaker and that’s a fact no amount of affirmative action or double standards can change.  Leave it to hypocritical liberals and feminists to ignore scientific reality in favor of the brave new world they want to force into existence.  You would think that girl-power philosophy would extend to empowering women to protect ourselves with any weapon available, especially after teaching us for so long that we don’t need men.  But no, the hypocrisy is ubiquitous.  Women don’t need men and they don’t need weapons either.  Feminism thus fails women.”

This person’s argument seems to egregiously overstep. Why would this person point so combatively, so disparagingly at feminism? Why would this person feel so confident in pointing out the “hypocrisy of the liberals and feminism”? Notwithstanding the actual stance on the right to bear arms, what I see happening in this blog is a clear misunderstanding of what Feminism is, and its function in our society. I think it is genuinely sad that this person has not been in a position that allowed for understanding, but has allowed for such chronic misappropriations of attributes. None of the feminisms I have come to know EVER TAUGHT that men are useless, that women don’t need men or vice versa. That notion is very divisive and the feminisms I know don’t perpetuate divisive, dichotomous relations. A couple of the aims from the feminisms I know include an emphasis on the need to work TOGETHER in order to make visible the disperate power dynamics within our U.S. society in order to even have the POTENTIAL to make some sort of systematic change. Also, there is an emphasis on the importance of discussing EVERYONE’S role in the preservation of the ruling class and the perpetuation of the “-isms” that we all live and are impacted by on a daily basis. This disquiets me because I know that the author’s opinion comes partly from their positioning within our society. It seems like the author is fairly skilled at writing and that there is a lot of privilege from the sociopolitical position of this person. So my question here is where is the disconnect? How did Feminism seem so clearly to fail women to this author? As I said earlier, I am pretty sure this person is not the only one that holds these convictions, which is why I think there is a need for more feminists at the ground level to write, speak, and engage.

This sparked a response from the author of the blog post I was critiquing, which I am thankful for. I think that this person’s response is important to share and write about as it helps in providing more of an example of the social climate to which I was referring, and it will also allow me to practice what I have been writing about in this blog from the start. I ask those of you who are reading this to hang in there with me. There will be a lot of direct quotes, which I will do my absolute best to make clear and easy to follow.

Without further ado, the author’s original reply to my blog post is as follows:

Actually, it’s because I have a very clear understanding of Feminism that I argue as I do. Thanks.”
-I think this was in response to the point in my discussion where I stated, “what I see happening in [their] blog is a clear misunderstanding of what Feminism is, and its function in our society. I think it is genuinely sad that this person has not been in a position that allowed for understanding, but has allowed for such chronic misappropriations of attributes.

I am pretty confident that this was a raw response to my blog post, because the author goes on to comment on their original reply:

“‘It seems like the author is fairly skilled at writing and that there is a lot of privilege from the sociopolitical position of this person’You know nothing of my “sociopolitical position” – a garbage term in the first place. Your preconceived notions and your lack of careful reading of my article limit your ability to understand what was written. Your overuse of multi-syllabic made-up ‘isms’ belies your lack of cogent thought. “Feminisms” isn’t even a word. But by all means, write on and encourage more Feminists on the ground. The more Feminists screech, the more you turn off the majority of folks who don’t ascribe to your bitterness, jealousy, and the total denigration of women in society that Feminism itself has wrought. You say I’ve overstepped in my assertions about Feminism, but you don’t say why, you just divert by asking why I would have the opinion I do. Yet you know nothing about me, but I am an open book. Why would an intelligent, independent, cancer-surviving musician Marine Iraq War veteran have the opinions she has? Why don’t you ask me? Because it doesn’t jive with your preconceptions.”

-I will acknowledge the author’s response to my blog post by unpacking each individual part of their collective reply and responding to them here (ASIDE– As the following is a response to a specific person, feel free at any point to scroll down until you see the asterisk and big bolded phrase, “All of that leads me to the focus of this blog post,” in order to get to the reasons why I chose to explicitly include this here):

1. “It seems like the author is fairly skilled at writing and that there is a       lot of privilege from the sociopolitical position of this person.” You know nothing of my “sociopolitical position” – a garbage term in the first place.” 

A. I will begin my response by asking what makes the term garbage? Also since you assert it, the term sociopolitical is garbage as opposed to what? Here’s the thing. Sociopolitical is commonly used to describe a combination of social and political factors that in this case, aids in the development of identity, perception, and critique. This term is used more often than not in academia, though it is also used within public discourse. I chose to use this term instead of writing ‘…the social and political position of this person,’ as I thought it flowed easier within the context of the blog.

B. I do not know you personally, however reading your own words in your blog posts and information about you located on your blog, paired with the fact that you have an articulate and active blog with a number of followers in general, provided me the data I needed to make the assertion that I did.

2. “Your preconceived notions and your lack of careful reading of my article limit your ability to understand what was written.”

