Code Red: More Commenting on the Conversation
Yesterday, I got sucked down the rabbit hole of watching anti-Sarkeesian YouTube videos. Many of the arguments against her are laughably ironic, but one in particular stood out to me as not ironic, but just sad. In the video, Anita was accused of shutting down the conversation because she has turned off the comments, ratings, and statistics on her YouTube channel. I can’t really say I blame her. I won’t link the video; you can Google it. But, I will say this accusation was made a year ago. Even though Anita Sarkeesian finds herself once again in the middle of the shit storm, the harassment of her has been going on for years. That’s sad and terrifying. (If you haven’t heard of the latest situation, the last couple of posts on this blog cover it with some detail.)
Due to personal stuff over the last month and the latest situation with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, my own anxieties about taking about anything feminist have reached a level of code red. Thankfully, I have never had death or rape threats, but, I often find myself in situations like the one I wrote about a few weeks ago in which the rhetoric reaches incredibly low levels with accusations like “ugly whore.” The anxiety and fear of a situation turning ugly can make it pretty hard to carry on.
Last night, we were talking about the somewhat bizarre insult of Social Justice Warrior. I’m no warrior, but the “insult” makes me feel anything but disempowered (as I suppose it’s meant to make me feel). During this conversation, my anxiety levels were going down. I can get on board with being a Social Justice Warrior. That’s what this is all about, right? Social Justice. But, then I got an unexpected text from an old and dear friend that read, “I’ve been FB stalking you today. What’s up with the feminism posts?” And, with that I sort of froze again. Like I said, I’m not a warrior, and I’m becoming increasingly anxious about engaging in a situation with someone that could end with some variation of “ugly whore.” I almost didn’t answer him, then I realized I was being somewhat ridiculous (or maybe cowardly is the better word). This particular person is an old and dear friend because he’s an awesome person. So, I told him some of the stuff that was going on, and I pointed him to this blog. It was a productive conversation.
Many factors have led to this sense of anxiety I now feel. But, I’ve been hearing quite a bit about how this other side feels silenced and wants to be heard. But, if your argument is the one that has always/already been the one heard, then you have always already been heard. (I hate the phrase always already, but it is what it is.) Lately, it seems that I and many others have to fight to be heard and are being told for one reason or another that we don’t really have the right to even be in the conversation. I shouldn’t even say “lately” because it’s always been a battle to be heard, but lately, it seems to be an even more uphill battle.
I don’t believe that Anita Sarkeesian is shutting down the conversation by shutting down the comments. But, like I said, I can’t say I blame her for shutting down the comments. I think we all have seen how ugly and unproductive that can get. And, she is in the conversation in other ways. Those anti-Sarkeesian videos are inherently “in conversation” with her (although those are sometimes also pretty ugly conversations). She’s on Twitter. She wrote:
And, that’s what I think it has to come down to. My anxieties are high and conversations often get ugly, but I think it’s important. Despite this being a terrifying conversation sometimes (yes rape and death threats are terrifying), I’m ready to talk and have a productive conversation. It’s not about me wanting or needing to be right; it’s about me wanting to be heard. So save the ugly rhetoric and save the “arguments” about what I should or should not be offended by. I say “I” because I cannot speak for the entire feminist community. There are things that offend me that wouldn’t offend others and vice versa. But, we want to be heard and have productive conversations.