A. This to me seemed like a little bit of a personal attack in response to my original blog post. I am guessing that by, “your preconceived notions,” you were referring to either, i. Preconceived notions of you as an author, or ii. What you think are my preconceived notions of feminism. I’d like to address both of these items before I respond to the rest of this #:

i. I work with what I am given. Please note part B of #1.

ii. I live the Feminisms I discuss. I learn more about them daily (both in academia and through lived experience). I write about them in order to expose misappropriated attributes given to them, and also to provide a safe space for open thought about and to encourage activism regarding the sociopolitical (or social and political) issues that affect the Feminisms I live and know, LGBTQI, Race, Human Sexuality, and all the intersections in between.

B. It is because of my careful read of your blog post that I wrote what I came to understand about it.

3. “Your overuse of multi-syllabic made-up ‘isms’ belies your lack of cogent thought.”

A. This to me is really important to note, as I see a space for intervention in your statement. Although initially, I thought this might have been another personal jab, after further contemplation I see that there is a disconnect here. Perhaps you were noting that you sensed a disconnect in my writing by the language I chose to use in my blog post. To that I say thank you. I also would like to reiterate what one of my goals of this blog (What is the Word) is. I would like to bridge the gaps between the scholarship (academia/higher education) and public discourse. In order to do this, I choose to use the language I do as one way to establish a foundation of discourse that mediates between the towers and the public.

B. The ‘-isms’ to which you speak are not made up. However, the term ‘-isms’ is used as an abbreviation of the overt and prevalent discriminations perpetuated within our society affecting all of us such as, Racism, Sexism, Classism, and Ableism to name a few.

C. I think “Lack of cogent thought,” is a personal attack. However, in hopes that this is an actual constructive criticism, I would like to say that this blog is about growth and progression. I find that my blog posts so far have been cogent (clear, logical, and hopefully convincing), though I am open and eager to progressing and developing my writing skills and will continue to work on it in the future.

4. ““Feminisms” isn’t even a word.”

A. I would like to begin this response by quoting from a book titled, “Feminisms.” Using feminism in the singular, “assume[s] that “feminism” is a monolithic, prescriptive, conformist stance–that is singular.” (warhol & price herndl, 1997) Your immediate dismissal of the term “Feminisms,” shows a lack of understanding. Feminisms  is used to describe the multiplicitous lived experiences of the feminist collective. It also is used to describe the various feminist movements within our society (both historical and current). The term Feminisms accounts for the role of individuality within which we thrive. It also accounts for the vast amount of feminist literature and theory circulating in our society. When I refer to the feminisms I live and know, I’m talking Queer feminism, Black feminism, Marxist feminism, Feminist Philosophy, and the intersections in between. If you are unaware of any or all of these, I suggest you do some research (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Google are good starting points).

5. “But by all means, write on and encourage more Feminists on the ground. The more Feminists screech, the more you turn off the majority of folks who don’t ascribe to your bitterness, jealousy, and the total denigration of women in society that Feminism itself has wrought.”

A. I will begin by addressing your first line. Although I sense your sarcasm, I certainly will continue my writing and activism. As for the rest of this statement, I am unclear as to whom you are referring when you are using the term ‘your,’ because if you are referring to me personally, I definitely see this as a personal attack as opposed to a constructive criticism. I don’t think in any of my blog posts have I expressed any sense of jealousy, and I wouldn’t even know to whom or what I would be jealous of. However, bitterness is relative. I am resentful of the social regression I see happening around me. It saddens and outrages me every day that I wake up and read another article about yet another blatant discrimination taking place, especially among already marginalized and disenfranchised people. So if that is what you meant by my bitterness, then you are right, and I shall continue to be in order to spark the fire of activism to potentiate and realize social change.

B. In regard to the, “total denigration of women in society that Feminism itself has wrought,” I wonder why you are so brazen in your assertion of Feminism being the force behind total denigration of women? Are you aware of what Feminisms of the past have done and what current Feminisms are doing to make visible the marginalization and disperate power dynamics within our society? Do you know how hard they fought for a voice? To Vote? How about Rights? Justice? And this fight is for EVERYONE not solely women. Is this what you think denigrated women? Why? How? To assert such a statement indicates to me either an egregious misuse or misunderstanding of what Feminism is (which can stem from various accounts), or a severe lack of ability to clearly provide substantive information as to what feminism you are referring and how it denigrates women in totality within our society.

6. “You say I’ve overstepped in my assertions about Feminism, but you don’t say why, you just divert by asking why I would have the opinion I do.”

A. Actually, I do, though perhaps it was not as explicit as I could have been: “…what I see happening in this blog is a clear misunderstanding of what Feminism is… [Because] …None of the feminisms I have come to know EVER TAUGHT that men are useless, that women don’t need men or vice versa. That notion is very divisive and the feminisms I know don’t perpetuate divisive, dichotomous relations. A couple of the aims from the feminisms I know include an emphasis on the need to work TOGETHER in order to make visible the disperate power dynamics within our U.S. society in order to even have the POTENTIAL to make some sort of systematic change. Also, there is an emphasis on the importance of discussing EVERYONE’S role in the preservation of the ruling class and the perpetuation of the “-isms” that we all live and are impacted by on a daily basis.”

7. “Yet you know nothing about me, but I am an open book.”

A. Please refer to part B of #1.

8.”Why would an intelligent, independent, cancer-surviving musician Marine Iraq War veteran have the opinions she has? Why don’t you ask me? Because it doesn’t jive with your preconceptions.”

A. Actually, I did ask you: “Why would this person point so combatively, so disparagingly at feminism? Why would this person feel so confident in pointing out the “hypocrisy of the liberals and feminism”… So my question here is where is the disconnect? How did Feminism seem so clearly to fail women to this author?”

B. And speaking of something not ‘jiving with preconceptions,’ a colleague and dear friend of mine did reply to your blog post directly, though their comment was not approved. In response to that they were compelled to write. I wonder why you chose not to engage with their critique? It’s never too late.

*All of that leads me to the focus of this blog post.

As this blog is about progress, critique and personal attack, I decided to share the author’s reply to my blog post in this manner for a few reasons. One being to show differences between constructive criticism and overt personal attack. I want to show these differences as I support the former. Collaborative constructive criticism can produce progressive and positive change. Personal attacks undercuts the issues, aids tension and toxic relations. I did my best in my original blog post response to focus on the author’s pejorative critique of feminism, and did not make grandiose assertions of character about the author in my critique. Another reason I posted the author’s replies and my own response to those was in order to practice what I’ve been discussing in my blog. As I mentioned before, I want to foster safe and open spaces for thought about and to encourage activism regarding the sociopolitical issues that affect the Feminisms I live and know, LGBTQI, Race, Human Sexuality, and all the intersections in between. I think that contructing this blog post as I did allows a transparency of thoughts, and establishes a welcoming atmosphere for constructive criticism while pointing out differences between that and personal attacks on character (which do not bolster logical arguments).

Lastly, I used this author’s reply as an example. This does not mean I will do this for every single personal attack or constructive criticism I might receive in the future. I formulated this blog post with the intention of establishing a firm foundation for the discussion portion of my blog. In what better way can this be done than engaging in a discussion and making it transparent? Thanks for hanging in there with me, those of you who did! As always, I encourage those who share my convictions or convictions similar to the ones I discuss in my blog to engage and have your voices heard in whatever way you are comfortable! We need more people adding to the discussion, not only here, but in VARIOUS mediums!

Until next time comrades,

-D

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About thepsych1

I am a natural progression. As I learn and grow, so does this blog as a reflection of myself. Poetry Art Videos Critique Let's collaborate. Bring your friends.
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3 Responses to The Collaborative Road to Positive Potentiality and Progress, Let’s Talk.

  1. rj says:

    break.it.down!

    it’s interesting how your interolcutor seems to assume that the only legitimate feminisms are the ones that don’t make anyone feel bad, either because of the awful shit that happens bc of patriarchy, or bc of the high level of abstract thought required. while it is true that ‘abstraction’ has often been used as a way to ‘abstract away’ the experiences of everyone but the most privileged (this is Mills’ point in “Ideal Theory”), this isn’t a necessary feature of abstraction, but a contingent feature of patriarchal, white supremacist modes/methods of abstraction. to say that real feminism has to be dumbed-down assumes/requires that women/feminists can/ought not have complicated ideas.

  2. Nakomi Nicole says:

    You said everything I wanted to say. 🙂 Well written… and I’m glad you put yourself out there. What would be great, is if we could all have a conversation instead of this back and forth talking at and over one another.

  3. On the subject of strength differences…”hypocritical liberals and feminists to ignore scientific reality”
    A lot of scientific literature attributes prepubescent and pubescent environmental factors to the majority of strength differences in different people. Bone density and muscle types are mostly due to these factors, though hormone difference do appear to help.
    I am guessing this makes Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire a women then? As they did not produce enough Testosterone to be ‘strong enough’ or as strong as some of their counterparts.

    Besides from some of these murky ‘scientific truths’ I simple wonder why philosophy is no longer considered a science? are Feminist not seeking ‘truths’? Though the word ‘truth’ has a complicated definition, especially when the language you use is part of a larger system. It also seems that almost all scientist would be called ‘Liberals’ by most standards, by function of necessary inquiry, so does this ‘hypocritical liberals’ now overlap with scientist as well? Where do we get our information, if we start to think scientist are part of a larger ‘Liberal’ system or agenda?

    As a more personal note, I feel the previous author has good personal reason to be so angry at a possible loss of firearms for their own defense. I hope what ever this reason is, that they recognize that personal safety is a primary concern for feminist as well.

    I do not know the current ‘feminist’, as if there is one, stance on gun control reform and would like to know more….

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